Welcome to the second season of the Not So Secret Guide to Being a Berkeley Engineer. Our weekly summer podcast for our newest students, the incoming freshmen and transfers! For those that are new to the podcast, here’s a quick introduction. Engineering Student Services (ESS) wanted a way to communicate with students about important policies and procedures, events, deadlines, campus resources and first-person accounts of the College of Engineering and UC Berkeley. We decided a podcast would be a great way to make this happen.
Our topics this summer include how to plan your best schedule, financial aid, campus resources and interviews with professors and advisers on how to make your time as a Berkeley Engineer the best it can be.
Episode 201 is all about Golden Bear Advising (GBA), which some frosh have already started and the transfer students will be able to begin on June 13. Important links for our first episode are listed below. Please take a moment to listen in and find out more about why we’ve created GBA and how it will help you pick your first semester classes and get ready to enroll in your classes in July. Remember freshmen should complete GBA by June 24 and Transfer students by July 1.
- Make an appointment with your ESS Adviser.
- Begin Golden Bear Advising: bCourses
- UC Berkeley Academic Guide
- Engineering Degree Worksheets
LAURA VOGT: Hello and welcome to The Not So Secret Guide to Being a Berkeley Engineer. I’m your host Laura Vogt, the communications and events manager for Engineering Student Services and I’m very excited to be introducing the podcast to our newest students, the incoming freshmen and transfers. For those that are new, let me give you a quick little introduction to our podcast. Engineering Student Service is also known as ESS wanted a way to communicate with students about important policies and procedures, events, deadlines, campus resources, and even some first person accounts of the College of Engineering at UC Berkeley. So we decided a podcast would be a great way to make this happen. Over the summer we’ll have a podcast once a week and you can either download it from iTunes or sign up for an RSS feed on Welcome Engineers at berkeley.edu. We also have a full transcript available if you aren’t in the mood to listen. You can just read what we talked about. Each podcast varies in length from 5 to 30 minutes. Depends on what the subject is. The website is always going to have links to the resources that we talked about, so don’t worry if you miss a website or an email address, you just need to check out the website. Our topics this summer are ranging from exactly how to plan your schedule, to interviews with professors and advisers, on how to make your time as a Berkeley engineer the best that it can be. All right so for today I’ve invited Sharon Mueller and Kathy Barrett to talk about the first official task at ESS and UC Berkeley you’re asking you the Golden Bear advising, often shortened to GBA. Sharon, please introduce yourself to our new group of students.
SHARON MUELLER: So my name is Sharon Mueller and I am the Director of Advising and Policy in Engineering Student Services.
LV: And how long have you been with engineering.
SM: I have been with engineering five years and I’ve been on campus I think 27 years.
LV: And Kathy what about you?
KATHY BARRETT: Hi I’m Kathy Barrett. I’m the Associate Director in ESS and I also work with a group of students. I work with mechanical engineering students in the latter half of the alphabet and I work with students who are doing the joint major.
LV: And you’ve been in engineering few years as well.
KB: I’ve been here for about seven years and I’ve been on campus for about 25-30 years, some large amount of time so that’s good. So yeah it’s incredible.
LV: Oh thank you both so much for being here today. And I think our goal is to go over what GBA is and give some tips on what advisers are seeing as soon as they’ve begun the process of doing the GBA. So Sharon can you give us a quick rundown of what exactly GBA is?
