Local Atmosphere

Merced, CA
Tuition (in-state)
$35,948 ($13,070)
Admission Difficulty
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3 College Freshman

Local Atmosphere: There are many restaurants down town but not much else. The city has one mall and one movie theater and they both don't have much. Discounts for students are abundant. There is Merced College but its not near our campus. We have a bus system only open to the UC Merced students that take us many places but the better attractions are in other towns which you need a car for. The campus is really safe but the city outside of campus can be hit or miss. It kind of reminds me of Alameda (Its pretty and set up for pedestrians) but the people remind me of the people in Richmond (thug like, dress provocatively, sagging pants, tattoos, and men who check you out). But I've only been into the city a couple times so maybe don't take my word for it.

1 person found this useful Report
3 College Senior

Local Atmosphere: It's not great, but you can occupy yourself with other things

4 College Sophomore

Local Atmosphere: The local atmosphere is really good! The only slight problem is that the locals aren't very excited to have a UC here and it's mostly because of funding. On the bright side, Yosemite is very near so we have access to a great scenery. Everything here is accessible!

5 College Student

Local Atmosphere: The school and social life is very likable by all students.

4 College Sophomore

Local Atmosphere: remote but still stuff to do.


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Student Author OverviewWhat's This?

Harini Kompella
Santa Clarita, California
Human Biology
View all previous student authors

Merced is a small town that takes five to fifteen minutes to drive to from campus, depending on where exactly one wants to go. Students can go to the one-story mall, or swing by the movie theater either near the mall or on Main Street. Main Street also has a playhouse (which offers discounts for students), music stores, and little antique shops, as well. There are also sometimes parades in the center of town on Main Street, whether it is for Christmas or Memorial Day, giving those from UCM a chance to bond with Merced locals. If students truly cannot find anything to do on campus, they can find something to do in town, although their options are somewhat limited. There tends to be enough to do on campus, with talent showcases on the weekends along with movie screenings. Off campus, special performances from organizations like the symphony are offered.

There is plenty to see a little past Merced, namely Yosemite National Park. Because Yosemite is such a huge tourist attraction for people both in and out of the country, Merced gets several visitors and serves as the “Gateway to Yosemite.” UCM even provides students with opportunities to go to Yosemite in groups. However, if people want to find something to do in Merced, they need to explore and go deep into town, where there are some nice hole-in-the-wall places, such as family-owned restaurants and multicultural art centers. Merced is very different from city life, considering a lot of it is farmland, but that has not stopped students from exploring the town and finding something to do. For those who do not have a car or other form of transportation, the school provides a bus system, free of charge.

Facts & Statistics

Fun Local Trivia
  1. Yosemite National Park is less than a two-hour drive from Merced. Merced is referred to as the "Gateway to Yosemite."
  2. Merced is located in California's Central Valley.
  3. Merced has a Memorial Day Parade that showcases old military aircrafts provided by Atwater's Castle Air Museum.
  4. Merced is one of the few places where there is a weekly farmers market festival.
  5. Merced was in competition with Fresno when it came to housing the first 21st-century UC campus. Merced was chosen in 1995.
Notable Natives
  • Ray Allen - NBA basketball player
  • Summer Bartholomew - 1975 Miss USA winner
  • Bruce Bowen - former NBA basketball player
  • Tom Cable - NFL football coach for the Oakland Raiders
  • Vincent Cervantes - activist
  • Brian Fuentes - MLB relief pitcher
  • Katie Gallagher - "Survivor" reality show contestant
  • Salar Kamangar - creator of Google's first business plan
  • Janet Leigh - actress
  • Dusty Ryan - MLB catcher for the San Diego Padres
  • Daniel Silva - best-selling novelist
Points of Interest
Lake Yosemite
Shopping Centers
Merced Mall Shopping Center
Movie Theaters
Hollywood Theaters - Mainplace Stadium Cinema
403 W. Main St.
(209) 725-1965
Movie Theaters
UA Regency Theatre
635 Fairfield Dr.
(209) 722-8000
Distances to Nearest Major Cities
  • Sacramento: CA: 2 hours
  • San Jose: CA: 2 hours

Student Polls

Rate the local atmosphere on the following topics    Based on 64 responses

Very poor
  • Cost of living
  • Dining
  • Friendliness of locals toward students
  • Museums/cultural attractions
  • Nightlife
  • Parking
  • Parks and recreation
  • Professional sports
  • Safety
  • Scenery
  • Shopping
  • Transportation

What is the local atmosphere like at your school?    Based on 62 responses

  • 39% Painfully remote.
  • 8% In or near a big city, but there's not much to do off campus.
  • 45% Small town with plenty of charm.
  • 8% Vibrant college town. There's no big city, but there are plenty of things to do off campus.
  • 0% City living at its finest. There's always something fun and interesting going on.

What is the proximity to other universities? Is there much interaction?    Based on 62 responses

  • 44% There aren't any nearby schools.
  • 37% There are nearby schools, but students do NOT interact much.
  • 19% There are nearby schools that students often interact with.

Can you see yourself living here after graduation?    Based on 61 responses

  • 44% No way.
  • 51% Maybe, if I could find a good job.
  • 5% Totally.


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