Berkeley CSUA MOTD:Entry 52534
Berkeley CSUA MOTD
2019/06/16 [General] UID:1000 Activity:popular

2009/2/8-15 [Academia/UCLA, Academia/OtherSchools] UID:52534 Activity:moderate
2/8     Why does UC suck so hard? I did undergrad at UCB and I hated it.
        Professors couldn't teach, class workload was high, and the system
        was designed to "weed out" students and demoralize them rather
        than teach and encourage them. I always got lower grades than I
        deserved for the amount of work I put in. I don't know if this was
        because of the curve which insists that 50% of students should get
        C's and only 10% A's or what, but my GPA was mediocre and
        self-confidence shattered. After UCB I took classes at another
        (private) school, maybe not quite as good at UCB but Top 50 in
        order to remedy my "academic deficiencies". I got straight A's
        there and was usually one of the top 1-2 students in the class.
        Professors seemed to like to teach and when they gave exams they were
        on the concepts they told you that you should know. This is not
        the same thing as spoonfeeding answers, but just telling you what
        was important to know and what wasn't so that you don't waste time
        trying to memorize 500 pages of the text. So I finally got my GPA
        up and had the choice of a couple of different grad schools, one
        of which was UCLA. This is my first year at UCLA and it is like
        Cal all over again! Massive amounts of work to get a B-,
        professors who sneer at your inadequacies, and a tendency to give
        exam problems on exactly the material that was not covered in
        homework which means you have to read (and remember) 500 pages of
        technical text in 4.5 weeks and there is no chance to know if you
        are grokking the material not covered in homework until the exam.
        I am in the middle of the pack of my peers and getting discouraged
        again. I've started to talk to a few of them and for many of them
        they have taken the same class *BEFORE* at some other school. One guy
        told me he had taken it *AT UCLA* as an undergrad and got a C and now
        wants to retake it. Well, shit. I guess the school shouldn't care
        how you got to a certain level, but the playing field seems messed
        up to me. I was talking to a friend in grad school at a prestigious
        private school and he said it's not like UCLA at all. That same
        friend went to an exclusive liberal arts college for undergrad and
        then started grad school at UC Irvine, which he also hated, before
        switching. So it seems to me that the problem is with UC. My prof
        even told me he has battled the department about making some
        changes (such as having 2 midterms instead of 1 because of the
        amount of material covered) to no avail. Since UC recruits from the
        same pool of professors as every other school then why is learning
        at UC such a bitch? I told my professor I think I want out and to go
        to a private school, which is when he confided the above to me.
        Were all UC professors beaten as children? Is it some State thing?
        They seem to really enjoy watching you fail and only cater to the
        top 5% they see as elite enough to join their ranks. Yes, this is
        how academia is, but why isn't it like that elsewhere? Two classmates
        that went to much, much worse (by reputation) private schools for
        undergrad got their PhDs from Harvard and USC, crediting their
        professors for refusing to let them fail or quit and encouraging them
        and pushing them to achieve the best they can do. They love their
        professors/advisor and will probably donate $$$ back to their school.
        What I want to donate to UC is a swift kick in the ass.
        \_ I knew all of this when I went to UC Berkeley. I went anyways,
           because I couldn't get into any other school. I have to say
           your experience will vary greatly depending on your personality.
           If you're seriously upbeat in nature and have a thick skin,
           it'll work out greatly. But if you're just exploring and
           trying to understand yourself, it's not a very nurturing
           place to be at.
        \_ Totally agree with what you're saying. In the corporate world,
           your super l33+ coding skills don't mean much. CONFIDENCE wins a
           lot, like promotions and leadership. Cal totally lacks this. It's
           a great place to know how to hack. Great place to do publications
           and to get into academia. Not a great place to climb up
           in the corporate world.
        \_ Maybe you should stick with community colleges.  They seem to be
           more your speed.
           \_ Thanks, UC Professor! I'm surprised you didn't let me know
              Wendy's is hiring! I don't want to miss out on that opportunity!
