A new school year begins at my university and I've been getting a ton of notes asking about why I decided to go there (instead of an art college), or is the art program there any good. Hopefully this journal will satisfy your curiosity and help you decide which college you want to go to.
But first I would like to make an announcement to my fellow UCB art majors that my friends and I will be teaching a group study class on Digital Painting/Webcomics so if anyone is interested in signing up for the course e-mail the founder, Patrick, at firstname.lastname@example.org (we don't have a Course Control Number yet but we will).
On to the questions~~~
What's the art department like at UCB?
Since UCB is most famous for its science programs (where all the budget goes), the art programs are not the most amazing, but they are pretty good depending on what kind of art you're into. Berkeley has an intellectual yet liberal atmosphere so we try to look at all forms of art from various perspectives.
The lower division art classes (the ones you have to take before the upper division) mostly focuses on breaking the traditional view that art is just a beautiful drawing on a wall. The goal is to open up your mind to what art can be and how you can approach art in ways never done before. This will enrich the content of your art, so instead of just a beautiful drawing, you can create a beautiful drawing with depth and content. If you're purely into how to draw better (for stuff like RPG character designs), then it's best for you to go to an art college that focuses on improving your skills.
The upper division classes will continue to challenge what art can be, but they will be more focused on skill development. The idea is that the lower division classes prepare you for WHAT you want to draw, and the upper division classes allow you to learn HOW you can accomplish that. The upper divs included classes like comics, painting, and 2D/3D animation.
To sum it up, the Art department, along with the excellent Art History department, will give you a broad and deep understanding of what art is, which kind of art you want to go into, and how to get there.
What is UCB like in general?
UCB is (according to itself XD) the #1 public university in the world. You can decide if that's true or not but the average weighted GPA of those who got accepted is 4.39. Since straight A's gives you a 4.0, you have to take Advance Placement classes in high school or the equivalent to get above a 4.0 GPA. With that said, if you're not into academics, then UCB is not right right for you.
If you are a nerd (woot for nerds!), you will love the wide spectrum of courses that UCB has to offer. Personally, I love the environmental science classes since conservation is a big part of my life. I also use what I learn for my comic stories. It's one thing to know how to draw, but it's another to know what to draw. Once you've expanded your horizon, from politics, philosophy, and cognitive science to human genetic variation, you will have plenty of food for thought on what to draw
What is the atmosphere like at UCB?
Well, Berkeley is right next to San Fransisco so we are definitely all for gay rights and other liberal views. But before anyone starts arguing about liberals vs conservatives, I would like to point out that our definition of liberal may not be the same as yours. When I say UCB is liberal, I mean people here are open minded to new ideas and very tolerant of those with different beliefs and lifestyles. Everyone here is very friendly. I'm an atheist but all my roommates are Christians, yet we never argue about religion. There are a lot of "hippies", but not in the pot smoking sense. Most of the people here respect the environment and try to buy green products. We even had a vegetable garden on campus (but they had to remove it for some reason... ).
What is the campus like?
Campus is HUGE but very beautiful. The main campus takes 15-20 minutes to walk across depending on your speed and whether you're going up or down the hill. However, the entire campus actually includes a mountain side with a botanical garden, hiking trails, and mysterious looking research facilities hidden behind trees and fences. There are deer and wild turkeys on the hiking trail (the turkeys are on the outside of the fence, the inside is a chemistry lab)
oh and these giant banana slugs that look like dog poop XD (this image is the actual size of the slug)
There's also the Strawberry Creek that runs through campus. If you're into environmental science, you'll be spending some time documenting the creek's health by going into the water and collecting benthic-macro-invertibrates and fishies
Besides campus, the entire bay area is full of cool places to visit like the Academy of Sciences in SF www.calacademy.org/
or the Marina
That's all I can think of for now. I hope that helped with your decision on which college to go to
Good luck everyone! If you have more UCB related questions, feel free to NOTE me (I tend to miss comments