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What I Wish I Knew Before Choosing UC Irvine

Are you a high school senior deciding whether UCI is the right fit for you? With the deadline for college decisions approaching, I know the stress that comes with being a senior in high school and having the pressure of deciding on a college where you will most likely be spending the next four years of your life can be. Around a year ago, I remember this one decision having so much control over me because of all the factors I needed to consider when deciding on a college. I also did not know much about the schools I got accepted to, let alone anyone already at UC Irvine or going to enter the same class as me. This fear of the unknown is what I felt stressed me out the most when it came to deciding on a school, and being accepted to UCI during a pandemic did not help ease the situation whatsoever. So, if you are in high school and considering UC Irvine to be the place you spend the next four years of your life, I want to share some facts about UCI that I wish I knew when making my decision.

The campus of uci
Original photo by Cindy Gonzalez

The Campus

If there is one thing that everyone should know about UCI, it’s that the campus has lost greenery and elements of nature that beautifully bloom in the springtime. At the center of our campus is Aldridge Park. Because UCI is essentially a circle, most departments surround Aldridge Park, making it simpler to navigate when finding classrooms. As we are in Orange County, the weather is, for the most part, relatively sunny while remaining fresh as we are somewhat near the coast. At UCI, students are provided with several resources to help them in both their academic and personal lives.. Close to campus, students are allowed access to a facility called the ARC, which is much more than just a massive gym full of equipment but has a lot of fun resources to try with friends like boxing, cooking, rock climbing, and many more classes. On-campus we have three Starbucks cafes, a food court with chain restaurants, a market with ready-to-go snacks, and many more dining services. 

Academics 

Because I am currently only a first-year student, I would like to mention that I have not had a complete experience of academic life here at UCI yet. Nonetheless, so far, my experience has been good. I have learned a lot from many different professors and will say that the learning experience comes from how they teach the lectures. However, whenever I have trouble understanding the lecture material, I always go to office hours! As a high school student, I had no idea what office hours were or how crucial they would be in my academic life here in college. But, I have discovered to use that resource more and take advantage of the extra support that most instructors happily provide. I know the word “professor” probably scares a lot of high school students, but let me ease that anxiety by saying that most professors are friendly and genuinely want you to learn and will therefore be supportive in any way they can be.

uci water tower
Original photo by Cindy Gonzalez

Social Life 

I know a lot of people are hesitant to come to college here at UCI because they hear that the social life is dead and want to choose a school that will not only educate them but can also be a fun new home for the next four years. I heard this a lot when it came to UCI, and at first, I was not so sure what “socially dead” meant, but I can now see why people say that about UCI. I am an introvert and crave alone time and privacy, and most of the time need those things to keep sane, especially here at college. So, for me, UCI being “socially dead” did not worry me too much as I do not depend on social interaction as much as an extrovert would. I will say that I do not want to leave the impression that UCI is the saddest school and that you will hate it and never want to leave your room because that is not true. Here, as well as in any college, you have to socialize to make friends.  There is Greek life, campus organizations, sports teams, and many other ways to get involved here at UCI that will hopefully please your social life as it has mine.

Housing 

As a first-year, UCI has two residential communities to choose from on opposite sides of campus, which makes it a little easier when deciding where to dorm your first year. I live in the Mesa Court towers close to the Arts and Humanities sides of campus. As the towers are the more modern places to dorm at UCI, my experience has been amazing and something I would recommend to incoming first-year students. Apart from the facilities that each housing community provides its students like fitness, mail, study rooms, etc., all residence halls do not have AC. If you decide to live on campus and dorm in a residence hall, you will also be required to have a meal plan which will give you access to the two dining halls on campus. In high school, I never enjoyed my school-provided lunches, so you could imagine how scared I was to have to be eating dining hall food my entire first year. Now that I have been eating the food for quite some time, I will say that the food is not bad and tastes like food. The dining halls always provide different options to fit the needs of student preferences, so there are always options to choose from when it comes to eating. 

ORange county

Our campus also has a University Town Center with many more food options, such as Chick Fil A, In-N Out, and Chipotle. There are also shopping stores like Target and Albertsons for easy access to buy the necessities when living away from home. In my experience, I would say that Orange County is a good distance from several “California attractions,” and we are surrounded by lots of places to go, eat, and experience. From campus specifically, we are a quick ride away from the beach, Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm, the zoo, and much more. Being in Orange County also puts us next to Los Angeles County, where there are many more places to explore. 

Now that I am here at UCI and somewhat settled into this new life that I have at school, I am proud of my decision to come to UCI and spend the next four years of my life and truly feel like this school can provide me with what I want out of my life and career. Even if you are not a high school senior about to commit to a college, I hope this article has allowed you to learn more about what the University of California Irvine can offer you.

Cindy Gonzalez

UC Irvine '25

Cindy is a first year at the University of California Irvine pursuing a major in English. When she is not studying, she likes to watch 2000's tv shows, get glammed up, explore OC, or watch the sunset with some good food.
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