Berkeley's interactive enrollment and registration system is called Tele-BEARS (for Berkeley Enrollment And Registration System—remember that for your next trivia game).
Tele-BEARS is available online at telebears.berkeley.edu.
Phase I starts toward the end of the previous semester for continuing and readmitted students, and a bit later for new students. During Phase I, undergraduates can sign up for a total of 10.5 units, and graduates can enroll in up to 12.5 units. During this time you can adjust your schedule as long as you don't exceed these unit restrictions. These totals include units for waitlisted courses. (The reason you can't sign up for all your classes at once is to increase the chances of everyone getting at least some of the classes they need.)
Phase II starts immediately after Phase I ends. Undergraduates will be able to add 1-2 more classes with a "soft" limit of 16 units. In other words, once you add enough classes to reach or exceed 16 units, you've maxed out for Phase II. But be creative; for example, if you have 15 units, you can still add or waitlist an additional class, even if it's 4 units. Graduate students can enroll in units up to their college or school maximum during Phase II.
For both phases, each student is assigned a specific day/time for their enrollment appointment via Bear Facts (bearfacts.berkeley.edu), and is allowed 10 minutes per session (you can log on again if you need more time).
Before your appointment in either phase you will not be able to use Tele-BEARS.
Note: For incoming first-year and transfer students, your appointment for Phase II is an online appointment, not in-person (so you don't have to physically come to campus!).
After your initial appointment for each phase you can log in during "open hours" (see next paragraph).
If your appointment has expired, or if you want to make any changes, you can still access Tele-BEARS during open hours, which are Monday-Friday, 7 to 8am and 7pm to midnight, and noon to midnight on the weekends (all times are Pacific Standard Time). You're allowed to access the system up to 40 times each phase. For security, each time you log on, you must enter your CalNet ID and passphrase. If you forget your passphrase, contact the Cal 1 Card office (cal1card.berkeley.edu; 180 Chavez Center; email@example.com; 510/643-6839).
In addition, students will be assigned an Adviser Code (AC), which must be obtained at your CalSO program or from your academic adviser (for new undergraduates who can't attend CalSO, continuing students, and new graduate students).
The Adjustment Period begins one week before instruction. Tele-BEARS availability will vary depending on your college/school affiliation; check the Registrar's Office website for details. Undergraduates are allowed to enroll in up to the maximum number of units allowed by their college or school: 19.5 units for the Colleges of Chemistry and Natural Resources; 20.5 units for all other colleges (registrar.berkeley.edu).
Appointments are not needed for the Adjustment Period, but access to Tele-BEARS is by an alphabetical schedule (also at registrar.berkeley.edu). This alphabetical schedule does not apply to new students, who can use the system any time it is open during the Adjustment Period.
Make sure your schedule is accurate and complete before the Adjustment Period ends. If you want to add or drop courses afterward, you'll need to get approval from the dean of your college or school, and approvals are not likely to be granted. See your college or school website for more information. (see here for a list of websites).
All new undergraduates will receive their Tele-BEARS appointment information and ACs (adviser codes) when attending a Cal Student Orientation (CalSO) program. Students unable to attend should contact their academic adviser by mid-June for fall admits or mid-October for spring admits .
If you’re a new graduate student, you need to obtain your adviser code (if required) and appointment information from your department. You are not allowed to use Tele-BEARS to enroll in classes until the last week of Phase II. Contact your department for more information.
If you are visually impaired and need help with Tele-BEARS, contact the Disabled Students Program (TDD 510/642-0518).
How to choose classes
Before actually choosing your classes and creating a schedule, you need to arm yourself with three essential reference materials: the Berkeley Bulletin, which lists all the classes offered at Berkeley; the Schedule of Classes (available online at schedule.berkeley.edu), which lists logistical information about classes (where they meet, who is teaching, how many units, and final exam groups); and your College or School Announcement, which describes the University and any breadth requirements for your college/school, as well as requirements for your major. (See Helpful publications for online versions.)
New transfer students should attend a Cal Student Orientation (CalSO; calso.berkeley.edu) in order to meet with their major adviser to find out about required courses, as well as when and how to declare. To help you figure out which classes from your previous institution may be transferable (thus letting you know which class to take next), go online to assist.org. You can also request a degree audit online using DARS.
It's strongly encouraged that you read the entire Berkeley Bulletin, really! Write down upper division classes you'd like, whether you're a new freshman or transfer student, because you can identify the lower division prerequisites you'll need and see how the classes that interest you fit into specific majors. It makes choosing a major that much easier. When reading the Berkeley Bulletin, make a list of all the classes you think you'll ever be interested in taking while at UC Berkeley.
From your list, match the classes with requirements that are specified in your College or School Announcement and fill out your schedule accordingly. Try to keep a balanced schedule by taking a required class, a breadth requirement, and an elective. Think about mixing humanities requirements with math and science requirements so you have a schedule with variety.
