You have an entire week coming up to help you get ready for finals. In this week’s (Not So) Secret Guide to Being a Berkeley Engineer we are interviewing Monica Bernal, an Engineering Student Services adviser, about how you can make the most of your RRR week (aka Dead Week or Reading, Review & Recitation week). We make sure to cover study spaces, night time safety, self care and other ways of how to make sure you are ready for your finals.
- Make an appointment with your ESS Adviser: engineering.berkeley.edu/ess
- Campus Night safety: https://nightsafety.berkeley.edu/
LAURA VOGT: Hello my name is Laura Vogt and I’m the Communications and Event Manager for Engineering Student Services. And welcome back to The (Not So) Secret Guide to Being a Berkeley Engineer. We have a new voice on the podcast this week, Monica Bernal, one of our ESS advisers. Monica, please tell us about yourself.
MONICA BERNAL: Hey Berkeley Engineers. So I’m excited to be here today on the podcast just to talk a little bit about triple R week with you all. I’ve been on campus now for six years. Prior to this, I worked in FPF and before in College of Letters and Science, but I’ve been doing advising for over 10 years so I love working with Berkeley students. You all are so amazing. My current caseload includes EECS students and MSE students so shout out to my MSE students and EECS students. Just K-O students, because you’re a really large group. So I do not advise you all. But the other EECS advisors are great. So Brian and Olivia, shout out to them. And we’re so just excited to chat with you today and kind of go over some tips for how we can make the most out of the time remaining in the semester.
LV: Thank you so much for joining us. And so we really want to talk about reading recitation and review week which a lot of you probably know is either RRR weak or dead weak. So Monica what exactly is our week and when does it take place.
MB: So triple R week takes place December 4th through the 8th. So this is considered the very last week of instruction and although there aren’t any course or any classes being held per se, but we do consider this the last week of instruction. And really what triple R week is is exactly in the title. It’s for reading, it’s for reviewing, it’s for recitation. So for some of your classes, that might be more helpful, for others, not. And so basically, the university has said, hey this is a time where our students shouldn’t be processing any new material. It’s just a time for us to review and reflect and get ready for and prepare ourselves for the upcoming final examinations.
LV: And so what kind of things should you be doing during our week? Are there places that you could go? Or do faculty usually have classes or study groups or things like that that they do?
MB: So depending on your courses there could be a lot of things going on for triple R week or a faculty could just be having you use this time for your own. So typically we do recommend if a faculty member is holding a review session or extended office hours that we use anything that your professor is willing to do for you during triple R week, we highly encourage you to attend. So that’s first and foremost. If you’re in a larger course, where there’s a graduate student instructor, or a lab course there might be something where they’re going to be giving you the opportunity to bring your questions or kind of listen to another student’s questions, so kind of a more standard review session, in that fashion, we would definitely encourage you to participate in that, otherwise, it might be a chance for you just to meet with your study group on a regular basis, or to kind of review problem sets together, or review previous final examinations, if that’s available to you. So that would definitely be one of my big tips, as if you were taking a math course or any kind of course, where the department has previous final examinations available to you, even if they’re from a decade ago. Go ahead and print those, and take the time to kind of review them but also do some some of those problems or write out those questions yourself or with a group ideally, maybe separately, and a meeting with a group to kind of collaborate. But that would be the best way to use triple R week. Students use it in a variety of ways.
LV: And I know one of our peer advisors in the office said that they really suggest you taking triple R, or taking dead week to review the final exam schedule and make sure you know when and where what time your exams are.
MB: Definitely, I think that should really be one of the key ways for how you structure your triple R week, is to go ahead and look at every single one of your classes and see when your final exam is, which one is first, which one is last, look at the gaps. Do you happen to have like a final exam on Monday one on Wednesday, one on Friday. Is one very late in the evening? Is one really early in the morning? Are they stacked upon? Or do you have two final exams on the same day? Ideally when you were picking your classes you would have taken note of this to make sure there were no conflicts. However that is not always the case.
So we do encourage you to kind of work your way backwards so like… So you should map out your finals week first and foremost. That’s going to give you a great idea, then that’s going to give you a chance to kind of structure your triple R week since there aren’t any classes. The first thing you might want to structure in your triple R week when you’re doing time management is any review sessions led by the faculty member, so go ahead and block out those times you can get to those. Any review sessions or office hours by your GSIs you’d want to put, and then what you’re left with is the time you’d want to coordinate with your study group or yourself to study for the finals the next week. But if your finals week is very well spaced out you might already know that hey I have an extra day and here to study so I can help you when you’re structuring your time management.
LV: And so I know for studying here in Bechtel that we’ve got a couple different places that you can study, because we’ve got Garbarini Lounge, we have our Center for Access Engineering Excellence, and then they have an expansion where the 240 is going to be open at least in the afternoon most of the week. So do you know of any other places where students could go and study?
