University of California-Santa Cruz Top Questions

What are the academics like at your school?

Guadalupe

i don't know

Kyla

Some of the professors kinda suck but others are great, like anything else it's the luck of the draw

Gladys

Academics are great, the professors are always trying to help you in anyway possible, There are many opportunities to help you in any subject. There are free tutors and programs to help. We should really be taking advantage of that.

Kyle

As long as a student puts a concerted effort into his or her academics at UCSC, the rewards are paramount. While many of the introduction classes taken during the first two years of undergraduate contain upwards of 300 students, professors still make a point to learn as many student's names as possible. For example, in an introductory film class I took my freshman year, I sat in a different seat during each lecture. However, because I participated during lecture the professor remembered my name out of a class of 350. Later that professor encouraged me to continue studying film. As one's degree progresses the class sizes generally shrink to a more personable setting. At UCSC there are many opportunities for field study classes that give students hands on experience with research and a very close relationship with teaching assistants and professors. One of the greatest classes I have taken at UCSC is Scientific SCUBA Diving Methods, in which I spent 16 days with my instructor, 4 of which included camping with the entire class. Life between students is often productively competitive. My fellow classmates and I regularly study together, pushing each other to gain a better understanding of the course material. Outside of class I often find my fellow marine biology students and I discussing current issues in science or making corny science jokes. The thing I like most about the Marine Biology major at UCSC is that it gives you a solid basis of understanding of various disciplines in marine science while emphasizing the importance of thinking in a research context. It is important to note that while my experience with the academics at UCSC have been very personal and had a great influence in the sort of student I have become, this may not be the case for everyone. At UCSC, the experiences you gain through academics is directly related to how much you participate as a student.

Devon

The academics are excellent at UCSC. We have a great Linguistics program, as well as Astrophysics. My professors have made a effort to learn my name in most of my classes. I've had a few who haven't been helpful in office hours, or terrible lecturers, but who doesn't get that once in a while? This quarter I have an amazing professor, Jody Greene, teaching the Spiritual Epic, a literature course, and she is great. She has so much information, is passionate and funny. I have some great T.A.s too, who have written me letters of recommendation and spent time going over my essays with me. Students are competitive, especially in upper division classes, and the y have intellectual conversations out side of class. My housemate and I read each other's papers and discuss our thesis's together.

Shelley

The academics are UC Santa Cruz are great. You get out of it as much effort as you put in. UCSC possesses a unique teaching style where students not only attend a lecture for their classes, but also can attend discussion sections where smaller groups of students can ask questions and learn in a more conducive atmosphere with a T.A. UCSC is very advanced at the sciences and are well-known for their research in astronomy. Students study a lot and the library is pretty packed. Some majors are more difficult or require more studying than others, for example: bioengineering vs. theater. Students are very friendly and definitely communicate outside of class. UCSC is very unique in that it offers some very interesting classes; the most interesting class I took was called Muppet Magic, where we learned about the Muppets and the work of Jim Henson. I know some of my friends have taken the Natural History of Dinosaurs, a class on Disney, analyzing Star Wars, etc. The professors make themselves available for communication outside of class and always list their office hours on the syllabus' so students are aware of when they are available to meet. I am an Intensive Psychology major and I absolutely love it. The teachers are so passionate about what they teach and helpful for the students. Psychology is one of the most impacted majors on this campus, so it can be difficult to get into classes, but the department always makes sure you are taking at least one class you need each quarter. The education here is geared toward getting a job as well as functioning in the world outside of college. They employ many resources to help students prepare for post-graduation plans.

ERICK

Most of the General Ed classes are in big lecture halls. Then you sign up for discussions for each lecture class in order to help you out. Some classes require, others let it be an option. The most help you will get is from your discussions with the help of Teacher assistants. You will be find yourself very motivated on campus due to the students striving for their education.

Rotem

The academics are well organized. The teachers are well qualified and are available to help. Most classes will have an accompanying section for additional instruction and questions as well as office hours to cover any further questions. Study groups often form naturally in class as well.I am pursuing a Business Management Economics Bachelors degree and a Theatre arts minor. Both departments provide helpful advisors. For majors with more students, like Business Management Economy, class tend to bigger. My favorite class is Marketing research because it provided me with hands on experience in my foeld of interest.