SM: So GBA is an online module and in bCourses which actually students are going to become very familiar with once they’re here because they’ll be using that for all of their courses. So it’s really their introduction to the bCourses and they’ll be doing five modules within GBA. And the first module is just sort of a general module about academic support and enrichment. That’s very campus based. In engineering, we also have a lot of academic support and enrichment and students will hear more about that in August when they come to Golden Bear Orientation and then the second module is an introduction the Cal Central. And a lot of students have already been into Cal Central but it all kind of introduces them to the various parts of Cal Central and how to find information in Cal Central and then module 3 is about course search and planning. So that’s of course going to be really important when students are planning their schedules and their module 4 is the College of Engineering online orientation. So when students click on module 4 it looks like it’s just a paragraph but they actually have to click on the link and that takes them into the College of Engineering online orientation and that’ll take them about an hour or maybe two hours to go through that part and at the end of that they’re going to submit a schedule to their ESS advisers so that’s a really important part. And then module 5 is all about enrollment and adjustment and next steps and there’s some information about troubleshooting in module 5
LV: And going a little bit out of order of the questions that I’ve got for everyone, I know that some of the Frosh have already started doing GBA. So what are some of the dates that we need to keep in mind as we’re talking about this?
KB: Right. So the Frosch got access to GBA starting on May 30th. So we’ve actually already had a lot of freshmen who have gone through it and submitted schedules. The deadline for Frosch to finish is June 24th and then they’ll be registering on July 18 so that will give their adviser enough time to kind of get back to them about any concerns about the schedule or any feedback. And then for transfer students they don’t yet have access to GBA but they will get access next Wednesday on June 13th and the deadline for them to finish it is July 1st and then the transfer students are going to register on July 16th so that’ll give their advisers some time to get back to them if there’s some questions about the schedules.
LV: And Kathy, can you tell us a little bit more about CoE’s part of GBA. Why do we have something a little different than what why are we taking people out of bCourses?
KB: Right. So we had even before the course or even before GBA started we had already created an online orientation. So we knew that our students it was to get them prepared to come to our old version of the orientation that we used to have an on campus program that happened in June. But we found it is really helpful and it fit in really nicely to where GBA was going and so it also gives us the opportunity to really guide students and ask them specific questions about what they’ve completed what kind of tests they’ve taken, we can really guide them to very specifically help them create a schedule. So we feel like our it wasn’t really a way to do that within bCourses which was kind of the format that GBA is running on. So we created our own orientation so we really could work very directly with our students and we knew what requirements they needed and guide them through the program. Also we created some of our own videos which we think are super helpful so it was just for us for a way to really be able to work with our students directly get a schedule from them and really guide them through the process of choosing courses.
LV: And one of the things that I know that we worked really hard on trying to make it the best that we could is a series of questions specifically about what classes you take and what math class you’re planning on taking and give you a really personalized schedule at the end of this that you’re sending to your ESS adviser.
KB: Right. So the goal is that students really know here’s what I’ve come in with and then based on that how does that help me form a schedule and then to be able to make a schedule and get feedback from their advisor about it.
LV: And so at the end of this we’re sending it to your ESS adviser what you’re proposed schedule is and ask you about what your backup courses is. What does the adviser do with it at that point?
KB: The adviser will review it and then respond back to the student with suggestions about the schedule that they see any tweaks they might ask with some questions, certainly sometimes I get a schedule. Because part of GBA we actually give students based on their response is we say, here’s our recommended list of courses for you. And I’ve already had students send back schedules. It’s like they’re not doing any of the courses or some of the courses I recommended so and so then it’s kind of that back and forth like oh I’ve see you’ve chosen this course. What’s your intention with that? So we trying to you know just work with them to figure out what’s the best schedule for them, given what the student wants to accomplish while they’re here. So that’s a starting point.
LV: Do you also look at the number of units that they’re taking? Advice on their course load that they are thinking that they could do?
KB: Sure. So a lot of times students will send with lots of classes and we’ll talk about that could be a heavy course load. We’ll talk a little bit about that we also talk though about going over-enrolling and then what we might call shopping and dropping so that students can plan for courses to try them out. They’ve never taken a college course. Most of them. Certainly haven’t taken a course in Berkeley for most of them. So what are they like? For me in particular, for my Mechanical Engineering students, there’s a couple two unit classes that are part of the mechanical engineering curriculum. And you might assume that a two unit class is pretty easy. There’s not a lot of work and it’s kind of the exact opposite. ME25 is a pretty time intensive class. So it’s having a discussion with students about how to create a schedule that works for them and how to give them a chance to try some things out so that by the fourth week of this semester they’ve really got a schedule that feels right for them.
