Perception of UC Santa Cruz

I was accepted into computer science at UCSC. I basically applied to all UCs and was accepted at UCM and UCR. I was denied at UCD, UCSD and have not heard from UCI. Frankly, my hopes are not high for UCI or UCSB after seeing how tough and unpredictable UC admissions have been this year. I had considered UCSC, UCM and UCR to be safety schools and honestly thought I would get admission to UCD or UCI. I also got into UIUC and UW.

Many of my friends who only applied to the higher ranked UCs have literally no acceptances. They are stunned. At this point I feel grateful to have a spot at UCSC. However, I find that no one even talks about UCSC that much and it does not seem to be that recognized. Am I wrong? To give some background, I live in the bay area just 45 minutes from UCSC but hardly anyone in my school even had UCSC on their radar or would have considered going there in the past. The only students who went there were those who could not get into any other UC or private and did not want to go to community college. I am not putting down UCSC. I am just being honest in the perception of UCSC in my circle of friends.

Is UCSC perceived higher from other parts of the country or state? I know it is not a high ranked UC but it is not that low either.

I have not visited UCSC in person yet, but obviously plan to. I want to feel good about where I go and be proud. I also don’t want to pay so much money on a UC degree that is looked on as being inferior by others and future employers.

Am I overthinking this too much and is UCSC a decent college? Would like to hear some thoughts on this.

I have the same fears as you. I got into UCD and UCSD, and those are viewed as much more prestigious than my favorite, UCSC. I am from Southern California from a very white, rich neighborhood where most people think that anything below Stanford is a failure. That being said, I still am choosing UCSC over the others. It is still a UC, one of the most highly ranked public school programs in the United States. The prestige of the school means nothing if you try hard and make yourself stand out as an exceptional student. The programs that UCSC has available, especially in the scientific field, are better than many schools and if you take advantage of them, grad schools and employers won’t care that you went to a “lower tier” UC. Trust me, I have these anxieties too. But the pros of the school outweigh what people might think about it. I wouldn’t be happier anywhere else, so it is worth standing up to the mockery of my Berkeley accepted counterparts. Don’t listen to rank-- college is all about what you take from it.

Thanks for your thoughts. I agree that it’s what you make of it. Aside from the prestige factor I am wondering what student life is like and how the campus vibe is. I am very familiar with UCLA as my sibling attends. I love the campus there and the surrounding area is so rich in things to do, culture etc. There is a feeling of energy and vibrancy on the campus. It’s very positive and uplifting.

Obviously Santa Cruz is not LA, but what is the feeling on campus? From the little i’ve seen online, it’s mostly redwood trees and not much else on campus. Is there anything to do on campus? For example a nice recreation center like the ones at Davis and UCLA? The whole aura is very low key and mellow to me. Where do students go to have fun on weekends?

Obviously I may not be the best source because I am a prospective student like you, but from what I have heard and researched, the campus is very mellow. It is not a huge party scene-- go to UCSB if you want that. However, there are some parties on the weekends held at Porter or off campus in apartments. Also, there are so many clubs to join and opportunities that if you don’t want downtime on the weekends, that can easily be solved. But yes, the school is much more calm than some other schools. It is more of a kickback, hiking and chilling type of place and less of the"lets get drunk and jump off buildings" sort. But really you need to visit the campus to know for sure. There are recreation centers and lounges in the colleges themselves.

This is all coming from a girl who loves to just hang out and talk with friends, go hiking, sit and read rather than party at a frat house on the weekends. So I may be biased, but I am pretty sure that whatever suits your interests you could probably find it at UCSC. It’s such a large and diverse school that lots of activities are available, but the vibe is more low key than others.

As a current senior at UCSC it 100% depends on the person. Silicon Valley/San Jose is a 30 min drive away and there are tons of internship opportunities. As far as nationally is actually has one of the lower acceptance ratings and the computer science is one of the more highly rated programs (rated higher then UCD, UCSB, UCSD and UCI). It also has a really good genomics/bioinformatics programs (which CS people are highly sought after).

