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The University of California - Riverside

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Date: May 09 2004
Major: Business - Management and Administration (This Major's Salary over time)
Since it’s May already, I’m rushing as fast as I can to finish this review in time for those of you in the entering class of 2004. If, by the tone of urgency, you deduced that this is more likely a warning than a musing of enthusiastic worship, then you’re probably intellectually overqualified to go to UCR.

I remember a New York Times article from 1999 in which the journalist asked the million-dollar question,

So how bad is it to go to Riverside?
He didn’t provide as definitive of an answer as I’d have liked, but then, he was never subjected to the personal horrors of spending 3.5 years (I escaped as fast as I could) here. The short answer is: listen to the science majors, not the humanities majors, who have spoken before me, further down this page. This “college” is everything they said, and less.

Now, if you’re browsing this site at all, it’s probably because you’re the type to give thought to your future and your education. In that respect, you’re a huge step ahead of most of the students here, and it’s reason enough to stay away. Most rational people go to college for at least one of two main reasons: for the school’s reputation, and to learn something. It goes without saying that the reputation attached to a UCR degree is a joke, one that you become the butt of as an alumnus. As for the other reason, if you expect to learn anything of value, keep your expectations at the same level. Reputation and educational quality have a greater correlation than you may know.

Starting off, UCR makes a fairly good first-year impression. Classes may be dumb, but since they’re basically high school nonsense all over again (English, basic math, philosophy, etc.) you don’t really mind. The endless succession of As makes you feel good about yourself and decorates the report card quite nicely. But by the time you hit the halfway point of your education (which is about three years for most morons at this campus), you start to look back at first-year college like the first month of a relationship: everything felt like good news only because it was new and because you were having fun being away from home. Eventually you catch on that the As come a little TOO easily (the feeling of reward declines accordingly), and once you run out of GE courses to BS your way through, the level of interesting subject matter may come to a screeching halt, depending on your major. And speaking of those dorms, this isn’t the east coast, so expect to be kicked out after one year. Because of UCR’s UCLA-wannabe mentality, they’ve been absorbing an additional 1,000 students every year since the late 90s, with no end in sight and without building a corresponding amount of housing. (Predictably, the effects of this extend to the greater vicinity: back in 2001, my monthly rate suddenly got jacked by $70.)

Before I go on, I should mention that I’m mainly speaking for non-technical majors. Like 20% of the student body, my major was Business Administration, whatever the hell that means. I can’t comment too much on the math/science stuff, but from those I’ve talked to, our opinions don’t differ all that much. UCR’s first educational flaw is how every class is dumbed down to the lowest common denominator, straight at the very bottom of the IQ barrel. A great portion of entering freshman start out in remedial, 8th-grade English and pre-pre-calculus math (i.e. algebra). It should come as no surprise that UCR has the highest failure rate on the UC Subject A exam, which sets a very reasonable (in my opinion) minimum standard of writing proficiency. Not only has Riverside always had, by a wide margin, the lowest admissions standards among any UC, but it has only declined further. When I walked onto campus in fall 1998, the average SAT was 1105. Two years later, it dropped to 1060 - about where it is now. To make a long story short, classes are structured accordingly.

You could argue that it’s harsh and unfair for criticizing people for the way they are, and criticizing a school for simply catering to the abilities of its student body. Maybe it is, but two things take the guilt out of this. The first might be described as false advertising. With a statistic like “only the top 12.5% can go to UC!” thrown around, your expectations stay pretty high; a natural reaction is to think

Hmm, the top one-eighth? It couldn’t be that bad!
Big mistake. The other is that the mostly Southern California-sourced students (note: NorCal rules!) are so shallow and materialistic that it feels more like mocking cartoon characters than actual humans.

In any case, it feels perfectly fair to expose the NATURE of the education for the sham it is. Once you spend enough time here, you start to realize how utterly fake the classes are. It took me a while to catch on because I figured only the GE classes were like that, which proved to be nave of me. Don’t expect to learn anything useful at UCR. Few professors try. The most typical class goes as follows: you pay for a $100 textbook (that the UCR bookstore later offers to buy back for $15) that’s full of useless crap. The homework consists of reading this useless crap. The lectures consist of the professor reading out loud the book-sourced overhead slides which are an exact repetition of the useless crap you read the night before. The multiple-choice tests (the scantron forms for which you have to go out and buy yourself), also devised by the book’s authors, test you on how well you have memorized all the aforementioned useless crap over the course of ten weeks.