LV: And we have a minimum and a maximum that they can do for this first, or not necessarily the minimum but the policy is that you have to take 12 units per semester. But what’s the maximum that they could register for?
KB: During Phase 1 their first time around, they can register for up to 17.5 units. So they really can create all of their priority classes so they should be able to really get everything they want for their first semester. They can go up to 20.5 units in the adjustment period which starts in August. And again we wouldn’t want anyone in 20 and a half units. But if they want to try out a bunch of classes and then drop to what feels like the right schedule but yeah. Eventually we want everyone to be in at minimum 12 units and two technical courses that are for their major.
LV: And when it comes time to worrying about needing to drop classes by a certain date we are definitely in contact with students via e-mail. You’re going to continue getting weekly e-mails from us every Monday throughout the semester. That’s give you deadlines and policies and things that you need to keep on top of.
SM: So pay attention to those e-mails for sure. Please open the e-mails and read the newsletters.
LV: What if a student has a little bit more questions or they want to have like a one on one with their adviser to get a little bit more rather than the back and forth of an e-mail?
SM: Yeah. And that might be easier actually for both the student and the adviser to actually have a conversation on the phone or certainly for local students or students who are visiting they can come into our office once they make an appointment. So once a student submits a schedule the adviser will look it over and will then respond to the student. And that could take a few days. You know that could take up to a week because of course you know they’re getting a lot of schedules right now. But once the adviser responds if the student feels like they have more questions, then they can make an appointment with the adviser. And that’s just done through our Website. And the advisor will likely in the e-mail response informed students of how they can make an appointment with them and they’ll be just 15 minute appointments. But sometimes with a lot of questions, it’s just a lot easier to do it in person or over the phone. And there can be an easier back and forth conversation than through e-mail. So it’s often a more efficient and effective way so students are welcome to have that one on one time with our advisor if they want to do that before they register.
LV: And they can’t do it until after they’ve completed GBA. Right?
SM: That’s right. Yeah. It’s we really want students to go through all the modules of GBA, particularly the College of Engineering module and we’re really expecting students to take their time going through it to watch the videos. Maybe more than once, because then they’ll have more informed questions. And of course no question is a dumb question, but it’s just going to be a better conversation and more enriching conversation if they’re better prepared for the conversation with their adviser. Because they only have 15 minutes so they’ll certainly want to get to the core of their questions pretty quickly.
KB: And what I would say to his students when they’re submitting their schedule is that might feel like I’m committing to something and the schedule is a starting point for a conversation whether email or phone appointment or in-person. Certainly students can continue to revise their schedule and make changes to it but it’s just a great starting point for us to talk about what they want to do with their first semester at Cal.
SM: Yeah don’t get stymied by you know that submit button. I know it can seem like a big commitment all of a sudden you’re submitting your list of courses but we certainly don’t want students to be stalled there if they’re just not sure. They can submit it and then once they have a conversation with their advisor or perhaps it’s going to change quite a bit. And that’s fine. That’s not a problem. We just want to they need to submit something to give us the starting point and
LV: the best way to make the appointment is not to ask “hey when are you available”. It’s through our website. engineering.berkeley.edu/ESS and there’s a big button on there that says “Make an appointment.”
KB: And I’m sure Laura will put that on the website. And we also when we respond back to you in a link on everyone’s e-mail. Everyone should have a link to that. And that really is the best way. I do have students say hey when are you available to talk. Like I’m available when my appointments are available. So definitely use our appointment system it’s super easy to use. And you can find a time that works for you. Talk to your advisor and our advisers are available.
LV: Typically it’s a Monday through Friday thing so don’t be surprised you’re not seeing any Saturday Sunday events.
SM: Right. Right. And Wednesdays are drop-in days and so there usually are not appointments available on Wednesdays. But students are in the area are certainly welcome to drop in to see an adviser on Wednesday.