MB: I definitely want to highlight the CAEE. I think that’s a great place to go because I think there’s really good energy in there, and I think if you’re feeling tired at home, or your roommate situation is a hot mess. I just want to give it a plug because everybody is going through what you are, and sometimes you need to be in a community just to kind of feel that energy of studying. So definitely check that out. But also just the regular places, so free speech cafe, the library. I think a big part is knowing how and when you study best, and the types of environments that are going to permit you to succeed. So maybe think about the semester, if you’re a brand new freshman, to be like OK, what exams did I really rock, and like how did I study for that, and what was that like. And know that everybody is different so you could have your roommate who does all their studying and study groups and that just really rocks their world, and maybe for you being in the study group isn’t that helpful, if it’s not, by all means, it’s totally ok to minimize the amount of time you spend with your study group.
But I do think in general knowing what other people in your class are thinking can be a helpful tool. So you probably want to get at least a little bit of that. And also, in engineering in particular, with our students there’s so many things that are project based so that’s just kind of the name of the game. So I think taking this time to think about throughout the semester what exams have you really done well for, and what permitted you to do well is so critical. And also know it’s a journey, if this is your first round of finals at Berkeley, be patient and gracious with yourself. You’re going to try some things that we might all work and it’s not going to be the end of the world if they don’t.
LV: And the library I think has extended hours during our week and finals week.
MB: Yes. Most of the libraries on campus will have extended hours but just because they have extended hours doesn’t mean that you should live in the library. I think you want to go home and sleep in your bed and still get seven hours of rest. Sleeping is really important. Please don’t stay up for 40 hours because that’s how you end up at the tang center. Like no joke, I know it’s like, oh crazy all-nighters, this is college, but you know your health, your mental health, your physical health are so important to us, it’s important to your faculty your GSIs, and really part of doing well during finals is like staying hydrated, getting enough sleep. I mean I totally get it you want to get as much studying in, but like try to get at least get six hours of sleep. I mean I know you’re used to maybe five and a half but don’t go under that, I think, you know, getting rest is so important for you to feel awake. And also just taking note that some of you might have seven to 10 p.m. finals this year and that’s going to be a big change. I was thinking well, maybe, I’m going to sleep in a little bit later, and kind of, if you’re not like an evening person, or if you have an 8:00 a.m. final, like be sure to like plug in your cell phone. Have it charged into the wall, have it far away from your body, because you cannot sleep through a final, there are no exceptions, you will get a big fat F that way. So I think you know be sure to set your alarm properly like have your mom call you if you need to or your dad or or a loved one. I think it’s a great time to put things in place because you know I’ve been on campus for six years so I have heard of every single thing that can go wrong during a final. Well not to scare anyone. But I think putting things in places are just like having the agreement with your roommate to be like hey I have a final this time. Can you just make sure I’m up. Those things can’t hurt.
LV: No I think that’s a fantastic idea. Make sure you get a back up wherever you can get the backup .
MB: Yeah if you need to plug in like old school alarm. I mean I know you all probably don’t remember what life was like without cell phones, but there there’s this thing at Walgreens that’s called an alarm clock. Its sole purpose is to tell you the time to wake you up. You can like set it to the radio station, a jam, or whatnot. But if you need to get an alarm clock, maybe even do that. So you just feel like OK I’m up and ready. If you show up late, they’ll let you sit but they’re not giving you any extra time. And if you just miss it, you miss it.
LV: And one of the things I really wanted to focus on was if you, for some reason, are staying on campus late, there are a lot of options for you to get home safely and get to your car safely or be at the bus stop safely.
MB: Definitely, I think Campus Safety is something that’s a hot topic right now, we’re talking a lot about it on campus. And so I think utilizing bear walk. I definitely think if you’re going to the library late at night or CAEE late at night. Ideally if you can go with a friend or even if your friends, let’s say, you live in two different residence halls, you walk to the closest person resident hall and then they call BearWalk for your colleague or friend so they can get back to where they’re at.
I definitely think one of the patterns we’re noticing lately, unfortunately, in campus crime, is it’s happening adjacent to campus, and it’s happening to students who are traveling alone. And so I would say, about the other thing, I would say if somebody asked for a backpack, and I know that has your laptop and all your hard work in it, please just give it to them. Please give them your backpack, please give them your wallet. And just like let them smoothly get away, because you are so much more important than your laptop or the project on your laptop or your cell phone. So I think just we don’t want any harm to come to you, if you do get caught up in one of these situations, and then, you know, immediately make it back to campus or the library or someplace where you can like call and get help. But that being said, you know given the fact that burglary in an urban setting, like many universities. Campus crime does happen, and it’s not unusual but we want you to be safe. Also if something does happen because finals week is always crazy. If something happens to you like a night before your final like somebody takes your backpack, or something happens like that. You can write an e-mail to your adviser and to your faculty member. And obviously if you’re shaking like that we will help you, to try to negotiate the scenario of something severe happens, enough that you don’t feel that you can take your final and the condition you’re in. Don’t feel like you have to go into a final exam very shaken up. We’ll work with your faculty member to get you support. There’s definitely a way.
