"The construction is bothersome and an eyesore, it'd be nice if it wasn't constantly going on and the puddles on campus are the worst."
As UBC is expanding and renewing infrastructure, it seems that construction sites are set up almost everywhere you go. It is frustrating when you are trying to get to class and have to take an inconvenient detour due to roads being blocked off due to construction.
"School spirit is non-existent. It needs work."
School spirit certainly does need some improvement at UBC. While we do have a homecoming event and Welcome Back Barbeque at the beginning of the school year as well as Block Party event at the end of the year, there needs to be more done to encourage events to bring students collectively together and celebrate their “Thunderbird” identity.
"UBC needs more affordable on-campus housing."
Recent proposed increases by the University include a 20 per cent price hike for students who use campus housing facilities and a 10 per cent increase in tuition for in coming international students. The University administration’s plan to increase costs for housing and tuition has had UBC students come together and oppose this decision. Over 500 students rallied at an Alma Matter Society general meeting that took place on October 28, 2014. At this meeting , quorum was reached at UBC for the first time in 40 years as students voted for the Alma Matter Society to take official action on these proposed fee increases.
School: University of British Columbia
Location: Vancouver and Kelowna, British Columbia
Percentage of Women: 54%
Tuition (per year): Dependent on your program of study
Most Popular Majors: Biological and Physical Sciences, Computer and Information Sciences, Psychology
Greek Life: Yes! Find out more about our sororities here
For more information about financial aid, scholarships, majors, study abroad, and average test scores, visit UBC’s website.
Why Choose UBC?
UBC is situated in Vancouver’s stunning Point Grey. There are about as many great qualities as there are reasons to attend (lots!). Below, students discuss reasons for their decision to study at UBC.
In terms of location, UBC has it all: ocean, mountains, forest, and city. One student “chose to come to UBC because the campus is beautiful and it has strong academics." Being close to downtown is also a benefit: “I loved the idea of living right next to the ocean and being able to explore Vancouver.” The school’s location is a huge pull factor for many students, combined with its strong academic reputation.
The gorgeous location and wooded setting can also be an asset to education: "I study biology because I love nature and love to be outside. And who wants to study biology in the middle of a city when they can be here with the mountains and the ocean and the forest?! It's perfect!"
Vancouver locals find that UBC is both a convenient and quality option for their post-secondary education. “UBC is a world class university that feels just next door for people who grew up in Vancouver.”
For one student it was the obvious choice, “felt fancy, and seemed like the best school in (Vancouver) the area.”
Family tradition and expectations are also common reasons for attending UBC. One student stated that growing up in Vancouver, most people she knows have aspired to go to UBC since they were children. This rings true in an answer from another student:
“Both of my parents attended and graduated from UBC, and I don’t remember a time where I have not owned and proudly worn a UBC hoodie. It always seemed to be a given that I was going to go there. When I was in my final year of high school, I applied to a number of universities all over Canada. After strongly considering going elsewhere, I finally chose to attend UBC not because of my parents’ expectations or its close proximity to my home, but because it truly seemed like the wisest choice. How could I say no to the beautiful campus right outside downtown Vancouver and a specialized program that perfectly fit my needs at a world renowned university?”
“I wound up picking UBC in the end because my parents were really proud of me for getting into a school well known for high academic achievement and because even though I was scared, I knew going to school here would be a great experience and that I would always regret it if I didn't take it."
For international students, there are more reasons to come here than simply that beautiful campus and prestigious academic reputation. UBC is also quite affordable in comparison to other schools in Canada, and especially the US.
"I chose UBC because as an international student, it was the best option financially. All through the application process I was told to apply to whatever schools I wanted because the money would come from scholarships and the government. It didn't. UBC was the best choice based on that."
Not all students had such definite reasons for choosing to come to UBC. Even those without much purpose found reason to stay in the school’s talented professors: “I have no idea why I chose to go to UBC; I just kind of ended up here. The reason I stayed at UBC after realizing I had no reason to be here was the quality of the professors in my department.”
