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Why I Chose UCSB Over Cal

When I decided to go to UCSB instead of Cal, my parents and close friends were supportive of my choice. They trusted my decision and wanted me to go to a school that I believed was a best fit for me. Gaining the support of some of my extended family and other important people in my life, however, was a bit more difficult - many thought I was crazy to pass up the opportunity to attend one of the most prestigious public universities in the country. As a transfer from a community college in the San Francisco Bay Area, I felt proud of myself for being admitted to two amazing universities that I originally didn’t get into straight out of highschool. I knew that whichever path I chose, it would determine a different outcome for the rest of my life. After much consideration, I ultimately went with the option that I was most excited about and where I saw myself thrive the most. Here are some reasons that led me to choose UCSB over UC Berkeley:

Either way, I was bound to be successful

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This was a huge helpful reminder when facing this decision. Even though UCSB was labeled as the “party school” and Cal was “the hard school,” your experience at either are what you make of it. Both schools have amazing programs, professors and opportunities that provide you with the tools you need to succeed during your education and after you graduate. Despite the stereotypes, I would not consider UCSB, or any other college education for that matter, easy by any means. College is about learning and challenging yourself and I’ve done exactly that in these past 2 years. My experience at UCSB has definitely put me on the road to success and I’m sure Berkeley would have done just the same.  


Location also played a big factor in my decision. Because I’m from the Bay Area and have lived 30 minutes away from Berkeley my whole life, it felt too close to home. I wanted to take this opportunity to live somewhere new. What better way to do this than by moving to a beautiful place like Santa Barbara?

There is literally nothing like Isla Vista

I could write 5 full articles just about how unique the tiny town of Isla Vista is. I remember visiting friends here for the first time a few months before I got my acceptance and absolutely fell in love. In a community that is almost exclusively college students, everyone is laid back and making friends is a breeze. Now as a Senior living on Del Playa drive, I get to wake up every morning to an ocean view from my balcony and fall asleep to the sound of waves crashing the shore. Not to mention that all of my friends live, at most, a 10 minute walk away. What other school can provide that?!

Competitive vs collaborative

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Some people shine in highly competitive environments and I agree it offers you the chance to step out of your comfort zone and can be very beneficial. While I do enjoy a competition, I definitely consider myself to be more productive in collaborative environments. While competitiveness definitely exists at UCSB, I’ve experienced more of a collaborative vibe when interacting with my classmates. I’ve made friends in each class who are eager to compare notes, study for exams, discuss readings, and overall be helpful to one another. This teamwork oriented style of learning has definitely pushed me personally to succeed in the same way someone who excels through competition might succeed.

While Berkeley could have been just as an amazing experience, academically and socially, as Santa Barbara, I am more than happy with my decision to attend UCSB. I feel confident with the way I’ve used my time here and am excited for my next step in life as I graduate in a few months.

Stacia is a fourth-year Global Studies major with a love for traveling, sunsets, singing, hiking and her dog Liza. She is from Marin County and is always looking for new places to explore and restaurants to try.
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