The Berkeley Connect program has a track record of proven success supporting the university’s core missions of teaching and research.
What Students Tell Us
Student feedback on the Berkeley Connect program is overwhelmingly positive.
Every semester, the students in Berkeley Connect participate in an exit survey assessing their experience in the program. Because completing the survey is a course requirement, the response rate is close to 100%. In 2016-2017:
- 96% of participants would recommend the program to a friend
- 94% reported increased awareness of available educational resources
- 93% reported deepened knowledge of academic discipline
- 92% met others who share their academic interests
- 91% increased their sense of belonging at Berkeley
- 91% increased their confidence that they can succeed at Berkeley
“Coming to Berkeley, before enrolling in Berkeley Connect, to be quite honest….I felt like a number, a nobody. Berkeley Connect really helped me….and assured me that my voice and my ideas were worthwhile.”
Visit our blog to read students’ descriptions of their Favorite Berkeley Connect Moments.
What the Data Tell Us
An institutional data analysis performed by the Division of Equity & Inclusion shows that participation in Berkeley Connect not only increases students’ sense of belonging, it improves their academic performance.
Transfer students: Over 40% of Berkeley Connect participants are transfer students. An analysis compared all transfer students who participated in Berkeley Connect (or the Chernin Program pilot) between 2010 and 2015 with the entire transfer population for the same period. Significantly fewer Berkeley Connect participants have a first-term GPA below 3.0, and more Berkeley Connect participants have a GPA of 3.5 or higher:
|GPA||All Transfers||BC Transfers|
|GPA 2.0 to 2.9||22%||16% (-6%)|
|GPA 3.0 to 3.4||32%||33% (+1%)|
|GPA 3.5 to 4.0||40%||46% (+6%)|
Under-represented students: The percentage of under-represented minority (URM) students in Berkeley Connect (both transfer and non-transfer) is consistently higher than the percentage in the total undergraduate population. URM first-year students who participated in Berkeley Connect, compared to all URM first-years, demonstrate higher academic success across the board:
|Performance Measure||All URM First-Years||BC URM First-Years|
|1st Term GPA||3.03||3.11|
|1st Year Probation Rate||10%||9% (-1%)|
|1-Year Retention Rate||95%||98% (+3%)|
|3-Year Retention Rate||89%||96% (+7%)|
|4-Year Graduation Rate||56%||60% (+4%)|
These figures show that URM students who participated in Berkeley Connect in their first year were half as likely to drop out in their third year as those who did not.
These results are even more remarkable given that a higher percentage of URM Berkeley Connect participants, compared to all URM students, are first-generation college students (+3%), from the lowest ranked high schools (+4%), and from the lowest parental income bracket (+2%).
What Alums Tell Us
“I came to Cal as a transfer student. I thought I knew what I was doing….I was completely wrong…. I was completely lost. I felt like a freshman all over again. What on earth was a GSI? What were office hours? What were study groups? I was not familiar with any of these …. However, Berkeley Connect offered me all the guidance, support, and help I needed.”
“Through Berkeley Connect, I had support for my educational decisions, support I could not gain from my family. I was also able to meet students who I would not have otherwise met or spoken to without Berkeley Connect. It was a space that allowed me and other students to comfortably express our different perspectives.”
“One of the most challenging parts of my undergraduate career at Cal was navigating my new academic environment as a first-generation, Mexican-American transfer student. What provided me with ease and introduced me to other students who were experiencing similar challenges was my participation in Berkeley Connect….I not only learned how to navigate college, but I also learned about research opportunities, and met graduate students and mentors whom have had a significant impact in my academic trajectory….especially now that I am preparing to enter a PhD program.”
“I think one of the biggest contributors to academic success can be having access to a strong community of peers to rely on, and Berkeley Connect definitely helps build and provide that.”
“I arrived to Berkeley as a struggling transfer student who had a hard time adjusting to the expectations and rigor of Berkeley. During my first semester, I was able to go from adjusting and struggling, to a straight A student and received all A-‘s in all of my courses as a new student. If it were not for Berkeley Connect, I would not have been so successful so quickly.”
“At a big university it’s easy to become isolated, and departments can be intimidating….I’m incredibly fond of my memories of my department, and many of them were shaped by Berkeley Connect…. Following one of the career panels (and I went to all of them!), I reached out to a panelist and was surprised by how warmly she greeted my emails and questions. Berkeley Connect was a wonderful resource.”
“I checked a lot of boxes as a transfer student, a Black student, a nontraditional student, and a first generation student. Berkeley Connect allowed me to meet a network of graduate students and feel more comfortable with [my] discipline….and the rigors of the academy. I was also able to connect to and with students of similar backgrounds. Berkeley Connect….gave me direct connections that prepared me for eight acceptances into top PhD programs.”
Are you a Berkeley Connect alum? Send your Berkeley Connect story to firstname.lastname@example.org.
What Former Mentors Tell Us
Receiving a Berkeley Connect fellowship not only provides our outstanding graduate students with financial support, it helps them develop mentoring skills that will serve them well in their future careers.
“In the interview I had for the [tenure-track] job I ended up landing, I talking about Berkeley Connect….because it was an interview at a small liberal arts college and it was really important to be able to make the case for why I would be able to flourish in that kind of atmosphere, coming from such a big place as Cal.”
“One of the things I really liked about being a mentor was just exposing the students to the resources that there are here at Berkeley….Having a chance to expose them to the riches we have here on campus was really special.”
“Over the course of the year, I had some students who I mentored for two semesters, and it was really great to see some of them become much quicker to open up, to offer their ideas, to be confident in their ideas.”
“There was a frequent interaction that I saw in Berkeley Connect meetings….It would usually start with one student approaching another and saying something like, ‘Hey, I think we were in the same class, but I’ve never talked to you.’ ….The two would affirm that they had many of the same recollections of the class experience….but also some divergent ideas about how this material came to inform their later thinking and academic experience. These conversations, which I consider myself fortunate to have been witness to and part of, were some of the most free but also the most civil; the most rigorous but also the most fun; the most informative but also challenging. Berkeley Connect changed how I teach—encouraging far more student-to-student interaction is essential—and I know it has changed many of the students’ relationship to the university for the better.”
By the Numbers
Most mentoring programs can only serve a small number of students each year. Because of its unique model, in which graduate students mentor undergraduates both one-on-one and in small-groups, Berkeley Connect is able to serve thousands of students each year.
- 11,468 enrollments between 2010 and 2017
- Up to 1,500 enrollments a semester
- 200 UC Berkeley graduate students have received Berkeley Connect fellowships and served as mentors to undergraduates between 2010 and 2017
- Each Berkeley Connect Fellow mentors two groups of 20 students each semester, or 80 students a year
- Each participating student meets one-on-one with their mentor at least 2 times a semester, with the option to meet more frequently
- Each student participates in 6-9 small-group discussions facilitated by their mentor
- Berkeley Connect operates in 13 academic departments, in 4 colleges, each with a discipline-specific curriculum developed by a faculty director