LV: OK. And if a student as they’re going through the process of their GBA. What if they have a course that they think will count as requirement? Is there a way for them to evaluate that or find out if that’s something that they can actually do?
SM: Oh you mean like a course they took somewhere else. Perhaps a community college or a four year university. Yeah. So that, of course, for California community colleges that’s really easy because there’s a Website called assist.org and courses that have evaluations already done or are listed on there are articulated. So that’s really straightforward. If it’s not the California community college course then part of what the students will want to do, we actually asked them in GBA for freshmen, we ask them if they’ve taken any courses and where they’ve taken them, and then for transfer students we generally ask them where they’ve completed most of their courses and so they’ll want to start that process with their adviser. And what’s really important is to make sure that they keep the syllabi for those courses because that’s what will need to be submitted and then the courses get evaluated by faculty here in that department. So if it’s a math course, the math faculty will evaluate it. But ESS adviser will work closely with them to go through that process in the summer and hopefully they will have some kind of response so that they know where they’re going to place themselves in courses in the fall. Especially if it’s if it’s impacting the courses they’re going to take in the fall. They’ll want to start that process in the summer.
LV: Okay. And Kathy, you touched on a little bit earlier that we had videos in our COE portion of the GBA. And I don’t know if it’s because I’m the one that did a lot of work on the videos. But I want to make sure that students understand why we took the time to make these and we try to make them entertaining they’re fairly short in the sense of their amount isn’t like hours long. But why was it important to us to try to make videos and get across the messages. So for instance we’ve got one about choosing the best R and C course for you.
SM: Yeah. So that’s in the freshman GBA. So that’s choosing good reading and composition course. There are a lot of factors to think about when you’re choosing a reading and composition course that probably are not intuitive to students. And so our resident actress Jane Paris who’s also an ESS adviser and Laura have put together this great video to show students where they find the information to choose a reading and comp course that’s right for them. And so that’s a really helpful video that kind of gives students a secret insider tip on how to find the best and R and C course for you.
LV: And then we actually mean two versions of a video one for freshmen and one for transfer students for humanities and social science requirement because it’s going to be a little different just based on what the transfer students are coming in with. And I like that video because it seems to be one of the things that I think you don’t think about as much when you’re in engineering is as a humanities and social science. So let’s we try to explain a little better why we want you to do it. And Jane can give some sample schedules of what it might look like.
SM: Right. It’s a college wide requirement. So all Engineering students have to fulfill the humanities and social sciences requirement. But somehow you know it seems sort of a mystery to students sometimes. And so Jane’s videos really kind of break it down in a really clear way on how a student fulfills the HSS requirement
LV: And I know one of the modules that they’re doing I think you said it was module 3 is about course search and planning. And then we have some videos that are actually going a little bit more in depth into the course search and planning. And that was just more so because I know people learn differently and people can understand things differently. So ours actually went into the programs and did click by click of what it’s going to look like what you should look for with highlights compared to the one that they were doing and the main modules was screenshots.
KB: So module 3 is just screenshots of Cal central which is how to do scheduling which is fine but I think your interactive version is so much more helpful to really guide students through the process of how you’re going to start with: I find a class, how do we get it into the schedule plan or how do I get it into my shopping cart and then eventually how do I enroll in it. I think that information is covered in module 3 but I think watching your video makes it just so much clearer and easier to understand.
LV: Just another way to quickly look through it. I think it really enhances what’s in the third one. I only bring it up because it seems odd that hey we had a whole module about this why are we watching another video? It’d because I think the video gives you just a different way of looking at the information that was presented.
SM: And I think it’s only like four or five minutes and you’re you’re really showing them how to pick your course, how to create a schedule, how to allow a schedule planner to do all that work for you and then how to modify it. And so it’s a really quick video but it’s super helpful.
LV: And the last one that we did classes.berkeley.edu. We really wanted to be able to focus on finding the course restrictions.
