University of California, Davis Visit Report by LostCoast
Visit to University of California, Davis in July 2010 by LostCoast(Parent of Student, HS Class of 2012)
(Member since June 01 2010 with 52 posts)
1 of 2 people found this visit report helpful
Campus Tour: Yes - Lots of walking (large campus), and didn't see inside too many buildings, but checked some out on our own afterward.
Friendliness/Courtesy of Students:
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Campus Visit Notes for University of California, Davis
My daughter and I apparently had different expectations when visiting, and neither were correct. She expected something very central valley-ish, open fields and relatively bare. Given the size of Davis, I was expecting something more like Berkeley or UCLA, with lots of large buildings packed together.
UC Davis is actually a very large campus in area, 5200 acres, though I suspect that includes some sites not on the main campus. Even so, the main campus is big. It has lots of trees, and so you don't get any sweeping vistas. Most of the buildings are not very large, nor packed tightly together. All of that means you really don't get a feeling of a huge campus, until you realize how much walking you've been doing in getting from one side to the other.
A bike would be invaluable for any student who has classes close together in time, but far apart on campus. A single-speed would probably be adequate, since the campus is quite flat. The only issue that we saw would be bike parking. We were there in July, when according to the tour guide only 25% of the regular student population was present. Even so, in many places a large fraction of the bike rack spots were taken. During the academic year, it might be difficult to find a spot to lock your bike.
The buildings run the gamut. A couple reminded me of high school buildings (some of the performing and visual arts buildings). Not that they were ugly, just the style reminded me of buildings and walkways at my old high school. There are also the usual Brezhnevian concrete buildings, interesting new buildings, and everything in between.
The tour didn't go inside any of the academic buildings, but they are open to see on your own. The ones that we poked our heads into seemed quite typical. Nothing remarkable, but neither were they anything you'd be depressed at the thought of spending four years inside of.
In addition to the academic buildings, there is a large, nice arboretum. It looked like a great place to catch some Sun while studying, and I could easily see myself spending a lot of time there if I were a student. The tour went straight there first thing out of the visitor's center, which I suspect was no accident.
The student recreation center is huge, and seems adequate for the student population. Our tour guide said that she had never had to wait long to get onto a machine. The machines look to be packed into every available space. It also has a large suspended running track, with a more interesting path than the usual rectangle. There also look to be tons of intramural and club sport activities, including fencing, a major plus as far as my daughter is concerned.
There isn't much for outdoor activities in Davis, but the Sierra Nevada are within 2 hours. As with most campuses, Davis has cheap rental prices for students for gear to go hiking, skiing, snowboarding, kayaking, biking, etc. and so the students can take advantage of the mountains. If they lack their own transportation, there are campus groups that go on activities.
The tour did not go inside an actual dorm room. The Tercero dorms (the newest ones, I believe) were open that day for separate viewing, but we missed the pre-lunch time and had to hit the road. From the outside, Tercero looks very nice. Gauging from the window spacing and peeking inside a couple from a distance, they look to be standard-sized doubles.
The tour did go through the dining commons at the Segundo dorms. Very large, and with a lot of options. Our guide is vegetarian, and said that she never has problems with the variety available to her. The Segundo dorms look like older, traditional long hallways with double rooms. Nothing fancy, nothing horrible.
After the freshman year, most students live off-campus in Davis. According to the tour guide, housing there is fairly easy to get, though it helps to do it early. She arranged hers at a housing fair the previous March. Bus service to campus is reasonably frequent and fast, you can get to campus within 15 minutes. Because Davis is small, you're never more than a few miles away, and many students apparently ride their bikes to campus rather than take the bus.
With the recent budget issues, getting classes is a worry for everybody thinking about UC. Our guide indicated that neither she nor anybody she knows has ever been unable to get a class that they needed. She said that you might not always get a class in exactly the quarter that you want, but you will get it. Of course, with the budget issues ongoing as of 2010, we'll have to see if that continues to be true.
She also said that it's not at all hard to change majors or even colleges once you're in. That's a serious consideration for my very undecided daughter.
Some people might also worry about the heat. We were there in July, and for the morning tour the temperature got into the low to mid-90's. Didn't seem that bad to us, though the humidity was higher than we're used to (maybe because they'd just watered all of the grass on campus, or at least it looked that way). A couple of folks on the tour were suffering, though. While this was July, based on my time in that part of the state you should expect some similar weather in the Fall and Spring.
Overall, we both felt very good after visiting Davis. It seems to be the right balance of large size, and so lots of offerings, without feeling too huge and impersonal. We'll need to look more deeply into some of my daughter's possible majors, such as the very popular biological sciences, to see if that's true everywhere. For the moment, though, it's easily my daughter's top choice.