Tags: UC Berkeley
Institution: University of California Berkeley
Study: Major in cognitive science, minor in French
High School Experience
I went to school in Palo Alto and moved to the Seattle area for my junior year. Definitely weird transferring in the middle of high school but I settled in pretty quickly and really like both of the schools! I went to Gunn while in PA so it was quite a competitive environment, but I never felt like the stress was too much to handle, possibly because I didn’t force myself to take every single honors and AP course available as some do.
I have always known I wanted to go into law, so I took all the law electives (which are few) available at both schools I attended. I also took several CS courses, which I thought were okay but I mostly took bc I thought I should, rather than because I loved it.
My old school made it so that you couldn’t take AP’s the first two years for the most part. I took bio, french, lang, and APUSH my junior year, got 4’s and 5’s on all. took CS, calc, photo, lit, gov senior year and scores aren’t back yet but pretty sure 4’s and 5’s as well. i generally work pretty hard in the class but am very anti-standardized testing so don’t rly study for APs and really did the minimum for my SAT.
In sports, I played basketball for fun freshman year, varsity softball, and cross country/track. I did a lot of stuff around social justice/politics: volunteered for Dem/Warren/Biden campaigns, environmental stuff, racial justice, sexual assault, etc. Did a lot of work around homelessness/period product access, as well as children’s education and languages (french & russian). My main activity was mental health; I started a club at my new school. I held leadership positions at about 5 orgs/clubs.
I was really close with my English teacher and French teacher who wrote my recommendations, my math teacher and I were friendly and I did well in her class but I had kind of a lack of options on the stem side because of me moving.
For my common app personal statement, I wrote about my journey working around mental health. The supplemental prompts for different schools were really different, but for example I wrote about studying abroad in Russia, work experience, and public speaking in addition to a modified common app (mental health) for my four UC essays.
I had a ton of activities and leadership experience, and I feel like the orgs I was a part of were unconventional enough that they knew I wasn’t doing it just for college apps or whatever (i.e. I wasn’t just in DECA/finance, debate, math club like the asian archetype).
Actually pursue things you’re interested in. If those big pre-professional clubs are something you’re really into, then great! But if you’re honest with yourself and find it’s just because you feel it’s what you “should” be doing then give it up or, if you’re facing peer/parental pressure to look into a particular field more, look for ways you can mold it to better fit your interests, e.g. I was okay with CS but LOVE working in women’s rights stuff, so I joined girls in tech club and did a girls who code summer program to advocate for equity for women in stem/CS.
Mostly my major; many of my options didn’t offer my major because it’s pretty new. And I’m not gonna lie, partially prestige. Also cost, and I was absolutely in love with Berkeley’s political scene and history in student free speech!!