Location: Santa Barbara, California
Size: 18,977 undergraduate students
Percent Women: 53%
Tuition (one year): $13,746 in-state; $36,624 out-of-state
Most Popular Majors: Social Sciences; Biological and Biomedical Sciences; Psychology; Physical Sciences; and Communication
Greek Life: Yes
Acceptance Rate: 44%
For more information about financial aid, scholarships, majors, study abroad, and average test scores, visit University of California, Santa Barbara's website at http://www.ucsb.edu/.
Why Choose UCSB?
"I chose UCSB because I liked the classic university campus feel. I automatically felt a welcoming community of students when I toured UCSB. Everyone was smiling and so approachable. Plus the campus was literally on the beach. I saw students tanning at the beach in between classes! I was looking for a college with quality academics and an upbeat and welcoming environment--and UCSB gave me both!"
"I chose to go to UCSB because I knew that I would be happy here. There is such a positive energy on and around campus. The beach is easily accessible, the San Ynez mountains are gorgeous, and everybody is constantly doing something worthwhile. UCSB has all of the benefits of a long vacation with the addition of stimulating courses to study."
"I chose UCSB for the location as well as the lifestyle that comes with living by the beach. I knew from the first visit that this was the college for me. The people couldn't be friendlier or more easy going; and you absolutely cannot beat the location."
"It's one of the only schools in the country with its own private beach! I chose this school because of its beauty and friendly atmosphere. My cousin graduated from UCSB in the early 2000s, and my closest childhood friend began attending a year before me, so I was familiar with the campus and had already fallen in love."" I chose UCSB for the beach, nice climate, social reputation, the overall laidback, Cali vibe, and fit and healthy culture. In addition, UCSB is a prestigious research school, gave me ample financial aid, and the communication department is amazing, with a relevant emphasis on media."
"Location, location, location!!! The best part about UCSB is the weather and beach environment. There is always something fun and active to do at UCSB--surfing, hiking at sunset, tanning at the beach, or biking! There is always something to look forward to on campus, like the on campus farmers market every Wednesday and our annual Spring Quarter Extravaganza Concert (aka Coachella at UCSB). We've had Iration, Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar, and Dada Life! Our school gym is amazing--we have a rock climbing wall, private stretch rooms, personal trainers, and yoga classes."
"I love the beach, the weather, the homes. Having your entire college town be a mile long, you truly get to know everyone and it makes college feel like home. We also have some awesome events and activites like, couch burning, day parties, Deltopia, Halloween, and floating out in the ocean.""I love that there is always something to do at UCSB. The student body is very active. You will see people biking from class with surfboards.The students at UCSB are very friendly. Nobody ever looks upset or gloomy. It's hard to be depressed when the weather is so nice.The faculty at UCSB is phenomenal. In addition to five Nobel Prize winners, UCSB's faculty includes many elected members or fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.""I love the social scene at UCSB. For me, coming to school here was not just about learning in a classroom, but about learning in the real world. The experiences, friendships, and professional connections I have made here far outweigh the benefits of studying film theory and history. It's the people I have met and befriended that will help me advance my professional career after college.""I love walking to the beach, being in a sorority, looking forward to my classes, meeting all of the friendly people, going outside and being active, and biking around campus and IV. We have great events such as, Halloween, Deltopia, and the quarterly Undie Run!"
"Honestly the worst parts of UCSB would be the big classes and lectures I've been in. It's easy to feel like the professors don't know who you are, especially if you don't take advantage of office hours and make an effort to introduce yourself. Not all classes are overwhelmingly huge, and if you make an effort to introduce yourself to professors, they are always helpful and happy to talk."
"There is never really a quiet moment living on DP. In addition, living with SBCC students that are on a different schedule doesn't always work out. Studying in your room is not an option when there are parties going on all around you."
"The downside of going to UCSB is that everybody assumes you spend all of your time partying or playing drinking games at the beach. Many of the students at UCSB are social extroverts and it can be a struggle to find the appropriate balance between being a social butterfly and being a bookworm. Because there are always events around campus, it's common to have FOMO (the fear of missing out)."
"Isla Vista has its perks, but the utter disregard in the planning of this community causes a lot of stress. I have to search for street parking much longer than I would like to every day; and rent is exorbitantly expensive for subpar living quarters (most of the time).""We need a football team...and a Target!"
