The goal of Berkeley Connect is to combine the world-class intellectual facilities of the University with the nurturing inclusiveness of a small, liberal arts college. Undergraduates at Berkeley increasingly wish for a more intimate and supportive academic experience, one in which they can be part of an intellectual community comprising faculty, graduate students, their fellow undergraduates, and alumni/ae.
Berkeley Connect provides just such an experience by placing participants in small discussion groups assigned to a graduate mentor, who is responsible for group meetings and one-on-one advising. In addition, the program includes informal lectures by professors, visits to Berkeley resources, panel discussions of career opportunities and graduate school, and social events in which professors, graduate students, and undergraduates can talk informally about intellectual issues.
Berkeley Connect sets out to impact students’ undergraduate experience in specific, measurable ways. Students who participate in Berkeley Connect should (and do):
- Meet other students who share their academic interests.
- Increase their awareness of educational opportunities and resources on campus.
- Deepen their knowledge of a specific academic discipline.
- Become better prepared to approach professors in office hours.
- Learn about post-college career options.
- Increase their sense of belonging at UC Berkeley.
- Increase their confidence that they can succeed at UC Berkeley.
At the heart of Berkeley Connect is the crucial relationship between graduate fellows and undergraduate participants. The graduate fellows act as group leaders and individual mentors. The individual attention that they provide helps students make the most of their undergraduate experience. The mentors also facilitate the relationship between undergraduates and professors, showing students how to approach their professors and how to get the most out of each class they take. As a result, undergraduates build a new connection to their area of study and to the Berkeley faculty. Because the Berkeley Connect program is located in academic departments, it encourages students to form intellectual bonds with their peers based on shared academic interests.
Our undergraduates are not asking for radical changes to the way that teaching happens on campus. Rather, students want more of what we’re already giving them: more contact with professors and instructors, more community among undergraduates with shared intellectual interests, more opportunities to make the most of what their major offers them. When undergraduates have the chance to work with a graduate fellow and a group of their peers, their satisfaction with their major — and thus with Berkeley — is increased exponentially.
Berkeley is already the best public university in the world. Berkeley Connect enables our undergraduates to take full advantage of the astounding resources that the University has to offer. Simultaneously, Berkeley Connect builds intellectual communities of undergraduates, alums, graduate students, and faculty, who are brought together by a shared love of ideas and a common desire to support one another during and after their time at Berkeley.
For more about Berkeley Connect, see: