Engineering Student Services has a great resource for students with our ESS Peer Advisers. They are in the office Monday – Friday, 9am-5pm and as current engineering students they are the experts on how to navigate Cal, manage schedules and explain the courses in your major. This week we talked with two of our Peer Advisers to ask them what they do to make sure they have a successful semester, what resources they make sure to use and more.
- Get to know your ESS Peer Advisers
- Center for Access to Engineering Excellence (CAEE)
- CAEE Tutoring Schedule
LAURA VOGT: Hello I’m Laura Vogt, the Communications and Events Manager for Engineering Student Services. Welcome to this week’s episode of the (Not So) Secret Guide to to Being a Berkeley Engineer. And this week I’m really excited, we have two of our Engineering Student Services Peer Advisers with us and I’m going to ask them each introduce themselves and tell you a little bit about what they’re doing and maybe even why you’re a peer adviser, because both of you are new peer advisers this year. So let’s start with Joann.
JOANN ATIENZA: Hi my name is Joann. I’m a fourth year civil engineering student. I’m going to be a peer adviser this year as well as the external vice president for the American Society of Engineers. The reason why I wanted to be a peer adviser is because I really enjoyed talking to students and helping them out. And I think it’s a good way for me to give back now that I’m a senior.
ADITYA ARUN: Hi. I’m Aditya and I’m a junior EECS and Physics double major and this semester apart from classes, I’m an officer for Tau Beta Phi, I’m a reader for 130 and of course I’m an ESS Peer Adviser. And the reason I chose to be an ESS Peer Adviser was because like Joann mentioned, I want to give back to the engineering community. As a freshman I did come in to the peer advisors, asked them a couple of questions and it was super useful and I wanted to do the same for freshmen and transfer students who might need some help in getting just to the Cal environment.
LAURA: Fantastic. Thank you both so much for being here, I really appreciate you taking the time. And one of the things I wanted to talk about with our students this week was what do you do to have a successful first semester? Can we start with you, Aditya?
ADITYA: Yes sure. So a couple of things I do is before the semester starts, I try to plan out my week. I have my classes and I put them into bCal and see where I’m free and when I’m going to kind of do my extra-curriculars and do my homework and things like that. So I kind of try to put a timetable in and try to follow it and I change it as time progresses. Yeah apart from that I guess going to lectures is probably one of the most obvious important things but I feel like as a freshman or transfers you may be inclined not to go to lectures but then I definitely feel it’s very important part of a class. Even though you may feel that you may not be getting something out of it. Another is discussions which I’ve observed that attendance drops as much as the year goes by and which is also pretty important because you get to have a one on one discussion sort of with GSI who is much more experienced with the topic than you may be.
LAURA: And so for your calendar when you make it do you find yourself putting time in specifically to do studying or are you not that regimented with it.
ADITYA: No not necessarily. The main reason I put in the classes and other commitments that I have that I already have into calendars that I know when I’m free. So that I can I can better utilize that free time. It always helps me when I you know in Google Calendar but I see those empty you know white boxes, which are just free time slots, always helps me kind of plan my day. Or for example today right, if I had to I got to come in for a period wising up for the podcast so it was helpful that you know hey I didn’t have to think about it a lot I can just get it from 10:30 to 11 I’m free so I’m here.
LAURA: Perfect. And do you see something similar?
JOANN: Yeah I actually do something similar. Usually my first week of classes is me spending time with all my syllabi and Google Calendar and trying to figure out when are my midterms, when are my exams. And I even put like notifications, usually a week before the exam, so I’m reminded that hey you have an exam next week you should probably start studying. And similar to what Aditya said is I also mainly use it to see you when I’m free. I would just add that I also put it I have a separate calendar for office hours which is really helpful and while I’m not particularly busy at the time but I just know that – hey at this time if you need some help these are office hours you can go to.
LAURA: Oh that’s fantastic. Do you have anything else you want out of what you do to make your first semester, When you first get here successful?
No. Mostly it’s just the calendar and I guess especially when I was a freshman and sophomore getting to know the campus, I would usually visit the classrooms especially in locations that I wasn’t very familiar with. Obviously now that I’m a senior and during my junior year I didn’t have to do that as much. But earlier I had to do that.
LAURA: Is there anything that you’ve done to create a network of friends or students that you try to meet up with when you take classes now or is there anything along those lines that you do to create these networks that you have to have to be successful in your classes?
JOANN: Yes, that’s probably something I wasn’t very good at doing earlier in my undergraduate career, which I probably should have done but as my as my time here progressed I joined competition teams. I joined clubs in particular clubs that are within my major. So the American Society of Civil Engineers I joined that and found obviously a lot of civil engineers that I got to study with and talk about class.
LAURA: And did you do everything that you did to create that network?
ADITYA: So as for me, I guess I just took advantage of living in dorms as a freshman year to kind of find people in my major or some other similar majors. For example, I’m been doing physics, so I saw sort of people who were physics majors or for example math majors who might be taking classes with me. And I kind of stay in touch with them and I guess, many times I may not know who’s in the class beforehand so I kind of just look around and see who is there and try to you know message them on Facebook or kind of meet them after class. Hey do you want to do a study session or something like that.