New Collegiette on Campus
"My first year at UCSB was very fun and very different from high school. Like any college, you have to learn how to manage your time to fit in social life and academic life. It feels way bigger than high school. Almost all freshmen live in the dorms, so you are constantly meeting new people! Orientation is a weekend at UCSB in which you stay in the dorms with another incoming freshman, get tours of the campus, attend a mock college lecture, attend info sessions about greek life/college life/safety with alcohol and drugs, meet your new classmates and hang out! It's super easy to sign up for a campus tour before orientation and I definitely recommend it. You really get to feel if the campus is right for you. First years usually stay together because they end up taking the same general education requirement classes together, and, of course, share the same dining halls and dorms."
"During your first year, you live in the dorms and it separates you from Isla Vista. You're able to really focus on your studies when you live on campus. (I didn't really go to orientation..) It is definitely easy to get to know upperclassmen--Isla Vista is so small, which really blends the grades together."
"It is SO much fun! I never wanted to go home my freshman year and rarely got homesick. The majority of freshmen live in on-campus dorms. During orientation, you get meals in the dining commons, stay the night in the dorms, learn more about the school, and take tours. First-years mostly stick together, but everyone is very friendly, outgoing, and helpful here.""Most freshmen live in university housing (the dorms) their first year. Each dorm has a separate reputation and accommodations. First years typically live with other first years--it's common that they stick together. However, there is no giant stigma against freshmen at UCSB, so it's easy to expand friend groups beyond class level. Orientation is recommended for freshmen. It's a weekend-long event held on campus. Students stay overnight in a dorm with an assigned roommate, and for many, this is their first time in a dorm or first time eating in a dining common. Orientation is led by older students who act as guides to put on social events, but also to answer any questions about student life, choosing classes, or declaring majors.""First year is amazing, crazy, hilarious, and stressful. Being thrown into a building with complete strangers after living with your parents your whole life is terrifying, but it leads to some of the most amazing experiences you will ever have. Orientation is jam-packed with tours and seminars that allow you to see all facets of life at UCSB. I even made close friends that weekend.""Most freshman tend to stick together, but going Greek helps you meet girls of all ages that you will create extremely close bonds with. Clubs, such as Excursion Club, also help freshies make friends with older people."
All About Academics
"The most popular majors would be Communication, Biological Sciences, Psychology, and Economics. The workload is doable if you stay on top of your work as soon as the quarter starts and don't start off on a bad foot! As a Communications major, I write a lot of essays that mix what we learn in class to what is happening in society today. It is never boring because what I learn in my major is actually relevant to everyday life. Every student has an advisor based off of their major as well as peer advisors that are always available for advice or just to talk about stress. Course registration is all online, and goes by seniority of undergraduates and how many course units you have (a lot of units carry over from AP high school classes!). I almost always get the classes I want; and when I am on a waitlist for a class, I get into the class most of the time! The library is a major study place for all students because there is a ton of study space (8 floors!). Students like to study at the local coffee shops right next to campus that open early and close late."
"Environmental studies is incredibly popular, as well as Biology. Course registration is relatively stress-free. I have never had an issue adding a class; however, fulfilling requirements was annoying. Some of the courses are pointless, such as Geography of Surfing. Most people study in the library--it's not too shabby when you have an ocean view."
"Popular majors include: Biology, Chemistry, Communication, Econ/Accounting, Sociology, and Psychology. The workload is manageable, but can be overwhelming at first, coming from high school. There are advisors for every major and college department. The advisors are very helpful, but you have to seek them out. Course registration or "passtimes" can be stressful because classes fill up quickly, and you have to stalk the class registration database sometimes to get an open spot. People study everywhere--outside, at the University Center, but mostly at the library. People don't spend a ton of time at the library; but, during finals week, it gets really crowded. The library has 8 floors--the first being the "loudest" and the eighth being 'silent.'"
"The College of Letters and Science is the largest college at UCSB, comprising of 90 majors and 17,000 undergraduates. The workload increases as your years progress at UCSB. Upper-division classes typically have more work than lower-division classes. However, some majors have larger workloads than other majors. A literature major, for example, could have to write a first draft of a novel. There is always an opportunity to partner with faculty to assist with research.”