The University of British Colombia is situated on the coast of the Pacific Ocean, in the heart of a temperate rain forest, and in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains. The beauty of the geography is not easily rivaled. For these reason, as well as many others Vancouver was rated by the Economist to be the third most livable city in the world. The population of this metropolitan city mirrors the variety of the landscape, in that Vancouver is home to a colourful assortment of people from all backgrounds and all walks of life. The University shares in this cultural and ecological pride and works hard to promote and preserve both diversity and environment. This combination is what makes the University of British Colombia truly “A place of mind.”
For these reasons, as well as many others, students feel UBC is an excellent place to study, live, and work. Here are some quotations from students that highlight a few of the university's A+ features.
"The best part about going to UBC is that you get to go to school on the most beautiful campus in the world. When school starts to get really stressful, there are so many spots on campus where you can go to enjoy the beautiful nature that surrounds you in Vancouver. You're just a walk away from a secluded beach... doesn't get much better than that!"
"Even though UBC has a huge student body, the student government still does an amazing job putting on events where the entire school community can come together. Every fall and spring they put on school wide outdoor concerts with great line ups that include both locally and internationally recognized artists. You basically get to party with your entire student body!"
"The reason I chose UBC is because of the city it's in. Vancouver is one of the best places to live in the world; there's incredible food, tons of activities, and never ending opportunities to explore the great outdoors. In the summer, you can hike, kayak, wind surf, you name it. And in the winter, you can hit the slopes! For me, the best part about attending UBC is that I'm only a few hours away from Whistler, where some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the world is."
"UBC Recreation is incredible! The school organizes a ton of different events that allow you to compete with your classmates in school wide competitions. Whether you're just in it for fun, or if you're a serious competitor, it's a great way to meet people and get involved on campus. My friends and I have made teams for Day of the Longboat (a longboat race) and Storm the Wall (a campus wide team race that includes swimming, cycling, running, and climbing a 12 foot wall) every year since I've been at UBC. Those are some of the most rewarding experiences I've had at UBC."
“I was a little worried that I wouldn’t be able find my niche at such a large university, but when I got here I found out about the hundreds of clubs at UBC! After joining a couple of them I formed great friendships with people who share in common interests and goals."
"The construction is bothersome and an eyesore, it'd be nice if it wasn't constantly going on and the puddles on campus are the worst."
"School spirit is non-existent, it needs work."
"'The construction has to stop!’- I think many UBC students will say this. I would say the opposite. This university has a gym with 8 treadmills and not more than 40 dumbbells for 40,000 students. It has only three indoor basketball courts, which are used for futsal, badminton, volleyball and exams. During the exam period, they shut that down as well. The bookstore claims are a joke. It has to be the first bookstore in the world that ‘subsidizes its books for students and makes it 50-100% more expensive Ahan amazon’. I think these are the immediate changes that UBC should make."
"UBC needs more affordable on-campus housing."
"UBC Food Services' food is overpriced and just not appetizing enough to be worth the cost. It'd also be nice to see UBC putting students' money into things other than fountains."
"Professors, or whoever else is in charge, really need to emphasize the importance of consistency because there have been times I have almost failed an assignment but someone else has aced it, and we worked on it together. The only reason for this inconsistency was because we had different teaching assistants who followed different rubrics..."
"I would say one of the biggest things that needs improvement about UBC would be that regardless of how much it preaches community, it is hard to find one yourself. With a large campus and student population, feeling lost is easy. Also in terms of student activities, I feel like there is extremely poor advertising. I often find out about really cool events only after they've already passed."
New Collegiette on Campus
UBC does its best to make every first year's transition to university life seemless. "A major perk is guaranteed housing for first year students. This means you don't have to worry about finding an apartment, cooking for yourself, or even taking the bus to school."
By living in residence at UBC, students say you will encounter "a ton of new faces to get to know and maybe even form pretty amazing friendships with. Most of the people you'll meet in first year rez will help shape what your year becomes and will be there with you for all the upcoming up and downs of university life."
