College Decision Time: A visit to UC Santa Barbara

It’s getting down to the wire for Jeff’s college decision. The schools which are still in the running (I think) are (in no particular order) Willamette, UC Santa Cruz, UC Davis, UC Santa Barbara, Tulane, and the University of Oregon, though he hasn’t given anywhere (UC Riverside and American) an official “no” yet.

We spent yesterday at UCSB’s “Spring Insight”, a one-day open house where they try to have people available to answer your questions and, I guess, limit the disruption to normal activities.

Things I learned about UCSB:

  • Political Science is a somewhat impacted major. History isn’t. In History, AP credits can be used to place out of at least some survey classes, or you can use them as general credits and take the surveys.

  • UCSB offers many orientation sessions throughout the summer, so planning vacations should be no problem.

  • Academic advising is done at both the college and the major levels. A lot of it is done by students (at least at the college level), and you have to pursue it because it may not be required. You should do it at least once a year.

  • Housing is only guaranteed for the first year; most students move off-campus by third year (and a good many move for second year). If you live on-campus, you must have a meal plan (10, 14, and 19-meal options are available) which is good at any of the four dining commons but is not good at the restaurants in the University Center. The dorms (at least the one we saw) have tiny kitchenettes on each hall. Many of the dorms are actually off-campus. Dorms are co-ed by hall; bathrooms are single-sex.

  • Bike theft is the big crime on campus (we were told about it three separate times!). This is the first campus we’ve visited without security callboxes all over the place; they have a well-used escort service.

  • Wireless access is spotty on campus, though they hope to build it out. The library is not 24-hours, but there is a 24-hour study room (often used for groups) on the ground floor of the library.

  • Greek life is a major part of the campus but not dominant.

  • Although UCSB is supposed to have a stunning campus, I wasn’t terribly impressed by the buildings. The view of the lagoon was nice, but that was about it.

  • For future visitors to a Spring Insight event: 7,000 visitors tax the campus pretty severely.

    • It’s best not to follow the herd to parking but to find the first available lot and park. We bailed out on the long line leading to the closest structure and went back to Lot 18; it probably saved us ten minutes of bumper-to-bumper traffic and was only a few steps farther away.

    • We made the mistake of trying to have lunch in the University Center at Panda Express. We spent 45 minutes in line. It would probably have been faster to walk to Isla Vista (which we didn’t get to see) and eat at one of the restaurants there.

Next stop: UC Davis.