“UCSB prides itself on being a research institution, so these types of research opportunities are not limited to only graduate students. Course registration is easy. Students are given a registration date and time to sign up for classes. Registration dates are settled based on how many units a student has completed; however, honors students, engineers in the College of Engineering, and students in the College of Creative Studies always have early registration times. The weather is usually very nice in Santa Barbara, so it's not uncommon to see students studying outside. The library is a popular place to study. There are 24-hour study rooms and a snack bar that's accessible to students during open hours. As you go up the floors of the library, the level of sound decreases, as the 8th floor is the most quiet place to study."
"The workload is relatively large, but it is typically even heavier for science majors. There is a great amount of counseling services (egg chair, counselors, EOP) available at UCSB. C.L.A.S offers free tutoring classes that fit into your schedule to solely help you on one subject (small classes typically). There are writing workshops, in which other students and staff review an essay/rough draft/give you criticisms to improve your written. Course registration is not the best--you need to hover over the class you want 24/7 to see if a spot opens up. G.E classes are interesting! Library ALWAYS has people in it, so you're never alone in there. Hot study spots include: Starbucks, Caje, Silvergreens, SRB, Library, Mosher Alumni House, and Residence hall lounges."
Learn From The Best
“If you ever have a chance to take a class with Cynthia Stoll, DO IT! She is the most approachable, funny, and passionate professor in the Communication Department. She really takes the information in the class and makes it interesting and relevant to students. My favorite classes have been my Social Networks class for my Communications Major and my Health and Wellness class in the Education Major. Office hours are never a bad choice and always encouraged by professors, but a lot of time students are too shy to go.”
“In the sociology department, the Baldwins are the best professors. They are a married couple that teach Human Sexuality, and make every lecture captivating, to say the least!”
“The most popular Communication professor is Dolly Mullin. She teaches all of the prerequisite Communication courses. I really liked my Communication 1 course with her. People don't really go to office hours that much unless a paper is due or if they have a question.”
“It's a very good idea to go to office hours. A lot of these classes are large lectures, so it's important to take the time to make yourself known to the professor. Even if you have a handle on the material, and don't have any questions, professors still love to chat about relevant topics. Every professor will hold office hours.”
“The best professors and classes are Human Sexuality, taught by the Baldwins, and Film/TV Hisotry and Creative Labor, taught by Michael Curtin. Classes tend to be analytical and theory based. My favorite classes are: Porn culture, Creative Labor, and Human Sexuality. Tons of people go to office hours in the film department, and often even go to just chat with Joe Palladino, our undergrad advisor.”
Interests and Involvements
"There is every kind of club on campus that you can imagine. I have friends in the Ice Skating Club, American Marketing Association, Greek Life, The Daily Nexus (UCSB school newspaper), and sports teams. I even joined a club once that sold gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches to raise money for children in Third World countries. Being in a club in college introduces you to great people who you would never have crossed paths with. You meet a bunch of people with different experiences and stories."
"I've been involved in HerCampus for under a year, but it has been a great way to get to know people. I've learned a lot, and it's amazing coming to meeting and hearing how creative and talented my team members are."
"UCSB Office of Student Life handles outreach and clubs. Clubs can range from Greek Life, to Community Service, to Health and Wellness. The UCSB Excursion Club is a popular club that deals with everything outside. Members of this club frequently go together on hikes, camping trips and they host really fun parties."
"People participate in: sororities/fraternities, surf club, sports clubs, political clubs, and intramural sports. At the Recreational Center, you can sign up for intramural sports and try out for many of the club sport teams. The club sport teams tend to be pretty competitive and fun here."
"I played club volleyball and also play intramural volleyball. My club volleyball team went to Nationals in Dallas, Texas in 2013 and took 2nd place out of all of the college club volleyball teams in the nation. It is very easy to start your own club--just need other people and an advisor!"
“There is every kind of club on campus that you can imagine. I have friends in the Ice Skating Club, American Marketing Association, Greek Life, The Daily Nexus (UCSB school newspaper), and sports teams. I even joined a club once that sold gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches to raise money for children in Third World countries. Being in a club in college introduces you to great people, with whom you might never have crossed paths. You meet a bunch of people with different experiences and stories.”
