University of California, Santa Cruz is big. To be exact, UCSC is 2,000 acres large. It is full of trees, creeks, rivers, and the ocean breeze. That is the general idea of this beautiful campus, but let us just point out some of the home runners:
You are in the woods.
Once you walk into the main campus you will be surrounded by 100-foot trees and the sense that you are suddenly connecting with nature. I took one look around and was amazed by the scenery. The views are excellent and most people say that they never get tired of walking around the campus.
Allergic to pollen, mold, and/or nature itself? Don’t worry me too! The thing is the ocean breeze is always passing by and it happens to keep the pollen from doing its thing (dry eyes, runny nose, itchy throat, you name it). I was able to enjoy nature without its vicious side-effects.
The 10 colleges on campus
There are ten colleges on the campus, each one of the are unique:
Rachel Carson College (formerly College 8)
Kresge College (has apartments, no residential hall)
Each one is associated with a writing class and its own reputation. For example, Crown College is assigned to science, technology, and society while Rachel Carson College is assigned to environment and society. Of course, this means that there are academic requirements to each individual college; so if I happened to stay at College 10 then I would have to take their core course in Social Justice and Community. The best part is that if you do decide to go here, you can choose the colleges you prefer and (possibly) get housing there. Every College has its own personality and you could sign yourself up for the one you think fits you.
I’ll be honest, they have some pretty weird traditions like the “First Rain” where students can choose to run nude from Porter College, into a pool, and then run back or join in on a naked drum circle. Although I most likely wouldn’t participate in this, I think that it adds onto the history and authenticity of the college experience. They have frats and sororities but no houses, but I toured the campus during Spring Rush and it is absolutely lively. You don’t have to join one but you can still walk around the tabling groups. And one more thing, you can see your mascot, the Banana Slug, slithering around campus because it lives in the woods. You may not think its cool, but it totally is. You cross wooden bridges to get to classes and up and down hills (freshman 15? I don’t think so).
When I checked my financial aid for UCSC I was shocked, shook, baffled by how generous they were. I was getting a grant on top of a grant on top of the FAFSA and Cal Grant money I was receiving. Of course, I also have to do Work Study to pay everything off but it is absolutely worth it because going here is so affordable. The housing rates are reasonable because they also include the meal plans and I am currently planning to do the Large Triple Room with the 5-day meal plan because the grants allow me to do so. Although it's different for everyone (depending on income) I polled most of the students in my community and they feel that the financial aid for UCSC is great and probably the best out of the schools they got into.
I think UCSC is very well-rounded, with the top majors being Psychology and Game design and being politically active. It gives the total California vibe and it is dutifully appreciated. I chose UCSC because, on top of their absolutely stunning campus, I am being offered a community where I can fit in with other students by being able to choose my college. I can afford it. And it's safe to say that I am going to have a great time.