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Life at UC Berkeley – from Dublin Gaels to Cal Bears

January 18, 2012

Aslan Brown - UC Berkeley Freshman

Dublin High School Class of 2011 graduate, City of Dublin 2011 Young Citizen of the Year and University of California – Berkeley freshman Aslan Brown took a few minutes to share the experience of his first year at UC Berkeley with OneDublin.org.

OneDublin.org: Why did you choose UC Berkeley?

Aslan Brown: “I selected UC Berkeley because it’s one of the top public universities in the whole world. Its science program is amazing. I’m doing a biology major – molecular environmental biology – so I looked at schools based on where they rank in the sciences and Cal was in the top five.

“In addition, Cal is close to home – it’s only a 35-minute drive away so I can just pop home whenever I want to. If I crave some home cooking, or have some laundry [laughs] … mainly it’s just an amazing, prestigious school.”

OneDublin.org: What were the other schools you considered before selecting UC Berkeley?

Brown: “Others schools I considered were USC, a great private institution that is also good in the sciences, UC-San Diego and University of Chicago where I was wait-listed. I ultimately decided to stay closer to home and attend Cal.”

OneDublin.org: What has been the biggest transition from Dublin High School to UC Berkeley?

Brown: “There’s nobody telling you to do your homework, there’s nobody telling you to study, nobody telling you to do anything or making sure you are doing your stuff. It’s all on you, it’s all your own responsibility – if you slack off you are going to pay the consequences. You are not going to do well on the test or get that extra grade bump. A lot of the grade point differential between a B and an A is determined by the professor: they look at your test scores and see if there is an improvement. An individual’s drive is very important – the main difference is you have to be able to do it on your own.”

Aslan (back left) with roomates

OneDublin.org: Even though you are near home, you are living in dorms. Describe the difference.

Brown: “It’s fun – you have a lot of free time, but there are also a lot of distractions. You need to have the responsibility to determine if there is time to go out and play basketball for three hours, see a movie or study. The main difference is you make the choices about what you do with your free time.”

OneDublin.org: How did Dublin High School prepare you for the challenges of UC Berkeley?

Brown: “I have to give credit to all of my AP teachers, they definitely prepared us amazingly well. Thanks to the rigor of Dublin High School’s AP courses, I was able to enter UC Berkeley as a sophomore, I had 24 credits from my AP courses. The teachers give you enough work to make you really push yourself, that’s what’s awesome about the teachers over at Dublin High. The teachers care and they make you strive to be successful.”

OneDublin.org: What advice do you have for Dublin High students considering AP courses?

Brown: “AP courses are reflections of college courses and if a student wants to see if college is for them, because some people say ‘college is not for me’, AP courses give you an opportunity to try college while in high school. You’ll never know if you don’t try. If you try an AP class, do your best, stick it through to the end. You’ll feel more confident – you’re that much more prepared going into college – ‘I can do this’.

“The thing about college is that you take much fewer classes. The average schedule has three or four classes – that’s it. You may be going to class three hours a day – it’s nothing compared to high school. But taking AP gives you the ability to handle those classes, because although there are fewer classes, they are really hard. College classes take so much more extra work than what is assigned. I learned this the hard way – many of the students at UC Berkeley were able to get through high school fairly easily, who didn’t have to study very hard, who didn’t have to get that extra help like tutoring or one on one with the teachers. In college you definitely need to get that extra help and that’s what helps you get that A. One of the biggest things I’ve learned is seek help.”

UC Berkeley Winterfest

OneDublin.org: You were very involved at Dublin High school, what advice do you have for seniors heading to college soon?

Brown: “There are tons of different things to do, different clubs, different organizations. I was involved with the Rally Committee, but I didn’t want to do so much in my first semester, because I wanted to ease myself into college life. A senior heading off to their freshman year of college should check out all of the options. At Berkeley we have Calapalooza which is the first week of school and it’s where all of the clubs and organizations come out and are trying to get you to join. There are several clubs I’m interested in joining next semester. It’s important to remain involved because that’s what got you there.”

OneDublin.org: Describe what it is like to attend UC Berkeley in a couple of sentences.

Brown: “You can say anything – no one will judge you. You can do anything – no one will judge you. It is completely open to new ideas and everyone cares. The friends that you make, the relationships that you make are amazing. It’s awesome.”

At the Dublin High School 2011 Senior Awards Night Aslan was awarded a UC Berkeley Scholarship, Dave Burton Scholarship, a Dublin Lions Club Scholarship, a US Bowlers Scholarship, was named a California Scholarship Federation Life Member, received a Dublin High School Advanced Scholar Diploma and was awarded a President’s Gold Award for Educational Achievement.

Other articles in the Life in College series:

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