Berkeley First-Year Student Guide

Approximately 19.9 million students were attending college as of 2018. While this is a time of excitement and new experiences for many of those millions, it can also be a time of uncertainty and confusion for first-year students. Whether you're the type to prepare months in advance or prefer to take things as they come, knowing what to expect during your first year of college is important. Below is all the information you need to make your first year at Berkeley College a success.

New Student Checklist

There's admittedly a lot to keep track of as you work through the process of applying for and going to college, but keeping a master list can help you track what's left to do and what's already done. At Berkeley College, we want to make it easy for our students to succeed, so we've developed the following first-year student checklist.

Complete Your Financial Aid Application

If you're like most Berkeley College students, you probably need assistance paying for your education. It's important to complete your financial aid application as soon as possible. For most students, this will start with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and the federal deadline for submission is June 30th of each year.

However, keep in mind that state and college deadlines may vary, so make sure to check with the financial aid office if you have questions. The FAFSA will determine if you qualify for aid such as the Federal Pell Grant or Federal subsidized or unsubsidized loans. However, many of the need-based scholarships and grants Berkeley offers also use the information on your FAFSA to evaluate eligibility.

Apply for Housing

If you're planning on attending the White Plains location and living on campus, you'll need to apply for housing. You can find the White Plains Residence Reservation Agreement on the forms section of the Berkeley College website. Housing is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis and isn't guaranteed, so you'll want to make sure you submit all of your application materials as soon as possible. Housing is only available at the White Plains campus. You may also be able to apply to be a resident assistant (RA) after your first year on campus has passed.

Pre-Register for Classes

Core classes and popular timeslots can fill up quickly, but registering for classes as early as possible increases the chances you'll be able to get the courses you need. At Berkeley College, we make it easy for our students to plan out their course schedules and degree paths by offering Degree Map and My Scheduler, which you can access from your Student Center account. You can see the full listing of courses offered for each session in the course catalogs, and advisors are available to answer any questions you may have about class availability, prerequisites, or how to complete the registration process.

Complete Health Forms

All students at Berkeley College must complete the required health forms and be up-to-date on required vaccinations. You can find out more about Berkeley's immunization policy and how to obtain proof of vaccinations online or by contacting the Office of Student Development and Campus Life.

Complete Student Orientation

Berkeley College's new student orientation is a great way to familiarize yourself with the College and everything it has to offer. It’s also a great way to start building relationships with faculty and fellow students. Students are able to get more information on academic advisement, career services, and financial aid. Before attending orientation make sure to:

  • Complete your health forms and get any required immunizations
  • Have your identification documents readily available
  • Be ready to take any required placement tests
  • Have an idea of which classes you want to register for

 

While Berkeley College Online® students don't have to attend a physical orientation on campus, we offer the same information via a self-paced virtual orientation program so you can start familiarizing yourself with the College and online environment.

New Student Tips

There is always an adjustment period when you enter any new environment, but knowing what to expect and preparing beforehand can help you acclimate faster. We've prepared a list of new student tips on every aspect of being a Berkeley College student, from taking advantage of on-campus tech resources to developing positive relationships with professors, so you can start — and finish — strong.

What to Bring

When you come to class, you'll want to make sure you're prepared for everything you might be doing that day. Most classes at Berkeley College use e-books, but if one of your courses requires traditional textbooks or other special supplies, be sure to have them with you, as well as a way to take notes. Some students prefer paper notebooks and an assortment of pens to help color-code notes, while others like to take digital notes with a laptop or tablet. Even if you prefer the second, it's a good idea to always have some pens and paper with you just in case something happens and you need a backup.

You may also want to pack some snacks like protein bars if you don't have a lot of time between classes for meals and a few dollars for the vending machines on campus.

Tuck a hard copy of your class schedule and a campus map in your bag in case any classes have been moved or you forget where to go next. If you're taking math or business classes, you may need to have a scientific or graphing calculator as well. While this may seem like a lot, once you go to your classes for the first week or two, you'll get a better idea of what you need and can pare back to the essentials.

Students who are living on the White Plains campus will need to coordinate with their roommates to see what they need to bring for the dorm or common areas.

What NOT to Bring

Unless you know you're going to have a lot of downtime between classes, it's best to leave anything not related to your schoolwork at home. This helps you stay focused and eliminate distractions, and even if you do have breaks between classes, you'll most likely use them to complete homework and assignments, freeing up your home time.

If you're living on campus, make sure to check the student handbook to find out what's not permitted in your dorm room. Hot plates and other cooking implements are generally not allowed because of the fire hazard. Any illegal or prohibited substances should be kept away from campus.

Living With Roommates

Any time you're sharing space with another person, it can present some challenges. The best way to promote a positive relationship with your roommate is to respect their space and set expectations for them to do the same. While most roommate pairings are successful, occasional disagreements happen. It’s best to approach them with a cooperative spirit and try to work out a compromise that's acceptable to everyone. If you need help coming to an agreement, check with the RA or student services for assistance.

Computers, Phones, Electronics, and Campus Internet

Today's students may expect to look up definitions or enter exam dates on their phones or use laptops in class to take notes. While electronics can be helpful, it's important to understand that professors may have policies on their use in class, and you will be expected to follow them. While one instructor may allow students to have phones out as long as they step outside to take calls, another may expect all devices to be completely powered off during class hours. If you have any questions about the electronics policy, check with the professor directly.