Kimberly

The classes at most UC campuses are huge, and UCSC is no exception. The high impact classes such as Chemistry, Math, and Psych can get up to 400 people large. The discussions for those classes, however, are much smaller and get up to 40 people. Since the classes are so large, it is hard for professors to get to know students on a one on one basis, but going to office hours helps the professor know you. The TA's, though, do get to know their students fairly well, and are good at remembering everyones name. The smaller classes, such as our core class, are a lot smaller and get to only 20 students. The professors for these classes really do make an effort to help you understand the material and help you improve your writing. Despite the "lack of academics" stereotype UCSC has, students really do focus on academics and spend a lot of time studying. On most nights, you'll definitely find the libraries full, and have a hard time finding a spot to sit. Outside of class, I've noticed that students do have intellectual conversations, but like most young people, they have unintellectual conversations as well. The science program at UCSC is by far the best out of all the departments, especially the marine biology program, since we have the Monterey bay near us. As a whole, academics at UCSC are pretty strong.

Genevieve

The academics at UCSC are fantastic! My first two years, my classes were large (about 200 students in most classes) but as I got further into the requirements for my major, class sizes decreased to about 30 students. This was fantastic because professors knew my name and were able to give me more personal feedback about my work. In classes both large and small, professors and teaching assistants are always available for office hours and also happy to answer questions via email. UCSC offers free tutoring for many classes and small, weekly sections led by the teaching assistants. Tutoring and TA sections are a great place to ask questions, work on homework, and meet other students in the class. Although I am a Business Management Economics major, I had the chance to take classes in all different fields. In fact, I took French all of last year and greatly enjoyed it. Most students at UCSC are like me, interested in many different subjects and points of view. Students take academics seriously, as can be proven by the crowds of students studying in the main libraries on campus at all times. UCSC also offers resources such as a career center and academic advising both within each residential college and within each major to do all they can to help students.

Cierra

One of the best things at UCSC is the academic conversations you get into inside and outside of class. In classes teachers hold discussions which allows for a better flow of ideas, solutions and conversation. Intellectual thoughts are taken in, debated and edited for a wonderful outcome. Class participation for me is a MUST in college classes. You get more out of class everyday and feel like an academic when you participate and share ideas. I try to take at least one different class each quarter in order to broaden my knowledge on subjects outside my major. Interestingly during my last quarter I took a Afro-Latino class which discussed issues, legislation and the history of Afro-Latina/os. I would have never learned about this topic at all and been so awe struck had I not been able to enroll in such a class.

Maria

Academic life varies by department. The J. Baskin School of Engineering is pretty amazing, and has state of the art facilities. We just added a new major in robotics engineering, all all those majors are supposed to be very strong. Science, particularly astronomy and astrophysics is phenomenal here - a UCSC astronomy recently led a team that was responsible for discovering a new planet, which is a major point of pride for the university. Psychology is great here as well, but it's by far the biggest major, which means getting into classes can be problematic to say the least. As for social sciences and humanities, it is a mixed bag. UCSC is funneling a lot of its money to research in the sciences, which means less money for other departments. This year the school cut the American Studies department due to lack of funding. It's very possible the school will be cutting more of these kinds of majors. Professors are generally accessible, though you have to go see them - they're not going to seek you out, nor should they have to. In my first year here, I've had some amazing professors, as well as some very lackluster ones. Definitely read reviews of the professors before signing up for the classes - in my experience, the quality of an instructor can make or break the course. And even though UCSC is not the most prestigious UC, a lot of the professors are leaders in the field, many of whom attended Ivy Leagues before coming here.

Marshall

It's easy to get a research position with a professor as an undergrad. That is a huge plus of coming to UCSC. Professors here love undergrads (for the most part) and enjoy teaching them and hearing them talk in class. It's not uncommon to meet a professor at a coffee shop to discuss an assignment or more peripheral material.

