The University of California is a public school located in Berkeley, California and was founded in 1869. U.S. News & World Report ranked Cal’s undergraduate program 21st in the nation. In an interview with Tom Pardini, a member of the SHHS graduating class of 2008 and a founding editor of the roundtable, we get a student’s insight on the university. Tom, who is currently majoring in History, describes what life is like on the infamous Berkeley campus.
PR: How is Cal different from other colleges?
TP: It’s definitely a lot bigger than most schools, so it feels like more of a city atmosphere than a campus one sometimes. Also, because it is a public school, California’s fiscal crisis is really being felt here. There have been a lot of faculty strikes and student walkouts this year to protest the cuts to the school’s budget that are determined by Sacramento. So that’s a little different than most colleges that rely on private loans and high tuition to stay open.
PR: How big are your classes?
TP: In introductory classes, it can range anywhere from 300-800 people. In the slightly more advanced courses I’ve taken, around 100. The smallest I’ve had is about 60.
PR: Are there lots of social activities?
TP: Yeah, at Cal there’s always something to do. Every club and student group imaginable is here, as well as sports leagues like club or intramural. Weekend parties and student-run campus events happen all the time.
PR: Do you have time for social activities?
TP: Yes, it’s pretty easy to fit in things you want to do. Although the workload can sometimes be difficult, it’s hasn’t been so much that I have no time for anything else.
PR: How many hours a day are you studying?
TP: It really depends on the week. Some weeks I’ll have essays and/or midterms and then it’s about eight hours a day along with normal classes. Other weeks will have nothing much going on besides normal homework and reading, and then it’s more like three hours. It would be nice if it could be more well balanced, but that’s not the case because midterms, essays and projects for all classes tend to be due within the same two-week period.
PR: Is there anything else you would like to share about the school?
TP: College in general is pretty different from high school, so I think a big college like Cal can especially seem kind of weird coming from a small, personal school like Stuart Hall. It wasn’t really a huge adjustment for me, but be warned that you are very much on your own. No one reminds you when things are due or reaches out to help you get a good grade, so the responsibility really falls on the student to know what’s going on and take the initiative. This kind of freedom can also be good, though, because it allows you to do your work and manage your time in a way that you determine for yourself.