Junior Transfer Course

Compass’s Transfer Course is a weekly course designed to support transfer students in their transitions to Cal. The course was inspired by conversations with graduating transfer students, through which it became clear that the first semester is a particularly challenging time for transfer students, independent of their path. Transfer students need to navigate unfamiliar academic expectations, develop new study groups and friendships, learn to get around Berkeley, and deal with culture shock.

Through all this, students sometimes found it difficult to remember the fun and excitement that they have always loved science for in the first place. This class is designed to help students coming from CC/JC have an easier transition into science at Cal, and more quickly feel like a contributing member of their new scientific community, all while remembering the enthusiasm and joy that they find in science.


The approach this class takes to support students in their transition is threefold, helping students develop community, science skills, and connections.

Community happens naturally when students with similar challenges are brought together in a safe space where they can talk through their difficulties. Community is further fostered by a focus on healthy scientific discourse, where members of the class have opportunities to discuss science without the need for a facade of “knowing it all” that so many other classrooms encourage.

Our class builds science skills by teaching students skills they need to productively immerse themselves in a body of scientific literature. This learning objective also gives students opportunities to explore important cutting edge physics research. Through this, students will feel empowered in their ability to gain enough scientific knowledge so that they can feel confident about their research interests and their ability to contribute to a research group.

Moreover, we aim to help students build the connections that they need to succeed. Not only will students be paired with mentors, but we will facilitate students in building connections with research groups of interest. Because research is one of the most valuable experiences one can get out of Berkeley, it is a great service to help students make the research connections that they want.


This class is a two unit, pass/not pass course that will have one section on Monday from 5-7 and one section on Wednesday from 5-7 for Fall 2013. Homework will be designed to help accomplish the learning objectives of the course, with the instructors keeping in mind this class must not be a burden. The instructors, one who is a transfer student and one who is a graduate student, hope to bring perspective to the classroom about what will help you succeed in your endeavors.

Our student-centered classroom is fun, and will provide a wealth of opportunities to interact with your classmates as you build skills and knowledge necessary for real research. We want to keep that flame of excitement about science alive, even through a challenging first semester. We hope you choose to enroll, and we look forward to meeting you!


Fall 2013 instructors:

  • Derrek Coleman (Physics Undergraduate Major)
  • John Haberstroh (Physics Graduate Student)
  • Professor Holger Mueller (Faculty Sponsor)

Course made possible with support from Cal NERDS and the Berkeley Physics Department.