Santa Cruz, CA
Tuition (in-state)
$36,294 ($13,416)
Admission Difficulty
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Reviews 2123 total reviews with an average rating of 3.4

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3 College Freshman

Off-Campus Housing: Its all really expensive. You have to look carefully for bargins, and be prepared to live with other people. There are no formal frat or sorority houses on campus, the university bans them, but most Greek orgs have members that rent large houses and live together.

2 College Freshman

Campus Dining: The meal plans are expensive, but unlimited. That's about the only good thing. The food is bland and greasy, but there are a lot of vegetarian options. Its better than some of the dining hall food I've seen on the internet, but its still not good food by any means. The cafes are a little better (my favorite is the Owl's Nest), but you can only afford 5-7 cafe meals/quarter with flexi dollars.

4 College Freshman

Health & Safety: I don't feel unsafe at all on campus. I've only been to the Health Center once, but it seemed professional enough. They also have a pharmacy, and considering that every other pharmacy is at least a mile from campus, that's really useful.

2 College Freshman

Greek Life: The Greek life on campus is pretty low-key. The administration does not like having the Greeks around, and many of the non-Greeks, especially the super-liberal students, hate the Greeks and think they're all preppy elitists. Many of these anti-Greeks are just people who are bitter that they didn't get in, or people who never actually checked out Greek life and just went by what they saw in I'm Shmacked videos and the American Pie movies.

A lot of the sororities and frats on campus are geared towards specific groups (Jews, Asians, Latinos, Latinas, gay people, etc). Sigma Pi and Theta Chi are probably closest to the stereotypical frat, and KKG is a pretty stereotypical sorority. But really, if you want to be at a school with a big Greek life, don't come to UCSC.

Meeting people at UCSC can be kinda difficult because there are lots of introverts and loners, so joining a Greek org is, if nothing else, a good way to meet people. Plus, the Greek girls are way hotter than the non-Greek population at large, and I've heard that the Greek guys are a cut about the non-Greek guys too.

5 College Freshman

Scholarships: UCSC gives out a ton of grants, and the financial aid process went fine for me. I just had to fill out the FAFSA and the Cal Grant application and I got my scholarships. Many students choose UCSC over better schools because they give out such generous aid packages.

3 College Freshman

Academics: The academics depend on your department. The engineering programs are pretty good; the feminist and race studies programs are top-notch from what I've heard, and some of the science programs, especially Marine Bio, are also well-regarded. As for the humanities programs, I don't have much experience with them, but I do know that their budgets are constantly slashed, and their quality of instruction varies. If you want to be a humanities major, UCSC probably isn't the place for you; people are much more about the social and hard sciences.

4 College Freshman

Transportation: The public transportation at UCSC is pretty damn good. Metro runs a million buses through campus. If you want to go anywhere except the Westside or Downtown, you have to transfer buses, but the buses to Capitola Mall, Watsonville, and San Jose run pretty frequently. Next year we're supposed to finally get a bus down to the Safeway/shopping center on the Westside, which is the one major issue with the current bus service. On Friday and Saturday nights, all of the buses going downtown are packed, and sometimes the buses pass you by.

As for the campus shuttles, they're clean and free, but at peak times they're often nowhere to be found, or so full that not everyone who is waiting can get on them. The university could definitely do a better job of scheduling the shuttles.

Having a car is expensive, parking passes on campus are a couple hundred dollars a year, and first years are not allowed to have cars on campus. Plus the lots fill up very quickly. But having a car available is nice because it does help you get between campus and Downtown and the beaches a lot more quickly than if you used the bus.

4 College Freshman

Weather: Its usually in the 60s or 70s. This winter we had almost no rain, so now we're in a drought. Even though that sucks, it was nice to have 60 degree weather with the sun out in the middle of January. It can get a little cold at night and in the early mornings, but overall, the weather is nice.

2 College Freshman

Campus Housing: I live at Kresge, which is nice because all first-years at Kresge get to live in an apartment. But the buildings at Kresge are 40 years old, and they're dingy. The apartments are spacious enough, and you get a living room, full kitchen, and bath. Kresge is one of the best options in my opinion, although many of the Kresge residents are hardcore political activists, hippies, and depressed hipsters, you don't have to live in a glorified hotel room like you do at the other colleges.

Because the campus is so spread out, no matter where you live, getting to classes will take some time. All of the housing options, both on and off campus, are really expensive.

Everyone lives on campus the first year (I think its actually required). After that, most people move off campus, although there are apartments for 2nd years and upperclassmen living on campus

1 College Freshman

Athletics: The school does absolutely nothing to support the sports teams. All of our teams are D-III teams, and most of them aren't even good by D-III standards. They already downgraded some teams from D-III to club, and they might downgrade the rest in a few years. Because of all this, no one watches our sports teams. Many students on campus complain about the lack of fun games to go to, but the university seems uninterested in prioritizing athletics at all.

The gym facilities are generally not that crowded and are good enough, and they're free for students.

3 College Freshman

Local Atmosphere: Santa Cruz is pretty dead. The local culture revolves around surfing, smoking weed, and political activism. If you're into that kind of stuff you'll probably feel at home. But there isn't much of club scene and the dining options aren't very good unless you pay a bunch of money. There is a good local music scene, and a bunch of semi-well-known music artists (A$AP Ferg, Collie Buddz, Schoolboy Q, Dr. Dog, etc) come to The Catalyst. Plus San Jose and San Francisco are only an hour or two away if you can arrange transportation.

