Senior Reflections on Berkeley

Jennifer Lu
May 7 · 11 min read

Ivan Jayapurna

College is at the same time really important, really fun, and really short. You have a very short time scale to optimize focusing on academics, searching for professional growth and networking, gaining life experiences, and having a good time. It’s almost impossible to know how to get the right balance as a freshman, and everyone’s journey in figuring this out is a really important part of the “college experience”.

Yoohyun Choi

Really really can’t stress these 2 enough: study abroad and make friends who are very different from you (different in academic pursuits, background, culture, upbringing, interests). Studying abroad not only just fun for a semester (refreshing break from Berkeley) but also the opportunity to learn/absorb/appreciate a new culture and lifestyle, meet people from all over the world (that you can couch surf with in the future), and realize all the things you love about your home and even Berkeley. Making friends who were different from me was by far the most fulfilling part of college for me, cultivating my love for traveling and making me a smarter, more empathetic person by way of learning from other people’s experiences and intellect.

Mihir Chitalia

What I’ve learned:

  1. Living with people you love is amazing. If you have enough people who want to live together, I would highly recommend living in a house.
  2. Righteous anger is very unhealthy since it is hard to let go. I know getting frustrated just makes me more ineffective and just leaves me less happy.
  3. I wish I didn’t care about others opinions or views of me as much as I did in my first 2 years. Try out anything you’re interested in before it’s too late!

LeAnne Chan

What I would stress to underclassmen:

  1. Only allow yourself to choose academics over going out with friends/doing something fun once a week. I guarantee you will be miserable and full of regrets if all you do is study at Berkeley (which I know is very tempting here).
  2. Be courageous and try lots and lots of DIFFERENT things. Don’t get stuck on that one path every Berkeley student is telling you is the path to success (unless you really want to — then go for it!). Take classes for fun (I highly recommend decals and PE classes!), join clubs and organizations, seek out diverse jobs and internships, BE SPONTANEOUS!
  3. Try not to compare yourself to others. This is by far the most difficult thing to do (at Berkeley and just in general), but it’s the actual key to a happy college experience and life.

Suman Tripathy

I think one of the scariest things about entering and leaving college is finding a new friend group. It’s really hard to feel alone at a big school with big classes and big competition. I definitely think that joining all kinds of random, unexpected clubs and groups is the best way to navigate it. Even though getting into clubs here is also competitive and hard, the smaller rejections we face here are what help us survive larger failures later in life. Berkeley builds tenacity like no other school from what I’ve seen. I’m grateful for all the random clubs and experiences I’ve had — Engineering Student Council, Leadershape, A Capella, SEP etc. All of these brought me unexpected friends and growth experiences. Be bold, be brave, and don’t be afraid to keep trying at things you’ve failed at before! I was literally first rejected from half the stuff that I’m now a part of.

Rachael Boyle

What I would suggest:

  1. Document your time here! I highly highly recommend getting a journal and filling it with your thoughts and memories starting from when you are a freshman to when you are about to graduate. You are going to have some of the most hilarious, beautiful, and amazing moments during these four years, as well as some of the most pivotal, challenging, and difficult experiences as well. All of these are more than worth documenting and are so invaluable to look back on. If journaling seems daunting, you can always explore different options (app-based alternatives, filling each square of a calendar with one highlight of that day, etc.). Fill it with your wild adventures, with your heartbreak, with your sadness, with your triumphs, and with the numerous stupid and funny stories you’ll undoubtedly accumulate. You’ll get to read it back and see so much growth.
  2. Keep perspective on your priorities! I know it’s hard to feel this way when you’re grinding away on an endless paper or scrambling to code a project that you’re on your last slip day for, but there are things vastly more important than the grades you get on one assignment in one class in college — or even the grade you get overall in that class or your GPA as a whole. Your mental health and your friendships should take priority. I believe college is not about the grades you get but about what you learn. So much of that learning comes from the amazing people you surround yourself with, the moments you share with them, and the relationships you foster. College is literally nothing without that. As serious as the words mental health sound, it boils down to these two questions: Are you happy? Are you healthy? If a club or your course load gets in the way of this, then change something! Join a meditation class, drop that studio course, leave that ~toxic~ club. Never let your happiness and health take a backseat.

Vivek Jain

About my experience: As an out of state student coming from a small high school, I can say that Berkeley was really intimidating my first few months. There were 1000+ students in my CS classes and so many different organizations and friend groups I could have been a part of. Since I was interested in hackathons, I decided to join the organizing team for Cal Hacks, and that gave me my first glimpse to being part of a community. However, something I slowly realized throughout freshmen year was that my friend group of CS majors wasn’t that diverse, so I started to expand my social circle through SEP and meeting a variety of new people.

Andrea Padron

Like any new chapter in life, it’s almost impossible to have everything figured out in the beginning. That’s OK! If anything, college is the time where you can afford to have no idea what’s going to happen or where you’re going to end up. That’s what makes it such an important and exciting time. The best thing you can do for yourself is to try as many things as you can, and soon enough, you’ll end up right where you want to be. This means signing up for stuff that genuinely interests you, and not caring about what other people think! Give yourself the opportunity to learn and grow by immersing yourself in new environments that help you discover the subjects and people that interest you. Expose yourself to people and ideas different from you. I really believe that this is what shapes you into your best self.


SEP Berkeley

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Jennifer Lu

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CS @ UC Berkeley

SEP Berkeley

Stories about entrepreneurial pursuits, passions, and life lessons.