It’s that time of year again to welcome our incoming first-year and transfer students to Berkeley Engineering. Throughout the summer (and beyond) we have a weekly podcast that will introduce you to staff, faculty and students in the College of Engineering and give you the not so secret guide to being a successful Berkeley Engineer. We are excited to start off The (Not So) Secret Guide to Being a Berkeley Engineer with an overview of Golden Bear Advising (GBA). This week you’ll meet two members of the Engineering Student Services team: Sharon Mueller, Director of Advising and Policy, and Kathy Barrett, Associate Director of Advising.
Each podcast will have important links listed below, as well as the transcript for the episode. Have a question that you would like addressed? Send us an email at email@example.com.
- Get to know Engineering Student Services & make an appointment with your ESS Adviser
- Golden Bear Advising
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 introduction to our podcast.
Engineering Student Service, also known as ESS, wanted a way to communicate with students about important policies and procedures, events, deadlines, campus resources, and the give you the chance to hear from students that were in your position – not too long ago. 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 welcomengineer.berkeley.edu. We also have a full transcript available if you would rather read.
Each podcast varies in length from 5 to 30 minutes, depending on the subject. The website will include links to the resources that we talk about, so don’t worry if you miss a website or an email address, you just need to check out the website, welcomengineer.berkeley.edu. Our topics this summer are ranging from planning your first semester schedule, interviews with professors and advisers, and how to make your time as a Berkeley Engineer the best that it can be.
And that brings us to today, our first podcast of the summer. I’ve invited Sharon Mueller, Director of Advising and Policy and Kathy Barrett, Associate Director of Advising to give us more information on the first official task at ESS and UC Berkeley – Golden Bear Advising, often shortened to GBA.
SHARON MUELLER: Thank you.
LV: Please tell us a little bit about yourself and what your roll is within ESS.
SM: Like you mentioned I’m the Director of Advising and Policy, Engineering Student Services is the advising office that works with all UC Berkeley, College of Engineering undergraduates. I am over that part of the office.
LV: And Kathy why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and what your role at ESS is.
KATHY BARRETT: Hi, I’m Kathy Barrett and I’m the Associate Director of Advising. I do have a caseload of students. I work with material science and engineering students and students who are joint majors and I advise a little bit of the mechanical engineering majors. Sharon and I also worked together on projects for the office.
LV: Excellent. Thank you again, both of you, for being here, I really appreciate it. Let’s start off with what we’re here for today. Sharon you want to tell us about GBA and what it is.
SM: Sure. First I’ll start with just congratulating all of our new students and welcoming them. We’re really excited. We will get to meet you in person in August at Golden Bear Orientation. But what we’re here to talk about today is Golden Bear Advising and that’s really an online orientation tool for students. And it will introduce them to the campus, to the academics at the campus, and then specifically there is a module just for College of Engineering students. And that’s going to guide them in the process of choosing their courses for the fall semester.
LV: What are some of the dates that we need to keep in mind for GBA, Kathy?
KB: For our new freshman students starting on this Wednesday, June 5th, they’ll get access to GBA. That’s their first chance to start working through the modules, so there’s five modules to work through. I mean, they certainly don’t have to do them all at once. They can start, come back. We’d like them to be finished no later than June 30th with their modules. As part of that they’ll be submitting a schedule, their proposed schedule for the semester, to their ESS adviser. It’s their first chance to communicate with their ESS adviser about what courses they would like to take. And then of course questions and concerns they have. They can follow up after they’ve completed GBA. So we’d like them – June 5th is the start date, June 30th we would like them be finished – and then their advisers have until July 10th to respond back to them. They will get a response back. Every student will submit a schedule and every student will get a response back. For our transfer students, you’re going to start GBA June 12th. We want you to finish it by July 7th and then your adviser will respond back to you by July 17th. Registering for classes is happening July 22nd and 24th. There is plenty of time you know to shape your schedule, make any changes. So we have lots of time to work on that throughout this sort of month and a half period that we have to work together.
LV: On the GBA, I know College of Engineering pulls them out of bCourses. Why did we think that was important. What are we giving them by taking them out of bCourses?
