I think Berkeley is academically the best school in the nation. We have the most departments in the top 10 of any school in the country, our academic reputation is only behind Harvard, Princeton, and Yale, we lead in the nation in the percentage of students that were in the top 10% of their high school class (99%), our faculty is second to none, we've had 18 Nobel prize winners, etc etc. I've often heard that Berkeley is also the hardest university (I've heard some private liberal arts schools beat us by a small amount) to get an A in. The average GPA here is 2.8, as opposed to Stanford, where the average is 3.6, and Harvard, where 91% of students graduate with honors. My major, Political Economy of Industrial Socieites, is awesome. It's a combination of political science, economics, and international relations. Our political science department is second in the country to Harvard and our economics department is the best in the country.
The campus is also very beautiful. Once you step 100 feet inside it you'd never guess you're in the middle of the super-metropolitan Bay Area. There's a mini-forest, a creek running through it, trees galore, open grassy areas, and wonderful architecture. The only thing is that they seem to constantly be building new stuff and renovating old stuff. Just off campus, Berkeley was ranked the 5th best college town in the country. The vast, vast majority of students live within a 15 or at most 20 minute walk to campus, there are lots of restaurants (some nice and cheap, others are expensive and awesome, like Che Panisse, the top-rated restaurant in the country), five excellent bars within a 5 minute walk of each other, and all the frats and sororities live in the same few block area.
Getting involved on campus is as easy as walking through Sproul Plaza. Groups table and hand out flyers there every day of the week. Just sign up and you're in. Or you can easily check online for anything you're interested in. If you don't find anything you like, just start your own group; you only need four people to do so.
If you're a girl, go here. There's no better place for you in the country. The academics rule, campus is great, surrounding area is bustling and full of things to do, getting involved is easy, and the social life (for you) will be excellent. I've heard that Cal guys are ranked in the top 50 for being hot and stuff, and that a few years ago we were in the top 10. Plus we're obviously smart and stuff. Your main advantage as a girl is the fact that there are NO HOT GIRLS AT BERKELEY AT ALL!
This fact totally, totally sucks. It's the only reason no guy should go here. Come to think of it, maybe that's why the schools is like 55% female. They know they have a huge advantage. If there are 20 girls at a given party, I guarantee that 10 of them will be ugly. Not even average; ugly. Another 5 would be considered average in the real world, 3 would be in the ok to cute range, and the rest (that is, 2) would rank 7.5s to 10s in the real world. Wait, what am I thinking; PERFECT 10s DO NOT EXIST HERE. In fact in Berkeley there is a special scale for rating women, known as Berkeley vision or Berkeley goggles. Basically what you do is take the whole regular 1-10 scale and move it up 2 notches. Basically you have to be the ugliest girl in the world to rate a 1 here. Someone who is normally a 4.5 in the real world is a 6.5 here; not bad. If you rate a 7 in the real world, get ready for heaven. You'll be a 9 here, aka a walking goddess. Guys will fawn over you like there's no tomorrow. And if you rate a 9 or (gasp) 10, you will have a trail of 26 guys following you around by the time you drop your bags in your dorm on move in day. Even most of the soroties are not hot. I'd say two are hot, another two are cute, another five are ehh, and the rest are ugly. This is out of 11 sororities. The girls in the hottest sorority are basically the queens of berkeley. Everyone here is smart, so they are smart too. Most people here are nice, and they are no exception (for the most part). However most people here are not attractive. They are. If they ever break up with a boyfriend, they could have one within the hour if they so desired. If you're an average looking girl, it'll be a similar thing although perhaps not as drastic. You'll get another guy before the week is out, should you so desire.
Here's another interesting thing, known as the Berkeley 6 and 10. After a 6 pack, she's a Berkeley 10.
Now I'm not saying Berkeley doesn't rule. I'm very glad I went here and I wouldn't go anywhere else, even knowing what I now know. If a school rules on everything but one aspect, I'd recommend still going there. At the same time, it might be wise to consider going to a school with maybe just a little less excellent reputation but with much hotter girls. UCLA, for example. Not quite as good as Berkeley, but beats the pants off us in ridiculous fashion in the girl factor. Same with USC, UCSB, hell even Harvard and Princeton. Unfortunately Stanford suffers the same problem we do, as do (reportedly from friends I know) Yale, uhhh, uhhh... Can't think of anymore, cause BERKELEY GIRLS ARE THE WORST. It's true, it's terrible to be so beauty oriented in my judgement of the girls here. They are almost all very nice, smart, many are funny to talk with. But with so many girls like that, and so few with good looks, sorry if I focus my attention on finding a hot girl. I'm from southern California, in a small town near LA. This town has a junior college. This junior college was called, by Playboy Magazine, the second best place in the nation to pick up hot chicks. I grew up there, thinking such girls were the norm (and nothing on tv or movies to change my mind). But oh no my friend. It doesn't make much sense to me that UCLA girls are so hot when they're of similar intelligence. Ahh such is life.
Finally some statistics.
4th in academic reputation
1st in percentage of students that were in the top 10 percent of their high school class
1st in the nation in number of departments in the top 10
5th in the nation in ranking of best college towns
1st in the nation in political activism
300th in the nation on a survey of 300 schools on the attractiveness of girls (this is, I'm sorry to say, not a joke)