I've had both good and bad experiences at UCR, but I think that overall, I'd have been better off attending a different campus. Here's my breakdown:
1. The students: The admin got it into their heads that the size of the student body equates with campus prestige, so over recent years it seems that they'll admit just about anybody who bothers to fill out an application. The result of this is overcrowded classrooms, dorms and parking lots. It also means that some of the students who take up space have less-than-admirable academic performances. I, of course, am one of these people: I transferred from a JC with a cumulative GPA of about 2.98 or so. However, an alarming number of UC business students were more or less of the "C or lower" caliber. For instance, I had a group project where I had to do 90% of the work, 3 of the other students just re-worded what I'd written for their parts of the report, and the 5th student in our group didn't participate at all. But, on another occasion, I was part of an excellent group of 4 that had to research a company for the business strategies class where everybody not only did their part but helped each other out with their respective portions. Overall, most of the students only seemed to care only about their personal grade and the remainder didn't care at all.
As far as the campus social life - if you're not in a fraternity or sorority, you might as well just go home after class and watch tv. Unless a bunch of your high school buddies came to the campus with you, you'll have hardly anybody to talk to and most of the students are too busy dealing with their homework load and projects to do anything else. While I did make a few friends after seeing them repeatedly in my business classes, I was more or less one of the faceless mass that drifts through the college experience. During my last year I joined Gamma Beta Phi, the honors society for dorks like myself, but basically all that went on was a 15-minute meeting once every 2 weeks and fundraiser planning. There is no sense of community at this university, unless you're in one of the greek organizations. The following statement sums it all up: UCR is not the first choice of campuses that the majority of the students wished to go to -- they're only here because they were denied admission to somewhere else. In my case, this campus was Berkeley.
2. The professors: This is really a tough call. Most of the professors were foreigners, mainly middle-eastern and asian. The majority of these had noticeable to heavy accents, but I was able to understand them if I focused on what they were saying. A good deal of my instructors were helpful but some were awful. Here's a couple of stories for illustration.
Good prof: For one of my business electives, I had a guest professor from Cal San Bernadino. His lecture was based on powerpoint presentation that he prepared before each lecture, and while he did discuss the contents of the book often, he also mixed in personal experiences and real-life applications to the topic being explained. His first test was a bit tough so he gave us somewhat easier tests for the 2nd midterm and the final; basically if you made an effort to study, you'd get a good grade. Despite having a 20-page marketing project to do, it was a useful exercise in research and data extraction, as well as presentation.
Bad prof: I had some teachers that spoke horrible English, and some with abrasive personalities, but one in particular was both. He was an Econ professor with the last name of Bandophadyay or something like that, and he slaughtered my GPA. First of all, this econ class only required lower-division econ and algebra as prerequisites. Bando, however, taught his classes using advanced Calculus. Our textbook was $120, which he never used; in fact, if you didn't understand what he was teaching, you couldn't look in the book for reference because it had nothing to do with his subject material. Once, somebody asked him to redo a problem using Algebra instead of Calculus, and he berated the student in front of the entire lecture hall, telling him that "this isn't 6th grade" and that the student "didn't belong in college if he couldn't understand the material". Furthermore, right after the teacher evaluation forms were filled out (which most people gave him a poor evaluation), he came storming in to the next lecture and yelled at us for 10 minutes for giving him a bad evaluation. No matter how hard I studied, I did poorly on his exams. My midterm, I got a 61 out of 100 (a B grade after the curve), and I was only able to do about a third of the final exam before giving up and turning it in. I was convinced that I had failed the course yet my final grade in the class was a D+. This tells me that the other students must have done just as poorly, or worse. Unfortunately, my UCR cumulative GPA dropped from a 3.9 to a 3.3 and never fully recovered in the following years. Thanks alot, you prick! I have no idea what possessed this guy to teach calculus to a class where the majority of the students hadn't had it yet, but if you asked him for help, he'd treat you like a retard.
The TAs (Teaching Assistants): On the whole I found that the TAS were not helpful. Most of them were concentrating more on their Master's degrees than on helping out the undergrads they were assigned to teach, and some spoke such broken english that I didn't even bother going to discussion classes. One in particular was an extreme jackass: he'd get an attitude with you if you disagreed with him, and if you had grading errors on your exam (i.e. you had the right answer but were marked wrong) he'd get angry if you approached him about it and tell you "don't hassle me over 2 lousy points". Well excuse the shit out of me dude, but in more than one class, 2 points can later determine the difference between a letter grade.
3. The climate/geography: Riverside is in about one of the worst places in the state for this. All the smog from the LA area blows out and settles over Riverside, so more often than not the sky is literally a brown haze. There are huge hills next to the campus and on some days the smog is so thick that you can't even see them. In the winter months the sky is usually blue, but that doesn't last very long. In addition, the only thing mentioned about Riverside geographically is that it's "a convenient drive away from many of southern california's hot spots". There's Los Angeles about an hour west, San Diego about an hour and a half south, and Palm Springs about an hour East. Convenient drive? No. Not unless sitting in 5 lanes of gridlocked highway traffic is convenient to the person who put that in the info brochure. Basically what the person should have said is "There's nothing to do in Riverside except get drunk."
Surrounding Areas of the campus: The Inland Empire in which Riverside is located is a poverty-stricken, high-crime area. Surrounding cities have the same problems: homelessness, gang violence, etc. Let's just say that on the show COPS, Riverside and San Bernardino have been on there... frequently. UCR students have been raped and assaulted in the past, but most often they're robbed. Such robbery consists of vehicle theft, vehicle break-ins, people stealing unattended items such as laptops, and items taken from dorm rooms. If your stuff isn't bolted down, it's a good chance that somebody will try to take it.
University Ave. is plagued by prostitutes, vagrants, and hoodlums; if you go off campus, lock the doors on your car. If you go on foot, I hope you can run fast because it's possible that you might have to. Whenever I walked from my dorm (and apartment later on) to the University Village Theater, I'd walk with my eyes and ears open because I just didn't know if somebody would jump out of the bushes and pull a knife or a gun on me. To be fair, this problem is not the fault of the University but of the town itself. Just be advised that it's surrounded by bad neighborhoods, much like UOP.
1. The students - You'll make some friends but the majority of the student body would rather be going to college elsewhere. And it shows.
2. The Professors/TAs - Many have taken on English as a second language. While some are able to clearly articulate their lectures, others have trouble putting together basic sentences in English. Some have pleasant personalities and are reasonable individuals; others are egotistical assholes who view your questions as attacks and basically have decided that you're just another idiotic undergrad.
3. The location - There's no other way to say it: The location sucks! The city is dirty, the air is dirty, and quite a few of the permanent residents have multiple felony convictions. There's nothing classier than getting dressed up to go to lecture, stepping out of your apartment, and seeing 5 bums diving into the dumpsters of your apartment complex.4. Did I graduate? Yes, with a 3.65 GPA (Thanks again Bando, you pigfucker). Did I learn anything? I learned a thing or two about a thing or two. Did I meet any interesting people? A couple, but most of the campus heads are oblivious to everybody else's existence. Would I have gone there if I'd known what life at UCR is like? Absolutely not!