UBC has no shortage of first year envolvement. One students recounts their first big event on campus; "the official orientation for first years is an event called Imagine Day. On this day you'll be assigned to a MUG group made up of peers and a leader from your specific field of study. You'll go around with the group to learn the locations of the main buildings for your faculty and get advice from some of the professors and other leaders of your program in regards to what to expect once classes start. Your MUG group is another place to make some excellent, long-lasting friendships with people who can possibly be of help to you if you wind up in the same classes. Exchanging information with them before classes begin makes it a bit easier to head out on the first day because then you'll know there will be a familiar face to greet you."
For many new students, "the other great part about Imagine Day is the pep rally at the very end." This amazing ending to the first freshman event really "brings together all of the first years and gives you a sense of how large the community you've chosen to join is and what kind of wind power we can bring to the table."
UBC also puts on a great Frosh Week; "it can be another great opportunity to get acquainted with people in your faculty who might be popping up in your classes later on in your university career."
It is important to remember that being a first year, "there's a tendency to just stick to people that you know are in the same boat." One studen exaplins that "if you pluck up the courage to speak to all sorts of people in your classes, you can wind up becoming friends with someone older who's taking a requirement late and can help you out with classes they've already been through."
Finally, one of the best ways to meet new people here at UBC is through our numerous clubs where it is easy to "meet people who maybe aren't in your year or faculty. UBC's campus has thousands of people from all different walks of life. Just take the time to put yourself out there."
All About Academics
When it comes to academics, UBC students are full of advice. “Never take a course if you aren't sure about the content,” suggested one student.
"I was in Science during my first year at UBC, and it's a pretty grueling curriculum that teaches you a lot about yourself,” explained one student. “In my case, first- year Science showed me that my interests lay elsewhere, which is why I'm hoping to transfer to Arts next year.” Other students were also enthusiastic about finding their academic passions. "Mechanical engineering is the best thing that can ever happen to you, period.”
Several students remarked upon the variety of UBC professors’ teaching styles. “Some are philosophical and artistic in teaching English or Math, and many on the other hand are strict and stubborn in teaching a subject like Philosophy.” As Psychology professor Paul Hewitt told his first year Psychology class: “we are here because we are good in research and we have strong degrees; unfortunately not because we are good at teaching.”
This is definitely one way that university in general differs from a high school setting. On the other hand, UBC students have the opportunity to expand their knowledge in new and exciting ways –and sometimes, as English professor Elizabeth Hodgson said, “we have to undo everything they learned in high school.”
Even if many professors are not expert teachers, “There are always professors who are inspiring as humans,” a student remarked. “From them one learns the most, not necessarily the course material but things that actually count.”
A Bio student recounted that, “the passion most Biology professors have makes going to class worth it. A lot of them really want to help, and in my whole undergrad career, I have never felt like they did not try to continuously grow as professors. I remember a lot of incidences in which feedback was taken throughout the course to change things AS they were happening, or for the following term. Biology laboratories are evidence of that drive that these professors have. They will stick it through past hours to help out if need be, and to make sure that we understand the concepts and techniques.”
A couple students also noted that professors are often very willing to help them out. "I think the professors at UBC are very helpful and willing to put aside time for your success, if you're willing to take those opportunities.” Another said, "Science advisors are the best!"
One student emphasized that, "In terms of professors, curriculum, and majors, my biggest advice would be that in order to succeed, whether it be tracking down your professor for questions or applying for your intended major, you absolutely need to be proactive about everything you do. In college, neither people nor time will wait for you. You need to make time to get to know your professors, go to their office hours to randomly talk to them and give them a reason to care about you. Once you make that connection, they will be hard pressed to forget you. In college, connections are the key to networking. You never know where a potential opportunity may come from. In terms of learning, always make sure to make a couple friends in each of your classes. That way, even if your class has more than a 100 students, you won't feel lonely or lost. Also, be proactive about creating study groups!”
In terms of what they wished were different about UBC academics, one student thought that “there should be more of a wait time before declaring your major for Sciences, because second year is very soon to know.”
Overall, students seemed to standy by their choice of UBC as a place to pursue higher education. “The campus and its amenities are the best, there's no real reason to have to leave which is great, also the resources available to first years in residence and the opportunities to get involved are countless, and cover any interest anyone could have."