Useless crap? Useless crap? “Elaborate!” you cry. Fine. Please tell me what can be gained by memorizing a fact like

the 4 Ps of marketing,
which are Price, Place, Product, and Promotion. You may be asked a True/False question on whether or not those are indeed the 4 Ps of marketing. You may be asked to fill in the blanks of the 4 Ps of marketing. You may be given a list of 5 Ps of marketing and asked to identify which P of the 5 Ps of marketing does not belong. The point being, WHO GIVES A MOTHERFUCKING SON OF A CRAP? Not only are you learning, and being tested on, nothing but knowledge (as opposed to ideas and insights), but the knowledge is of the most useless kind: simple common sense wrapped in new terminology. You do realize you’re paying $40,000 (more like $50,000 these days) and sacrificing four of the best years of your life to learn this inconsequential fluff, and your professors are earning tens of thousands per year to READ TO YOU EVERY DAY THE CONTENTS OF A BOOK THEY MADE YOU PAY FOR, don’t you?

That may be the most typical example of a UCR class, but not the worst. Anyone who’s been through the Business Admin program at UCR is required to take a course called Computer Science 8. The first day consists of the professor telling you what a keyboard and mouse are. (If you find that confusing, don’t worry, he draws a diagram of each.) The rest of the quarter is a test of Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Pathetic enough? Apparently not. Their methods of teaching you these programs are 90-minute narrative lectures (taught by chalkboard, not computer) telling you exactly which menu to click on to find this command, or what key combination is the shortcut for that command (i.e. Ctrl-X to Cut), etc. Basically, the objective of the course is to memorize the instruction manual for three intuitive programs most of us already know. The curriculum really goes to great lengths to invent new ways of being revolting here. The quarter I took CS8, we had this crooked professor (Hovel Babikian) who basically rewrote Microsoft’s manuals in his own wording, published his own books, made us pay about $150 for them, and designed them so they were non-resalable. He was eventually fired (for that reason and for giving ridiculous grades), but our wallets were left high and dry, and we had absolutely no recourse.

In the business program, classes only get worse and worse as you ascend (descend?) farther into upper-division. If you were hoping to get a good idea of what

Business Administration
means by your third year, don’t get your hopes up. The introductory business course (BSAD 10) is structured exactly like the marketing class I illustrated: testing of your ability to memorize a textbook full of trivialities. The majority of business courses put most people to sleep. It’s not just me: most business students hated most classes and/or most professors, whether you’re talking accounting, finance, MIS, logistics, etc. There is one upside, however: because most classes are curved and most of your competition is brain-dead, you can coast through any class, earn straight D-level grades (i.e. 65%), and walk out with a B after the curve. In upper-division, things don’t get intellectually harder by one bit. The only emerging challenge is paying attention to such increasingly dull subject matter as the years go by. It can also get exploitative. UCR is more than happy to co-sponsor programs by corporate America that abuse students for free labor. Ask me about my experience with the General Motors Marketing Internship sometime; I could write an entire paper as long as this one about how outrageously fake that was. It comes around every two years; you have been warned. Sometime around third year, you soon start to miss all those silly humanities classes you took freshman year. At least those were fun.

Other education-related complaints: professors are apathetic. VERY few TAs in the business program are English-proficient (less than half) - a disease that seems to be spreading to the professors. And speaking of different backgrounds, there’s a fair share of immigrant professors from Asian countries (especially India) here. If you’re Asian like I am, you know what that means: asshole professors who are as stingy with grades as possible, yell at you like some kid to be condescended to (if you’re Asian, at least), and a very frequent habit of assigning you a lower grade than is deserved or is mathematically justified, since they feel they need no justification.