        \_ I went to Caltech and UC both for undergrad and while the classes
           were smaller at Caltech, it was also a much harder workload. The UC
           is a really sink or swim kind of place. You don't think people are
           paying an extra $100k for a private school education for nothing,
           do you? Why did you go to UCLA at all, given your experiences, it
           sounds like you would have prefered a private school. Did you not
           want to pay the extra cost? -ausman
           \_ I think Caltech undergrad is an extreme example. Caltech is also
              known for being brutal to its students for no good reason. I know
              lots of people who went to Caltech and are now underachieving
              because Caltech destroyed them. That's not a plus in favor
              of Caltech. However, consider a school like Pomona College (where
              my acquaintance who tried UCI went) or Stanford. No one would
              consider them easy and yet the attitude is not "us" (professors)
              versus "them" students. They want their alumni to succeed. I went
              to UCLA figuring that: 1) It might be different, 2) Maybe
              the problem at UCB was my own creation. However, it's shocking
              how these first quarters at UCLA at like being at UCB all over
              again. Factor in all the standard UC bureaucracy and I probably
              will transfer to a private school. Cost was an issue, but
              not the main issue. UCLA's strengths were more closely aligned
              with my research interests than others I was accepted into.
              I think seeing how much UCLA is like UCB crystallized that:
              1) Somehow these issues are endemic to UC
              2) UC doesn't work for me
              However, what troubles me is *why* when I was able to get along
              just fine at other universities that just happened to be private.
              To me it seems like a problem worth investigating and fixing,
              because we waste a lot of talent at UC, just like Caltech
              wastes a lot of the top minds in the country. At least Caltech
              doesn't have an obligation to the public to educate, though.
              \_ Stanford doesn't seem all that different from Berkeley.
                 There are both asshole profs and nice ones. I'm not entirely
                 sure where you get this idea of UC being super different.
                 Maybe your problem is self-fulfilling prophecy.
                 \_ It's not really the profs. UCLA's profs are sometimes very
                    understanding. At UCB I would say I had too many profs
                    that were TAs or else visitors who didn't at all know what
                    the students had/had not covered leading to disjoint
                    curriculum because the tenured profs didn't like to
                    teach, but not that they were assholes necessarily.
                    However, the administration at private schools wants
                    students to succeed and more often listens to their
                    input. When a student at UCB wants to leave no one cares.
                    When a student elsewhere wants to leave they want to know
                    what went wrong and how they can fix it. Privates are
                    constantly reviewing the curriculum and addressing
                    deficiencies in order to retain students and be sure
                    that their alums succeed and bring glory to the
                    school. UC points to the 2% who succeed through sheer
                    god-given brilliance and claims that their system is
                    working and the other 98% must just be stupid and not
                    worth educating. Students at UC seem to have much less
                    leverage over the faculty, which is why teachers like
                    HH Wu are still teaching and there are Korean TAs teaching
                    who don't even speak any English. When the students at
                    privates complain the school does something like pair up
                    a non-native speaking TA with a native speaking TA or
                    whatever. You might call that coddling, but I call it
                    common sense. UC just doesn't care. Take it or leave it.
                    That's too bad. UC is really more a place to educate
                    yourself despite the school/faculty, not a place for them
                    to impart their knowledge to you. I think there's a much
                    less adversarial and more cooperative relationship at
                    Stanford from what I can see having talked to those
                    who attended and current professors there.
                    \_ Do you believe that only 2% of Cal students graduate?
                       \_ Muddling through the system will graduate you,
                          but it won't help you achieve your goals. Cal
                          students are bright and very motivated so they
                          deal, but it doesn't have to be that way.
                          Ironically, Cal profs I had outside of science
                          and engineering were usually extremely supportive
                          and interested in sharing their research and
                          promoting interest in their field. Science and
                          engineering profs mostly wanted you to go away.
                          Exception were astronomy profs, who always
                          seemed glad you came to office hours. Math profs
                          were the worst, often not even showing up to
                          office hours. Ridiculous.
                          \_ So it is not all UC profs that you think are bad,
                             just the science and engineering ones, right?
                             \_ Possibly. Too little experience in other
                                departments to say. I will say science and
                                engineering professors are worse in my
              \_ The UC does not have the resources to coddle students.
                 You never answered my question as to why people are willing
                 to pay so much more for private school. I think the answer
                 to your quesions are obvious.
                 to your questions are obvious.
                 \_ People are willing to pay a lot more for a lot of reasons,
                    one of which is snob appeal. State schools have a bad
                    reputation which is probably deserved in most cases,
                    although not necessarily deserved by good publics like UC.
                    I don't want to speculate what motivates people to pay
                    more. Why don't you, since you already have (speculated)?
                    It's partially a resource issue, but I think it's
                    cultural. Even if you gave UC 3x the budget the mentality
                    would not change, IMO.
              \_ The UC does not have the resources to coddle students.