Learn From the Best
The best help and guidance may be closer than you think...
“Trying to find meaningful and helpful advice at UBC can be difficult at times. Insecure students will tell you frightening and exaggerated stories to take comfort in the idea that they have made someone more afraid than they are. Faculty advisors can be condescending, impatient, and even inaccurate. Professors can be overly opinionated and egocentric, though this is not as common. Ultimately, you will find out that your own judgment can be your best bet, if you put effort into developing it. I know that this may sound tough, but you will be happy by the end of your degree when you realize that you can depend upon yourself and not be dependent upon others. It’s just another way that UBC teaches what is preaches - Tuum Est!”
What to look for in a professor...
“My favorite professor has been Dr. Colin Green. He is the most articulate and engaging professor I’ve had. His in-depth knowledge about Chinese military history is complemented by his ability to draw connections to other world systems. Best of all, he is the type of professor that gives you really specific and constructive feed back on your work. It also doesn’t hurt that he absolutely deserves that red hot chili pepper by his name on Rate My Prof!”
“As notorious as his name is, Gateman was my favorite professor! I had him for Econ 101, and that was the class that taught me how to study for all other classes. His exams really demand you to think instead of memorize, but really when you begin to study by understanding instead of just parroting information, you become more involved and interested.”
“Jaymie Matthews is the best professor I’ve ever had by far! He made all of the super cool astronomical concepts such as black holes and universe expansion accessible in an elective course. He also had a really positive and quirky energy, he even played his guitar shirt in class by using the classroom audio system.... How much cooler could a university professor get? Did I mention that he’s on the special features section of a Stargate DVD set? He’s a real UBC celebrity because I’m pretty sure he was the inspiration for the character of Sheldon Cooper...I mean how could he not be?”
“In my experience, many UBC professors will put on a fun and approachable face during lectures, and then turn into such apathetic trolls during office hours. But, Dr. Glenn Sammis is not like that! Not only is he a wonderful, clear, and passionate lecturer, but he is also genuine and patient during office hours. It was so comforting to know that there was some one like him to help you through the many trials of organic chemistry!”
Interests & Involvement
Why involvement is awesome...
"UBC would not be the amazing place it is without the opportunities to become involved in so many ways that are offered to students. There are hundreds of clubs to join, and positions within those clubs to work one's way up to. You could drop in anytime and get a taste of the Vancouver food scene, animal rights activism, or moustache appreciation. Student associations and organizations made entirely of UBC students represent the school on regional, national, and international levels, and gain leadership and professional skills that one cannot simply learn in the classroom."
"I'm not super involved at UBC, but the few groups I do take part in are always welcoming. I love the yoga club in particular – it’s a great way to destress between or after classes. There are so many clubs and opportunities on camps and there's literally something for everyone.”
Where to start...
"UBC makes it so easy to get involved. At the beginning of the year, there's Imagine Day and Club Days in the SUB, you can just walk around and see what interests you. Something will interest you, believe me. And getting involved honestly adds a real richness to your university experience."
"UBC is one of the best national sports institutions, with hundreds of Olympic participants and world class sports facilities!"
At UBC, if you sign up with the Blue Crew for $20, you get free admission to all home games for the Thunderbirds - plus a free t-shirt! Being apart of the Blue Crew is a great way to get involved and excited about UBC sports!
Because Canucks, Lions, and Whitecaps tickets can be expensive, the Thunderbirds are a great way to see high level sports right before your eyes. Many of Canada's best young athletes attend UBC, and the facilities are top of the line. Sports can bring the UBC community together and provide fun events that will lead to new friends and good times.
“Canada has always been a very sports-oriented country, but I’ve noticed that after 2010, students have really gotten more enthusiastic about supporting UBC’s sport teams. The energy at games just became more lively and contagious, and that’s something that really keeps me wanting to go.”
While UBC is home to some great athletes and fans, sports are not a huge part of life at UBC. Games are fun to go to with friends, but are not always well attended:
“Don’t get me wrong, I really love going to watch UBC’s hockey, soccer and swim teams, but at the same time I’m really happy that sports isn’t as overpowering as it is in many of the American schools I was looking at. At UBC, I can actually focus on my academic life as much as I want, casually attend a game when I have the time, and not feel bad about it!”