SM: We have built a sort of logic driven online orientation because we know that students come in with varying levels of preparation, in both first year students and transfer students. We wanted to build an online orientation that would really guide students for their very specific academic preparation in the courses they should be taking in the fall. Our part is module four. When students get to module four, it looks like it’s just a paragraph or two but you actually have to click the link in module four, that will take the students out of bCourses and into our online orientation. We expect that our online orientation might take students about an hour, maybe two hours. We really would like them to watch the videos and read everything. It goes through all of the requirements and certainly we’re not expecting them to remember every single requirement or how the requirements are broken down, but at least they will get introduced and they will know where to find that information in the future. And it is really important for them to know that information while they’re planning their fall schedule.
KB: I know I’ve gotten emails from students wanting asking questions about what should I take and it really it’s helpful if all the students go through GBA first, and that’s all we’re asking all students to do, is go through GBA because it really will give you an overview of your college requirements. So you have a sense of what is it I have to do. And then we’re going to ask you specifically what have you already done. What AP scores might you have taken or what do you think you might have got if you’re still pending some scores make some guesses. We’ll talk to them about maybe what math class you want to take in the fall. So we’ll actually give them some sample final exam questions, so they can figure out what’s the best math for me. Even though I think I might have gotten a five on my AP BC exam, do I want to go into Math 53 or 54 or do I want to do Math 1B. So I kind of think and engage them their level, so it really is super helpful that they go through GBA, whether freshmen or transfer, and respond to the questions and let us know what they’ve already completed. So then we can have a much more well-informed discussion with them after that. Students are certainly welcome after they complete GBA to make an appointment with their adviser and phone appointment or in-person appointment or Skype. We’re happy to chat with them but really completing GBA is the starting point. I know students have been anxious to get started planning but we really are asking them to wait. Do GBA and that will really get them ready to have a really good conversation with their adviser and very specifically about their requirement.
SM:Yeah. So actually, our system is actually preventing students from making an appointment with their adviser until they’ve complete a GBA. And I know that can cause some anxiety for students because they might have a question as they’re going through GBA and they might think oh my gosh I don’t I don’t know if I’m answering this correctly. It’s OK. All those answers you can change. We just want you to go through it and submit a fall course schedule. Don’t worry. That can change. After your conversation with your adviser you might decide to change that up completely. But we want you to start with something before we have a conversation. It’s really hard for us to advise students until we know a little bit more about their preparation. Our online orientation module, when they get to the point of sort of the course planning section, it all starts with math. And hopefully as engineers they like math. We do quite a bit to help them choose the right math course because that is really important for them to place themselves in the right math course. And certainly though there are some students who may not feel comfortable starting with Math 1A, which is a single variable calculus, so there’s even a little diagnostic exam where they can decide are they ready for Math 1A or do they want to do Math 32. The module is assuming students are either going to start with Math 1A, 1B et cetera but that certainly doesn’t preclude a student from wanting to start with Math 32. So just go through GBA you certainly might have some questions write them down and then once you’ve submitted your schedule and finished GBA you can then make an appointment with your adviser to discuss in more detail.
LV: Is there anything special that they need to do to submit their schedule.
SM: Again the most important part is when you get to module four, you have to click the link for College of Engineering Online Orientation, and then go through it all the way. Once you get to the end, or very very close to the end, there is a button where it’s very clear that you’re submitting your schedule. Just to keep in mind if you completely change your mind a day later about your schedule, you can jump right to that part and submit a different schedule. Nothing is set in stone, I don’t want students to panic. Submitting schedule sounds really formal but it’s just a starting point.
LV: Once they submit that schedule that’s not the end of it. There is more that goes into that, they’re hearing back from the advisers, like Kathy was saying.
KB: Right. Advisers will get a copy of the schedule you submit and then we’ll respond back via email. So that’s going to be our first point of conversation with all of our students. Everyone’s going to get an email response back from their adviser saying thanks for your schedule, here’s some comments I have. A lot of advisers will have also some good just general information about how to help students with scheduling. Usually there’s a pretty long email response back from your adviser, trying to give you our suggestions about your schedule, what we think about it, and any other comments we might have and just some general tips about scheduling. So that’s your first conversation with your adviser. From there you can of course respond back as a student and if you have more questions feel free to ask them. If it feels like an appointment of some sort – phone, in person, Google Hangouts – would make more sense than we can. We have a scheduling system and we give you a link to that when we respond back, so you can actually go online and make an appointment with your adviser. We definitely will email you a response back so you’ll know and that again for freshman you’ll hear back from us no later than July 10th and for transfers no later than July 17th.
