As a former Fall Program for Freshmen, or FPF, student, I used to be just as confused as you might be about FPF. Did this mean I was still a UC Berkeley student? Would I be left out of main campus groups? Why am I forced to spend over $2,000 on this program? After continuous Google searching for different reviews about FPF, nothing summed it up as well as I would have hoped — not even UC Berkeley’s own FPF website. Nervous about what FPF has in store for you as a freshman? We at the Clog, yet again, are here to help. Here’s a review of FPF Berkeley, or now just FPF, and the newly discontinued FPF San Francisco.
FPF Berkeley / FPF
FPF is located at 2515 Hillegass Ave., which is literally right next door to Unit 2. Because of FPF’s extremely close proximity to students, many enjoy this location — I was lucky enough to roll out of bed 10 minutes before class started and still have some time to spare! At FPF, most of your classes are in the same Hillegass building, meaning you probably won’t get much time on main campus. So unless you go the extra mile to join clubs or study on campus, starting in the spring will be a big transition in terms of locating buildings and just getting used to walking so so many miles. However, starting Fall 2018, FPF will now be allowing students to take DeCals which will hopefully improve interactions on main campus! FPF kind of reminded me of high school — the classes were small, the professors remembered your name, and you were stuck on a small campus seeing the same faces. Even though FPF was very small, it was good at creating a small community of friendly faces. A lot of my floormates were also in FPF, which gave us something to bond over. The class sizes being so small also let us interact more with our peers, meaning I could actually name my classmates in a class of 25 versus a class of 300. The small class sizes made it easier to interact with other students to study, be friends and just hang out. As a former FPF student, I would rate the experience a solid 8/10. Personally, I do think that it can help the transition onto main campus in terms of easing you into college-level courses. However, more interaction with main campus would have made spring semester less scary than it actually was.
FPF San Francisco
From my friends who weren’t lucky enough to get to FPF before it filled up, FPF San Francisco was the next best option in comparison to studying abroad or starting their studies in the spring. FPF San Francisco is a hassle to get to, as it takes about an hour to get into San Francisco from Berkeley. On top of that, you’ll still be paying out of pocket for the BART unless you ride AC Transit’s F bus line to the FPF location every day. Being even further from main campus creates an even larger feeling of not being a part of the campus community, meaning you’ll have to go the extra mile to join clubs or do other activities on main campus. Being in San Francisco all day also leaves your meal points useless, as nowhere in San Francisco takes UC Berkeley meal points — even in Berkeley, our options are limited to a few dining halls and markets. However, as a rising junior, I can honestly say I haven’t explored San Francisco as much as I would like. FPF San Francisco leads to the chance to explore the city for all it’s worth! I mean, there’s really nothing else to do while waiting for your other classes to start. Another thing that FPF San Francisco offers is a more tight-knit community of peers who also have to go through 4 a.m. BART rides. Don’t get me wrong, FPF San Francisco is totally doable, but only for the bravest and strongest of students can do it. FPF San Francisco, overall, seems like more of a waste of time and money. With its distance and price of transportation, you’ll probably be spending your fall semester as a time to get situated with dorm life rather than going to classes. With how difficult FPF San Francisco was, FPF has actually removed the San Francisco option. It is unsure if the program will be offered in San Francisco in following Fall terms, but as for Fall 2018, FPF will only be offered in Berkeley.
FPF students truly share a special bond with one another. We all understand the struggles of starting on main campus in the spring and constantly questioning whether or not we really belong at UC Berkeley. However, FPF has given me the starter tools to make college, especially a place like Berkeley, not so bad. Here’s to all the old and new FPF students — make FPF work for you!