I know people(including myself) who got lots of internships/research experiences/did good in their class and are either working at big companies now like Google or Facebook or got into really good graduate schools. I also know people who just went home and played video games all summer and are having a much harder time finding good jobs or internships.

UCSC is a good enough university that if you apply yourself, you can go to any graduate school or get a job wherever you want. You certainly won’t be held back by any perceived lack of prestige.

Thanks everyone for the feedback. UCSC is starting to sound great. What colleges would you recommend for a CS freshman. I am not a partier, but I am not a bookworm either. I like video games, playing music, running. Want somewhere that is relatively close to classes in case of early classes. Many of the colleges sound decent.

Crown may be good for you. I’ve heard they are into gaming and are next to running trails (though like the whole campus is running trails) and near the center of campus. Check out the reddit /r/ucsc and the side bar has a review of all the colleges and also a link to the Class of 2020 FB page. Hope to see you this fall my fellow freshman slug :slight_smile:

I graduated in class of 1992. Had same issues. Got into several state colleges and only UCSC for the UC’s. There are 8 ‘colleges’ at UCSC each with their own identity. Crown was math and computerish. Kresge was ‘hippie. Porter was art. Stevenson (which I choose) was ‘Literature’/Bookish.’ You need to do a quick visit of each but you will get the ‘vibe’ real quick. I was able to do many internships–including a field study in Hawaii for a quarter. Did a final internship with US Forest Service in New Mexico. I was an environmental studies major. Got a job with California State Parks right out of college in Santa Cruz, in my field. Later when people ask what college you went to they hear the UC part loud and clear. So no worries being ‘lower tiered’ . And to be perfectly honest coming from rural Paso Robles I saw the view from Stevenson College of the Bay and that sealed the deal.

It is good that you check in even after so many years after college and sharing with us. Thanks.

Ah . . . how things have changed! Perception vs. Reality. In 1975, when I graduated near the top of my class from West Torrance High School in Southern California, I applied to only two schools, both UCs: Santa Cruz and Santa Barbara. Got into both. I went with Santa Cruz. Granted, I didn’t do much research; I simply knew that I wanted an “alternative” school, a place that wasn’t status quo, a school that might challenge commonly accepted notions of how things are supposed to work.(OK, I also liked the Redwoods and the ocean.) For one thing, at the time, UCSC had no grades, “only” narrative evaluations. I can tell you this: I learned a lot from the in-depth, often three hundred or more word evaluations of my performance in each class.

Today, my son has finished his second year at Santa Cruz. His G.P.A. is 3.9. But because he wants to live in a large city, and because he worries about UCSC’s prestige, he applied to Northeastern, to a very competitive music program at NYU, and to Fordham in NY. He was accepted, with a generous financial aid package to both Northeastern and to Fordham. Furthermore, his girlfriend at Santa Cruz, with a slightly lower G.P.A., got accepted to NYU though he did not. (She applied to the school at large, not to a specific school within the school.)

Myself, I went on from Santa Cruz and worked as a reporter in Los Angeles, side by side graduates of UC Berkley, Tufts, and Penn State. Later, I got a scholarship and graduated Magna Cum Laude from the Berklee College of Music in Boston. I spent a number of years as a professional musician and also taught English on the side at a private Junior College. Later, I worked for the City University of New York before attended graduate school at Columbia University where I earned an M.F.A. in Writing. While in the grad writing program at Columbia, I studied side by side with students from Yale, Harvard, U of Madison, and other great schools. UC Santa Cruz never held me back, nor did it hold me back when I won a Fulbright Fellowship to do research in Tel Aviv, Israel, or have three musicals produced off-Broadway.

But today, with increased anxiety about “getting a good job” and about “networking,” I understand the worry many students have about choosing Santa Cruz. All I can say is I agree with those above who have mentioned that it isn’t where you go as much as what you do with your opportunities. (This is not to say that Santa Cruz doesn’t have many top-notch departments, some of the best in the world.) Forgive me if I’ve gone on too long.