Why is UC Santa Cruz less popular? CS at UCSC?

My son and I couldn’t tour but drove around UCSC right before the shutdown. UCSC is showing as a “safer” school for him for CS and he might potentially switch to a natural science major. We LOVED the beautiful campus and he doesn’t care about sport teams, etc and is not a partier (yet). Unfortunately the big teaching aide strike was going on during our visit. S has zero interest in crowded UCLA or Irvine and we are not sure about UCSD or UCSB (might only get in for bio at those).

I grew up close to Davis and we live fairly close to Cal Poly and both seem very inland / rural, plus UCSC is near Silicon Valley so another plus. I’ve heard that in general UCSC is great for CS, but graduate job placement does not seem good at all vs. the other mid-tier UCs. I also noted that UCSC sent a lot more acceptances last year (up 25%), so we are concerned about overcrowding and on campus housing.

Does anyone have thoughts about any of this?

UCSC has an outstanding CS program that’s well regarded in the tech community. I think the campus size and location are huge advantages when it comes to the quality of the education and student experience.

The weather and the town of Santa Cruz aren’t for everyone but, the kids I know who attend or have graduated LOVE it.

They are somewhat less selective than the other UCs you list but, he will still need UC GPA around 4.0 to be competitive. Many CSUs also have solid CS programs that are more accessible. Without his stats its hard to make meaningful recommendations - If he’s looking for smaller school, Chico is worth a tour.

Housing has been an issue for the last few years, so something he should consider and I agree with @NCalRent assessment of the location and campus advantages.

Regarding their CS program, it is highly regarded but a degree alone does not guarantee a job. Students need to apply their college course work towards having employable job skills through internships and additional electives and certifications.

My younger son did not attend a UC but a CSU which has a good CS program but it would not be considered a top program. His elective emphasis was on Cybersecurity. Through his internships (2) and doing some on-line certifications beyond his normal course work, he was able to secure a job easily post graduation. Applying his knowledge and job skills from his entry level job, he is now working at his “dream” job 2 years post graduation.

Taking advantage of all the opportunities available at any school will make the student employable especially for CS.

School name could help get you in the door of some employers, but it will come down to what kind of job skills can the individual bring to the company that will get them the job.

Best of luck to your son and make sure he applies widely for CS.

Unweighted GPA: 3.83
Weighted GPA: 4.58
Weighted and Capped GPA: 4.17

It could be a pinch higher as there might be another class with As that would be considered - I didn’t look up some of the electives.

Trying to get a test this fall to include. Has a few good AP scores to include. We are in So. Cal and he wants something cooler, so weather not an issue but actually a bonus. He’s also interested in natural science.

We are also looking at Santa Clara up there.

Thanks @Gumbymom yes are throwing the net pretty wide. I hope S gets through all of the essays.

Assuming he’s well rounded and submits competent essays, he’ll probably get into most of the UCs. UCSC should be a layup with his grades but, with lots of gap year kids and optional test scores, I think all the UCs will be really unpredictable this year -so you are wise to cast a very wide net.

CP SLO, SDSU, CPP and CSULB are all also worth applying and again, Chico if he’s looking for a smaller school in a college town. I’d also add a couple of privates like LMU and USD as good schools with a tendency to offer merit aid. (of course I don’t have to submit and babysit all those aps).

Thanks for your feedback. On paper, I think he has a good shot and his essays should be good. He’s light on leadership and national/regional awards or recognition. Loads of volunteer hours. I don’t like that you have to put your income into the UC app. Cal Poly is on the list. I wasn’t aware that USD had a good CS program.

I’m a retired programmer in the SF Bay Area. I don’t particularly like UCSC’s campus because it’s too much like an Ewok village, but otherwise I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it for a CS degree. Really, any of the UCs would be very good for CS.

UC Santa Cruz is still less popular to this day because people still think that Santa Cruz has a no pass/pass grading system and that everyone there smokes weed. Despite Santa Cruz having a traditional grading system and the weed stigma being completely outdated and wrong, people STILL believe these things are true. Back in 2010 when UC Santa Barbara was considered a bottom tier UC, people failed to look past its “party school reputation.” When people realized that UCSB is actually an amazing school outside of all the fun parties, UCSB skyrocketed in the rankings and became more popular. Now, in 2020, it’s considered to be one of the best UC’s. Something very similar will happen to UCSC, it’s just a matter of time. UCSC has one of the best computer science departments in the nation and places you 30 minutes away from silicon valley. 10 years from now when people finally realize that UCSC has a traditional grading system and that a very very very small proportion of its students smoke weed (just like students from any other UC), UCSC will skyrocket in the rankings and will be considered as a top tier UC. The education you will receive from UCSC will be just as good as UCLA/UCSD/UCSB and the endless opportunities you’ll be provided with will be the same if not better than the other UC’s. Having silicon valley/ the bay area right next to you is something students from other universities can only dream of. UCSC truly is a hidden gem.

In regard to your concern about housing, you will be totally fine if you look a couple months in advance. The people that have a very hard time finding housing in Santa Cruz are those that want to move out in 3 weeks and haven’t done any prior research. I was a little surprised to see the acceptance rate go up that much, but it was due to Covid-19. Acceptance rates were higher at the UC’s this year because they knew that students would want to stay home during a pandemic. Don’t let housing decide which school to go to. As long as you look for housing in advance, you’ll have no problem finding a great home.

Thanks all. We really like the Ewok Village campus. :slight_smile: I really appreciate the affirmation about their CS program. Yeah, the location near Silicon Valley seems great to me. My husband did associate it with hippies but I told him that’s old news. Hopefully S will get admitted.