Jessica

Professors will know your name if you take the time to introduce yourself, talk to them after class, and/or go to their office hours (all of which I highly recommend!). There are some really awesome (and incredibly accomplished) professors teaching there. A few of my favorites were Anthony Pratkanis (Social Psychology, he is incradibly intelligent AND entertaining), Bettina Aptheker (Feminist Studies, she was one of the leaders of the Free Speech Movement at UC Berkeley and has an amazing autobiography called Intimate Politics-its awesome, read it- as well as many other interesting experiences and accomplishments share), and Ralph Quinn (Humanistic/Existential Psychology, EVERYONE loves him, he's an amazing lecturer and a very compassionate person-his class is full every single day b/c no one wants to miss!).....The list goes on but those were a few of my favorites. My favorite classes were Social Influence (Pratkanis), Intro to Feminisms (Aptheker), Intro to Social Psych (Pratkanis), and Child Psychopatology (Saposnik-also another great prof with a lot of really interesting and insightful information to share-and he's entertaining to boot!). The #1 worst class I took was Cultural Psych taught by Per Gjerde, which was my senior seminar! Such a shame for this school b/c somehow he is a tenured faculty member. His work is impressive but his teaching is bad to say the least. I do NOT recommend this class to anyone, it was a complete waste of money and time. I learned more from student projects that from anything he "taught". The second worst class I took was Psychology of Poverty taught by Irma Waugh. This class was a big disappointment for me. It was basically a sociology class (not psych) b/c we didn't really learn anything about how poverty affects people's psychology. The class was very biased to the extreme left and other opinions were avoided. There was a day when I was blatantly ignored during a discussion: she saw my hand in the air, made eye contact with me, and looked to the other side of the class and asked "Does anyone have a comment on this, I thought I saw some heads nodding.." When no one else said anything she excused the class 5 minutes early. This was very upsetting for me b/c I had spent between 30-45 minutes in her office hours talking with her for the last three weeks so she knew me and I think she just didnt want to call on me because I sometimes had a different point of veiw than the one she was trying to endorse. Needless to say, I never tried to contribute in class again for the entire rest of the quarter. She eventually noticed this and also the cfat that I hadn't been to her office hours for a few weeks but had nothing to say about why she thought that was. Overall, though, I'd say we have a very good faculty at UCSC and are privileged to be able to learn from and intereact with many of these people.

Parker

As a Business Management Economics major with an emphasis in Accounting, I can say that I've been to handfuls of Business job fairs where many bay area firms and companies from Silicon Valley were eager to meet with me and see what I was all about. Because UCSC is one of the nearest UC's to Silicon Valley, one looking to get into jobs in Business, Economics, Accounting, Technology, Computers or even Natural Sciences after UCSC will find themselves with plenty of opportunity for success.

Alex

all of my professors were very good... most were funny, too.

Jon

UCSC has very sound academic credentials with some strong teaching degrees

Lavender

If it's an introductory course, the professor probably won't know your name unless you go to hers/his office hours. But most classes are much smaller and the professor will learn your name. So far, I've loved all my classes for my major and minor. They open up your eyes to a lot of interesting things. But one of my favorite classes has been Psychology 80B: Human Sexuality. It's offered only in Winter. Take it. But I've actually enjoyed all the classed I've taken. All professors and TAs are pretty competent. The only classes I didn't like were Chemistry 1B and Math 3 (Pre-calculus). They were a waste of my time. I thought I was going to major in Chemistry and boy was I wrong! You either don't have a life in that major, or you're under a lot of pressure to do a ton of work and attend a whole bunch of tutoring hours and lab hours, unless you're super-duper smart and have a great memory (then you'll just have a lot of homework to do). Many classes here are not competitive though (unless they're impacted, like psychology and some physical science majors) because many professors want all students to succeed. I really like that because it allows you to do your best by helping out other people instead of just lying to them and mislead them about the answer to a question they don't even understand, for example. The professors all have office hours and TAs who also have office hours, and you can form your own study groups too. So in reality, there's no reason why YOU shouldn't pass any of your classes. I like all the people here that see this as a community in which we all win. Unfortunately though, we sometimes get those weak links that ruin the community spirit. BUt most importantly, there is a lot of out-of-class education here. There are so many chances to learn about SO many things just by attending all those free events that students and faculty plan.

Lauren

There are a lot of excellent departments and majors. I had a great experience with the Creative Writing Department, and know people who had great experiences with the Politics Department and Computer Science Department. Too many GE's though, I did not get anything out of them. Would have liked a language requirement, because I didn't have time to take any languages because of the pointless GE's. Some majors are competitive, most are not. There are not enough TA's for big classes. The best classes I ever took were with Louis Chude-Sokei and Jody Green (Lit). Smaller majors, such as Creative Writing, will give you better access to your professors. Don't expect to get buddy-buddy with the biology department though. But I think this is true for most schools.

Megan

Classes start out large and get smaller as you progress along your major. Students can be competitive, but its not cut throat. There are some very progressive classes, the most interesting one I've taken is Intro to Queer Theory. Learning at UCSC is often geared toward learning for it's own sake (especially in the humanities) but if you love the idea of getting a job, then there are some boring majors available like business or economics.

Lindsay

Some of my professors knew my name because they took the time to get to know the students. My favorite class was HIS80Y WWII memories of US and Japan. My least favorite class has been my Crown College core course. Class participation is common and some students do speak intellectually outside of class. I think that all classes are unique in some way or another. No two classes are the same. I do spend some time with professors outside of class but not very much.

