UC Berkeley Draw: Academic Excellence, Multicultural Environment

Berkeley Global Access graduate Futian Zhong prepares for graduate school

Futian Zhong’s two main interests fall at the intersection of economics and research.

A soon-to-be junior at Peking University, majoring in economics, Futian brings research opportunities into his academic pursuits at every turn. At Peking University, he conducted a personal econometrics project that aimed to analyze how different income levels and education backgrounds impact a person’s fertility rate in both urban and rural areas. Another project showed Futian researching market capabilities and production efficiencies in order to properly make financial accounting statements and apply risk control measures. This solid information helped Futian provide data-centered suggestions to enterprises about investing and financing.

With a strong GPA and a draw toward research opportunities, when it came to finding a visiting-student program to expand his worldviews, it’s no wonder that Futian chose the Berkeley Global Access Program.

“First of all,” Futian says, “UC Berkeley is famous for its academic research capabilities. For instance, in the field of economics, John Harsanyi was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1994. He is one of my favorite and the most admired economists who has tried to improve social welfare and has expanded the application of game theory to economic analysis.”

Speaking of social welfare, Futian was also drawn to the campus’ multicultural environment and its social responsibilities toward freedom and equality, being the home base of the Free Speech Movement.

“Due to the special conditions in China, I especially longed for an environment of free speech. I wanted to hear insightful opinions of others that are not subjected to autocratic monitoring and restrictions and to be able to discuss with people of great minds freely. That’s what campus life should be like from my perspective. Meeting people of different colors, of different races, of different religious beliefs was the most fascinating part of my life in UC Berkeley. Its welcoming atmosphere toward international students proved to be beyond my expectations.”

Having recently completed the Spring 2022 semester with BGA, Futian reflects back on his academic journey with us.

Which courses did you take?

I took Introduction to Analysis (MATH XB104), Economic Development (ECON XBC171) and Topics in Economic Research (ECON XB191).

How do they fit in with your major?

Although my major mainly focuses on finance, UC Berkeley is extraordinarily famous for economics research. That’s why I chose two economics courses; they taught me how to conduct research in an empirical way. Furthermore, real analysis is a good demonstration of my mathematics ability, which, in the long run, can help my application for graduate schools.

How are your Berkeley classes different from or similar to your home institution?

In my Berkeley classes, the professors are more concerned with your proactive thinking, meaning that they want you to ask questions. Back in my home institution, professors are prone to teach us simply by reading and presenting what he or she regards as important.



Meeting people of different colors, of different races, of different religious beliefs was the most fascinating part of my life in UC Berkeley.



I understand you also took advantage of the career coaching. What was your experience in getting this type of coaching?

I got career coaching from Jennifer, who is a kind lady. She gave me suggestions on how to connect with my professors actively and courageously, which benefited me a lot.

What’s next for you?

I am going to apply for graduate school to gain a Ph.D., hopefully.

What are your top things to do in Berkeley and San Francisco?

I would say hiking (sunset seeing), reading books on the Memorial Glade, ambling in Golden Gate Park and visiting the various museums in San Francisco.

Hiking is definitely a must-do since UC Berkeley is just located on the west of a mountainous region. Big C and sunset point are both recommended. Also, Tilden Regional Park is a nice place to go, where lush woods and tranquil lakes decorate wooden trials.

What advice would you give to someone who is starting their Berkeley Global program in the fall?

Get prepared for your assignments and examinations early, read precious documents voraciously and reach out for new friends actively.