Welcome to the Not So Secret Guide to Being a Berkeley Engineer. Our first episode this year goes into the first task you’ll have as Berkeley Engineers, Golden Bear Advising (GBA). Director of advising and policy, Sharon Mueller, and associate director of advising and policy, Kathy Barrett, give you an explanation of GBA, what to expect and how it is going to help you prepare for your enrollment time slot in July.
LAURA VOGT: Hello and welcome to The Not So Secret Guide to Being a Berkeley Engineer. I am your host, Laura Vogt, the Associate Director of Marketing and Communications in the College of Engineering. This is the first episode of our fourth season and I’m excited to start bringing our new students another way to learn about Berkeley Engineering and the resources and programs that are available to our undergraduates. This year has had a lot of changes as we all know – including more that we don’t even know about yet, but what hasn’t changed is our commitment to making your experience as Berkeley Engineers fantastic.
For our first episode we have Sharon Mueller and Kathy Barrett from Engineering Student Services to discuss the first part of your education journey – Golden Bear Advising. Sharon and Kathy – welcome to the podcast!
KATHY BARRETT: Hello!
SHARON MUELLER: Thank you.
LV: Sharon, please tell us about yourself and your role in ESS.
SM: I’m Sharon Mueller and I’m the director of advising and policy in Engineering Student Services
LV: And thank you again for being here. And Kathy your turn please tell us about yourself and your role in ESS.
KB: Hi, I’m Kathy Barrett and I’m the associate director of Engineering Student Services and I work with students in mechanical engineering, materials sciences and the joint majors.
LV: Sharon, let’s start this off with you. Can you tell us what is Golden Bear Advising and how do our students participate?
SM: Golden Bear Advising is an online program that all Berkeley students go through when they come to Berkeley and the goal of Golden Bear Advising is really to acclimate students to the requirements and the policies of their college and introduce them to the systems and ultimately choose a schedule for their first semester.
LV: What are some of the key dates that students should keep in mind this year, Kathy?
KB: For transfer students, June 1st is their deadline to accept their offer of admission and then on June 2nd GBA will be available for our new freshmen students. June 16th GBA will be available for our transfer students and then June 23rd we want our freshmen to be done with GBA. June 30th is the due date for transfer students to finish GBA and then what everyone is looking forward to July 14 transfer students will enroll in classes and July 16th freshmen will enroll in classes.
LV: Will there be information about how to enroll in classes for GBA? I know we’re excited that we get to do it in the middle of July but how are they going to learn how to do that?
SM: GBA is really going to help students focus on what classes to take and then how to search for classes and how to do your Schedule Planner or to actually plan out schedules. But it won’t actually teach students how to enroll. There’s going to be a separate course that will be released to students in early July that will just teach students how to enroll. GBA is just about searching, choosing and then the second enrollment course will be all about how to enroll in those courses.
LV: OK. And what tips do we have for students that have more questions or want to contact an advisor as they start planning their schedules?
KB: At this point certainly we want everyone to go through GBA and complete that. As part of GBA you’ll actually get a list of suggested courses for you to enroll in and that same list will also go to your advisor along with the answers to the questions that are part of GBA which tells us what you’ve already completed like you’ll tell us about your AP scores if you’re a freshman or a transfer student. Transfer students will ask you some questions about what courses you’ve already completed. So we’ll get a full kind of rundown of where you stand in terms of lots of requirements and then we actually will send you as part of GBA a suggested list of courses for you to take. And then at that point after you’ve done all that you’re welcome to talk to your advisor your advisor will actually respond back to you after GBA. They’ll get a copy of your schedule and they’ll give you some more tips about classes and things and then you could even make an appointment with your advisor if you want.
LV: One of the great things about this is that when you click that submit schedule button at the end of GBA it’s not just going into some void?
KB: Right. It’s coming to your advisor who can see the classes you’re thinking about taking which is great. Then we’ll talk to you about your schedule. Does it look too heavy? We might ask you why that course versus this course. We get to have a conversation at that point about your schedule.