                 You never answered my question as to why people are willing
                 to pay so much more for private school. I think the answer
                 to your quesions are obvious.
                    \_ I think it is obvious: you get a better education at
                       an expensive private school, that is why people are
                       willing to pay more for it. With the much higher teacher
                       student ratios, the money for better labs, better
                       libraries, full time live in professional advisors in
                       the dorms, more tutors, etc, you *should* get a better
                       education. I think your claim that the UC would do the
                       same job with 3X the resources is ludicrous. Do you know
                       any public college in the US that has the climate you
                       found at private school?
                       \_ Well, you said it: UC provides a poor education.
                          \_ I don't really disagree with you, though I would
                             use the word "mediocre" rather than poor. The
                             best, most inspiring teachers I had were the ones
                             at San Diego Community College, which is where I
                             went between Caltech and UCB. I learned much more
                             at the UC though, but that was outside the class
                             room, in The Web, from other students, etc. I also
                             learned how to fend for myself, which is a pretty
                             useful skill to have in life.
                \_ I don't believe that you know "lots of people who went to
                   Caltech and are now underachieving" since they admit less
                   than 300 people per year. How many do you know?
                   \_ A lot. I've known people at Caltech since I was in
                      high school through a mentor-type program and I know a
                      lot of alums who also know alums: both grad students
                      and undergrads. I would say I've met probably 100-200+
                      alums: maybe more than any other school other than UCB.
                      I even know some current grad students and current
                      and ex-faculty. I also have a membership at the
                      Athenaeum. They are not all underachievers, but many are
                      relative to their potential. In fact, I fired one that
                      worked for me. I don't think that Caltech brings out the
                      best in its students. I think a lot are exceptional and
                      do well in spite of Caltech, but I also know a lot that
                      don't even really have careers and just kind of drift
                      from one thing to another. BTW, lots of Caltech
                      students have the same opinion of Caltech and helped
                      shape my opinion of it. Many complain that Caltech
                      ruined their GPA. A surprising number who did undergrad
                      never went to grad school because of this. That's
                      sad, because I think most of them, if not all, are
                      capable. I think Caltech has among the highest % of
                      undergrads who then go get their PhD but they should
                      given who is accepted so that's a little misleading.
                      85% of Caltech undergrads graduate versus 97% at
                      Harvard. Do you think it's because Harvard students
                      are smarter? That Harvard spends more $$$? (Caltech
                      spends $200K per student.) It's pure culture.
                      \_ What percentage of Caltech graduates go on to get
                         PhD's vs. Harvard UG? Do you think the grad schools
                         don't know how tough the grading scale is at places
                         like UCB and Caltech? If you are sure you want to go
                         \_ I suspect no. Not at least, for say econ PhD
                            admissions. If you got a GPA of say 3.3, you're
                            screwed as rarely a top 30 department will bother
                            with your file. Usually it doesn't matter that you
                            have completed a bunch of honors or graduate
                            courses, have a math double major, good LoR, etc. I
                            know this based on my personal experience.
                            \_ I have heard otherwise, at least as regards to
                               Physics graduate schools. How were your test
                               scores? I am kind of surprised to hear that
                               you could not get into a good grad school with
                               a 3.3 from Cal. What was your UG major?
                         to grad school in science then Caltech is a good place
                         to go, if you don't know what you want to do with your
                         life and need some time to figure it out, it is a
                         terrible place. UCB is the same, just not as extreme.
        \_ I always summed it up as: "At Berkeley, you have a right to fail,"
           which was a refreshing contrast to HS, where you were coddled and
           reprimanded for not turning in a HW, even if you got 100% on all
           the tests. Also, by "refreshing" I mean a C- in my first semester
           math course (Math 53) because I had the bad habit of not doing
           HW, and then never really learned the material. Separately, I
           thought almost all the CS profs at Cal were good (Smith was the
           exception). What CS profs had curves and were not supportive of
           \_ I didn't take a lot of CS. I had Yelick and BH and Hilfinger
              and they were all OK. I took a lot of physics, math, chemistry,
              and engineering classes. I wasn't a CS major.
              \_ Physics seemed to have a combo of great and terrible profs.
                 7A in particular seemed to have good profs. Also, I've heard
                 only good things about profs that taught H7[ABC]. I only
                 had bad math profs. EE was mixed as well. What are
                 "engineering" classes? E45, E190? E190 was a great class.