4 College Freshman

Diversity: UCSC is about half white, 30% Asian, 20% Latino with very few Blacks. Lots of people here are really into radical activism, especially feminism and class struggle. Personally, I can't stand any of them, they're incredibly aggressive, angry, dismissive, and a lot of them are huge attention whores who only get into these causes because they want people to think they're such great people. Plenty of people here are just normal West Coast liberals though. There seems to be a gay community on campus, although I wouldn't really know and there are a bunch of student organizations for gays, people of racial minorities, and other groups. Economic diversity is one of UCSC's biggest strengths; it runs the gamut from kids from Section 8 housing in the ghetto to white rich kids from Santa Barbara, the Silicon Valley, and Marin

2 College Freshman

Guys & Girls: I'm a guy. The girls at UCSC aren't my type at all. I'm into the all-American blonde with big tits and blue eyes, and you won't find many of those here. There's a lot of girls here that are a little fat, a lot of girls that are really introverted or shy or even depressed, and a lot of girls that are just plain ugly. But if you aren't just into white girls, my friends say that the Asian girls here are hot. With that said, they also say that the Latinas are pretty average.

4 College Freshman

Campus Strictness: The administration are pretty lenient on most stuff. They are pretty strict on parking enforcement because parking is limited on campus, but you won't get caught drinking in the dorms unless you're being really loud, and you can have visitors if you want. Smoking (either tobacco or weed) is banned on campus, but you can find ways to get around it. And contrary to what the spoiled white leftists will tell you, the administration generally lets students speak their mind and protest controversial issues without interfering.

3 College Freshman

Computers: There's a bunch of computer labs and they're open late into the night. The school's wi-fi network doesn't cover my college (Kresge) very well so I had to get my own router. I don't know how it is at the other colleges. Its like 10 cents per page for printing; those charges will add up pretty quickly

2 College Freshman

Off-Campus Dining: I don't like the food options in Santa Cruz. There are a few popular spots other than the chains (the most popular chains being Taco Bell, McDonalds, and Dominos), but I don't really like any of them. There's a ton of cheap Mexican food, but most of it sucks. If you can afford to drop $40/person on a meal there are some good restaurants downtown

2 College Freshman

Nightlife: Most parties have like 20 people at them. Anything larger than that and its getting wrapped by 12. If you're Greek its easier to find parties; if you're not Greek you have to rely on word-of-mouth. And if you're not Greek you won't get into most of the frat parties. Lots of live DJing at parties; the DJs are hit or miss though.

Overall, its pretty bad.

3 College Freshman

Greek Life: I don't really know much about the greek life in my university as it is not such a huge thing on campus.

4 College Freshman

Scholarships: Applying was simple. I applied for FAFSA and the school basically handled everything from there. I think I had to send in one or two papers but that was about it.

4 people found this useful Report
3 College Freshman

Majors: Being in a freshman, you receive last priority as to signing up for classes. Has not been much of a problem for me though, I have gotten the classes I wanted so far with no problem. Have not had to wait list.

3 people found this useful Report
4 College Freshman

Majors: Not sure I am in a "specific program" in my school?

1 person found this useful Report
4 College Freshman

Diversity: I see people from many ethnicities around campus, and with many different beliefs as well. Does not seem like anyone is scared to speak about what they believe in which is great.

3 people found this useful Report
4 College Sophomore

Overall Experience: The campus is great, one of the nicest UC's and the people are very open minded.

3 people found this useful Report
4 College Sophomore

Nightlife: The city overall has quite mediocre business hours for fast food, don't know anything about bars/clubs, and transportation is ok.

2 people found this useful Report
3 College Sophomore

Athletics: School has little to no Varsity teams, no football team, but alot of intramural sports to make up for it.

1 person found this useful Report

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Humanities Building
Humanities Building

Overall ExperienceWhat's This?

Randy Silver
Irvine, California
Environmental Science and Economics
Grad Year
View all previous student authors

Most students seem pretty happy at UCSC, although many indicate that it took some time to adjust to the school and its surroundings. Many say UCSC takes some getting used to, but once you find your niche, it is a cool place to be socially and politically active and also to receive a good education. Students are particularly fond of the overall beauty of the area, the laid-back atmosphere, the happening town, and the liberal academic setting. If these things are not your style or are not really important in regards to your college search, maybe you would not be as happy in Santa Cruz as other students.

The town of Santa Cruz is small, but the University is pretty big, so it is easy to hang out with different groups of people throughout your college years. Some people get sick of the town, but fortunately the school offers chances to get away. There is the Education Abroad Program and programs to study in Washington, D.C. and the Sierra Institute, as well. UCSC is a very liberal place with lots of hippies and people who love the outdoors, and it is a very politically charged environment with weekly rallies and protests about anything and everything. If you don’t like something, by all means, protest! There is a huge emphasis on the outdoors here, and it actually feels like you are hiking through the woods when you go to class. If this atmosphere seems to fit what you’re looking for, then you should definitely apply to go here. There are many people who don’t fit the mold and those people usually end up transferring after one or two years, but there are others who couldn’t imagine being anywhere else and eventually make Santa Cruz their home. The only way to find out which category you fall under is to come and check out the University and what it has to offer.

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Applicant Status At University of California - Santa Cruz

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