During our conversations I’ve been asked a lot of questions and I’d like to use this space to address the two most common queries I’ve come across. The disclaimer here is these reflect my opinion as an Evening Cohort student and may not address all viewpoints.
Evening or Weekend, what did I prefer and why?
a) I travel minimally for my day job and as such expected less disruptions to the evening schedule. In fact, the couple of times I had to travel, I made a video-tape request for the classes I missed and it worked out fine. If you are commuting from a non-drivable distance (some of the weekend folks in the class of 2011 flew in from SoCal, Seattle, and so on...) then weekend is probably the way to go. Incidentally, I did have at least one person in my cohort who commuted from Sacramento.
b) I am in the South Bay and the shuttle to Berkeley was very convenient. The bus left at 415pm and my employer was fine with this schedule. Note that the weekend cohorts do not have a shuttle to Berkeley. On the plus side, almost 50% of the weekend classes were held in Santa Clara (if you live in the South Bay or the Peninsula). (More on the shuttle later)
c) Taking classes in the evening allowed me to the luxury of an "occasional" weekend to myself! The thought that almost all Saturdays (and likely Sundays due to assignments/projects) would be booked for foreseeable future was daunting for me!
d) Scheduling group meetings/projects with my classmates became a bit easier due to availability of weekends. Again, this depends on the schedule of your team-mates but in hindsight, this worked out fine for me.
e) Some of the evening CORE classes have sections over the weekend. (Sat or Sun, depending on the GSI/Instructor). Gave me time to actually review the class material before I showed up for the section. For the weekend folks, some of the sections were held after class on Sat or Sunday. I didn't want to have back to back classes.
f) Weekend classes are scheduled such that they finish earlier than the weekday cohorts pretty much all quarters/semesters and you get a longer break at the end of the year.
g) A lot of conferences, guest speakers and networking events happen during weekdays. I missed a few of these due to conflicts with my academic schedule.
h) Weekend classes IMHO were more conducive to networking even with the cohort. For instance an after class happy hour or some such... For my evening class, by the time we took the shuttle back it was almost 1045pm and people were usually beat (except for right after the exams :-) )
Is the Shuttle helpful?
I live/work in the South Bay and took the South Bay shuttle to Berkeley during the first year.
IMO, it was a lifesaver. I had to drive a few times outside of my class schedule as well and if you’ve commuted to Berkeley during peak hrs you’d know that the car ride was a huge pain (especially if you couldn't carpool during commute, since 880N is a bottleneck). Here are some highlights:
a) The bus is decent sized/air-conditioned and there are enough seats. (Btw, the 2nd/3rd years only show up a few weeks after the first years' due to the late start of elective courses)
b) The shuttle is a great opportunity to sleep, get work done, or network.
c) The internet access on the shuttle is up most days. (There were occasional technical issues but they got resolved pretty quickly) So if you'd like to connect to work, that works out as well.
d) Parking in Berkeley is a huge problem, so from that perspective too, the shuttle alleviates the pain.
e) We even had a few (unofficial) happy hours and a couple of baby-showers on the shuttle.
f) I fell behind on my readings more than a few times and shuttle was the best time to catch up before the class. And people would usually discuss cases and that was pretty helpful.
There are some cons as well. I missed out on a few after class networking opportunities. Also, the shuttle reaches Berkeley typically around 530pm, so you could potentially have another 30 min each way if you carpool (again, assuming parking goes smoothly)
Hopefully these provide additional data points for those of you still deliberating on E vs W and Shuttle vs No-Shuttle...