“Soccer is our biggest sport, seeing that we lack a football team. The games are always exciting; and tortillas are constantly being thrown into the air. Intramural and club sports are popular and a fun way to exercise with your friends!”
“Soccer is the most popular, but the entire school usually only attends the rivalry soccer game (UCSB vs. Cal Poly SLO). Intramurals are extremely fun! Grab a group of friends (around 6) and start your own team to compete with other groups of friends. Club sports are intense and hard to get into!”
“We are well-known for our soccer team! They are studs ;) It is popular to attend soccer games and throw tortillas on the field because our mascot is the gaucho, an Argentian cowboy. Our school offers intramurals and club sports. There is a separate athlete culture—all of the D1 athletes hang out with each other and carry around blue backpacks with their sport name on their backpack. Whenever I see a backpack, I turn around to see what sport he or she plays.”
“There is no football team at UCSB, but that doesn't stop Gauchos from being sports-oriented. Soccer is a major sport at UCSB and much of the university gathers to attend their games. The local pizza parlor will host pre-gaming events to accommodate the school spirit. UCSB has many intramural and club sports; and they're very easy to join. The skill levels vary, so students of any skill are invited to participate. If you ever wanted to take up a sport, chances are there's a club you can join. There are even classes you can register for through UCSB and receive credit and units for practicing your sport.”
“The girls in Isla Vista could be described as free spirits—it's not uncommon to see girls walking around in public in just a bathing suit or a cover up.”
“Girls wear Lulu Lemon yoga pants, Rainbow flip-flops, and tank tops for the majority of the year. Girls also wear sundresses, shorts, combat boots, and green army jackets. There is a Feminist Studies Program. There are more women than men here; and it can be a bit overwhelming at frat parties, where the ratio of girls to guys is 3:1.”
“UCSB has a Women, Gender, & Sexual Equity Department in the Student Resource Building. The mission statement is to use ‘a feminist approach to provide support, advocacy, resources and education to the UCSB community.’ UCSB offers a Feminist Studies major and minor that's ranked top in the United States.”
“The women's resource center is nice, quiet, and friendly. There are many Feminist Studies courses that are offered. Girls often wear comfortable clothes—workout clothes are especially popular. However, there are also many stylish girls around. Living in I.V. as a woman can be dangerous if you walk alone at night because sexual assault is not uncommon. Traveling in groups is a must living here; and you have to be VERY careful at parties with drinking, etc..”
“Being a girl on campus definitely increases levels of insecurity, only because everyone else is fit, tan, and healthy, so, by contrast, you feel the complete opposite. However, it's a good motivator because the healthy culture is contagious and inspires you to adopt a better lifestyle. There are Feminist Organizations on campus and the Feminist Studies major offers interesting classes. The Women's Resource Center in SRB holds events often as well.”
Food & Drink
“UCSB has 4 dining halls: Portola, De La Guerra, Ortega, and Carillo. Carillo has, hands down, the best food, with Ortega and De La Guerra tied for second. Portola (also known by students as Por-Toilet) is notorious for bad food, so STAY AWAY! DLG (famous for where Jack Johnson met his wife) has delicious Mexican food. My personal favorite dish at Ortega is their pesto artichoke pizza. Only freshman go to dining halls. Upperclassmen go to restaurants around campus in Isla Vista or cook their own food. There are so many places to eat right next to campus or on campus. My personal favorites are Jamba Juice, the famous Mexican restaurant Freebirds (famous for their nachos and quesenachorito), and Crushcakes.”
“There are 4 dining commons: 3 on campus and 1 located in FT (off-campus freshmen housing). I personally loved the food at DLG (an on-campus dining common). DLG really makes an effort to reach all students’ needs. I'm lactose intolerant, which makes eating at a buffet pretty difficult, but the dorms always had options that were suitable for me. Most students only have access to the dining commons freshman year; however, you are certainly able to buy meal plans all four years. Most people eat in Isla Vista at Freebirds or one of the other Mexican restaurants.”
“The dining hall food is really good! They always have fresh and local fruit and vegetables. DLG is my favorite dining common, and Carillo is a close second. People generally only go to the dining commons their first year, but what I would do to swipe into the dining commons now! I miss the food from time to time. There are a bunch of restaurants and fast food options really close in Isla Vista and on campus. To name a few: Hana Kitchen, Freebirds, IV Drip, Crushcakes, Pizza My Heart, Panda Express, Subway, Wahoo's Tacos.”