LV: What if a student is going through the process with their parent and their parent wants to get more information? For example, you get an e-mail not from the student, what do we do then?
LV: Let’s talk a little bit more about the registration process when you’re choosing your classes. There’s a minimum and maximum number of units that they have to take and do we address that as part of our central planning?
SM: We do, that as part of our online orientation. The minimum units is 12 and the maximum is 20.5. Certainly for a first semester’s schedule we are hoping students aren’t thinking about going as high as 20.5. If they put that in their plan, certainly you know the adviser might provide that feedback to them. This is really a whole year of transition, so it’s important to start off strongly, and we really recommend that they stick closer to maybe you know 12 to 16, something like that.
LV: We talked about the dates that are coming up and where you find that information. But throughout the year we also do we send information about deadlines and policies. What’s the best way for students to make sure they’re keeping on top of these important dates?
SM: Check your e-mail. We’re pretty much going to be communicating with students at their Berkeley email address. So right now is a good time, if they haven’t been already, to start checking that very regularly. We also send an ESS newsletter, when is that starting up again Laura?
LV: Throughout the summer we’re going to be sending a weekly newsletter that tells you about the new podcast that’s coming out and also give more of the tips that correspond with the podcast subject. You can get used to getting an email from us. It’s firstname.lastname@example.org. It should go out once a week. It’s either going to be a Monday and Tuesday depending on if there’s a holiday in there.
SM: Also on our website we have the really important deadlines, like the deadline to drop a class, the deadline to change grading options, et cetera. So those kind of deadlines once the semester starts, those are always on the front page of the Student Services website on engineering.berkeley.edu/ess.
LV: We were talking about making appointments with advisers. How did they do that? We don’t want them to just email us and say when are you available.
KB: No, actually on our ESS website there’s a little box that says “Make an appointment with your ESS adviser.” They’re able to click on that and make an appointment. If they want it to be a phone appointment. They should note that as part of the reason that it’s a phone appointment and what they’ll actually do is they’ll have to call us. We don’t call you. So if you note that your adviser will probably respond back with the phone number to call or otherwise…How is our best way to do that if we want them to call?
SM: This year are we’re gonna be a little difficult to reach by phone for about three weeks because our office is going through a little facelift. So I think still note that it’s a phone appointment and we do have some other offices that we’ll have access to. Your adviser is just going to have to email you and let you know what phone number to call. It’ll just depend on where your adviser is sitting that day. Since we’re going to be a little bit homeless for a few weeks starting June 24th. We’ll still be available by email and we’ll still check our voicemails but we’re just not going to be at our desks for about three or four weeks there in the summer. It is sort of happening at the height of when this is all happening.
KB: But we’re available and we’re here.
SM: Yes we’re here and we’re going to figure out a way to make it work.
LV: For GBA, what do they do next? I know they’ve got more stuff that they have to do online for the campus…
KB: Golden Bear PREP is next. After they complete GBA, in early July, they’ll be asked to start Golden Bear Prep and that I think they need to have done by August, sometime in August. And that really gives them even a better picture of campus and traditions and also safety. It talks about how to have kind of a healthy safe transition to Cal. It’s a really important module. And then after that, as Sharon mentioned, there’s Golden Bear Orientation, which is actually the in-person orientation that most students probably think of a college orientation is about. They’re going to come to campus for a week prior to classes starting and get a chance to be on campus meet fellow students start to make connections and get to meet their adviser. They’ll have a whole college day, where they’ll spend the whole day with engineering students and us advisers and they’ll get to meet people in their department. Lots of fun things happening and that’s in the end of August. We’ll start online and get to meet you and then we’re going to meet you in person at the end of August.
LV: Thank you both for coming in today. I really appreciate you being here, Kathy and Sharon. Make sure you keep checking your email. We’ve got tons of information that we’re going to be sending you every week throughout the summer and then definitely during the school year. Thank you very much for listening in today and I’m really excited to get to know all of our new incoming freshmen and transfer students this summer. And we will talk to you next week. Thank you.