And even if you're not a pro, you can join in various intramural or rec teams at UBC.
“Going to watch the Thunderbirds play inspired me to join an amateur hockey team at UBC!”
“It really doesn’t matter if you are into a less-known sport at UBC, because there are so many clubs that you can probably find one to play that sport! I mean, I was even a part of the UBC Surf Club in first year!”
“I love going to watch the T-birds play, I can just image that one of the players is going to be playing with the Canucks one day, like Chris Levesque did in 2003, and then I’ll be super proud!”
“Being an athlete at UBC is pretty hard. I mean in my first year it taught me a lot though, because I had to become extremely disciplined to become a good swimmer and student. The hours were long, and expectations where high, but now I feel that I am really prepared for life after university. I guess one thing that really helped me along the way was the support of my teammates and classmates. I guess everybody kind of feels like they are in the same boat when the standards at your school are all-around high.”
"The assaults on campus last term really brought gender issues into everyday discussion-it was really interesting! Suddenly all these different perspectives were brought forward and I was glad that these issues were finally coming up, albeit under unfortunate circumstances. The campus has just become a lot more aware of gender differences."
"UBC has a lot of great resources for women like SASC and the Womyn's Centre and feminists clubs and groups. Coming from a really conservative small town, I really appreciate how open and supportive the community is." You can find out more about those resources here.
"If I had to give advice to young women considering coming to UBC I'd tell them that UBC is definitely still developing in terms of its attitudes towards gender and sexuality. Obviously, we had the Sauder chant and the assaults on campus last term. I think those events made everyone get off their high horses and realize that UBC has a lot of work to do, that we aren't this perfect little bastion of politically-correct goodness."
Food & Drink
"My favorite place to grab food and drinks on campus is Great Dane Coffee because there is so much outdoor seating, they have a large drink selection, and the grilled sandwiches are delicious!"
"I usually head to the Gallery or Koerners Pub because they have lots of healthy food and vegetarian/vegan options!"
"I love Mahony's! Although a little pricey, their menu is so much more extensive than the other venues and it also has an awesome vibe to it."
"For first years living on campus, there are dining halls in every First Year residence, and small kitchens on every floor. Instead, for upper classmen that live on campus, there are personal kitchens in every apartment."
"The Boulevard Cafe is my go to. There's good atmosphere, excellent and healthy food, stylish and friendly staff!"
"It's definitely convenient to get something to drink on campus without having to go off campus like to Kitsilano or downtown. It's also especially convenient during the cold rainy season."
"Here are some tips on where to get food when hungry:
- Mercante for good oven-baked Italian pizzas
- Mahony’s and Sons for a more expensive night out for drinks
- The Gallery for their vegetarian options, quesadillas, and nachos
- The renovated Koerners Pub for some healthy options and live music
- The Sushi Roll for sushi on campus
- The Boulevard or the Great Dane Café for the perfect cup of Joe
- Blue Chip Cookies for the highly popular ‘Marbelous’ and ‘Brazilian Crunch’ cookies"
"Communities come to life on weekends with people planning gatherings in their own dorms, or planning outings with friends. You can hear the cheers and the sing-a-longs across all of campus as people walk to Mahoney's for snacks and a drink, the bus stops to find an adventure off-campus, or to visit friends in neighbouring residences. You will almost certainly find cyclists and joggers during the daylight hours. The gym will probably be crowded with individuals getting pumped for the day or evening ahead. Studying is abundant and inspiring in libraries, on sunny hillsides, and in cafes all around."
"If you're interested in partying, you can find it at UBC in the Greek village, at the Pit, in the residences, or throughout the city of Vancouver itself. If you're into sports you can get involved with the REC Centre and the Birdcoop and go to the sporting events. For the arts, we've got plays and concerts and museums. I mean there are trips and hikes and shows and events and festivals going on all the time! And there's definitely a lot more to the social life here than just drinking."
