My Years at Cal offers students a virtual roadmap through Berkeley

Who are the experts when it comes to helping Berkeley students make the most of their years on campus?  Other students are — and that’s the premise behind the newly expanded My Years at Cal website.

My Years at Cal went up last year as a resource for new undergraduates and now has added sections for sophomores, juniors and seniors, plus dozens of videos that capture students talking about what works for them at Berkeley and offering advice. The site expansion was created by New Student Services, which tapped expertise from across campus, including 100 CalSo leaders among a broad cross-section of students.

My Years at Cal home pageMy Years at Cal now offers a virtual roadmap to help guide students from the day they first set foot on campus until they’re marching to “Pomp and Circumstance.”

Topics for freshmen involve basic ideas for getting started: “Take a small class,” “Be engaged,” “Go outside your comfort zone,” among the dozen or so posted. Each topic links to a page expanding on the idea and offering suggestions. There are links to specific classes, campus services and on- and off-campus activities that relate — anything from taiko drumming to volunteering to student government.

Other links lead to more than 30 videos, where multitudes of students give their views. pithy, funny and wise. Cap-and-gown-clad graduating seniors, for example, offer tips for new undergrads, things like “go to office hours, ask questions and let your professors know you,” or “learn how to read and how to write.” All the videos have closed captioning.

Other links lead to “True Stories,” which are online journal entries in which students write and talk about what’s worked for them.

Each year, topics advance through relevant issues. For sophomores, that means “Clarify my major or concentration” or “Strengthen study skills. For juniors, it’s “Synthesize academic interests” and “Consider postgraduate opportunities.” And for seniors, it’s “Create my Cal don’t-miss list” and “Plan for life after Cal.”

First-generation and transfer students will find sections tailored to their needs, as well, with topics like “Understand expectations” and “Think critically.”

Mini-polls asking about things like favorite late-night snacks or sleeping habits bolster the site’s interactivity.

“My Years at Cal picks up where the CalSO (Cal Student Orientation) program leaves off to help students navigate their first year, and prepare and plan for the rest of college,” says Marissa Toffoli of New Student Services.

Says Janelly Martinez, a sociology major, “Being a senior at Cal, there are so many things to do before graduating. My Years at Cal is an extremely useful resource that provides me with a great ‘To Do List’… It has definitely kept me on track.”

Kevin Tian, a junior in mechanical engineering, adds that browsing My Years at Cal “is an easy way to explore different opportunities to become more engaged with the campus.”

Advisers find the website useful, too. Says Donna Vivar, undergraduate adviser in Landscape Architecture and Urban Studies, “My Years is a great tool to use when I am short on time in my advising appointments.”

Advisers in the College of Environmental Design, she elaborates, “value holistic advising, and because the site is so comprehensive and speaks to relevant student issues, I am comfortable referring students to it.”

My Years at Cal is updated regularly with new videos, links and polls. The best way to keep up with the new content is to follow My Years on social media, including Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MyYearsAtCal and Twitter: @calnewstudents or https://twitter.com/calnewstudents.