How (and Why) to Spend the Summer at UC Berkeley

March 7, 2023

As a member of the Haas Global Management Program, I was required to spend the summer after I graduated high school participating in the Global Edge Program at UC Berkeley. A couple of weeks after my official graduation, my cohort and I moved into Blackwell hall to spend the next two months taking classes and preparing for our move abroad. 

Global Edge is just one way freshman students can get introduced to Berkeley’s campus, though it is only open to newly admitted students in the Rausser College of Natural Resources, the College of Letters and Sciences, or the Haas Global Management. The other option is to opt into Summer Bridge, open to all new students who want to get a head start on adjusting to life at Berkeley. Global Edge and Summer Bridge students get the opportunity to live in Blackwell Hall, one of the newest dorms, which is just a block away from the edge of campus. Although the campus is nowhere near half full during the summer, I found myself surprised by the amount of energy and life that still exists during the summer months. Students have access to all amenities in the dorm, the Residential Sports Facility, libraries, and a plethora of classes being offered in every department. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to build any long-term relationships with students outside of my cohort, but there were plenty of people to meet between summer bridge, transfer students, and international students. A girl I met while brushing my teeth in the bathroom my first week is still one of my closest friends, we stayed in touch all through the first semester while I was in London. If approaching people sounds nerve-wracking, there are Residential Advisors and other Professional staff on-site during the summer responsible for creating structured activities to help people get to know each other within the dorm and the greater campus community. 

As a new campus ambassador, I will be spending my upcoming summer at Berkeley for a second time, and I couldn’t be more excited. There are even more opportunities for continuing students at Berkeley to take advantage of. I will be working and pursuing a minor in Journalism, one of the many summer minor programs offered at Berkeley. I will obtain the entire minor in just 12 weeks, which is awesome because it allows me to explore an area I love without the pressure to add excessive courses during my other semesters since I am also pursuing a double major. Summer classes are also a great way to knock out breadth requirements to free up more time for special interest classes outside of your general major(s) later on. In addition to classes, summer is also great for upperclassmen looking to get involved in research. Students can apply for the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, which supplies funding and guidance on concentrated research for senior theses or capstone projects.

However, the reason I think students should spend at least one summer at Berkeley is that a smaller class load and fewer commitments with clubs and other extracurriculars mean more time to explore Berkeley and the rest of Northern California. I for one plan to take advantage of the many music festivals coming this summer in San Francisco, Napa, and Sacramento. For nature lovers, Santa Cruz and Lake Tahoe are only a few hours away and it is a lot more fun to spend a couple of days there instead of being limited to weekends and breaks during the school year. Finally, the summer months at Berkeley allow time and space for hobbies and personal development that might have been pushed to the side during the year because of all of the things going on. Because of my academic and extracurricular commitments during the year, I have less time to read for pleasure and deepen my movement practices in yoga and dance. During the summer most classes are 2 at a time, so I am excited to have more of these moments for myself, and you can too in whatever you love to do.