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The University of California - Santa Cruz

How this student rated the school
Educational QualityA Faculty AccessibilityA
Useful SchoolworkB+ Excess CompetitionA-
Academic SuccessA- Creativity/ InnovationA
Individual ValueA University Resource UseB
Campus Aesthetics/ BeautyA FriendlinessA
Campus MaintenanceB+ Social LifeB
Surrounding CityB- Extra CurricularsC+
Describes the student body as:
Friendly, Approachable

Describes the faculty as:

Super Brilliant
Lowest Rating
Extra Curriculars
Highest Rating
Educational Quality
She cares more about Safety than the average student.
Date: Jul 26 2003
Major: Anthropology (This Major's Salary over time)
I have very mixed feelings about my experience at UCSC. Santa Cruz is a beautiful, albeit strange, not to mention frusteratingly expensive, place to live, and anybody who enjoys the out-doors should find themselves quite satisfied with life here. I was accepted to all of my schools-UCLA, Stanford, UC Berkeley, and actually chose UCSC for the wrong reason-it was where my best friend lived, and she swore that I would love it. Not sooooo much…

As far as social life goes…it isn't entirely dull…there is an extraordinarily vocal crowd of liberals here who certainly kept campus life interesting, and the downtown bars, though eventually they got old, were o.k. The good news is that people are really friendly. Still, I would have preferred going to school somewhere with a better established party/nightlife scene. Importantly, though, my educational experience at UCSC is what I left feeling the best about. While it is truly what one makes of it, I actually left feeling like an entirely different person, intellectually. The professors and T.A.s were very available, and were very supportive and helpful in all of the endeavors that I made to challenge myself. The learning environment that was formed through my in-class relationships with peers was really stimulating and mutually enlightening, and from this I realized that for all of its stoney reputation, UCSC actually draws quite an interesting and thoughtful crowd.

Some of the other available commentary on this site (I actually think one of the dishevled students was an anthro. major also, as in my last quarter we were encouraged to take business/econ classes-it was a little late for that!)doesn't seem totally off mark…the pedestrian situation is a bit out of control, the hippie population is thriving and often hypocritical (but I wouldn't say nearly as stoned, stupid, or numerous as some of the other commentary implies), and yes, there does seem to be a surplus of Volvos. Nevertheless, I would reccommend to anyone considering UCSC to take such criticisms with a grain of salt and a sense of humor-I am totally satisfied with the quality of my education (in comparing with friends at other, more 'prestigious' California schools, I would say that my intellectual growth matched/exceeded the experiences of those at Berkeley/Stanford/UCLA/Davis, etc.) and though the atmosphere was at times annoying, usually it was more funny than anything else. Volvos, hippies, and pedestrians are just some of the things that makes Santa Cruz uniquely Santa Cruz. If it is something that you can't bring yourself to laugh at (or participate in) then, Santa Cruz is not your place.

Really, what I was more frusterated with was a general lack of racial/ethnic/socioeconomic diversity. Despite appearances of impoverishment (really, thats more trend than anything), there are a lot of rich, white, kids here. Though the school claims that it is making efforts at changing this homogeneity-factor, I don't know how much appeal the school holds for people of other backgrounds. One of my TAs, a young, beautiful, African-American woman, cites her experience of being black in Santa Cruz as 'terrifying'. NOT GOOD! Although I would guess that the University population itself is fairly open-minded (or at least would like to think so-we aren't exactly confronting race issues head-on, as that would require racial diversity-there is still much good to be said for the general population's position on gay/lesbian/trannie issues) there is an enormous philisophical divide separating UCSC students/ex-students, and the locals. At the risk of being overly-simplifying, I found that it is often not difficult to know what camp one belongs to with a glance or brief conversation. Many locals are still bitter about the role the campus has in city life and would be much happier if it disappeared altogether. Oh well, that won't be happening any time soon, as the school seems to be ever-expanding. This is great for the enormous undergrad population, and the school's reputation at large.

In sum, I would say that if you are looking for the typical college experience, than UCSC is not for you. But if an unusual experience, and great educational opportunities (provided that you are motivated and willing to challenge yourself) are what you seek, go for it! I will be applying to grad school soon, and don't feel at a disadvantage or handicapped by my undergraduate experiences at UCSC. And perhaps that is the best way to gauge the school overall-by how prepared I feel for my future education.

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