Santa Clara University vs UCSB

I have been spending the last week or so struggling with my college decision between Santa Clara and UCSB. I was admitted to both schools of arts and sciences with an Undeclared major. When I visited both schools, I thought both campuses were very beautiful but was specifically drawn to UCSanta Barbara because of the ocean, the cute neighboring town(isla vista), and the biking aspect. I think that party-wise, from what I know, they both have a fun party scene with greek life and bars at both (feel free to comment if otherwise). I also have a scholarship from a separate organization so cost isn’t a big factor. I initially was accepted to Santa Clara in December and was admitted off the UCSB waitlist about a week ago. So i was pretty set on Santa Clara and got to know a bunch of future students. I will write a list of my pros and cons for both schools:
-on the beach and walking distance from hikes
-lots of people to meet
-more diverse
-isla vista and downtown santa barbara right nearby
-very good environmental studies program
-more independent(also a con, see below)
-no business majors (besides Econ) and I may be interested in studying business
-very big classes
-hard to get classes you want
-I don’t know anyone there
-more independent/ less help/hand holding

Santa Clara:
-smaller classes
-more attention from teachers
-nicer dorms and campus upkeep
-I know some people there
-offer business majors if I wanted to switch schools as well as minors I can take from the college of arts and sciences
-more familiar faces(smaller population)
-higher graduation rate
-less people
-hikes/ beach are a car drive away
-less diverse
-less “prestigious/well known”

If anyone has any input on either of the two schools, their academics, their environmental studies programs, their study abroad programs, the party scenes, nearby activities (hiking/biking/beach/shopping), differences in professors, or getting help after graduation with jobs/internships, please let me know!!

Another CON for UCSB: Housing is limited!

Another PRO for SCU: Great internships in Silicon Valley and study abroad programs.

These are 2 good schools. It looks like you’ve already given this a good deal of thought and have listed many of the salient differences.

I’d disagree with the “hard to get classes” part. UCSB has a 3-pass system for enrolling where at first you can only sign up for 3 classes to try to distribute them more equitably. As you rise in class standing your registration time becomes earlier in each pass. If you enroll in Honors you can get priority registration. Overall you may not get everything you want every quarter, but you’re not going to be shut out either.

Since housing has been brought up, UCSB has a program that guarantees 4 years of housing at but it is common for students to live in the dorms for a year or two and then either find an apartment in Isla Vista with friends or find a room with a friend in an apartment already rented but looking for new roomates since some people graduated. Some apartments overlooking the ocean stay in the same family for a decade with brothers and sisters passing thru and other roomates brought in to fill it up!

Not only is UCSB on the beach but it is one of the few college towns in CA. Your friends are going to be a walk or short bike ride away, the area right around campus is student dominated. Santa Clara is in the heart of the San Jose area so you won’t have that same “away at college” feeling, but from what I hear from friends who went there is that it is a close-knit school and there is a sense of commonality no matter what your major since they have a University Core Curriculum that is tighter than it is at a UC.

My perception is that Santa Clara is not “less prestigious or well known.” It seems to be a rising star in terms of west coast private universities and is becoming something of a mini-USC in that it is attracting a lot of money and new applicants compared to the past. It has been climbing in all the rankings over the past two decades. It seems to be shooting past the other west coast Catholic schools like Gonzaga, LMU, and USD in terms of endowment and selectivity when that didn’t used to be the case. For example, it now has double the endowment of both LMU and USD.

It is on my daughter’s list of schools to visit as she is still a year away. But from the perspective of an out-of-stater, I don’t think UCSB ranks higher than Santa Clara. Of course we many change our opinion if we ever get the chance to actually visit.

I’d be wary of the publics next fall. So far, both Cal and UCLA have announced that they are not guaranteeing housing for frosh and transfers (to improve social distancing), which they have done for decades. I would not be surprised to see the other campuses follow. Have you seen any announcement by UCSB?

btw: you missed one Pro for SCU: Jesuit education. (they do it right, IMO)

Looks like UCSB isn’t guaranteeing housing at this time:

Yep, I heard the same about housing from my daughter’s friend who is attending UCSB in the fall. That would make me nervous, but not enough to pass it up. I love the school, its location, and its academics. (although my daughter is passing it up)

My neighbor went to SCU and raves about. It’s also a beautiful campus, kind of like a mini Stanford. For me, it would be too small, but I like big schools. For others, you might feel lost at UCSB with larger classes in the first two years.

I think it has to do with what you want. Large with lots of opportunities, or small, with lots of attention.

Another thing I might be concerned about is the effect of the state budget on the UCs. Looks like there will be a $54 billion budget deficit and it will need to made up somehow. That means either tuition hikes, or cutbacks in services, and bigger class sizes. This, a year after the UCs and CSUs, were told to increase their admissions (thankfully so).

@sophiejp which one did you end up picking?!

UCSB is the better school academically, and unless there is a particular program offered at SCU not offered at UCSB, it probably doesn’t make sense paying more to attend SCU. I know the student has probably already selected by now…

@WildestDream: For an OOS applicant like @afahrer, SCU could more affordable than UCSB since the UC’s give little to no financial aid to OOS students so most OOS students should figure on paying full fees at UCSB. SCU does offer decent need-based and merit aid which could bring down the costs to an affordable level for the poster in question. @afahrer is applying for Fall 2021 admission.