At Berkeley College, we also have several on-campus computer labs to help you complete any online research or coursework required. These computers are available to students in the labs on a first-come, first-served basis, and students using on-campus computers or accessing the campus Wi-Fi through their own devices are expected to follow the internet-use guidelines and policies.

Physical, Emotional, and Mental Health

During your first year of college, it's normal to put a lot of emphasis on your coursework and education, but it's important to also maintain a good work/life balance. Your physical, emotional, and mental well-being are critical to your success as a student, and Berkeley College has several support services in place to help you stay at your best. We have on-campus fitness centers where you can work out and also offer short-term on-campus counseling, so you can get help dealing with transition difficulties or any other type of mental health issue. Our counselors can also provide you with recommendations and referrals to therapists for long-term counseling.

Study Skills and Habits

Studying is one of the most important factors in success at the college level, and good study skills and habits can make or break your student experience. If this is something you've struggled with in classes before, that doesn't mean that you're doomed to the same in college. One helpful resource is the Center for Academic Success (CAS), which offers on-site tutoring for most classes as well as for course navigation and computer skills, provided by both professional and peer tutors. The center also offers study groups and a variety of convenient hours, all at no additional charge.

At Berkeley College, we have support resources in place for our students to help them succeed in every way, and that includes learning to study efficiently and effectively. Some key tips include:

  • Taking notes: Much of the class information will be delivered via lecture, and while it may seem like you can remember what your professor said in the moment, you may find out five weeks later when it's time for the test that it's not as easy as you thought. Taking notes, whether paper or digital, and referring back to them often is the best thing you can do for your study habits.
  • Use visual cues: Many students are visual learners, which means they may have trouble retaining information from the textbook or the lecture. You can work around this by creating mind maps, graphs, and even doodles with your notes.
  • Manage your time effectively: Take advantage of downtime during your commute or between classes to review your notes. This is especially helpful right after class when it's fresh in your mind. If a class is canceled, use that time to catch up on homework or get a head start on next week's reading.

If at any time you find yourself falling behind or feel like you're struggling to retain the material, you can check in with academic support services to find out about tutoring and other resources that may be available.

 Two male student sitting at a computer, female student with her hand raised

Working With Professors

Most professors are dedicated to their material and genuinely want to see their students succeed. If you find yourself struggling, consider visiting during their office hours to talk to them outside of the class environment. This is especially helpful if you're having difficulty with the coursework. They may be able to recommend a tutor or additional resources to help you succeed. If you aren’t able to come to a resolution in any matter with a professor, the College offers a student complaint process.

Graduating on Time

In order to graduate on schedule, it's important to plan your classes efficiently. If a class is only offered every other session and you miss it or fail a class and have to repeat it, it could delay your graduation. Keeping in contact with your advisor and talking to them when you register for classes each session can help you stay on track and increase your chances of graduating on time.

Campus Involvement

While it's tempting to come on campus for your classes and leave when they're over, the more involved you are in the College, the better your experience is likely to be. Students who make a point to be involved in Berkeley College student life and take part in on-campus clubs and organizations are more invested in their college experience and are also better able to network with fellow students. If you're not sure where to start, contact student services or hang out in some of the College hot spots. The student center, libraries, and fitness center are all great places where you can meet new people. You can also see a list of all upcoming events and important dates on the Berkeley College calendar.

On-Campus Work

On-campus job opportunities can be a great way to put a little extra money toward your education, and work-study jobs let you work around your class schedule, so you don't have to worry about needing time off to take a big exam. You can find out more about determining eligibility for work-study positions and how to apply here.

Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteering with organizations on or off campus lets you network with other students and professionals in your field and provides valuable experience to include on your resume or CV for future employers. To find out what opportunities may be available, check with your professors and student services.

Internships

Berkeley College is proud to offer students several internship opportunities with businesses and organizations around the New York and New Jersey areas. There is high interest in internship opportunities, and they tend to fill up quickly, so be sure to talk with academic support services or career services to get started. All students are required to complete either an internship, a practicum, or a job-related assignment during a semester, usually involving eight hours per week and 120 hours in a semester.

Campus Security

Our Public Safety Department is dedicated to maintaining a safe environment for our students, staff, and visitors on all of our campuses. We have extensive emergency response plans in place, including lockdown and evacuation procedures. While we do everything we can to ensure our students' safety, we also rely on our students to let us know when they see or hear something that may be concerning. You can report any concerns directly to the Public Safety Department and get information on any alerts via BerkAlert.

Transportation

Many of the Berkeley College campuses are located right next to mass transit, including trains and buses, and all are easily accessible via nearby major highways. We also offer ample parking and a campus shuttle system for student convenience on many campuses.

Career Services

While your education is an important step on your career path, it's only the first step. Our Career Services Department staff is available to help you transition from college straight into your chosen career path. They can help with everything from determining what field you're interested in, to helping you polish your resume to get that interview. Beginning in the first semester, the department assists with career counseling that continues throughout each student’s studies at Berkeley College, culminating in resume and interview assistance to help in attaining full-time employing in a chosen field.

Additional Resources and Help

As you navigate your first year at Berkeley College, questions are sure to come up. You can get answers to these questions via our 24/7 online chat service as well as by contacting the specific department, such as Financial Aid or Student Services. Additional contact info for administration staff and faculty can be found in the directory.

Additional information for prospective students, please click hereFor up-to-date and detailed information, please visit BerkeleyCollege.edu and view our catalogs at BerkeleyCollege.edu/publications