One of the most overlooked and screwed-up aspects of the education at UC Riverside is the next natural topic of discussion: the students. If you want to enrich your mind, being surrounded by dumbasses isn’t exactly conducive to that end. No one at Riverside has any aspiration in life besides earning $$$, and very few have the talent to achieve even that. This is an extremely unmotivated student body. The freshman dropout rate is an astounding 16%. Of the 40 people on my dorm hall, I remember at least 8 failing to return for sophomore year (and a few more failed down the line), mostly because they never went to any classes. And don’t think you won’t have to deal with these film-flams, because you will, if only as class partners. Remember those high school projects where you got assigned 5 to a project, and there was always a free-rider? UCR is just like that, except that in a 5-person group, the free-rider count always tallies 3 or 4. I spent EVERY project of my college career doing ALL the work on my own, either because no one else wanted to or because they were too dumb to contribute anything. Usually both. Sure, everyone else got credit for my As, but I always figured it was the lesser of two losses. You’d better get used to this if you want to keep your GPA out of the toilet.

I don’t know how accurate this is, but my educated guess is that if you can score above 1200 on the SAT, or above 130 on an IQ test, you’ll end up feeling the same way I do. I say this as a 1200 SATer with a mid-140s IQ who breezed through UCR with a 3.6 GPA without lifting a finger. I know there are plenty of you out there smarter than I am, so if someone like me finds this much to abhor about UCR, how satisfied could you possibly be?

I found it very hard to relate to most people here on any deep level, possibly because not much lies beneath the surface. Intelligent conversation is in depressingly short supply. Personally, my greatest interest is cars, and I get excited when I meet someone else who’s into them also. Inevitably, though, 90% of the people I meet are only interested in discussing what size, brand, and style of “rims” with which to pimp out their dorky-ugly Honda Civic. Everyone is obsessed with nothing but image and appearance here. Every girl spends every dime on outfits to compensate for her inherent ugliness; every guy blows his bucks on making his slow, pathetic rice rocket APPEAR fast (instead of going fast, or instead of buying a real car for the same money). Most discussions between students eventually de-evolve to parties, cars, clothes, muscles, hair, etc. A fair share of non-black students speak unconvincing Ebonics, despite years of practice. Plenty of dorm dwellers spend endless hours standing in the middle of the hall to gaze at themselves through those full-length mirrors. Speaking from experience, any girlfriend you find here will likely have two concerns: her looks, and how good you make her look as her accessory. For my final fact about student intelligence, I’ll just mention that almost everyone here belongs to some religion, and let you interpret the implications of that on your own. Culture-wise, UCR is UCLA, minus the brain.

There is one class, required by all students, that does an excellent job of revealing some of the most depressing truths of both school and students: Ethnic Studies 1. First, a little background info. In those fake college guide reviews, you may have heard politically-correct people (of questionable honesty) praising UCR for having such great diversity. But let’s be honest now: the evolution of race relations over the past century is mostly limited to a decrease in the rate of killing one another. As of this decade, an increase in diversity on campus just means an increase in the number of clannish groups that never talk to one another. Do a deep enough level of research and you’ll find that this pattern is universal across all colleges. Even California’s.

The embarrassment specific to UCR, though, are the ideas that come out of people’s mouths when subjects like race arise. Let’s go back to that class, ETST 1. From the faculty end, this sorry setup is structured like another boring, memorization-based history class. If the staff hasn’t changed, you’ll end up with one of two teachers for ETST 1: a geeky, FOBish Asian man (Chang) or a geeky, decrepit, out-of-touch white woman (Bonacich). When they’re not putting you to sleep with a lame lecture, the rest of the class is dedicated to open student discussion, if you can call it that.

“Discussion” ends up being as much of a euphemism as “diversity.” Almost every minute of discussion was basically a battleground for uneducated, small-minded whites to argue with uneducated, small-minded blacks. (Is it relevant to note that this school’s two largest ethnicities are Asian and Hispanic?) This is the kind of school where black students feel the need to shout into the microphone “CAPITALISM IS WRONG!” or

whites are the only ones capable of racism.
This goes on for about ten weeks, and it’s hard to know whether to laugh or cry. The real action begins when it’s time for the student panels, comprised of members of each ethnicity giving their two cents (clearly an overvaluation) about race opinions.

Want to know what happened in my class? Naturally, the blacks when first. Their thesis: EVERYTHING IS WHITEY’S FAULT! The Asians made the next presentation, which consisted of a bunch of air-headed girls dressed up in kimonos whining about things like “everyone thinks we’re smart and drive nice cars!” and showing a video of them shoving a camera in random people’s faces to ask “what do you think about Asian-Americans?!?” This video, by the way, included a TOUR OF CHINATOWN. Priceless. The whites, who went last, basically tried to convince the class that racism doesn’t exist anymore. The ironic thing about a class like this is that it made me want to lynch EVERYONE OF EVERY RACE, for the exact same reason. I guess you could say, then, that it promoted equality.