                 \_ 7ABC all sucked. Dalven, Lys, and I cannot even
                    remember who else. I also had Clancy for CS now that
                    someone else mentioned him and he did the absolute
                    minimum. `
           \_ I had bad math profs and mostly bad chem profs, but mostly good
              bio profs and a really great biophysics advisor. (Glasser)
           \_ As a current undergrad, I must say every CS prof I've had
              so far has been pretty much awesome (with the
              exceptions of Clancy who basically didn't teach and instead
              left us to suffer with some godforsaken "web 2.0 teaching"
              thing... damn you UCWise, and Bodik who seemed like a
              smart guy but had the worst 164 curriculum ever (it was
              basically a "who can come up with the ugliest Greasemonkey
              hack class)
              Current list - Brian Harvey (61a), Dan Garcia (61c),
              Anthony Joseph (162), John Wawrzyneck (150), Michael
              Franklin (186), Dan Klein (188), and also Babak Ayazifer
              (EE20) have all been decent (and some of them very
              excellent) professors.  I have Patterson as my faculty
              adviser and he's been great too.  Maybe you just chose the
              wrong profs?  I've also had very good TAs for
              61a,c,162,and 150.  (Some grad some ugrad).
              Just a current student's opinion...  --steven
              \_ You obviously never had Alex Aiken. Charming personality,
                 awesome slides, horrible lecturer/speaker, does not care
                 about students (hates office hours).
        \_ At UCB, my best learning experiences were summer classes, less than
           30 students, taught by TAs.
           I took a class at Stanford.  It wasn't that different from UCB.
           The exams tried to throw twists at you so you couldn't directly
           apply what they actually taught in class, you'd have to figure
           new stuff out, and you don't have enough time.  In any case
           most of the class basically fails miserably so it's curved and
           you end up with like a B+ anyway.  The project was pretty wimpy
           in terms of time compared to engineering class projects at Cal.
           Stanford did have a strong student feedback mechanism and the
           prof changed some things in response to ongoing feedback.
           I would have doubts about sending a kid of mine to Cal as an
           undergrad.  I wasn't really happy at Cal, it was huge and I
           wasn't motivated to trudge to classes each day.  The whole
           "giant lecture hall" class style is pretty bad in general though.
           The pace is too slow or too fast and often the fancy professors
           are bored/boring.
             'furd had a nice online archived video system in place though.
           You could watch all the stuff on video, complete with a closeup
           view of what the teachers write, and you can replay it at multiple
           speeds with pitch-corrected sound, which definitely helped me
           stay awake and zip through boring bits but still hear them.
           \_ +1, my SITN experience parallels with yours. It's really great
              to log into one of their empty, powerful workstations to do work.
              I really hated having to fight through my ways in Cory Hall and
              Evans which most of you don't even remember. Stanford had superb
              computing facilities, and their professors really take the time
              to talk to you even though the classes were still big (40-80ish).
        \_ I agree with everything above. Well said. Berkeley fucks its
           students in the ass. No doubt about that. But then, so does
           every flagship state university. The only difference is
           that due to being the top state university in the country,
           may be in the world, at Berkeley you get the rat race
           experience of all flagship state schools SQUARED, and many
           other UC campuses are not that far behind. I remember how I
           had to fight like mad to get a B+ or A- even in a frigin
           Rhetoric 1B or History 7B class. Lots of professors look
           for ways to screw the students and lower their grades. I
           have utter respect for UCB undergrads in the hard majors
           who maintain a GPA above say 3.7.  At the same time, I do
           suspect that many of Cal's B+ students would probably
           strive somewhere at an Ivy League school, have a 3.95 GPA,
           beautify CV with multiple research experiences, graduate
           with honors, get glowing LoR from professors, and have no
           problems joining top graduate programs. At the same time, I
           wouldn't take it for granted that an average "honors"
           student from a private school (which is most students they
           have since most get some kind of honors) like Stanford or
           Ivies would necessarily even have a 3.5 GPA at Cal. I might
           want to add that things are not as bad as it might sound.
           You just need to learn how to navigate the system by the
           end of your second year or so. For example, most upper
           division courses in both of my majors (math/econ) had 30
           students or less (or had honors or advanced versions of
           those courses with small enrollements). I had no problems
           registering for undergraduate seminars with only 10
           students, which allowed for very good close interaction
           with professors. Most professors who taught my upper
           division courses really cared about teaching and did a
           pretty good job.
2019/06/16 [General] UID:1000 Activity:popular

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2009/8/12-9/1 [Academia/StanfUrd] UID:53266 Activity:kinda low
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