Before you head off to your study abroad destination you will be bombarded with e-mails from your host university – “get the season pass for the varsity football”, “free gym membership”, “pay your insurance”… “enrol for your courses”. Berkeley uses different systems to make everything work, which is a bit overwhelming at first. I have heard that they are trying to combine these systems into one. For now, I hope that this blog entry will bring some clarifications to those in need.
Bearfacts seems to be the main information system. You have to complete a personal profile with your address and emergency contacts. This is also where you access the financial part of your tudies – your CARS billing account; including a monthly E-bill, payment summary and the actual payment process. You can also see your academic record; your grades and what courses you are enrolled in on Bearfacts.
Telebears is especially important for the enrolment process. Cal runs in a semester system, so you will be taking different courses in each semester and will be graded on continuous assessment. The list of courses that are offered in the upcoming semester can be viewed on the online schedule of classes: http://schedule.berkeley.edu
The following website is also useful to look at, here you can check the reviews of students that have previously followed the specific course – read about their opinion of the professor, the workload and difficulty of the course.
To build your perfect schedule you can use the schedule builder website: https://schedulebuilder.berkeley.edu
Now, here is how enrolment works:
The early enrolment process is divided into two specific appointments: phase 1 and phase 2. These are dates specifically for your enrolment (usually 2 days long, based on Berkeley time). You can find these on Telebears as well as on your bearfacts, be sure to check them as soon as possible. I missed my Phase 1 appointment before I came to Cal, and struggled with getting into my courses. To maintain your visa you must be enrolled in a minimum of 12 credits, while most courses are 3 credits each, but they can vary. During phase 1 you can enrol in up to 10 credits and phase 2 is your opportunity to add more classes to reach a full course load, this is done on Telebears. As you enrol in the course you have to specify the grading; either pass/no pass or a letter grade. As this year counts toward your degree in Glasgow and your grades get converted you should choose for the letter grade option. The courses you choose during your phase appointments do not have to be your final choice you can still add and drop classes at a later point during the adjustment period.
How it works here is that you try to enrol for several different courses, more than you actually need. You may not get into your course because they have a system that determines the order of who gets into the course – unfortunately exchange students are usually near the bottom of this list. In the first week make sure you make it to all the lectures that you enrolled for, sometimes they record attendance to check for deciding who gets enrolled. Quite often you may still get into the course even though you are on the waitlist – people keep dropping out and the professor may try to accommodate the students on the waitlist. Sometimes you can try talk to the professor and/or speak to the student services of your department. Another way to improve your chances of getting the course is by choosing a discussion section (tutorial) that is still open, so not full yet. You can check this on the following link: http://schedule.berkeley.eduClick on ‘schedule of classes’ for your semester – choose your department – and you get to the entire list of courses that are offered in that department – scroll to the course you are looking for – underneath the course you will see the different sections and at the bottom you will see something like this:
This way you can check if there are still seats available or not.
By the 5th week of the semester you should have decided on the courses you are taking as this is the last week where you can still drop your courses.
You will also have an account on Calcentral. This is a website where you have a clear overview of the courses you are enrolled in, upcoming deadlines, your grades and finances. From this website you can access your Berkley.edu e-mail address, where you will be receiving updates from your courses.
Calcentral additionally links to your Bcourses. This is an equivalent to Moodle, where teachers upload lectures, assignments and the syllabus.
I am hoping to help you with this blog post, I am not trying to scare you off. It is overwhelming at first, but once you get the hang of it, it is no biggie at all! I wish I could have had someone explain to me how it all works beforehand, so I hope this is useful.