Then check to see how many of these classes you could actually take, which ones are offered, and what are the prerequisites. Include in these lists the class meeting times and the exam groups, which you can get from the Schedule of Classes. If certain exam groups and class times conflict, you should prioritize the classes you need most and adjust your lists accordingly.
This process will help you make the most of your Tele-BEARS appointments. Instead of searching through the Schedule of Classes desperately trying to find an open class, you'll have a list of your options right in front of you.
•First class choice:
Sociology 3, MWF, 11-12, Exam 3
Backups in case class is full:
1) Psychology 1, MWF, 11-12, Exam 11
2) Anthropology 1, MW, 10:30-12, Exam 5
• Second class choice:
Ethnic Studies 21, TuTh, 10-12, Exam 2
Backups in case class is full:
1) Music 27, TuTh, 9-11, Exam 3
2) English 15, TuTh, 10-12, Exam 10
Note: In the example, if you get Soc 3 but you don’t get Ethnic Studies 21, you’ll have to go for your second backup, English 15, so you won’t have an exam group conflict.
What’s a good class?
CourseRank is an online resource where students can review and rate classes. Look up recommendations for specific classes or professors. There's a whole website dedicated to Berkeley classes (berkeley.courserank.com).
RateMyProfessors.com is a non-University-sponsored website with student impressions of teachers on numerous campuses across the country (ratemyprofessors.com).
Note: Remember that course ratings can vary widely depending on the evaluator. Your opinion of a class or professor may be very different from someone else's. Use tools like CourseRank and RateMyProfessors with discretion.
Vassar? At Berkeley?
A Berkeley undergraduate really can receive the kind of close intellectual interaction and faculty attention that students in small liberal arts colleges, like Vassar, enjoy—you just need to know where to look.
The first place to look is the Freshman and Sophomore Seminars. This program has a reputation, largely earned, of being so popular that it's difficult to secure a seat in one of the classes. If you are on the waiting list for a seminar, you should go to the first class. Even if you are number 15 on a waiting list of 15, you still have a chance of getting in because most waitlisted students never bother to show up.
Your next best bet is to take classes (or even major) in the smaller departments on campus, the departments that are named after disciplines you never heard of prior to coming to Cal. If you love literature, don't default to the English Department (as great as it is); consider one of the smaller language and literature departments as well. Browse through the Berkeley Bulletin as you would any other site (like Amazon or eBay); it's a wish book containing all kinds of rare treasures, only with this catalog every item is free with the cost of admission. It is in the breadth and richness of its curriculum that Berkeley surpasses the liberal arts colleges.
Similarly, don't slip into default mode when choosing courses to satisfy your breadth requirements. If you are a student in L&S, for example, you can fulfill your Social and Behavioral Science requirement the way everyone else does, in Psychology 1 with hundreds of other students, or you can choose the road less traveled. The L&S breadth search engine will yield countless small-class options (ls-breadth.berkeley.edu/search.php).
Another great way to meet students and faculty who share your intellectual passions is to participate in the Berkeley Connect program (berkeleyconnect.berkeley.edu), which is currently offered through 10 academic departments across campus. When you enroll, you are matched with a graduate student mentor and placed in a discussion group with no more than 20 other students. Over the course of the semester, you’ll receive one-on-one advising from your mentor, come to know peers who share your academic interests, and attend events where you can interact directly with professors and alumni. One professor described the goal of Berkeley Connect as “making Berkeley feel smaller.”
If all else fails and you do not manage to wriggle into even one small class, take matters into your own hands. Think of provocative, open-ended questions in response to the assigned readings for your large lecture class, then go see the professor during her or his office hours and discuss them. Join a student-led study group or start a study group with some other students in one of your large lecture classes so that you don't miss out on the intellectual camaraderie of your peers. There are over 20,000 undergraduates and 1400 faculty members at Berkeley: you will do well here if you look upon them as thousands of opportunities for meaningful interactions.
—Alix Schwartz, Director of Academic Planning
Undergraduate Division, Letters & Science
If you can't add a course because it's full, get on the waiting list right away. If space becomes available later (either through drops or an increase in seats), students on the waiting list get first crack at enrollment. Tele-BEARS keeps the waiting list in priority order; that is, the first student who gets on the waiting list is number one, the second student is number two, and so on.
Remember, the units for waiting list classes are included as part of your overall unit total, meaning that Tele-BEARS will not allow you to enroll in more than your college or school's maximum number of units (including those you're waitlisted for).
It’s important to know that there are two kinds of waiting lists: automatic and manual.
With automatic waiting lists, Tele-BEARS adds waitlisted students in priority order as space opens up during Phases I and II, and every night during the Adjustment Period.
With manual waiting lists, the departments—not Tele-BEARS—process the enrollment. Departments use their own set of criteria to determine which students get enrolled. It means they can pick and choose from the list as they please, without regard to the order of the list. Manual waiting lists can be processed at any time; in other words, they are not restricted to the fixed times of automatic lists.
