To Everyone Who Has Been Accepted and Unsure About the Deadline to Respond:
I realize that it is very difficult for most of you to respond to Berkeley's offer of admission without knowing what all of your offers will be from the rest of the schools you have applied to. Nevertheless, I just wanted to point out that many of us (myself included) have yet to hear any decision from Berkeley.
The reason why Berkeley is requesting your decision so early is likely because you were the lucky first batch of acceptances and they cannot accept more applicants until you decline your seat in the (small and limited) incoming class. This is probably why Berkeley told Irina when she called that they will not be releasing decisions until the first week of March (i.e., AFTER you are requested to respond).
This being said, if I had been accepted and was waiting on other schools, I would understand your frustration and confusion with the process. However, since there are many of us still waiting for decisions, please be considerate of us as well (if possible!).
If you know that you will not attend Berkeley (or another school for that matter), please decline the admission offer so others who desperately want your seat will have the opportunity to attend their first choice school.
If we are all honest about our first choices and make quick decisions, I believe we will all end up at great schools! Nevertheless, if we were hold onto multiple admission offers for too long, we will hurt other applicants who are still waiting to find out if they have been accepted anywhere.