Why I Selected UC Berkeley’s Engineering Program

Information for this blog post was provided by Nicholas Fong. Nicholas is a fourth year student at the University of California, Berkeley, majoring in Civil Engineering.

While at Cal, Nick is a member of the University of California, Berkeley Marching Band, Campus Ambassador, and Design Build and Construction Solution Team.

After graduation, he plans on working as a project engineer at Turner Construction.

Why did you choose UC Berkeley?

As a Campus Ambassador at the University of California, Berkeley, I am often asked why I chose this particular school. My initial reaction as I usually say during my tours, was to respond by discussing Berkeley’s Civil Engineering department’s high acclaim, its prestige and the award winning professors that share their knowledge on a daily basis. But in retrospect, I now see many other reasons that I should have chosen Berkeley.

After spending four years in Cal’s College of Engineering, I now realize that it is the relationships one makes that determine his or her experience. Rankings, reputation and even having a “beautiful campus” are all great reasons to look at a college, but none of it really matters if the community surrounding these great characteristics is not a good fit for you.

I specifically chose Berkeley (and California for that matter) because I wanted an environment where life was more laid back.  Having come from a conservative part of the country, I thought that Berkeley would embody the spirit of what I thought a college should have.

I often joke that I moved to California to get as far away from home as possible, but in truth I was misinterpreting my own desires.  I was not actually trying to get away from home, but actually attempting to find a place where the social atmosphere is always open to new people and perspectives.

This idea was not only shared amongst students, but amongst the faculty as well and after one visit to hear a Civil Engineering professor speak, I knew their shared sentiments were genuine.  When a culture is established from the top like this, it trickles down to the students.  It has become obvious to me that while Cal often gets the reputation as a Darwinian school, the reality is that it also fosters an organization where peer interaction for each other’s academic betterment was encouraged. The lesson here is that just because a school is considered hard to get into does not mean that it places the odds against its students.

If you could change anything about your decision, would you?

So four years later would I still have chosen Berkeley?  The answer is yes, absolutely. However, has my experience influenced how I might have approached my college search differently?  Once again, the answer is yes, absolutely.

Choosing the right college should not just be about what others say about an institution on paper.  Resources such as U.S. News and World Report are great for finding a school that has your desired academic program. But these sources are clearly deficient when it comes to critical information that can tell you whether the school will be a good fit on many other levels.

The best sources are the students who have gone through the process and are living in the environment that you hope to be a part of some day. I am just one of millions of these sources and take it from me that any college student loves to talk about themself. So why not ask them about their experience the next time you’re on a college visit? I guarantee they won’t just tell you their school’s ranking.

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Clara Ma

Clara Ma

Clara is a third year student attending the University of California, Berkeley currently pursuing a double major in Political Science and Media Studies. Her school activities include being a captain on the Cal Dance Team, being a Campus Ambassador, as well as being part of THRIVE Dance Company. She enjoys living vicariously through others on the Internet, keeping up with pop culture on Tumblr, and watching a copious number of television shows (namely Sherlock and How I Met Your Mother).