Claire

Academics really depend on your department and what professors you choose to take classes with. There is always class participation, even in our large lecture classes, which are still a great deal smaller than lectures at other UCs like UCLA. Large lectures also almost always include a discussion section with 30 students or fewer and a T.A., who is usually a graduate student in the field. This is especially true in the humanities and social science divisions, though usually at least optional sections are available in the hard sciences. Professors will know your name in a lecture if you speak up or go to office hours, and in seminar classes, they definitely will. There are some competitive students, but the atmosphere is mostly pretty laid-back. That, however, is another thing that depends a lot on professors. Some professors have loyal followings of very competitive students and they structure their classes accordingly, and others really enjoy a more relaxed and loosely structured syllabus. Most, in both categories, are very willing to change schedules and readings around, modify assignments, and curve grades to adapt to how the class is working. The literature department is really about learning for the sake of learning, whereas my minor, education, is more focused on job skills for teaching and educational research.

Alex

in lower division classes, professors hardly ever know your name unless you really want them to. most of the lower div's are SO full (sometimes up to 500 people), but upper division seminars you take for your major are great. this quarter, i was in two classes of 30 to 40 kids, and both of my professors knew my name, one even recognized my handwriting. class participation in both lower divisions and upper divisions is common and often required to get a passing grade. i'd say the education at ucsc is more geared toward learning for its own sake in most of the social sciences, humanities, and physical sciences. probably the only departments geared toward getting a job are accounting, economics, and business management. students at ucsc are not that competitive outside of the physical and natural sciences departments, and you can often hear people at local cafes talking about course material.

Whitney

It's difficult to get close to professors in large classes because you do all of your work with your TA's, which I sometimes find frustrating. You can get close to professors if you work hard to go to their office hours and make yourself visible in lecture discussions. Participation is quite common, at least in literature classes (which are my only experience). UCSC love to have intellectual conversations outside of class. In fact, you hear this happening on buses and in coffee shops more often than not. Students are competitive, but not obsessively so. It is a necessary evil to succeed in college. I'm not sure about UCSC's undergrad requirements because I was a transfer student, but I got IGETC certified and was done with my undergrad requirements before I got there. The requirements for a lit major are reasonable yet rigorous. The classes are interesting and fun. The learning tends to lean toward learning for its own sake. Especially in the literature department, where discussing the significance of novels is basically all we do. We learn to understand ourselves and the world better through literature, which is better for the world socially, but it is not geared toward getting a job.

Jessica

I am a Marine Biology major and the program here is great, but still a bio program. This means that there are larger classes in lower division and smaller classes in the upper divisions. If you are into what you are studying you will find really good resources in all departments. The teachers we have here are really dedicated and excited about their material. There are some cool interdisciplinary courses too. The University still has some remnants of a small school feel and some professors who still like to teach that way, but the regents are starting to move it away from that feel and more towards a big competitive research institution. Like I said though the marine bio program is great, we have a SCUBA program that is thorough and field classes that go whale watching and scuba diving and on trips to tahiti and baja. Great opportunities!

Admiral

Professors tend to learn your names if you approach them first, although there are times when I have been surprised and they have called me by name when I am still remembering theirs. What I also like is that most professors are comfortable with students calling them by their first names, so it creates an informal and more comfortable learning environment. My favorite class so far has been game theory, which has nothing to do with video games, so go Wikipedia it. That course is taught by Dan Friedman who is out of the economics department. Bruce Thompson, from the history department, is probably the most skilled and interesting professor that I have had. He is one of the primary reasons why I am double majoring in Economics and European History. Professors like these bring the topics to life, so outside of class I have had many great conversations with friends about those topics.

Morgan

The academics are competitive, but discussion sections help give a small class feel to them.

Tom

Class sizes can be large, but are still smaller than most schools. professors don't usually know your name, but there is always office hours where you can get 1 on 1 attention and develop a relationship with the professor. There are great opportunities to assist professors in research, which I'm certain I would be able to do at a larger school.

Jamie

Intro classes and lower division classes are really big, usually a few hundred people. But there are smaller sections where you can ask your TA questions. Having a good TA is super important!!!!!

Connie

We have one of the best science departments in the nation.

Bryan

You'll find classes of all sorts of sizes and varying degrees of quality. While UCSC isn't the most prestigious UC, for the most part the professors are still of excellent quality and really know their fields. So far, as an undeclared Freshman, the school has provided a great opportunity to learn information in all sorts of fields, some of which I'll never work in.