LV: And it doesn’t just give you… we think you should take these courses it also gives you alternative courses, so maybe if something got too full or we try to plan for some routes.
KB: Yeah, we try to give you as many options as we can given that programs are pretty structured. We have to get through all the math and physics and engineering classes. But within that we try and give you as much flexibility as we can to get the right classes.
SM: And I might add students when they hit that submit schedule button, don’t panic too much. If you’re not entirely sure about that schedule it’s just really the start of a conversation so don’t feel like you have to have everything set in stone before you hit submit schedule at the end of GBA. You’ll have plenty of time to discuss some options with your advisor before you actually enroll in July.
LV: We talked about this a little bit earlier that part of GBA is putting in information about what classes you’ve taken. Is GBA very different for freshmen and transfer students?
KB: Yes it is. For freshmen we’re going to focus on – tell us information about exams you’ve taken so we could get a sense and if you’ve done any coursework elsewhere at a four year school or a community college what you’ve completed. That’s really what we’re going to focus on for freshmen, is trying to get a sense of what preparation you are bringing in from high school. For transfer students, we ask them very specific questions. Have you completed a course that’s equivalent to Engineering 7 which is a common class that a lot of transfer students have to take. It’s a common part of the curriculum for a lot of students. So we ask them some very specific questions about what they’ve already completed. We know that all transfer students already have a certain set of courses already done. They come in with reading composition done, with all of their lower division math, their lower division physics, chemistry, so we know certain things are already done. We’re really focusing on what preparation they may have for their engineering courses. But the results are the same in that both groups of students will get a suggested list of courses based on the information they’ve shared with us and then they’ll get a suggested schedule. They’ll tell us what they’re thinking about taking for the fall semester and then we’ll respond back based on what we know about them.
LV: And one of the questions that we get asked a lot is trying to evaluate how your AP test score will translate to what math course you should take. Do you have any advice outside of GBA or how they should approach answering those questions and GBA?
SM: Well in GBA that’s a really common question especially about math and we know certainly this year that AP courses were a little different than they were in prior years and students who may have tested out of say math 1A or math 1A and 1B kind of need to make a decision about will do I go on to sophomore level math or do I start with math 1A. So we have a whole page in GBA that’s devoted to helping students choose which math course to begin with. And in that page we include some final exams from math 1A and 1B so students can kind of gauge how comfortable they are with that material before deciding.
LV: Is there a benefit for students to rush through GBA and get it done right at the beginning of June?
KB: Well we would like people to take time and read it over and get as much out of it as they can if they get it done early because they wanted to talk to an advisor I think we’d normally…Sharon, I’m going to defer to you because I feel like we’ve not started taking appointments until after GBA is due but that I can’t remember.
SM: Yes, actually our system will allow students to make an appointment as soon as they’ve completed GBA so they could conceivably make an appointment with their advisor even before the due date if they’ve already completed GBA.
LV: I know a lot of times because the students, especially since you’re just finishing up high school, you’re probably still at home with your parents or guardians and you might go through the process with them. If the parents want to get more information and send emails are we going to be able to work with parents or what is our policy there?
KB: We don’t respond to parents. We really are just working with the students. In general this is the student’s education and there’s a certain amount of confidentiality around it. We certainly wouldn’t talk to a parent about a student’s current schedule. Those sort of things are confidential so in general we really want to work with the students. We want to see what they want to do, understand their goals and dreams for their education and really work with them. Our process is normally that we don’t work with parents.
LV: And we’ve talked about the dates that are coming up and where to find that information but throughout the year we also send more deadlines and policies reminders and things along those lines. What’s the best way for students to make sure that they’re keeping up on top of these important dates and this important information?