Outside of class, the students continue to typify the worst behavioral stereotypes of each group. Whites act as if non-whites are invading their rightful property, as usual. Blacks feel entitled to say anything to anyone. Asians and Hispanics seem to behave less arrogantly on average, but maybe my experiences differ. Mostly, everyone’s simply clannish, but it’s interesting to note that I can verify a comment I had read before: minorities of different races associate somewhat more often than minorities and whites. Whether this is due to whites thinking they’re better than anyone else, or due to a joint minority conspiracy, is beyond me. It wouldn’t surprise me if both were true, knowing everything else I saw. The bottom line is that every time anyone opens their mouth on race, religion, or sexual preferences, any tolerant person would want to punch them in the face.

So there’s nothing to learn and no one worth talking to. But since we’re on superficial subject matter, we can explore that. Opinions differ about the campus, but I like it well enough. It’s modern-looking, and you can walk across one end to the other in ten minutes. It’s basically the size of your high school, squared. If you live close by, a car is unnecessary. But if you wander more than about 500 feet from campus, prepare your senses for some serious eyesores. There are few sights uglier than the city, or county, of Riverside. Everything’s run down, dirty, and according to statistics, dangerous. Even if you limit discussion to the campus, come on down if you want to get raped! Both a girl AND a guy got raped during my years of student life - the girl, in UCR’s own library. Really, the Inland Empire (defined as Riverside County and San Bernardino County) is a dead, hideous wasteland, and the first sign of civilization is a 30-minute drive away. 30 minutes southwest on the 91 freeway crosses you into Orange County; 30 minutes west on 60 gets you into LA county. The city of Riverside is, as so accurately captured by a former reviewer,

a metropolis of trailer parks and fast food joints.
The distinct smell of cow dung (from neighboring cities like Norco) permeates the atmosphere about twice a week on average. The weather in spring and summer quarters (April through September) is hell. Expect half the days in spring quarter to be in the 90-degree range; this is distractingly uncomfortable. The smog during those same months is unbearable, and studies have shown that children who grew up in Mira Loma (a western province of the city of Riverside) in recent years have reduced lung capacity. Before I forget, I’ll slip in a statistic UCR would rather remain secret: 90% of UCR’s population leave the county upon graduation. It’s pretty damn disgusting there.

If you’ve been waiting for an upside to this portrait of objectivity, sorry for making you wait so long to tell you this: there is none. Seriously, none. I can’t think of one goddamn reason to go to UCR at all. The education sucks, the professors suck, the people suck, the city sucks, and considering a Berkeley education costs the same amount, it’s a poor value. All you’re left with in the end is several thousands in student debt, and with the second-rate job you’ll probably end up with (due to your shameful degree) it will probably take you years to pay it back. If you didn’t get into one of the top 4 UCs (Berkeley, LA, San Diego, or Davis) I advise attending a community college and transferring in. Two enormous benefits exist for going to a CC: you save about $20,000 over two years, and your likelihood of transferring into a REAL UC is substantially increased, because CC transfers have much higher priority than inter-UC transfers. There’s no need to stain your resume for life with a marking like “RIVERSIDE” just so you can tell your quickly-forgotten high school peers that you got into some college.

Do yourself a favor: think long-term. The “R” in UCR is known to stand for rejects, or retards, for a reason.

Responses
commentIt's funny how you wrote this nearly 14 years ago and I'm in a similar experience at CSUN. I regret turning down other more prestigious schools to come here. Similar to what you said about the UCR business school, the majority of the curriculum outside of the main accounting classes feel like a check-in-the-box and a real time waster and most of my peers share my sentiments. Most people tend to go to schools like these just because they drank the Kool-aid and couldn't afford/ weren't smart enough to go somewhere. Like what you said about lower division humanities and I was happier in community college taking those type of classes. I don't know how it is at big name schools like USC but generally speaking it feels like business schools at UCR, CSUN, CSULB, and CSULA is a sham and there is probably a good reason why many universities don't even offer it.
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The University of California - Riverside
The University of California - Riverside
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