Emily

Whether or not you have intellectual conversations outside of class is up to you and whomever your friends are. Some people are incredibly stupid, some really intelligent. There are some pretty excellent classes offered here, with a focus on science in particular, which happens to be a subject I couldn't be less interested in. Art classes are restricted to art majors (there may be two exceptions), and I don't know anything about our drama department, which leads me to believe that it's very small. The Lit Department has its ups and downs - I've taken some excellent courses lead by terrific professors, but two of my favorites have left, either to seek better paying teaching positions elsewhere or to take time off to write a book. Professors and TA's always encourage students to meet with them outside of class, and tend to be very friendly.

April

The academics at UCSC are not very challenging for me. I have heard that San Jose State has harder classes. People are geneally apathetic towards school and do not study often at all. I enjoyed a class called Latin American Music where we had flamenco artists from Spain perform. The education at UCSC is definielty geared towards learning for learning's sake, not towards the job market or succeeding after school, which I find a little disheartening for many students who have no idea what they are doing after they graduate.

Lauren

Academics here at UCSC are admittedly sometimes a bit too laid-back for some people's tastes. Depending on what type of class you're in, or what major you're taking, you may or may not run into some of the not-so-stimulating classes. A lot of the teaching falls to TAs in some of the large classes and admittedly sometimes those TAs aren't quite up to the job. But there's plenty of good ones out there, too. I've taken a variety of classes in different areas and I think the Creative Writing program here at UCSC has the highest percentage of capable, interesting, and inspirational professors and classes. The CW program is excellent. Interesting, challenging, and connective, the CW classes are generally small (as opposed to 200-people lectures) and you definitely get a feel for the subject, as well as your classmates and professor. It's a bit tough to get into the CW concentration, since you need to apply and be accepted in it, but even just the classes you can take without being in the major are very fun and stimulating.

Tristan

Although this is only my frist year at UCSC, I have come to greatly respect and even sometimes enjoy the academic culture here; precisely because that's exactly what it is: a culture. I find myself becoming more immersed and actively involved in my education and learning than ever before. Coming from a family filled with educators (namely principals, administrators, and teachers) and growing up around education, I've always considered myself a tougher critic of teachers and curriculums than most students. I have been generally very pleased with the classes I've taken at UCSC and the amount of active interest that UCSC students seem to invest in their learning. In my experience, class sizes vary from very small (maybe 15-20 students) to extremely large (lectures filled with up to 300), but even in the large lecture classes here professors usually make some attempt to get to know their students, asking each student their name before answering their question in class and working hard to seem approachable.

KJ

i am an art major so i feel like i have a much different view of the academic system than most other students. it is not an art school and i can tell. a lot of my professors live in san francisco and commute to "teach". i don't feel like i have really been taught a whole lot of technical art skills, but i do like most of my classes and i think we have a good selection of interesting subjects to study.

Gina

classroom unit 2 is the most inefficient place to learn. large lecture halls such as Unit 2, Earth and Marine, Media Theater are poor learning environments and create bad habits of disrespect for professors and other students, this is a problem because most freshmen take gen ed. or lower division courses here and learn at the beginning of their studies at UCSC how to behave in a classroom setting. my major, envs/bio combined is a Bachelor of Arts, however I feel I have worked hard enough to recieve a Bachelor of Science. The biology department is a frustrating place, as is the Registrar's office. I feel like communications in general at UCSC need some serious help.

Bobby

Academic life is well-balanced. Intense and challenging study hours can be easily coupled with a break at the beach, a cafe, or some peaceful walk through upper campus.

Jessica

The lower-division classes are rather big, that is why students should get to know their TA's. The upper-division classes are smaller, so it is easier for the professors to get to know your name. I am a Film major, and the faculty is really helpful, especially the production instructors. All of the professors that I have had are always willing to meet students outside of class. Every once in a while, I'll get an instructor that I do not like, because it is difficult to comprehend what they are saying. But besides the occasional mumbler, the professors are good at their jobs.

Willow

I love my classes. I love my professors, I love my subject matter and I love all the opportunities here to learn. There are always conversations going on about this or that. I enjoy getting to know our professors personally as well. Anyone can, of course, they just have to go to office hours. UCSC is designed so that if you want to get noticed, you can and if you don't, you wont.

Ciara

The teachers are really interested in getting to know all their students; the one's who go and talk to them either for help or just to say hi are usually those students who end up doing better in the class.