SM: Well Laura, you prepare a fabulous newsletter that usually goes out on Mondays. And that’s really a hub and a wealth of information for students. Any deadlines that are coming up, like adding or dropping, any changes in policy, any company info sessions, any internship postings, all sorts of great information are in the newsletter. I know this information is also on our website but I really encourage all of the students to read that newsletter every week. And Laura when will the new students get their first newsletter do you think? When should they expect that?
LV: They’re actually going to get it on the day that this podcast is released, will be the first official newsletter. So throughout the entire summer you’re going to get a newsletter every Monday along with a new podcast, so we’re going to try to make sure that you know our resources and the programs that we have available for everyone as they come in.
KB: And students don’t have to join; they’re automatically added to the newsletter mailing list so it just happens as part of this whole admissions process.
LV: Exactly. As a Berkeley engineer I have access to your email. I like this question especially because things are a little bit different with COVID-19 and we’re not in the office so when students start to make an appointment with their advisor is it easy to get an appointment? What’s the process of making one?
KB: It’s very easy. We have an online appointment system, you log in and choose your adviser and your adviser’s schedule pops up and you pick the day and time that works for you. Advisers are all doing remote advising, but we’re all available Monday through Friday. We have appointments every day of the week and find what day and time works for you and click on that. Once you’ve made the appointment, the adviser will usually that day or the day before send you a link to a Google Hangouts and you guys will meet via Google Hangouts. So yes, even though we’re all home working, we’re working with all our students and we have access to all your information. We’re able to work with you and give you advice about whatever you need advice about.
LV: And how long do the apartments usually last for?
KB: 20 minutes.
LV: OK and is there anything about GBA that we haven’t talked about yet that we want to highlight for our students?
KB: One thing I would note is once you’ve completed GBA and submitted your schedule and had a conversation with your advisor a lot of students will go in and make small changes and then it gets sent again to us they’ll submit it again. You don’t need to do that if you’ve had a conversation with your advisor and you guys we’re talking about Oh well I was going to take math 1A on Tuesday and Thursday but now I’m going to take the math 1A on Monday Wednesday Friday. You don’t need to resubmit your schedule to tell me that. Once we’ve got the bones of your schedule down and you know what classes you’re taking no matter what changes you’re making. You don’t need to resubmit and we end up just getting a lot of the same schedule over and over again or things that are minutely different and you don’t need to do that if we have what we feel like is a good schedule if you want to make big changes to your schedule or have big questions about like Oh we talked about that I was going to take engineering twenty five this semester but now I don’t want to take it I want to do something else. Yeah you should email your advisor and let them know but changes within the scheduling process you don’t need to tell us that.
SM:I might add make sure you give your advisor some time. Once you submit your schedule it will take the advisors you know probably a week or two to get through all of the schedules that they’re getting. So don’t panic if you don’t hear back the next day. It’s going to take a little time for you to hear back from your advisor so don’t worry. If you received an email for completing the College of Engineering online at orientation you’re going to get a copy of all the things you answered and your recommended schedule. Rest assured that your advisor also got that. So if you could just be patient and I think the other thing that takes a little time is G.B. A will actually show up as a task on students Cal central and they can click into GBA from there but that task is going to remain on there even for a little while after students have completed GBA. So we have to go in and update that. So it may not disappear or show is completed right away. So don’t worry it doesn’t mean it didn’t work. It doesn’t mean we didn’t get your schedule. It just takes a few days for that to fall off your task list. So don’t worry too much about that.
LV: Yeah it’s a manual upload for that.
KB: And I would also say everyone does have to complete GBA. So it’s not an optional even though you may feel like Oh I know what I’m doing. I had an older brother/sister who went into engineering, I know everything – excellent. But you still need a complete GBA. You need to complete a schedule. We actually will block students who haven’t because we don’t want them to enroll without any advice from their ESS advisor. So it’s important that you complete it even if you know exactly what you want to take. You have your schedule down pat. We still need to know what you’re doing.
