Choosing Your First Semester Classes

Welcome incoming freshmen! Good to see that you’ve chosen UC Berkeley as the school of your choice, and good to see you’re interested in Haas.

A very common question I’ve received from students lately is how to choose your first semester schedule at Cal, and it’s amazing I haven’t written about it before; so here goes!

In a nutshell, I suggest you take these classes your first semester:

  • Math
  • R&C or fun / breadth / pre-req
  • fun / breadth / pre-req
  • fun / breadth / pre-req

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Haas: What Happens If I Don’t Get In?

Reality? Nothing happens. Nothing happens when you get in, either.

Yesterday, hundreds of people received a congratulatory message from the Haas School of Business, yet other hundreds received a not so encouraging one. Some celebrated, others were disappointed.

Whatever was the result of that outcome, or the outcome that is to come, remember that your major does not dictate your career nor your life. If everyone had to be a business major to do consulting or accounting, the corporate world wouldn’t be as diverse as it is today.

If you will soon enter the Haas Class of 2017; congratulations! If you did not, that’s okay. Both of your journeys do not end at this point. Instead, you have to work even harder in order to do what you love.

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Beginning of Another Semester – Regrets and Learnings

In a couple of days, one more semester will start, leading to another semester of accomplishments and mistakes, happiness and sorrows, love and heartbreak. I know I’m looking forward to it! (Not being sarcastic here, I swear)

When the semester ended, I had talked with a couple of freshmen who were anxious and disappointed of how their first semester at Cal turned out. Some didn’t get the grades they wanted. Some decided to switch majors halfway through. Some didn’t find where they belonged.

When I completed my first semester, I pretty much embodied all of these problems. I didn’t meet what I thought would be a “core” group of friends. I thought getting anything below a 4.0 was a terrible GPA (that high school mentality showing). I didn’t really like business or linguistics. I stayed in my dorm a lot, my floor wasn’t social, I didn’t get along with my roommate, and didn’t enjoy my extracurriculars of that semester. I didn’t like what I was doing, didn’t have direction, and didn’t feel like I belonged.

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My Application

Hey everyone! I am sure many of you are out diligently working on those Haas apps right now. As a reminder, they are due on December 1 at 4pm. Make sure you get them in before then, or else they will NOT be considered. More info on Application and Selection for Haas Undergraduates.

As promised, I wanted to talk about my own application as a successful applicant of the Haas School of Business. As a reminder, it consists of 50% grades and coursework, 35% essays, and 15% resume.

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Applying to the Haas School of Business Undergraduate Program

I’ve mentioned what important Haas application criteria were previously, in addition to some myths about the Haas application process. Now, I’d like to share how the whole application works and what it looks like so you know what to expect.

Self-Reported Academic Record

In this section, you are to list the information (grades, course title, school location, semester, term length, units, etc) about each major prerequisite (listed as principles of business, calculus, calculus, economic principles, statistics, English / reading composition (A) and English / reading composition (B)), breadth requirement (all seven), and a foreign language requirement (you can choose three different options: fulfilled in high school, fulfilled in college, or through a proficiency test). There is also a comment space under each area, where you can write in your comments. For instance, I wrote to consider the whole transcript in its entirety rather than solely the breadth requirements since my grades looked better as a whole than picked apart as such.

The major pre-requisites still carry the most weight out of the whole application (with certain emphasis on principles of business and economics). I believe that breadth is only there to give perspective to compare the major courses with the fun courses; however they will indeed look at the whole transcript. Make any notes you think will be necessary.


You will be expected to write two different essays, adding up to 1000 words in total. The first essay typically asks which one of the four Haas Defining Principles you most align with and why, while the second one is similar to a previous college application essay you have written in the past. My year, the two questions you could choose from were, “If you could go back in time and change one thing, what would you change?” and “What song best describes you?” or something of that sort; I don’t remember the exact questions.


This portion is split up into employment, activities, service, and honors. Within these categories is split into other sections such as “organization/company”, “position”, “start/end date”, and “responsibilities”. Within honors, you can give a description and the date offered. You have a maximum of four organizations, companies, or positions to talk about for each area; so you should use these spaces wisely. You may also leave an area blank; for instance I didn’t have any service experience, and left the whole section empty.

Come November, give it your best shot! I wish you the best of luck.


Shown below is a list of resources that I find helpful and consult all the time if I have a question about anything. In addition, whenever I help people about classes or general advice, most of that information is pulled from these websites. I will be adding on to this if I find more resources, and I hope it helps you as well!

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UGBA 10 vs. Econ 1

It’s not a surprise that the most important Haas pre-requisites are UGBA 10 and Econ 1, the business and economics introductory courses. I wouldn’t it call it a necessity that you need to do well in both, but they are significant factors towards the 50% grades and coursework slice in the Haas application. Here is what you should expect from both classes.

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