I came to UCSC as a transfer student from the local community college. During the first quarter I struggled in one of my upper-division classes because I lacked the skills needed to produce a concise and accurate analytical research paper. Fortunately my professor was accessible and provided excellent guidance. I wish I had known the importance and skills of writing an analytical paper before entering UCSC. Basically I realized how essential clear and coherent written communication of my ideas are in succeeding; not only in a school environment, but in communicating in any life scenario.
Take things slow at first. They will speed up enough as the quarter system moves onward, so there is no need to increase any sense of rush that creates. Nonetheless, it is good to go outside your comfort level a little bit and check out a variety of organizations on campus. While the academic value of going to school here is obvious, it is important not to underestimate the value that becoming involved in a student group lends to your personal group. You may find that you derive more benefit from extracurricular involvement than the classes you take.
Coming from southern California the weather in Santa Cruz was a shock. It gets much colder up here, and rain boots are a necessity. In the winter it rains and is chilly outside for three months straight. Also, the people here are very friendly, and I expect you can attribute that to the tremendous use of marijuana amongst the students and community. I did not expect this drug usage to be such an influence, so if you cannot stand smoking this is not the school for you.
Personally, I wish that I knew and understood the culture at UCSC better before going there. I only knew that the campus was beautiful. Once I got there I realized that my ideals were not in sync with UCSC. I was more of a straight-edge science-minded student while it seemed as though most others there were free-spirited liberal-elitists. Needless to say, I had some interesting experiences interacting with my peers at UCSC - overall the experience was very interesting.
I wish that I could have known how the dorms were going to be and how living in these dorms is. Even though you are away from home, you get adjusted to the dorm life fairly quickly and you start to call this place away from home your own home. Another thing I would have liked to know was more information on my intended major and how there are people that are willing to help you. I wanted to meet new people and people that are majoring in the same major that I am.
I know that at every school, the diversity is through the roof but when I went to orientation last month, everyone I saw seemed like the laid-back, loose, and free-spirited kind of people. Not saying that I'm not but I tend to be a very buckled down kind of student so I hope that this place can help loosen up and not be so uptight like I tend to be.
I wish I had known how often it rains, because I would have brought rain boots my first year here! I also wish I had known how fun and exciting dorm life can be if you are housed with the right people, that way I wouldn't have been so nervous when I moved in. Be outgoing and meet new people while you're here, you can make great friends for life!
I wish I had a better idea of what classes were good and what professors were good, then I may have re-evaluated the way i approached my subjects of study. Also, don't go to college with a girlfriend! I would have liked to meet a real, not-lame student from the university before attending and talked to him/her about their experiences.
I wish that I had known how hard it is to find housing and how ridiculous the city is about parking even when you are paying to live there. I also wish that I had spent non-summer time in the town so I could be prepared for how different it is there. Downtown is littered with kids who are by choice homeless. It get old really fast.
Keep an open mind. Santa Cruz will teach you as much as you let it. It can be a strange enviroment at first. It is very different from the typical college town.The school and town are best described as laid back. Your peers want to be your friends and your professors want to help you learn. Its up to you to give them the chance.