LAURA: What resources have you found to be the most useful here on campus?
ADITYA: So I guess most students would know about the CAEE which is the Center for Access to Engineering Excellence, but apart from that I guess personally found there are a lot of online tutorials and videos made by the universities are made by other professionals who just like doing those which are kind of go into the same amount of depth sometimes as the professor does. So it always helps to kind of find get that other perspective on some things. And it also you know kind of reinforces what you learned in lecture. Oh fantastic yeah. And apart from that. I guess like I mentioned earlier you know just go to office hours because many freshmen and transfer students may be shy about going to office hours or meeting a professor but it should not be that case and many times professors are more approachable than they seem. During lecture or after lecture because the main reason for that may be because they may have another appointment after offering the lecture, so they may not be as open to having a discussion but during office hours when they are they have set aside time for you. They might be more open for questions.
LAURA: Joann, what resources do you like or that you’ve found the most useful?
JOANN: So I spend many hours in the Center for Access to Engineering Excellence, especially for my lower division classes. I spent a lot of time there just having another peer tell me how they understand it. Sometimes that’s a little more effective than hearing it from a professor or a GSI. But I definitely agree with you on going to office hours. I think even now sometimes I feel nervous when I go to office hours especially when I’m first meeting the professor and I’ve never interacted with them before but I think just getting over the hump of asking for help and being okay with admitting that you need help is a huge step. And similarly I also used a lot of resources from other universities sometimes so practice exams practice. Practice homeworks. Sometimes I go through their lectures and I found those to be really useful to get a different perspective on it. In particular with the math courses and I would say physics courses, I would look if I’m going through my textbook and my notes and I’m not really understanding it as well. Sometimes I’ll go to other universities. I think I use a lot of from UC San Diego, I used a lot of their math material especially when I was taking 53 and 54, just going through lectures and seeing how they’re explaining it and sometimes I found that to be useful to seeing different examples from what I have in front of me.
LAURA: It seems like a lot of times with these problems, it isn’t necessarily getting the right answer it’s how to get the solution.
JOANN: Right exactly.
LAURA: And you definitely suggest that go into the discussion sections, don’t fall off just because it’s later in the semester make sure you continue going to them.
ADITYA: Yeah I agree. Actually in my book and in sort of the intro I told you but in my opinion, later in the semester is when it’s better because there are fewer students showing up.
JOANN: So take advantage of the fact that some people sometimes you might have even like almost one on one time with the GSI. Just great.
LAURA: Is there anything else that you want to add?
ADITYA: Time management, like we both stressed on having the calendars out and kind of following good like is one of the most important tasks and to add to that.
JOANN: I know it’s a lot easier to say than to do but don’t procrastinate. I think is a huge thing. I find personally that a lot of my classes are a lot more busy and a lot more demanding towards the end of the semester. So if in the beginning you’re putting a lot of things off or you’re just going to be stressed towards the end. So try not to procrastinate. And what I personally do is I’m really bad at doing all my work on time as well. But I just try to think of oh if I finish this quickly or if I finish this a little earlier than I would have been I’ll have more time to do the things I like to do.
LAURA: Oh fantastic.
ADITYA: And the best way I find not to procrastinate is finding a good reason for why you’re taking the class because that way if you have that reason kind of motivating you then you do not find a need. for example some courses that I love to take, I don’t procrastinate on them because I really like those subjects and I don’t mind studying them. But then there are some classes that I need to take for my major which I’m not like as much for those courses. Sometimes I need to go the extra mile to actually sit down and study for them.
JOANN: Yeah that’s pretty much it. I also found surrounding myself with people who don’t procrastinate. Also help me not procrastinate because then I’ll be like all she’s already done the homework I have to do homework now. So that’s pretty much my way of not procrastinating.
LAURA: The most important thing I think we can tell people is if they want to come and talk to a peer adviser and actually get some more personal information from you help and maybe doing scheduling or even talking about the time management, what’s the best way that people can meet with a peer adviser?
JOANN: You can come see us at work here in 230 Bechtel from 9:00am to 5:00pm.
ADITYA: Obviously if you want to talk to someone in your major then we’ll have to look at the calendar and see. But for the most part if you want to just talk about general time management peer advisers are here from 9:00 to 5:00. And if you see us around I’m sure you can reach out as well.
LAURA: And we also have an e-mail address.
ADITYA: Yes, firstname.lastname@example.org. You can e-mail if you have any specific questions regarding your major or of course you want to take. You can e-mail us and all of us look at the e-mail and I think that’s a good resource as well.
LAURA: Just to reiterate we talked about resources here so if anyone wants to come to the Center for tutoring or study groups or even just a place to study it’s an 227 Bechtel and it’s the open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and Fridays from 9:00 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the scheduling for tutoring is actually going to be online this week. We’re in the process of getting tutors for the year. You can always check out about our peer advisers on our regular ESS website page so it’s engineering.berkeley.edu/ess or engineering.berkeley.edu/peers and you can go straight to the peer adviser page. Thank you so much both of you for coming in and being here today and I really appreciate your time.