LV: Yes definitely. So if you go to nightsafety.berkeley.edu if you have a question about any of the services that are offered, it’s all listed there. There’s BearWalk. There’s a night safety shuttle, there’s even door to door service if it’s really late at night. So please check out nightsafety.berkeley.edu
MB: And I definitely think that if you’re listening right now like pause or pull out your phone, and go to that website and just automatically save those numbers into your cell phone. Even if you don’t need them, you might have a friend who needs them, and then you’re like hey it’s on my phone, let me just call them for you. The other really great thing is like Uber, if you are a second, third, or fourth year student who lives off campus, Uber or Lyft. I mean, I know it’s a little bit of extra money but like they also now have Uber and Lyft pool, but I don’t think it hurts to have a little bit of your budget if you want to stay on campus, to be able to, you know, take one of those… I think it’s just your safety is definitely worth like the $7.
LV: We want to talk about the SLC and the tutoring services they offer.
MB: Definitely. I think the student learning center is a great resource, as I know we have so much great tutoring that happens. And yes, as you all already know, the student learning center will be continuing their tutoring schedules so especially for those of you who are in a humanities or social science classes or if you just are looking for some last minute math tutoring. The other place to check is for freshmen who are living in the resident halls or if you’re a transfer student, check your academic study centers. They may still have tutoring during triple R week and so you can check in with them to see if anybody is coming in or continue their regular tutoring schedule as well.
So I think although the offerings kind of start to be packed because the expectation is kind of, you’re ready on your own. We still have some resources around campus for you to check out. So definitely another great thing about the SLC is also if you’re just looking for an environment that’s a little bit louder than the library where there are people around. If you’re someone who thrives in that type of studying energy just even if it’s being with your laptop and your headphones in but having people around for you, SLC is a great place to be.
LV: And so is there anything else that we missed or didn’t talk about for our week.
MB: I do. It’s a little bit of a downer, but there are a couple of things I just want to highlight that also happened during RRR week that direct or are a little bit more directly related to engineering advising that we haven’t met. So December 8th is a deadline that you should mark in your calendar and the first is for exceptional change which is our blue petition. So for our engineering students, anyone who has an exceptional request, so whether it be a late add, although I hope, fingers crossed, you are not trying to add anything because that will be… We can chat about it if you want to add something you need to, like right now, log on and make yourself an appointment. But if you have a drop request, all of those need to be submitted by December 8th by 3:00 p.m.. So this is our more traditional blue form. There’s also our green petition, which is a one time kind of petition that you can use at ESS, with some criteria that you may or may not fit. So if you feel like you have a green petition or a blue petition request, those need to be submitted. So not just talking to your advisor, but you need to actually submit this petitions by December 8th at 3 p.m. And I just want to say that like we understand that you are students, but you’re also a person first, you have family, you have friends, you have jobs. Many of you have so many things going on. I’m continually impressed and surprised, and so we know life is happening, so if anything out of the ordinary is happening in your life, you have become sick, changed medication. Maybe you have some personal issues that have been impacting you inside the classroom that are happening outside of the classroom, or family members. You lost a job. Any kind of those things where you kind of are just feeling on the fence about, please make an appointment. And if your adviser is busy like you can’t get an appointment online, send them an email to come in and talk about it, because I think sometimes what happens is you may not realize, that you have a good case for a late drop. Given all what’s going on, and I think just the earlier you come in, the better it is for us to help you. And the other deadline that does happen as on December 8th is that’s also the last day to withdraw from the fall semester. So if there’s something that’s so severely impacting you that you won’t be able to pass your courses or you feel you need a little bit of time off from the university. December 8th will be the last day to do that. There are some things that you would potentially have to set out for the spring semester, but I say this not to defer you, not to further deter you from coming in and chat with us.
I just say it’s you, kind of, know but I think this is like a really great time to have a dialogue, and especially since people are getting to go away for a break. And this is a great time to come in, and touch base with your advisor, and be like hey this is going on, and I don’t know how I feel about it, or you know I’m wondering if I have a case for this potentially. And I mean, really we’re here just to support you in any way, we can and help you best understand your options and the best support you. So I think those are big things that like something is just going on, that you kind of haven’t been able to get your mind around, or something really out of the ordinary happens within the next two weeks, which you know I’m keeping my fingers crossed, I’m lighting my candles that doesn’t happen for any of you. But you know life happens, so if it does, please please come in. That’s what we’re here for just to like talk to you about it.
LV: Thank you so much for coming in today and talking to us about reading, recitation, and review week. I really appreciate your time and I really have fun with you on the podcast today.
MB: I know, you too. I do have one last pro tip is just, don’t take triple R week to you know mess around, like please don’t go to Tahoe and ski all week, because like that is not going to do you any favors. I know it’s like a cush time. And maybe you really want to go home and study with your family, I mean that’s like, you’re just, you know, one on one studying works that way, but I really strongly encourage you all to like take advantage of triple R week and be here and go see your professors and immerse yourself. We give it to you for a reason just to kind of wrap your mind around all the amazing concepts and teaching you are exposed to this year so triple R week, it’s no joke.
LV: Thank you so much. And I look forward to the next time you’re on with us. Definitely.
MB: You’re going to all do so well on your finals. So just be confident. Like we support you, you’re amazing. Don’t doubt yourself. Don’t believe the hype. The person next to you. So yea go Berkeley engineers!
LV: And thank you for tuning in and we’ll talk to you next semester. Thank you.