SM: Yeah. So they have a few names I think they’re called course restriction sometimes called reserve caps. But what those are are you know some courses are reserved for certain students in certain categories. So some courses might be reserved for junior civil engineering students. But the only way to see that is the most clear way is in classes.berkeley.edu and so that’s sort of the schedule of classes that students can access and in the video, you show them how to read that information and where to find it because it’s there. And it’s really critical but sometimes students miss it and that can cause issues when they’re trying to enroll in classes.
KB: I think it’s great for students because when you look at that and you see gosh all the seats in Phase 1 are reserved for students who are Letters and Science freshmen. Like well, I’m not a Letters and Science freshmen so I don’t have access this. But maybe during Phase two or just wait you’ll see that, oh they open up all the seats to everyone. So I guess I’ll just wait till then. Or you know. So it gives you a sense of why you might get an error message about a class because if you’re not meeting the Reserve caps you’re not going to be able to get in. So it helps. It avoids that trying having something on your schedule that you feel like going to be that perfect class. But it’s like oh I don’t actually have access to that class. So yeah, we think it’s really helpful to understand that classes.berkeley.edu is becoming more and more robust with lots more information being added to it each semester. And so we really think it’s a really good resource for students. The search engine is really good. It’s a way to search to find your American Culture class, to find your breadth or HSS class. You’ll search under breath. So it’s a really it’s a really helpful tool.
SM: And Kathy just reminded me I just wanted to mention because I think on classes.berkeley.edu you do see during Phase 1, Phase 2, and adjustment period at least for the Reserve caps. Yes. And I just want to explain to the new students that they actually don’t have a Phase 2, they just have a Phase 1 and their Phase 1 is up to 17.5 units. Continuing students have a Phase 1 and Phase 2. So the students who were here in Spring were able to enroll in only 13.5 in Phase 1 and then they’re going to have a Phase 2 after all of the new students enroll. So if students see Phase 1, Phase 2, it might be confusing to new students but just consider that, Ok, I’m in Phase 1 I’m skipping phase 2 and then there’s adjustment period. So that’s just sort of unique for the new students.
LV: Ok. And so, to kind of wrap it all together what happens when the student finishes GBA? What’s the next step?
KB: They, in terms of their orientation process, they’ll get something called Golden Bear prep which is another online module. Golden Bear prep, I think, deals with, I think it has more about life at Cal.
SM: We didn’t make it. It’s a campus wide program. And I’m sure it’s awesome.
KB: I think it gives them about the traditions and history of Cal and get them also ready to come to campus in August and then in August we’ve got Golden Bear orientation and where we get to meet people face to face.
SM: Yeah, yeah, we’re very excited about that. And so I think for the students is six days or seven days this time. I don’t know it starts on Tuesday. I think move in is on Tuesday the 14th (of August).
KB: It’s kind of how you define it, because the following Tuesday is a free day but that might still be part of GBA. Scheduled events kind of starts on Tuesday.
SM: That’s right. And they’ll be with us all day Thursday and then half day Monday of that. So we’re busy planning all of that and they’ll get to meet their advisor one on one in person this time and some faculty and the Dean. So we’re really excited about that. It’s our chance to kind of get to know them a little better
KB: And they get to meet with their major departments and major departments do presentations and they get to kind of get a little taste of what life is like in the majors.
SM: So yeah and meet other students in their major. So yeah it’s a time for them to kind of get connected and get ready.
LV: Oh, so it’s going to be really nice. So thank you so much Kathy and Sharon for joining us today to talk about Golden Bear advising. I I’m going to invite both of you back for next week because we’re going to talk a little bit more about the actual schedule planning. So now that you’ve picked what courses you want to take. How are you creating the schedule of what your day to day is going to look like? And there’s things that we want you to keep in mind as you’re doing it about waitlists and shopping for courses that Kathy talked about a little bit earlier. So we’re going to give a little bit more into the nitty gritty of that. And I’m excited for all of our new students who have joined us for the Not So Secret Guide to Being a Berkeley engineer. And I look forward to bringing you new content each week this summer. So thank you so much for tuning in. And thank you again for joining us today. Thank you.