Prior to the start of the 2014-15 academic year, the BSGSA asked current Berkeley biostatistics graduate students for their honest answers on a few questions. These questions, along with summaries of students’ responses, are below.

What is the most important thing to know about Berkeley Biostats?

  • Be proactive. No one is going to make sure you’re doing what you need to be doing.
  • Faculty and older students are willing to help. For example, “cold” emailing regarding thesis projects is completely acceptable.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask “dumb” questions. Everyone else is thinking the same thing.

What is one thing you wish you had known about your coursework before starting?

  • Biostatistics at Berkeley can be a stat-heavy degree. Students can take their electives in public health courses if they choose, but no one will force them to.
  • Don’t be afraid to try new things.
  • Many courses are not as they are advertised, so be sure to shop around and ask older students for advice (or consult the course information on this site!).
  • It’s normal to take the minimum number of course hours required, which is 12 per semester. There is no shame in taking courses pass/fail.
  • Graduate school is not the same as undergrad: the goal is to learn the material as well as possible. This is far more important than what grade you make (grades are less important than you might think!).
  • Take the time to learn LaTeX, knitR, etc. sooner rather than later.
  • Even if it feels overwhelming, just keep listening. The material will sink in eventually.

What is one thing you wish you had known about graduate school life before starting?

  • Take the time to take care of yourself. That includes your brain as well as your body.
  • Find an outside activity or hobby. Exercise is great – team sports are particularly good because of the social bonding aspect.