Yesterday I treked over to Alumni House after work to pen welcome notes to incoming Cal freshman. Being such a large campus, it can seem overwhelming, intimidating and impersonal to these new students. So maybe even getting a handwritten message from old-fogey alumni would be a helpful gesture. (“Ba-ack in my day, we had to run handouts on purple-ink mimeographs . . .”)
They give you slips of paper with the student’s name, town, major and what type of scholarship they got (merit or need-based.) You could write pretty much anything you want.
I picked a bunch of undeclareds; I think if I picked the molecular cell biology (MCB) majors; I’d tell them that Chem 1, Bio 1, Physics 8 and Math 1 were all weeder courses, and how I hated those pre-meds who made my life miserable by raising the curve when I was stuck taking those courses.
I wrote the same thing over 5 times. (I hope they don’t ever meet and compare notes.) Here’s what I wrote:
Welcome to Cal! You’ve picked the right college to attend. Nowhere else will you have such a wealth of resources to experience. Student rooting section at home football games. Swimming at Hearst Pool. Chilling in the quaintly old-school Morrison Library. Free Wednesday noon concerts at Hertz Hall. I-House Cafe. Caffe Strada. Views from the Campanile. Top Dog. Bongo Burger. Fresh donut holes from King Pin at 1 AM. Oh, and the people you’ll meet!
You might be able to squeeze in time to go to class.
Since you’re undeclared, I hope you take a wide variety of classes and find what you’ll really enjoy and excel at, even if it’s a non science/ engineering/ business/ law-who-will-hire-me major. What you’ll learn at Cal is not so much academic, but how to think, how to take on challenges and how to get things done. You’ll get as much out of Cal as you put in.
Yeah, I was more of an underacheiver. But I guess I’m just as subversive as the next Cal grad. Thing is, if you can learn to play the game, and make it through Cal, you can survive anywhere. That’s the real value of a Berkeley education.