Sorry for the late response, I've been busy with a heavy Business-oriented courseload in addition to my internship.
Last semester was truly a brand new xperience for me. Attending summer college through the ILC definitely helped me prepare, but the actual college experience is something nobody should ever miss. I was lucky enough to be granted with a social, outgoing, and motivated group of floormates that I enjoy spending my time with. This combined with my enjoyable classes have definitely made my first semester memorable. There have been an increasing amount of budget cuts (who knows what will happen next to the UC system after the new budget plan), which hascaused higher enrollment in classes. Unlike private universities, my classes have waitlists and some of my lectures, in particular those that are Business prerequisites, are filled with about 400-600 students. That may cause many students to stray from public universities, but it's honestly not as large of a burden as many make it out to be. We have discussions which have about 25-30 students each, and students who want the higher grade in class will make the effort to seek out further attention from their Graduate Student Instructors or professors (i.e. office hours).
I think the UC system is a perfect representation of a lot of the realistic struggles that face our society/nation as a whole. It's important that students are aware of external factors that may affect our education - and it prepares us for the real world; nothing is handed to you, you need to make a real effort to seek out what you want in life. Large lectures only occur seldomly for upper division classes though; classes gradually become more specialized once you decide what major you're leaning towards. I just wanted to clarify that nobody should disregard the option of a public university just because of some of its class sizes - the UC System, especially at Berkeley, makes an additional effort to ensure that you're still receiving adequate attention and a quality education at a large, public university.
From just one semester, I've developed into a more open-minded individual. I look at things with a different perspective now and classes have gifted me with the ability to analyze projects and news differently. UC Berkeley has also been a window for more opportunities. Over the winter, I applied for several internships related to marketing and working as an analyst for a bank or investment firm. I'm now a marketing/project management intern for Big City Chefs - a company that hires chefs to do cooking classes, work as private chefs, or host dinner parties. They were also the chefs featured on Food Network's show, "Private Chefs of Bevely Hills." I'm in charge of researching search engine optimization techniques to determine how their website's rank will show up on Google. Although I thoroughly enjoyed last semester, I regret managing my time poorly. Adjusting from Pinole was harder than I thought. (I've been previously warned that first semester would be a large adjustment but I wasn't ready for what I experienced). My GPA was hurt as a result and I've come into this new year and this new semester with a fresh mindset.
My first semester was my adjustment period to help me determine what needs to be priorities and what can be looked at later. I definitely sense a change in myself this semester and I hope my grades will improve dramatically as a result. I love college and I have never looked back, wishing I was back in high school. I have been immersed into a group of motivated, intellectual individuals and the quality of my education is entirely different. The independence and freedom offered in college is refreshing. I hope these next 3.5 years pass slowly, because I'm not ready to leave.
I want to tell the current group of ILC students an important tip when visiting colleges to decide which one to attend in the Fall: Go visit the campus with a fresh mindset. Look at the campus and its information as ifthey were brand new. Talk to the people. Make sure you fit into the campus. Visiting a campus is crucial; you don't want to regret your decision when your college education starts.