Coming to Cal later in life has its complications and for nearly 30 years re-entry programs and services have been the critical bridge for students who once deferred their lifelong goal of earning a college degree. Re-entry students (undergraduates 25 and older) bring their life and professional experiences to Berkeley along with their age, ethnic, and cultural diversity that powerfully and positively impact our learning environment. Averaging around 1800 undergraduates, Berkeley re-entry students enrich our student community as being particularly goal oriented, thoughtfully engaged, and personally invested scholars.
Re-entry Student Experience and Winner of the Campus Movie Fest 2013
Attending UC Berkeley fulfills a lifetime dream for me...When I leave the university this semester, I take with me what John Henry Newman called ‘a special illumination and largeness of mind a freedom and self-possession.’ At UC Berkeley, I have not only read the works of great minds, but have learned that I too have a mind capable of thinking deep thought and the ability to express them to others--verbally and in writing. The next step of my dream leads me into my own high school classroom, where I want to share that ‘illumination’ with others. My road to the university was a long one; I hope to help others to a shorter journey.
Maureen Brennan, English
Many re-entry students learn about our programs and services even before they apply to UC Berkeley for admission. The Starting Point Mentorship Program offers students in California community colleges the opportunity to connect with and gain insights from current Cal students who recently transferred from community colleges themselves. From the time that re-entry students gain admission to UC Berkeley, we outreach to make certain that students have the earliest opportunity to access our information and services. Through the myBerkeley Application site, new student receptions, CalSO, and our own transitioning workshops, re-entry students build familiarity and connections to the resources that fuel enhanced success here.
Accessing timely information and getting a jump-start on life at Berkeley is key to feeling less like an imposter. Because re-entry students, as a group, tend to face similar challenges with financing resources, balancing work and academics, and possibly even a commute to campus, we not only offer workshops and courses on this theme, but also connect students with our network of professionals in departments throughout campus.
One of the great ways to achieve these connections is through taking a transition class. EDUC 198: Adult Learners in Higher Education addresses the key issues and concerns relevant to the first transitional semester at Cal and many re-entry students have said that this course was essential to their success at Cal.
As re-entry students continue in their academic programs on the Berkeley campus, we offer Academic Skills and Enrichment Workshops, and the Outstanding Faculty Series featuring professors from throughout campus to discuss their path through academia and their current research. These small setting encounters foster greater connections among students, staff, and faculty here.
The Judith Lee Stronach Re-entry Prizes for Poetry and Prose are a great opportunity to become part of the re-entry student writing community at Cal. Re-entry students compete in this annual writing competition that not only awards $2000 for first place in each category, but also provides an opportunity to highlight nontraditional re-entry student voices and talent on our Berkeley campus. The prizes culminate with an awards ceremony and readings from the selected entries—a true celebration of re-entry students at Cal.
The Beverly Mullins Memorial Scholarship honors the legacy of Cal alumna and former peer advocate Beverly Mullins with an award of up to $5000 to student leaders who are single re-entry student parents. The Mullins family continues to support re-entry single parents with this award, in part, because they have first-hand knowledge of the strength, talent, and determination that single parents at Cal personify.
The Osher Reentry Scholarship Program funds ten Osher Reentry Scholars with awards of $5,000 for the academic year. Applicants must meet the following criteria:
- Must be an undergraduate re-entry student at UC Berkeley who has experienced a considerable gap in the pursuit of his or her education and who can look forward to a significant number of years of workforce participation
- Must have completed at least one regular term (Fall or Spring) at UC Berkeley
- Must have a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 from all colleges attended
- All applicants must have filed a FAFSA and be eligible to receive financial aid.
Osher Reentry Scholars are always at the leading edge of this highly-talented student community.
The Re-entry Transfer Student Association (RTSA) plays an critical role in advocacy of re-entry and transfer students at Cal, and regularly collaborate with TRSP staff to offer enhanced services, social events, and recruitment of other re-entry and transfer students.
EDUC 198: Culminating the Cal Experience offers a one-unit capstone experience to re-entry students interested in preparing to either change careers, re-enter the workforce, or position themselves for graduate programs. This can be a daunting prospect to tackle in addition to life and academics, so this class provides a regularized opportunity to make progress with these concerns.
Many re-entry students find that having successfully navigated through the first semester at Berkeley, that they want to “give back” and help other students in they way they were assisted upon arriving here. EDUC 198: Peer Leadership and Mentorship in the Classroom is a great way to achieve this. By serving as a student co-facilitator in the Adult Learners in Higher Education classes, students share their insights and wisdom to newly admitted re-entry students.
Additionally, students who were once mentored by Cal re-entry students in the Starting Point Mentorship Program, regularly recognize the number of talented and dedicated students at the community college from which they transferred who often think that a Berkeley education is well out of reach. These students often choose to enroll in SW 197: Starting Point Mentorship Program and work to dispel myths and demystify the admissions process by connecting their mentees to admissions professionals, and offering their personal transfer experiences.
The academic year is crowned with our TRSP Achievement Celebration honoring graduating and continuing students. Excitement overflows when students have an opportunity to celebrate together. Whether completing the undergraduate degree, or finishing their first semester or academic year, spirits soar with Pomp and Circumstance.