“UCSB has four dining halls: De La Guerra (commonly called "DLG" and referenced in a Jack Johnson song), Carrillo, Ortega, and Portola. DLG is most notably known for it's late night menu that offers an array of munchies for night-owl students (open until 12:30 a.m.).”
“The food is delicious—always something new! The dining commons are vegan/vegetarian friendly! My favorite places to eat on campus are Ortega dining hall and Subway. There are mini kitchens with stoves and microwaves inside every residence hall—good for cooking, baking, and heating up food. The best meals are: pizza at Carrillo; fish, waffle bar, taco bar, mac & cheese, sundae bar at Ortega; and authentic Mexican food at DLG. The restaurants/fast food places on campus are: Dominoes, Roots, Panda Express, Subway, Wahoo's, Woodstock's, Hot Dog Stand at the Arbor, Jamba Juice. The restaurants in Isla Vista (near campus, still walking distance) are: The Habit, Super Cuca's Restaurant, I.V. Drip, Sweet Alley, Pita Pit, Sushiya, Deja Vu, Nan Stop, Rosarito's, Buddha Bowls, Silvergreens, Hana Kitchen, Pho Bistro, Sam's To Go, Gio's, South Coast Deli, Sorriso Italiano, Angry Wings, Pizza My Heart, Woodstock's, Blenders, and Food Co-op Café.”
(Freebirds' famous nachos)
“On the weekends, people are usually studying, going to the beach to surf or tan, exploring downtown Santa Barbara, or going out at night with friends. Frats throw parties every weekend; and they are pretty popular with students. Freshmen and sophomores can be found at frats; and juniors and seniors tend to go to their friends' houses and avoid the huge frat parties. Alcohol and drug use is very common at UCSB. There is pressure to go out every weekend with friends. There are a lot of music shows and concerts in the Santa Barbara area that are alternatives to the Isla Vista drinking scene. When you go out, everyone is open to meeting new people and are always friendly to people at parties. There are parties during the week, especially "Wine Wednesday," which is a popular day in Santa Barbara.”
“Isla Vista has a huge social scene. We have a reputation for partying and certainly live up to it. Sororities and fraternities aren't incredibly popular—you can definitely stay in the social scene without being a member of Greek life. The social scene is pretty inclusive—parties are always open; and it’s definitely easy getting around since most parties occur on Del Playa (a street in Isla Vista that is practically on the beach).”
“People party, go to the beach, eat out, go shopping, and surf on the weekends. There are a lot of frat parties. Alcohol and drug use are prevalent. People aren't pressured to drink, but a lot of people do. Instead of drinking, you can go to the beach with friends, visit downtown State Street, make a trip to LA/Disneyland, or go for a hike in Montecito. People are very friendly and are open to meeting new people. Girls can basically get into any party, whereas it is more difficult for guys (especially with frat parties). People do go to parties during the week—Tequila Tuesday, Wine Wednesday, Thirsty Thursday. It is very easy to get around at night, as you can walk anywhere and never need to drive to a party.”
“The social scene is a big aspect of the UCSB culture. On a typical weekend night, you will find a parade of drunk students from both UCSB and SBCC walking up and down the streets of Isla Vista. The most popular destination is Del Playa, or "DP," a street with numerous house parties, where DJs play loud music and people dance. UCSB offers other events for students who don't participate in the party scene. These events include Laughology, movie screenings, and concerts at the Hub.”
“There are lots of parties. From Thursday to Saturday, there is always something happening. Greek parties are somewhat exclusive. Alcohol is very huge here. Freshmen generally go to DP. Campus hosts events on weekends for people who don't want to party. You can also go to downtown SB and shop. People are nice, but guys can be creepy. The social scene is pretty inclusive; and some people party during the week. It can be pretty loud in Isla Vista. Getting around is easy, but be very careful walking alone at night in I.V.”
