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The University of California - Santa Cruz

How this student rated the school
Educational QualityA+ Faculty AccessibilityA+
Useful SchoolworkA- Excess CompetitionB+
Academic SuccessA Creativity/ InnovationA-
Individual ValueB University Resource UseB-
Campus Aesthetics/ BeautyA+ FriendlinessB+
Campus MaintenanceB+ Social LifeC+
Surrounding CityB Extra CurricularsC
Describes the student body as:
Friendly, Approachable, Closeminded

Describes the faculty as:
Friendly, Helpful

id='quarter' class='snapshot' style='color: #009704; line-height:80px';float:left;
Quite Bright
Lowest Rating
Extra Curriculars
Highest Rating
Educational Quality
He cares more about Extra Curriculars than the average student.
Date: Aug 21 2007
Major: Astronomy (This Major's Salary over time)
The thing people need to understand about big name universities is that they make their name and reputation on faculty research and the strength of their graduate programs, not the quality of their undergraduate education. Federal funding and school resources are dumped into these areas, very often at the detriment of the undergraduate student's experience. Professors are so busy trying to make a name for themselves that you wind up with lecture classes of 300+ students and most classes taught by TA's 3 years older than you.

UCSC was founded with the opposite purpose in mind, to make undergraduate education a priority and leave research to the big boys like Cal and UCLA. I truly believe that UCSC is the jewel in the crown of the UC System when it comes to undergraduate education. You will have more opportunities here to do research, make a name for yourself and even be published as an undergrad here than any other UC, possibly and college in the country.

Because of it's lower rankings in U.S. News than other UC's, many students come here because they couldn't get into any other UC campus. That's fine, it makes standing out much easier for the above average student. There are plenty of smart and ambitious people here, but no one's out to stab you in the back over a grade like at Cal or Cal Poly. If you work hard, show some competence and a genuine interest in your major, your professors will give you a chance to do research and will help you get into the best grad school possible.

There are some extremely strong programs here that stand on their own merit. Anthropology, Astronomy, Marine Biology, Linguistics, Global Econ and Oceanography are all top-ranked programs in their respective fields. The Baskin School of Engineering is also up-and-coming and is rapidly expanding for such a young school.

The campus is gorgeous, but the hills are grueling on the bike. The nice thing about UCSC though, is that the 10 Colleges system provides everything in one small space that you'll need on a day-to-day basis. Dorm rooms, cafeterias and classes are all right next to each other. Other things, like the bookstore, gym, admin offices, Student Health Center, etc. are too far to walk to. Thankfully the UCSC shuttle system works very well. Parking is horrible, but you will need a car here after your first year, just because you'll want to get out of Santa Cruz before you go crazy.

Santa Cruz is a cool city of about 60,000 people, with lots of stuff to do, especially if you like the outdoors. Surfing, hiking, camping, moutain biking are all great in Santa Cruz. If you've never been to the Boardwalk, you have to go just once, and it's even better during the winter when it's open to walk through, but the rides are shut down. It's got an amazing beach, and the arcade is always open, along with the bowling alley and lazer tag. The townspeople of Santa Cruz are interesting, there's a significant enough homeless/vagrant population for you to take notice, with lots of UCSC dropouts "spangin'" along the downtown sidewalks. The Pacific Grove Mall is a misdemeanor. While there are bookstores, a movie theater and a few clothing stores, the closest true mall is 10 minutes away in Capitola. There are awesome and unique stores and restaurants in Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz diner is one of the few restaurants open 24/7 (amazing chocolate chip pancackes) besides the all-hippie, all-dreadlock and all-vegetarian Saturn Cafe. There's not a decent steak to be found in SC, but plenty of great seafood, sushi and mexican food. There are also major grocery store and drug store chains to supply pretty much every essential you could want.

You will get antsy at your college and want to explore the whole campus. You'll get antsy on campus and want to explore the town and you'll get antsy in town and want to get the heck out of Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz is a pretty isolated city in itself, surrounded by beach on the west, the mountains on the east and outside of little Capitola to the south and tiny Scotts Valley to the north. You WILL want to get out of town. This is where a car comes in handy. Most of the time I drove 30 minutes up north to San Jose, but Monterey is about an hour south and San Francisco is about an hour and a half north. The San Jose area is huge and has plenty of great malls and attractions like Dave & Buster's in Milpitas and Great America in Santa Clara. I found a day or two in San Jose or San Francisco really helped me get rid of the cabin fever and actually made me want to get back to Santa Cruz.

Campus spirit is an interesting thing at UCSC. While there are no real sports fans at UCSC, despite Division 3 dominance in tennis and soccer (big deal) there is a lot of pride in being a Banana Slug. At other times, the only student unity comes in protesting tuition hikes and rioting against the campus police. Look up Tent University for a biased version of that situation. The politics here will drive you crazy. Most kids here are white middle-class suburban kids and the minute they step on campus they turn into Birkenstock wearing, dreadlocked, lesbian vegan political activists, all the while being some of the most ill-informed and ignorant people I've met. I came to campus as a liberal pacifist and remained that way despite the strong pull to become a Campus Republican just to tell these psuedo-hippies to shut the hell up. The lake of diversity on this campus should tell you a thing or two. The student body is mostly white, with more and more asians coming here, and a pretty good history of Latino students as the best-represented minority. Don't expect to come here and find a lot of black students though. The culture here is just not hospitable to them.

Parties here are pretty lame, and while marijuana use abounds, there is not Greek system to speak of, so most parties consist of kick backs with Bob Marley records and some shirtless dude playing the bongos.

If you're not a weed and beer type of person, there are plenty of great campus groups to get involved in. Improv, theater, community service, music, IM sports, martial arts, University Farm, etc. etc.

If you plan on coming here, remember that it is NOT going to be like going to Cal or UCLA. In fact, it's probably the exact opposite of that experience. But if you want the best undergraduate education the UC system has to offer, are willing to study hard and avoid the temptations of bongs and hackey-sack, you will go anywhere you want from UCSC.

Go Slugs!

commentThe hind quarter bar and grill has delicious steaks!
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