Can't say I'm fond of Irvine, the city (I grew up there). It's track housing and symmetry and not a lot more. On the plus side, Irvine is in the middle of Orange County, which means you're 10 minutes from the beach, 10 minutes from Disneyland, about an hour from San Diego and a couple hours from Los Angeles. But UCI is a pretty great school, and since you got invited to CHP, I'd give it some serious thought. They seem to give a lot of personal attention to CHP kids, so if I had a choice between going to Harvard as a regular undergrad and UCI through CHP, it wouldn't be difficult for me to choose UCI.