"I'm pretty shy, sometimes it's kind of hard for me to really throw myself into something and start talking to people I don't know. But I really think there's a place for everyone at UBC. For example, I've gotten really involved with Sprouts and Seedlings and I like the small, close group we have. It's very inclusive and I have always felt welcome. Basically what I'm trying to say is that the social scene at UBC is both extrovert and introvert friendly!"
"I chose to live the dorm life because it makes life easier for all four years and contributes to the campus community. This way you'll really immerse yourself in the college experience. You have the rest of your life to live off-campus!"
"Take it from a fourth year student who has lived on campus all four years (yes you heard me right), dorm life is pretty great. It literally feels like a city in here, the campus is so big that sometimes we even forget to leave. In total there are nine residences, some for first years and others for upper-class students."
"I lived in dorms in my first year and I think it was a typical dorm experience. I think the two biggest positives were: 1) The number of people to interact with and hang around with. Everyone was a similar age and it was great to have so many people to talk to. 2) The ease at which I could get food (from the cafeteria)."
“Living on campus is super convenient in terms of being able to walk to class, have a pretty decent sized apartment, a front desk and maintenance who’s there basically 24/7, there are activities and trips all the time, and they usually even have their own gym! It’s pretty great.”
"As a first year, I certainly would live on campus. I think it's an important experience. After that, I think it goes from individual to individual, what they value more. But I certainly do think that everybody should live in a dorm at least once in their life."
"I would recommend students to live on campus to meet new people and create a smaller circle of friends who you'll be able to relate to and bond with through your years at university."
"UBC is really just a small city of its own - the campus is so big!" For new students or on-campus residents, it is easy to get comfortable and hunker down for the long haul at UBC.
The problem is that "the university is pretty much on one end of Vancouver," so newcomers to the city miss out on major opportunities to explore one of the most beautiful, liveable cities in the world. One student observed: "So it definitely is not too close to downtown like some universities. But that's the beauty of it. We have a gorgeous campus, and we can reach suburbs like Kitsilano, Broadway, and Dunbar, and others that will have anything you need from yoga classes, to the best sushi in Vancouver, to packed summer beaches. All in just a fifteen minute bus ride!"
Another student even suggested that "if you do want to get out, there are restaurants, activities, sports, supermarkets, and so much more after a five minute bus ride towards Sasamat Street." Five minutes sounds even more appealing than fifteen, but if you are willing to go beyond the nearby neighbourhoods, Vancouver has even more to offer.
Areas like Commercial Drive, Main Street, Chinatown and Kingsway are crucial to the culture of Vancouver, and are the pride of the city. East Van often goes unseen by UBC students because of the trek (which is really half an hour at most), but any Vancouverite will tell you that it is well worth it. Small restaurants, kitschy shops, and even a Jimi Hendrix shrine can be discovered if you are willing to put in the time. Don't let your UPass wilt in your wallet, begging to be used!
Beyond the urban culture, this student echoes the opinion of many on Vancouver's natural benefits: "You can find anything to do in Vancouver! From beaches right next to campus, to the beautiful mountains of Whistler, there is something for everyone. Many people are scared of how cold it is, but then there are some beautiful sunny days that remind you how lucky you are for being able to live here." And if you hail from Canada, our winters will be a welcome relief from the cold elsewhere in the country. Although the rumours of rainy days, (weeks, months), are true, our moderate climate is very accessible to international guests.
The city is also close enough to other BC sights to merit many memorable day and weekend trips. Victoria, Kelowna, and Vancouver's many municipal neighbours offer activities that are sometimes missing in a mostly urban setting. Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, is a perfect destination for an aspiring political science student curious about our local politics, and can be reached by one of the most beautiful ferry rides in Canada.
For wine connoiseurs, Kelowna is the place to be, and Okanagan Lake is beautiful year-round. Vancouver is one of Canada's most vibrant hubs, and its benefits extend hundreds of kilometres around.
New residents and seasoned Vancouverites alike share the same feeling about the city: "No matter how much traveling I'll do in my years to come, I know that one day after graduation I'll be back to stay."