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Hey Future Gaucho, Here Are 10 Reasons Why You Should Enroll In FSSP!

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCSB chapter.

You’re in! Welcome to the University of California, Santa Barbara!

As an incoming Gaucho, you’re probably looking to start familiarizing yourself with campus and its resources. What if I told you that there is a way to get to know campus without 24,000 people roaming around, getting in your way? 

The Freshman Summer Start Program, also known as FSSP, is hands-down the best way for you to become an expert of the campus, as well as the connected college town, Isla Vista (IV). You will be taking two classes, around eight units, during the summer Session B. During summer, the campus is pretty much empty, so you have the freedom to explore the campus before the rest of your freshmen peers, as well returning undergraduate/graduate students gets on campus in fall. If you are not convinced already, here are ten more reasons (+ myth busters) of why you should enroll in FSSP!

1. have an Established Group of Friends Before Everyone Else!

With roughly 800 incoming freshmen in attendance who are taking the same set of classes, FSSP is the perfect environment to make new friends. The community is like a small simulation of what regular school looks like, which makes meeting people less overwhelming. You will run into the same small group of people, making it easier to remember names and information about them. As the school year approaches the end, I see many friend groups formed from FSSP lasting through the rest of the school year and beyond!

The hidden thing about college is that this is your time to build your network. Connecting with as many people as possible from all walks of life will help you tremendously in the long run. Once fall quarter starts, you will be amazed at how many more people you can meet through a “mutual friend” from FSSP. Having these connections will set you up for success in GE (General Education) classes for the future — you will easily have anywhere from 4-12 people whom you know in the class to trade notes and support.

2. The Unique Dorm & Social Life

When it comes to socializing during freshman year, the saddest scenario is when you befriend a great friend who lives across the campus from you. However, that is totally not a problem when you are in FSSP! Everyone lives under the same roof, San Nicolas Hall, which is right across the street from the De La Guerra Dining Hall. Everyone whom you would meet, whether through parties, lectures, or on the street, will all be one elevator ride away. FSSP is also everyone’s first time living in college, so everyone is open-minded and eager to meet new people. Trust me, you will miss the part where you are five steps away from your bestie.

3. Fun FSSP Events and Activities

One of my favorite things about FSSP is that there are so many activities on Shoreline available for the students. Activities and events that would normally cost anywhere from $6 – $20 or more to attend in the regular school year are all free to sign up. My favorite event was the “Faculty Field Trip: Getty Villa in Malibu” where the Professor of Greek Mythology took a group of students down to the Getty Villa to see historical artifacts and learn about Roman history. Other events and activities include professional headshot sessions, lounge parties, and surfing classes… all free for you to explore!

4. Empty Lectures = Best Learning Experiences

Public schools like the UCs are notorious for their packed lecture halls… even with those huge 800 people auditoriums you can still struggle to find seats! However, during summer, the lecture halls are usually barely filled to 40%. The spacious classrooms provide a very chill and laid-back learning environment. This is a great way to start making connections with your professors, since there are not that many students in attendance. If you want to jump ahead, you can even reach out to the professors in your major classes and ask for opportunities.

5. Secure a Bike & Become a Bike Path Master

The unspoken right-of-way rule, the roundabouts, and bike locks… UCSB bike path is arguably the most meme-able place on campus because of all the traumatic experiences and accidents that take place regularly. The bike paths can be very intimidating, especially when it is peak rush hour with hundreds of students biking, zooming in and out of the lanes. This is why summer is the best time for you to learn all the paths and get used to them!

The IV Bike Boutique is also usually overflown with bikes during summer, sold from previous owners after the previous spring quarter. So, while you are living on campus over summer, you will be able to get all the best, cutest second-hand bikes before other freshmen come and snatch them up. 

6. Parties

UCSB is ranked as one of the top parties in America, and we live up to the name! Even though IV is pretty much a ghost town over summer, there are still parties happening at the regular locations with great DJs. The best part about partying during FSSP is that the parties are usually 70% filled with your FSSP peers, making it extra safe and fun. This is the best time for you to know the ins and outs of party culture at UCSB or make friends to participate in Panhellenic recruitment together!

7. You Won’t run out of dining hall options

This one is an ironic one. Throughout the summer, the only dining hall available to the FSSP students is the one right across from San Nicolas — De La Guerra (DLG). During the program, you will be placed on the 17 swipes meal plan, which is a substantial amount if you don’t usually eat three meals everyday. For all those 17 meals over six weeks, DLG will be your only option. However, the good thing is that it leaves you with Carillo (by Manzanita Village), Ortega (online takeout order by San Miguel Hall), as well as the fan favorite, Portola (by Santa Catalina), to explore in fall quarter. 

8. Get a Head start on Off-Campus housing search

The housing crisis at UCSB is, unfortunately, a real thing. Off-campus housing will generally be your best bet after your first year, and the leasing period for the following year starts as early as September. While you are on campus taking classes, you can go around Isla Vista and learn about the streets and hunt for available apartments. Start early so that you don’t need to stress about it around February.

9. Empty Gym & Beaches

Being a college girl means hitting the gym every week to build those glutes, stay toned, or get some cardio in. The recreation center could be an intimidating place though, especially if you don’t go on a regular basis at home. This is why having a less busy gym during summer can help you get started with your fitness journey without being intimidated. On top of that, August is the peak month for tanning and surfing. Even if you don’t know how to surf, the empty beach during summer sessions is your best environment to pick it up! 

10. learn how to take the bus

The Santa Barbara Metro Bus system can be confusing. Knowing which bus to take, which direction it is heading, and when to get off requires trial and error. But, you’re in luck! You will have your school ID a few days into the summer session, and you can ride the bus for free with it. From a shopping spree at Target to ice cream dates in Downtown to spontaneous trips to In-N-Out, the bus will be your best friend.

Myth Busters

Myth: People who do FSSP are not fun because they’d rather take classes than enjoy summer.

This is exactly what I thought to be true going into FSSP, along with many others who signed up for the program. However, this cannot be far from the truth. The freshmen students that make up the FSSP body are mainly out-of-state people whose friends from hometown are already in school, in-state kids who are academically motivated, and also international students who are looking to get to know the campus early. All of these categories of people are sociable, down-to-earth, and fun. I met most of my FSSP friends through parties who later rushed to join Greek Life after. I was able to meet and get along with tons of people by the end of the program.

Myth: FSSP will take away my fun, relaxing summer before college.

The class load of FSSP is light compared to the regular school year. You are most likely to be taking two GE classes or perhaps one GE with one pre-major requirement. This leaves you a good chunk of down-time to make friends and explore life as a college student. The classes will help you build your credits, so that you can graduate early, add a double major/minor, or study abroad. The moral of the story is, you will certainly not miss out on the fun. 

In short, FSSP is your golden ticket to becoming a UCSB master in just a few short weeks. You will make lifelong friends, conquer the bike paths, and score the sweetest off-campus digs before anyone else. FSSP is a once in a life time experience that will lead to an epic college experience. So what are you waiting for? Enroll now!

Katy Tseng an editor for UCSB's chapter of Her Campus. She is a first-year Statistics and Data Science major. Her articles mainly revolves around data-driven observations in pop-culture, fashion, sports, and entertainment. Originally from Taiwan then moved to San Diego, Katy is excited about learning and exploring to expand her horizon. In her free time, she enjoys watching sports, reading, and updating her Pinterest boards.