How heavy is UC Berkeley

University of California Berkeley Extension

Experience report from Philipp K.

My name is Philipp and I have Winter 2019 and summer 2020 two semesters through the Berkeley Global Access Program studied at UC Berkeley. Then I applied through College Contact, what with very little effort was connected.

Before I say anything about my program or the university: If you think about a time abroad - do it! Man learns an incredible amount (not only academically, but also about the world and above all about yourself)! Even if every project always has good and bad sides and often poses a great challenge, I can only advise everyone to do these Accept the challenge and grow with it.

In my opinion, my project was rather unusual, but it did Fit very well for me. At the same time, I have to say that many others would probably not have liked my plan. Therefore, instead of going into individual categories as in usual field reports, I would like to explain my motivation for the project, point out good and bad points and draw a conclusion about who such a project could be of interest to.

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Background and motivation

I study mechatronics at Esslingen University and focus heavily on software development. For years I have dreamed of being in Silicon Valley to live and experience the local mentality up close. So I decided to do my internship semester and one or two semesters in the California Bay Area to spend. I was there first class education, a university with a good name, and the proximity to Silicon Valley are important.

The year abroad also had the purpose of orienting myself a little further, as to whether I should continue my master’s degree IT / software should do and whether a Masters in the USA would be interesting.

Positive aspects of my project

  • The UC Berkeley offers first class education with an extremely good name (praises itself as "World's Best Public University").
  • Most of all that Computer Science Department is world-famous and has already produced a lot - so you benefit from the reputation of the university yourself afterwards.
  • Berkeley benefits from the extended Silicon Valley ecosystem. Virtually all graduates in the field of computer science end up later Top tech company like Google and Apple.
  • Berkeley is very liberal and cosmopolitanwhich was very important to me. You often feel more like you are in Europe than in the USA - there is less of a typical US college culture there.
  • The campus is very big and beautiful.
  • The BGA program has allowed me to choose criss-cross courses as long as I meet a minimum number of credits.
  • Very international and multicultural.
  • The admission requirements for the program are very low compared to the reputation of the university (if I remember correctly, you had a better than 2.5 good chance with an average). That's because Berkeley is making very good money through the program.
  • The application through College Contact was very easy and took very little effort.

Negative aspects of the project

  • The BGA program is a so-called Extension program: When choosing a course, you have the lowest priority next to all other students. You can only attend a course if, after all permanent students have chosen, there is still a free place. This rarely or not at all occurs in popular courses, but it always depends on the semester. If you come to Berkeley for a semester and want to attend a certain course, they are opportunities actually to get in quite low, especially for courses in computer science, as these are in great demand. Is one flexible, but you are sure to find something suitable. The first three weeks of the semester are stressful because you have to attend a relatively large number of courses at the same time, as it takes about four weeks to find out which courses you actually get into.
  • This can cause problems with the later transfer of credits at the home university. Due to very good academic performance, my professors were very accommodating at home and gave me credit for everything, even if the content did not necessarily match. If you come from a university and not from a university of applied sciences, this could still cause problems, as universities are known to be not that flexible.
  • You were informed about it in advance, but I took it lightly under the motto “it'll work out somehow”. A high degree of flexibility and spontaneity is required when choosing a course.
  • You attend very few courses. With 3 to 4 courses per semester one is fully utilized (more than in Germany with 6 courses). So if you want to get a lot of credit, it could still be difficult.
  • The project was very costly. The tuition fees depend on how many courses you attend, but realistically you can get around 14,000 to 17,000 euros per semester count on tuition fees. Then come around again per month 1000 to 2500 euros Rent in addition. The International House is very popular, but you can easily pay 2,300 euros in rent there. I lived in a shared apartment for 10 minutes on foot and paid US $ 1100 per month for my room.
  • You can therefore expect around 25,000 to 30,000 euros per semester.
  • Fortunately, I had an annual scholarship from the DAAD, which took over a total of 30,000 euros - but that only covered a good half.
  • In addition, it was only an exception for me to receive the scholarship, because the DAAD does not normally support such extension programs, as it is known that there are often problems with the course choice. The exception could be granted because my dean wrote a letter stating that all mine Achievements from Berkeley are recognized and the project does not have the effect of extending the course.
  • Without a scholarship, I would not have been able to afford the project without a loan - and it would not have been worth it to me.
  • High workload: If you want first-class education and a high reputation, you have to work hard. Accordingly, many courses are particularly in the IT area with immense amount of work connected. That was fine with me. But if you want to push a quiet ball, Berkeley is definitely not the right place.
  • Virtually no support during implementation. There was a two-hour information event at the beginning, but after that you were on your own. As a result, I found the first few weeks very stressful, until all my courses were finally fixed and I could concentrate on the essentials.

My conclusion

The project was for me a big successbecause it allowed me to attend very interesting computer science lectures in Berkeley and to gain valuable knowledgethat would otherwise have been denied to me in my bachelor's degree.

Can I recommend my project to everyone? Clear no. Without a scholarship or without the flexibility in choosing a course from my home university or without a high level of willingness to work on my part, it would definitely not have been successful.

Who can I recommend a similar project to?

  • Someone who is either a Granted a scholarship or is willing to invest 50,000 to 60,000 euros for a year.
  • Someone who later knows this investment by arising from it (professional) opportunities to use.
  • Someone who has a wide range of courses to choose from and who Support for the home university in relation to course credit.
  • Someone who feels like spending a semester abroad a lot to doinstead of just going out in the evening and partying.
  • Someone to whom the typical US college climate with frat parties, football and beer pong is not so important - there is also a small scale in Berkeley, but it is much more common at other universities.

In general, I found in Berkeley that it was mainly in the STEM area there is a kind of love-hate relationship with Berkeley: Many people are bad at speaking after graduation because the Lectures are tough and student life there in general very much demanded. For that you get very good education and a university on the résumé, with the one afterwards all doors are open.

Addition regarding Corona

During my second semester (summer semester 2020) the coronavirus came in February / March. The university has that, at least in the faculty of computer science, extremely well received and within about a week complete teaching on the online medium rearranged. I have this Semester fully finished there, many other international students left early.


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