Katie

From my experience, classes at UCSC can vary from a 20 person lab to a 400 person lecture. In all honesty, what you put into the class is what you're going to get out; there is no easy way to get good grades and students are studying most hours of week days and, more often than not, many hours on weekends. However, the UCSC academis system is much more free and student oriented than other campuses and it is known to think outside the box. Competitiveness is hardly an issue with most students, but I have found that majority of the student body works extremely hard in their academic life.

Alex

The professors here are awesome. In some classes they are a little too left, so it is difficult to get an unbiased opinion sometimes. But I have taken many biology classes, where I get taught by professors that are so intelligent and excited about what they are saying. They are excited because what they teach isn't dry and boring, it is what they research. Like cancer, new things are being discovered everyday, and we get to learn it first. It makes you excited, because you will do that one day. And the students are encouraging, not that stressfull competitiveness some big schools have.

Blake

The professors are really good, even for some of the lower division classes the profs are amazing and engaged. Also, people are really smart.

laura

Once you make it past the prereqs, the class sizes become much more manageable 20-50 people. Most of the professors in my department (linguistics) were great teachers, who made a huge effort to learn names, as well as encourage independant thinking. It was a very tough major but thats probably why its one of the top 3 ling. programs in the country (above UCLA and berkeley). For prospective ling students: make buddies, form study groups, never skip class!! As far as prereqs go, just make sure to learn about your teachers (on ratemyprofessor.com) before enrolling in any classes. For most of the prereqs you can get by with doing the bare minimum and still passing: its the best part about an academic system which allows you to take 25% of your classes pass/fail. It also helps to have friends in large classes: alternate who goes to class and takes notes/signs people in.

Blake

Classes here range from big to small. If you are in a small class most likeley the professor will know your name. But if you are in a huge lecture the professor will most likeley not know who you are unless you go to office hours. It's a good idea to go to office hours that way when you try to apply for grad school you can go to them for letters of recommendation. Large lecture classes usually come with small section classes in which a TA helps you clarify and work through the material the professor presented in class. Usually what I find people struggling with is learning how to study. Make sure you take good notes and look them over. It always helps to highlight and make flashcards before a test. Try not to buy books from the bookstore because the prices are outrageous. Go to Uloop.com or something like that and buy them from students for a lower price both you and the other student benefit. If you aren't sure what your major will be make sure to take a lot of "Intro to... " classes so you can get a feel for what you may like.

Colin

Even in classes with 300 or 400 people, professors love having people come talk to them and are always flexible to have one on one time when you express any concern. UCSC doesnt allow classes to be taught by TA's so its always a professor which is good. Some students are competitive, but its not isane, so if ou really work hard, its possible to stand out. The way the students are, you can slack and pass all of your classes, or you can work really hard and get all A's... but the ball is in your court. No classes are impossible, but i've never had an easy A.

Casey

People have this idea that UCSC is extremely artistic - and as a result we must have a great art program, or at least a good one. Not so. Our art program is close to non-existent, and it's almost impossible to take any art classes unless you're an art major (we have no art minor). UCSC has no graphic design, 3d design, or digital design facilities/classes. We DO have a great game design program here, but don't come here expecting anything more than that. Also, we have no mechanical engineering program. If you want to pursue engineering, I highly recommend you go to San Jose state, which supposedly has an amazing engineering department. If you want to pursue astrophysics or biology, you'll probably love UCSC's academics. Classes here can be 150-300 people, unless you're in a seminar. If you talk to the professors, most of them will happily get to know you. However, be prepared to run into some nasty surprises - most of my friends agree that a majority of the professors here are dumb as a doornail in comparison to our high school teachers.

Ben

Depends on the student and the major. Intro classes tend to be easy, but as you go higher up the food chain you had better be good at the subject. Be prepared to work hard if you don't want to waste your money, i know a lot of people on probation/about to be kicked out for getting low grades. It's a UC, UC's are serious schools.

Maria

Professors don't care to know my name. My favorite class is Economics in East&Southeast Asia, and my least favorite class was core because I did not get the college I wanted to live in. Students study everyday in the evening. Class participation is not very common, most students keep to themselves. Students are not competitive at all. I am a global economics major. I have not taken any unique classes so far. I try to go to office hours and get to know my professor and vice versa. I feel that UCSC has reasonable academic requirements, but most students are unaware of them, like what classes to take for what major, where to go, who to talk to, etc. I think the education at UCSC is geared towards learning for its own sake. But what can I say, I'm a freshman, not an upperclassmen yet.