LV: And we think GBA is usually probably going to take you at minimum it should take at least a half an hour. Yeah for you to finish GBA. And so yeah I mean plan for the time. Take the time to read what we put in there we didn’t just flippantly put this together. We’ve done a lot of research and gotten feedback.
SM: Yeah it’s all really important information and it’s a it’s really pointing students to resources where they can find this information for themselves like the College of Engineering undergraduate guide so that when they want to look up their curriculum later they know where to look or when they want to look up the policy for changing major they know where to look. So it’s really good information and we hope that students… I would expect students can get through it in 30 minutes to 60 minutes or so.
LV: And I know when we were talking about picking a schedule it’s not necessarily saying that you’re going to take math on Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 8:00 a.m. It’s more a list of the classes that you’re planning on taking and the actual like what your weekly schedule is going to be planned out is what that second piece of the enrollment is right?
SM: Yeah actually they’ll be able to do that. Once they’ve chosen their courses, they can use Schedule Planner to really figure out what days, what times, they’re going to take everything. But we don’t need to know all those details. We don’t need to know what discussion section or what lab section they’re taking. We just need to know – Okay, are you taking math 1A or math 32. That’s kind of the level at which we need to know.
LV: And I think one of the tips that we have a lot of students as you’re going through GBA they just click through everything and don’t notice that our portion of GPA for the College of Engineering actually takes you out of B courses. So if you don’t leave B courses and fill in the college of engineering section then you’ve missed an entire section. So you’re gonna get an email from us that says hey you haven’t done GBA and you’re thinking no I did. I went through the whole thing and it’s because you didn’t actually read the text links that send you to our page.
SM: Yes. Module four that’s the module that’s specific to your college. For engineering it looks super short. It’s one paragraph and you might think wow that was easy. But at the end of the paragraph you actually have to click through to get through to the College of Engineering online orientation. And so when we say like half an hour an hour that’s the part we’re talking about that once you click through that is probably going to take you about 30 to 60 minutes to complete. If you don’t click through it’s not done and you will like Kathy said we are going to put an enrollment hold on students who don’t finish it because we really want to make sure they’re enrolling in the right courses.
LV: And we’ll set reminders because we’re able to see who’s done it or not.
SM: Yes. And you know we can also see how long it’s taken them. We can also see if you’ve clicked through everything and it took you three minutes.
LV: So don’t think that people who took six minutes to do this haven’t gotten an email to go back and read a lot more.
SM: Right. And when you ask your advisor something that was in you know like 20 point font and bolded on page two. Well no. So please take your time to read through things. We don’t we don’t expect you to remember every single thing but at least to kind of jog your memory. Oh yeah. Wait there was something about how many units I have to enroll in just so you know that that exists out there and you can find the information.
LV: Well thank you both so much for coming today and talking about Golden Bear advising. I’m excited that we’re finally getting to have this interaction with the students. We had a little bit of interaction over Cal week where we got to present during webinars but I’d like the idea that you actually get to have this more personal interaction with them.
KB: And we’re looking forward to it.
SM: Yeah yeah we’re looking forward to meeting them. Probably virtually in the fall.
LV: And our students. Thank you so much for stopping by today and listening to our first podcast of our fourth year. I can’t believe we’ve been doing this for four years now. And Kathy and Sharon have been my first guests every year.
SM: (Sarcastically) Well we’re a hard act to follow. It all goes downhill from here.
LV: So please make sure you keep checking your e-mail each Monday throughout the summer. We’re gonna be sending out a newsletter for you and releasing a new podcast episode and then you’re gonna get that weekly newsletter throughout the school year. And I basically we try to do it every Monday if there’s a holiday on Monday then we’ll send it out on a Tuesday. And thank you very much for listening today. I’m really excited to get to know all of our incoming freshmen and transfer students. And if you have a question or a topic that you would like us to address in one of our podcasts send us an e-mail at email@example.com. And finally thank you for tuning into the not so secret Guide to Being a Berkeley engineer. I look forward to podcasting with you next week. Thank you.