StudentsReview :: The University of California - Berkeley - Extra Detail about the Comment
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The University of California - Berkeley

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Date: Jun 14 2005
Major: History/Histories (art history/etc.) (This Major's Salary over time)
I wish I had visited the school before I applied, and certainly before accepeting. I was lured in by the reputation (and turned down a better financial offer from a very good school). I visited the campus during the summer and the department had a very unhelpful (surly and rude) administrator. In the fall, the welcoming party was beer iced in a garbage can, and the incoming graduate class was given a talking down by some bigwig about not having our mail sent to the faculty office (the clerks felt clerical work was beneath them), not to expect any office space, and most definitely not to expect aid. That was one promise totally fulfilled: I got nothing from my department. Not one nickel. Nada, nothing but hot air. The faculty is over represented in self centered, pompous prigs. Their pets are easily identifiable: look for graduate students with incredibly arrogant attitudes. To enter some classes, you literally have to sit on the floor for hours outside a professor's door so that you can meet and be deemed worthy enough to attend the class (I'm not kidding about this humiliating ritual: I have the 'roids to prove it!). By the way, the housing market is very tight and expensive for people moving in, and the city of Berkeley takes immense pride in being an open air insane asylum and drug market. Finally when my doubts became too much for me to handle, and I confided to a faculty member that I wanted to withdraw, I was treated to a shame inducing lecture on how selfish I had been to deprive someone else a chance at attending the world-famous-in-Berkeley history department. I even got a harassing phone call from a professor upset that I was not going to ever attend one of her boring and self involved seminars Previously, the only teacher in my life who had ever shouted and insulted me had been a red neck with a crew cut and a whistle around his neck, and he had the good manners not to call me at home in the evening and upbraid me for being a churlish schoolboy. Finally, one of the union protected clerks held the promise of an F over my head for a class that had an "In Progress" status, that I had done the work for, but needed another class to fully complete (which I couldn't take because I was leaving). This was someone being mean: IPs and incompletes don't turn into Fs when you withdraw.

My advice?

Visit the school and talk to the department.

If you get a better offer somewhere else in terms of aid, take it.

Walk around the campus, especially around Telegraph, and see how safe you feel.

Whatever you budget, double it for the first year.

If you have doubts before entering, trust them.

If you change your mind, file the paperwork and don't confide in anyone about anything important: news travels real fast in those circles.

I withdrew, got on with my life, and regret the time I wasted at Berkeley more than the money.

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