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[College Tips] Choosing EE/CS classes

For sometime now, I’ve been wanting to write about the tips and tricks I used to survive UC Berkeley and Berkeley EECS. The combination of my recent graduation and the incoming of a new class of freshmen has finally persuaded me to pick up the laptop and start typing. Let’s hope I have enough tips to make this College Tips series worthwhile. I’ll try to make everything as relavant to every CS/EECS major at Berkeley.

I will start with a most recent question I received: “How do I choose what classes to take for each of my eight semesters?”

First, ask yourself which side of EECS you are most likely to ultimately pursue in? Almost all of the EECS majors I’ve talked to had an idea before starting their first semester.  Let’s say you answer CS with confidence, as I had. Take the lower division CS requirements (CS61A/B/C and CS70) as early as possible. By your first year, you should have completed CS61A, CS61B, and CS70. Some upper division CS classes only have CS61B as prerequisite, so go ahead and take one (I recommend CS170) in parallel with CS61C your third semester. Take 2 more upper div CS courses your fourth semester. By the second summer, you would have completed all lower division courses and 3 upper div courses. The 3 upper division CS courses will give you a much more competitive edge during your recruiting for summer internships or research positions. For the last 4 semesters, slowly knock off your other lower-div College of Engineering requirements like EE20/40 or Chem 1A.

The same can be done if you had picked EE. Take EE20/40 as early as possible, and push the CS requirements as late as possible to make time for your upper div EE courses. Why spend prime time (early semesters) on requirements that don’t help you get an internship or research position when you can simply defer them?

Here’s what I did, as reference:

Fall 2011 – CS 169, EE 122 , UGBA 175
Spring 2011 – CHEM 1A, EE 40, SOCIOL 3AC
Fall 2010 – CS 188, CS 170, ENVECON 131 (Studied abroad)
Spring 2010 – CS 161, CS 186, EE 20N
Fall 2009 – CS 61C, CS 194-4, CS198
Spring 2009 – CS 61B, MATH 54, PHYSICS 7B
Fall 2008 – CS 61A, MATH 53, PHYSICS 7A

It looks light because I was able to pass out of everything else via AP and Community College courses before coming to Berkeley. You’d want to add in the your humanity and other requirements to the schedule accordingly.

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