When you place yourself on a waiting list, Tele-BEARS will indicate whether it's automatic or manual. Beware though: an automatic list can be changed to manual (or vice versa) at any time.
If you're still on the waiting list by the time classes begin, it's a good idea to go to the first class meeting to demonstrate your intent to enroll in the course. You'll also be able to get a more realistic idea about your chances of getting in.
One more thing
Take it easy your first semester. Academic expectations at Berkeley are going to be different from what they were at your high school, community college, or previous institution. You can always buckle down second semester after you've made some new friends, found your way around campus, and learned how to do your own laundry.
- Business: haas.berkeley.edu/Undergrad
- Chemistry: chemistry.berkeley.edu/student_info/undergrad_info/ publications/chem_12_13.pdf
- Engineering: coe.berkeley.edu/students/college-of-engineering-announcement
- Environmental Design: www.ced.berkeley.edu/advising
- Letters and Science: ls-orientation.berkeley.edu. Complete Academic Orienteering if you're a new freshman or transfer student.
- Natural Resources: cnr.berkeley.edu/site/forms/oisa/undergrad_handbook.pdf
The Berkeley Bulletin lists descriptions of courses, academic regulations, and much, much more in tiny print ($11 plus tax; Cal Student Store Textbooks; MLK, Jr Student Union; 510/981-9618). You can also view the Berkeley Bulletin online, order a copy by mail, or print a PDF version (bulletin.berkeley.edu).
The Schedule of Classes (schedule.berkeley.edu) has the most updated information on classes, including days and times, examination groups, class limits, and enrollment information. It's updated daily, and you can search for classes that meet certain criteria, such as all classes meeting at 10am, all two-unit courses still open, those which fulfill the American Cultures requirement, or all classes on a particular subject.
If you want to arrange your classes to minimize schedule gaps, or check to make sure your classes, labs, and discussions don't conflict, try this online tool:
How to talk to faculty
Odd as it may seem, faculty members like to see students, and we think office hours are an invaluable way for students to get more out of a class and for us to learn what students are thinking. Sometimes five or 10 minutes with one or two students can straighten out an hour's worth of confusion in class. In large classes especially, office hours give us the only way to get to know students as individuals. (Which means, of course, you should take advantage of office hours if you think you'll ever need letters of recommendation. On the other hand, it's easy to spot students who are there only for the eventual letter of rec, and the conversation is usually strained and fake.)
But there can be good and bad interactions in office hours. Don't wait until the last minute to go to office hours with questions. Go as soon as they arise, not the day before the midterm. Let an instructor know you've arrived. Be sure to come prepared—bring the article, book, assignment. Don't wait until you sit down to rummage through your stuff looking for the correct piece of paper. Take notes.
Here are the things I wish students wouldn’t say:
1) "I don't understand (choose one: partial differential equations, Moby Dick, supply side economics)." This is not particularly helpful to you or the instructor. It's like saying "I don't understand the meaning of life." It can't be taken care of in one office hour.
2) "How can I get a better grade?" I am reminded of an old joke. A young tourist in New York stopped a police officer and said, "How do I get to Carnegie Hall?" The officer replied, "Practice." So, "How can I get a better grade?" "Study." There, now you don't need to cover that in office hours.
3) "I missed class yesterday. Did we do anything important?" What would you like us to say? "No, you didn't miss anything important. Rarely do we cover important things in class. But I'll let you know if we do." It's a student's responsibility to get notes from other class members, not a professor's obligation to give an instant replay. A variation is the question "Do I have to know this?"
Here are the things that I like to hear:
1) "In Lady Chatterley's Lover, I still don't understand who John Thomas is." Go in with a particular question or set of questions that show you're thinking.
2) "In class you said that our welfare system serves a practical purpose. I understand what you meant, but isn't it more political than practical?" If you go in to challenge or refute something said in class, do it in the spirit of intellectual discussion—which we love—rather than confrontation—which we hate.
3) "I read that book (or article, or watched that movie, or went to that exhibit) you recommended and have a question about it." A student who does something beyond the requirements is dearly regarded.
These are only suggestions to get you going. You don't actually have to go in with a particular question; maybe you just want to talk about a book or an idea. That's great. But the key word is "talk." We ask questions all day long, and it can be exhausting to think of things to ask a student: "What classes are you taking?" "How's your dog?" You're better off taking the lead. A couple of notes on emailing: Don't call your instructors by their first names unless they've given you leave to do that. Don't email your instructor with questions that can be easily found in the syllabus or on bSpace. Don't add your instructor to any email lists you have without permission. No random jokes, political messages, or friends and family phone deals.
—Stephen K. Tollefson, Recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award College Writing Program, author of Grammar Grams and Director, Office of Educational Development
Added comments by: Melinda Erikson and Gail Offen-Brown, College Writing Programs; Kathleen Ryan, Plant and Microbial Biology