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The University of California - Santa Cruz

How this student rated the school
Educational QualityF Faculty AccessibilityF
Useful SchoolworkB Excess CompetitionB
Academic SuccessB Creativity/ InnovationB
Individual ValueB University Resource UseB
Campus Aesthetics/ BeautyA+ FriendlinessC
Campus MaintenanceA+ Social LifeC
Surrounding CityA- Extra CurricularsB
Describes the student body as:
Friendly, Approachable

Describes the faculty as:

Quite Bright
Lowest Rating
Educational Quality
Highest Rating
Campus Aesthetics/ Beauty
He cares more about Faculty Accessibility than the average student.
Date: Dec 21 2009
Major: Mechanical Engineering (This Major's Salary over time)
UCSC is a great place. It's got its good and bad, and I'll try and describe it the best I can.

UCSC is a very pretty campus. In fact, it's gorgeous. Most of the developed part of campus is in the forest, and you can't go anywhere without having to walk through it. Wildlife is everywhere. Cowell, Stevenson, and the East Field have the most ridiculous view of the city and Monterey Bay. On your way to class you'll often find yourself on a path winding through the forest.

The UC is very forward-thinking and socially conscious. You'll gain exposure to things you probably haven't seen elsewhere.


If you're in any of the sciences or engineering, you will find a quality education. The teachers are consistently brilliant, but some of them really suck at teaching. There are some totally inspiring profs to be found.

From what I gather, the other departments seem to have mostly great teachers, but a liberal arts degree won't yield you very much in the way of valuable skills or experience. Most of these grads I know are either unemployed or make $8.50 an hour.

Santa Cruz:

Santa Cruz is a funky, quirky, innovative, artsy, and progressive cool little town. It is absolutely dead during the cold months, but when it's warm this town becomes totally alive (and awesome). Biking is huge here, so get a bike. Beaches and hiking are absolutely amazing. Go have a bonfire at Panther beach; you'll make every friend at every other school very jealous.

The College system:

It creates its own little communities, which is kinda cool. You'll at least know of or recognize pretty much every person in your college dorms, which is cool, although it can be enmeshing at times. As for the apartments, they're pretty legit, but you won't meet people in them very well.

My very-outgoing housemate had a class project with a girl Spring quarter. We later found out she lived 30 feet away from us, and no one had ever seen her before.

The girls:

Every guy I've ever asked about this already noticed this phenomenon on their own; for some reason, hot girls disappear late fall quarter into hibernation and do not re-emerge until it warms up again. Every march or april you will again wonder where the heck all the beautiful girls suddenly came from. It really starts warming up at the end of the Spring quarter, and since everyone's from the bay and anything over 72 is considered hot, the girls end up wearing practically nothing. Profit. The 06/07 and 07/08 years were mostly gross chicks, but it's since got immensely better.


If you're from nor-cal, you'll be totally adjusted.

If you're from so-cal, you'll freeze your ass off most of the year.

A few weeks into Winter quarter it will start pouring rain for weeks. After that, if you don't like the weather… wait a day. There are a lot of randomly warm days that create quite a vibe in the air that makes everyone want to bounce from class and go do something awesome. And they do.


If you are gay, black, and Jewish, then there will be a club for you.

If you are LGBQT and need to quit smoking, then there will be a quit-smoking class for you.

If you are a pretty average person, the selection will be a bit smaller, but there are some cool ones and you'll find something that interests you. Joining a club is a great decision.

Sports & Recreation:

There's no football here, but its more than made up for with the availability of outstanding opportunities here. Kayaking, sailing, hiking trips, … they're all really cool and totally worth the cost. The surfing class is the single most fun thing I ever did here. It's amazing, relaxed, and is the cheapest surfing lessons you'll ever find. It and the sailing classes are absolute musts. You'll forget it actually has something to do with school.


It's hard to have a good party in the dorms, for CSOs usually break them up pretty fast. Everyone promotes small gnome parties in the dorms, but that is rarely that great. You can get away with a whole lot more in the apartments, and there are many good times to be had. Most end up going off-campus to house parties, where the biggest often get broken up too, but rest assured you'll find a good time. You won't find the UCSB/Isla Vista type partying here, but you will find fun. Freshmen will probably have to rely on others or word-of-mouth to find or get into them. Frats were dead but are making a strong comeback. Once you get a place off campus with a few friends, you'll have the time of your life.


You will probably be surprised as to how many normal people smoke weed. It's big here, but don't worry, if its not your thing no one will care. There is a greater prevalence of total pothead/druggies here than at other UCs, but it isn't a huge number.


There is a pretty wide variety of people here:

Lots of hipsters with fixed-gear bikes. Plenty of volcom-stoners. One geeky but surprisingly cool crowd of computer sci/eng majors. A handful of why-aren't-you-at-Stanford's and a whole shitload of totally average people. Everyone, once you get to know them, is typically very friendly. There seems to be a serious lack of sophistication around, but not everywhere.

Some MAJOR complaints with UCSC:

1. Almost every class is offered only by one teacher at a time during a quarter. If you absolutely must take classes ABC and XYZ in the same quarter and they happen to be at the same time, then you're downright fucked. There are exceptions, but they are rare (General Chemistry, Econ 100A)

2. There's something about people on campus that seem against engaging with people they don't know. People generally avoid making any kind of eye-contact upon passing. You could be walking along an empty path with not a soul around and encounter a person coming from the opposite direction towards you. They won't look at you, nod, smile, or acknowledge you, at all. Sure, in crowded places your face would fall off if you did this to everyone, but this detachment is everywhere.

3. Parking. Forget about it.

4. The place is fairly dead every night. There are some cool hangout spots I liked very much (9/10 pool-room-whatever, Stevenson Cafe), but not many people really go there. They are all very college-specific, so you'll know whats going on in your college, but

Some MAJOR praises for UCSC:

1. You know the frat-boy football-douchebag over-assertive type guys typically associated with college that most seem to hate? There are none of them here, like at all. People are chill.

2. The bus system here is very effective; you can pretty much get anywhere you need via the bus for free, but take note, it will take a while and the less common routes get very crowded in the afternoons.

3. The bar and music scenes on Pacific and in town are pretty great. Downtown is also a lot more fun when you're 21.

4. Food. Dining halls are okay, Cowell being much better, but the food in the campus eateries is usually really good, although pricey. Stevenson cafe has great cheap sandwiches&stuff, and the Hungry Slug has really effing good Mexican. Off-campus there's a LOT of super good food, and a ton of good coffee places.

Overall, I would say at UCSC you will have to go find what you're looking for perhaps moreso than at other UCs, for they will not come to you. I found the school itself a little disappointing, but having spent 3 years there I now know where to find the better aspects, which do make it worth it, and I would recommend the school. The town and culture of Santa Cruz and the general vicinity are truly awesome, and I look forward to moving back there. has a lot of good, related info.

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