Students come to the University of California – Santa Barbara with many expectations: to be challenged academically, party their socks off, and be surrounded by beautiful scenery, from Pacific Ocean views to fellow co-eds.
From day one, students say UCSB doesn’t disappoint. Lectures are large and professors expect students to catch on to material quickly, leaving those who can’t keep up at the mercy of their T.As. The campus is constantly abuzz with various clubs tabling outside of the University Center, plus protests, food sales, and vendors lined up alongside the miles of bike racks all over campus. The neighboring town of Isla Vista houses a majority of the students, as well as local eateries (the most famous being the 24-hour burrito stop Freebirds), copy shops, grocery co-ops, and every other amenity a college student would need. Indeed it’s not uncommon for students to stay within the “I.V. Bubble”, venturing out only to party downtown or perhaps catch a movie. However much the administration has succeeded in quelling the “party school” reputation, UCSB students pride themselves on earning their bachelor’s as well as being able to drink anyone under the table.
At UCSB, students fully embrace their surroundings. The campus and neighboring
town of Isla Vista offers everything a college student could need. It’s not
hard to stay within the bubble. “Santa
Barbara/Goleta/Isla Vista is such a college town that you often forget there is
anything else in the world,
” admits a senior biology major. Students
at UCSB boast about their academic achievements and the excellent research
opportunities, and take pride in the thriving social scene. Whether it’s their
workload, standing up for a cause, or partying, UCSB students are masters at
towing the line between moderation and excess. “We care about our grades and
getting out to party every now and then makes us more well rounded, able to
carry on conversations and be more outgoing,
” explains one sophomore sociology major.
Academics at UCSB are heavily theory-based, focusing more on abstract understanding than practical application. “Learning at UCSB is definitely more theory-based because we are a research based institution, but I do feel like I have learned many skills that I will carry with me into the work force,
” writes a senior political science major. Lower-division major requirements and general education classes are large, but professors hold regular office hours so they can get to know students. At the same time, getting in good with TA’s is essential. “The most important thing to do for your classes is to visit the T.As. They're the ones that determine your grades, and sometimes, they feed you answers to the test or tell you what's going to be on it,
” advises a freshman sociology major. Upper-division classes, taken junior and senior year, provide the better opportunity to form relationships with professors. “Lower division classes are packed and not much professor interaction unless in honors course - but upper division classes are smaller and there is definitely interaction during lectures. Plus discussion / lab allow for extra attention if you need it.
” explains one sophomore environmental studies major.
The vast majority of UCSB students are California residents. Many races and ethnicities are represented, as is evident from the many prominent cultural organizations. There is socioeconomic diversity in the student body, though students do not necessarily dwell on it. One student remarks that differences of "class, gender, race, religion, and other categories are much less pronounced here.
” Still, ethnic and cultural groups are tight-knit mini-communities, who interact mostly with one another.
Dating at UCSB is practically non-existent. “When you live a block and a half from the girl of your dreams it seems a little excessive to take her to dinner. Also with open parties and the ridiculous amount of people willing to hook up randomly, it's hard to get motivated to tie yourself down, or face real rejection,
” admits a sophomore computer science major. The Greek system is strong but joining a house isn’t a prerequisite to having a social life. “Although I am Greek, it is not my whole life, as with most Greeks at UCSB. Because UCSB is so social it is very easy to have a busy social life without being Greek,
” divulges one freshman political science major.
Although men’s soccer and basketball are particularly popular, UCSB students love their school for many other reasons, which have nothing to do with sports. “There is tremendous school pride at UCSB. I mean honestly, why wouldn't there be? You can't beat this,
” writes a sophomore. Largely, UCSB is a happy, laid-back school. “We enjoy where we are and are just enjoying life at our beautiful college,
” adds a sophomore English major. Students feel fortunate to be spending their undergrad years living on the beach. At the same time it is rigorous and competitive academically, which keeps students on their toes and prevents them from partying too hard.