“The dorms are better than you would imagine the typical dorm room to be. Rooms are spacious, with your own desk and closet. It's not uncommon to have a view of the ocean from your dorm window. Everyone in the dorms is always looking to meet other people. The first couple of weeks, people keep their doors open the first, so that people can introduce themselves. Freshmen can sign up to live on the Music Floor, Black Scholars Floor, Environmental Floor, etc. The dorms are safe because there is constant security, desk attendants, RAs, and campus security officers on duty. After freshman year, most people move to Isla Vista (right outside of campus) to get an apartment with their friends.”
“I lived in Anacapa on campus, which was a great experience. Being so close to my classes definitely helped my attendance in class. The dorms were incredibly safe, as keys were required for all access to the doors. Most people live in the dorms freshman year and move out to Isla Vista their sophomore year—which is what I did.”
“The dorms are nice—I would try to get on-campus housing because Santa Catalina is a bit of a bike ride. However, everyone always loves FT because of its social atmosphere, even though it is kind of far. You can pick a roommate or be randomly assigned. The dorms are very safe with a front desk person and access cards to swipe into the dorms. It is popular to live off-campus as a second year. The dorms have a bunch of bonding activities, such as midnight pancakes and ice cream socials.”
“Most dorms are located on campus, with the exception of Santa Catalina, which is located about a mile off campus. Students may request roommates or be randomly assigned to one or two. Most dorm rooms are doubles, but it's likely to be placed in a triple room, or to request to be in a single. Single-roomed dorm rooms are typically smaller than rooms designed for two or more people. Students need magnets to access entry into the dorms; and there's always a desk attendant, so students can feel safe and secure. It's common to seek off-campus housing as an upperclassman, but most freshmen live in dorms.”
“Dorms are social, as you're never alone and always busy. Dorms have lounges on every floor, which are a good place to study or hang out. There are also large recreation lounges within the dorms with pool tables, couches, and big screen TV. There are 8 residence halls (FT, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, Anacapa, San Miguel, San Nicolas, Manzanita, San Rafael). The dorms are safe, as RA's are always on duty at night. You're not required to live on campus the first year. It's popular to live off campus starting 2nd year. Dorms have plenty of events that are arranged by your R.A. to bond as a hall.”
Exploring Santa Barbara
“UCSB is about a 15-minute drive from downtown Santa Barbara. The bus comes onto campus to take people downtown too, which is convenient. Santa Barbara is a beachy town that has great food and great places to relax. The architecture looks like Spanish-style missions; and there are a handful of different beaches to go to. I love the fact that Santa Barbara is a big enough city, in which there are different activities to do, but there are still opportunities to do activities in nature, like hike Inspiration Point, watch the hot surfers at Hendry's Beach, or visit the Butterfly Preserve.”
“Downtown Santa Barbara is a much more adult scene. The clubs and bars are popular for upperclassmen on Thursday nights. The shopping is amazing on State St.; and the restaurants are perfect for dates. State St. offers a nice escape from the crazy scene in Isla Vista!”
“Santa Barbara is a lovely town right by the beach and is full of "newly weds and nearly deads." A lot of celebrities, including Oprah, live in Santa Barbara. Oprah came to visit the campus last year (2013); and it was awesome. Restaurants and stores populate Isla Vista; or you can venture down to State Street. Nightlife options are abundant on State Street; and parties are everywhere in Isla Vista. People do internships off-campus or have on-campus jobs.”
“The campus is a twenty-minute drive to Downtown Santa Barbara, where there are shops, restaurants, and bars. Students who are 21+ years old go to bars and will typically take Bills Bus (a service provided to students that picks up in Isla Vista and makes trips back and forth to and from downtown) to get there. There are also many hiking trail options in the San Ynez Mountains for students who enjoy the outdoors. The drive to these hikes can take ten to thirty minutes. UCSB is only 100 miles from Los Angeles, so it's possible to take day or weekend trips into the city.”
“The shopping center (Downtown Santa Barbara/State St) is 1 bus-ride away! The bus takes you directly to and from State St. There are fun 21+ clubs downtown. The best thing about the city is its "old town" feel and look. Buildings look like tourist attractions, rather than modernized, present-day buildings. The worst thing about Santa Barbara is that the closest Target is an hour away; and all of the alternatives to Target are expensive (a big no-no for college students).”
HC's Complete College Guide: University of California, Santa Barbara
Do you have a way with words? Apply to write for Her Campus!