By Kehaulani Jai '15 Staff Writer
To begin with, let’s establish a few things: first, this is simply a comparison between a private college and a public university. I’m not making a case for or against University of California schools as opposed to private colleges. In fact, I almost went to a to UC college myself.
Also, you the reader are the judge here. I’m just the writer, trying not to succumb to bias despite my beautiful surroundings. With these thoughts in mind I interviewed two students at the University of California, Berkeley and a Scripps student, Juliana Canas (’16). From these students’ interviews, it becomes clear that this can’t simply be a superiority assessment of the “whose grass is greener?” sort (though if it were, our gorgeous grounds would undoubtedly take first prize). Indeed, Berkeley has its own unique character. Ian McGregor (’15) speaks of “a little creek” running through campus in addition to a few unique architectural features, drawing comparisons to East Coast universities. Likewise, to Vivian Nguyen (’16), Berkeley is “known as the poor man’s Ivy league school.” Yet Berkeley’s overall precinct contrasts starkly to the “picturesque” campus that Canas fondly describes.
“Berkeley is urban. Very urban,” says Nguyen. McGregor recasts this urbanity in a different light: “it looks like they literally squeezed [Berkeley] into Oakland . . . I would definitely not choose this campus as an eyepleaser.”
Another contrast is dining hall food. “It’s not that it’s bad,” says McGregor, “it’s that the prices at the on-campus cafés are just ridiculously high.” Nguyen doesn’t hesitate to call Berkley food “pseudo food” any more than Canas does to call Scripps food “amazing.” Additionally, when asked how difficult it is to register for classes on a scale of one to ten (ten being extremely difficult), Canas says four, Nguyen says nine and McGregor goes off on a tangent: “If you’re smart, it’s pretty easy; if you’re dumb, it isn’t.” He never gave me a number. In the area of college preconceptions, Canas says she expected “a lot of parties” and “more boys in class” but was surprised to find Scripps “so quiet.” According to McGregor, a more immediate party culture can be had at Berkeley: “Welcome Week is the week you go to frat parties . . . you thought partying happened in high school, but coming to college...(feel free to insert your favorite hyperbolic phrase here).” Nguyen, meanwhile, says, “A lot of people have to go to the hospital for alcohol poisoning, but it’s still fun. . . [Just] bring pepper spray [and] have common sense.” In the end, Canas says, “there’s no other college I would want to be at,” while Nguyen says, “I definitely like Berkeley so far.” Always the deep thinker, McGregor emphasizes the necessity of fitting his college’s culture, which he feels he doesn’t. Whether surrounded by fountains and gardens or protests and parties, “fitting in” ultimately depends on personal preference, finding your niche and embracing what ‘UC’ around you. Case closed.