Adjusting to Classwork at Cal

With prospective students coming up to visit UC Berkeley’s campus this upcoming weekend for Cal Day, I was reminded of my own transition to Cal, as a young little freshman. Coming to this university, I quickly grew comfortable with a new living space, a new city, and new friends. However, one thing proved itself much more difficult to adjust to here at Cal: the classes. Coming out of high school, I was quite confident in my academic abilities. Naturally, I had anticipated college to simply be an extension of this. However, the intensity of the workload and exams in certain classes took me by surprise.

    As the end of my first year at UC Berkeley is quickly approaching, I have definitely learned a few things about the keys to success in Cal’s rigorous academic environment. Have no fear! Here are a few tips to help you adjust to classwork at Cal:

  • Go to Office Hours: This is the single-most important piece of advice I could offer anyone coming to UC Berkeley. I know that for a lot of students coming to Cal, school was never something you had to put much effort into, BUT attending Office Hours for your Professor or Graduate Student Instructor will prove invaluable. For many classes, the lectures are made up of 400 student packed into a giant lecture hall, making one-on-one interactions with your teachers almost impossible. However, Office Hours offer a more intimate setting where addressing specific questions you have becomes possible!


  • Go to Lecture: I know the struggle. Getting out of bed for an 8 am lecture can seem absolutely impossible, but skipping lectures can prove disastrous. Classes move quickly and A LOT of new material can be covered in an hour. Skipping the occasional lecture can add up quickly, so make sure you do this sparingly. Webcasted lectures can also be a lifesaver for people who have trouble waking up in the AM!

  • Reduce Distractions: With a college as large and diverse as UC Berkeley, distractions are everywhere. Your friends, significant other, clubs, internships, parties, and especially social media. It all takes away time from studying. While it is super important to indulge on fun, balance is key. Watch an episode of Black Mirror on Netflix, but then turn off your phone/laptop, and get to work on those readings!


  • Avoid Procrastination: We’ve all been there. Instead of finishing an upcoming assignment or studying for your quiz tomorrow, people choose to socialize, scroll through their Insta feed, or take another useless quiz on Buzzfeed. As mentioned before, taking a break from studying is super important when needed, but avoiding the task of homework altogether is never good. Limiting your time on social media and setting aside specific hours in the day to do a particular assignment can help you break this dangerous habit. You’re going to have to do it eventually, so it might as well be right now! Good luck, and you got this!