- Class: Senior
- Major: English
- Gender: M
- High School: Redondo Union High School
- Transfer Student: Y
The best thing about UC Davis is the friendly and welcoming atmosphere. You are never alone when you're in Davis. I would make the winters less cold; if you're from a Mediterranean climate like Los Angeles, Davis winters may be a shock for you. The school is large, both in size and population: 5,500 acres and 30,000 students. These both work to its advantage. The campus has lots of trees and open spaces, and the large student body gives it an active, vibrant feel. People usually ask "Where is that?" when I tell them I go to UC Davis, which gives it a "best kept secret" reputation. During the warm falls and springs, the best place to spend tie is on the quad, which is the center of campus. It is surrounded by all the main class buildings, and near the student union known as Memorial Union, so it gets a lot of foot and bike traffic which makes it great for running into your friends. It is also very conducive to Frisbee throwing. With half the population enrolled at the university, Davis is definitely a college town. Local businesses and the city cater to students with student discounts, student-focused events, and even flexible employment hours. Davis faculty are very responsive to student needs; professors are universally open for whatever help a student needs, and roughly half of students are involved in research with their professors. The administration is not as in-tune with the student body or the faculty--a common "You know you're a UC Davis student if..." ends by saying "the first time you saw the chancellor was at your graduation." The chancellor holds quarterly "brown bag chats" that are open to anyone to attend, but most students ignore them. They do their best to be attentive to safety concerns, however. Currently the university contracts its food-service needs out to a private company, despite calls from employees, faculty and students to make these food-service workers official university employees, which would give them higher wages and benefits. UC Davis is the only UC to contract its food service out to a private company, and considers honoring its contract with the food service company a higher priority than making those food-service workers university employees. Despite all this, there is a lot of pride in UC Davis. We have a sense of being a well kept secret, because of our highly ranked programs across the disciplines and our relatively low national profile. The Aggie Pack is the largest student spirit organization in the country, and schools from San Jose State to Notre Dame have come to UC Davis for advice on how to organize their student spirit sections at football and basketball games. The city of Davis is known as the bicycle capital of the world, and UC Davis is very conducive to bikes, with it's many bike paths and bike racks throughout campus. Some city streets even have bicycle only traffic signals. I will always remember when UC Davis beat Stanford in football in the biggest upset in our athletic program's history, only to top it three months later by beating Stanford in basketball. Most complaints are centered around the idea that "there's nothing to do." The Davis Police Department also has a reputation for shutting down parties, though I've never experienced this.
In the larger, lower division classes like Food Science or Film Studies, there will be upwards of 500 students. Don't expect to get to know your professors in these classes. However, once you move into more advanced coursework and the classes become smaller, professors will definitely learn your name, especially if you speak to them outside of class, which they are always willing to do. My favorite classes were Hip Hop Culture in Urban America and Holocaust Literature. The Hip Hop class was something you'd never expect to see at UC Davis, but is a testament to the broad scope of academics here and the diversity we enjoy and promote on campus. The Holocaust Lit class only had 12 students, but the professor was extremely knowledgeable and explained the incredibly difficult material so well that over a year later I am taking a class with him again, just for fun. My least favorite class was Film Studies. It had about 500 students, and the course only focused on film up until 1915, so I didn't feel it was representative of what a true introductory course should cover. The professor also had a love affair with the word "discourse." Students do study a lot, but not alone. It is not uncommon to be approached by a complete stranger in your class and be asked if you want to form a study group. Class participation is common, but not at all necessary if that's not your thing. Intellectual conversations are also quite easy to come by outside of class, on the bus, at a coffee shop, at a football game, or wherever. But, like any college campus, silliness and goofing off are welcome too. The English department is very "family-oriented" in that it is close-knit. English majors run into each other in several classes throughout their careers, and the department sponsors contests and other events to get students involved. The department academic adviser sends out weekly emails to English majors keeping them apprised of upcoming events, career/internship opportunities and other announcements pertinent to the major. I have a professor who dubs himself the "poetry liaison" to the city of Davis. He co-hosts a poetry/open mike night at a restaurant downtown, so I see him there often. I also had a professor who gave a talk at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, so I saw him there. Admission to UC Davis varies between "selective" and "very selective." Currently it is "selective" due to the many expansions happening around campus that are increasing the number of students we can take. UC Davis probably leans more toward "learning for its own sake," though your major may determine whether your education is geared toward getting a job or learning for its own sake. Veterinary medicine students are more likely to get a job in their academic field than English majors, who have no specific job title that correlates to their major.
UC Davis is predominantly white and Asian, though minority groups are growing and active and vocal on campus. There are numerous ethnic and religious minority clubs and organizations on campus, and the university sponsors events such as Black Family Week to increase awareness and tolerance of minority groups. There is also a LGBTQ center on campus. I don't think anyone would feel out of place at UC Davis. The campus and community are so welcoming and friendly, it's hard to feel like you don't belong. During the warm fall and spring seasons, shorts and sandals are common. In the colder winter months, jeans and sweatshirts/jackets with gloves are the norm, but it's not uncommon to see one or two hardcore guys still rockin' the shorts and sandals. There are no easily definable cliques at UC Davis. The easiest way of distinguishing one from another is by major, but many students have double majors, or minors, that make it difficult to do even this. Students have varied extracurricular activities as well: an engineering student may volunteer with the Aggie Recruitment Team and also be a member of the tennis team. Most UC Davis students are from California, and most of those are from Northern California: Sacramento, the San Francisco Bay area, and San Jose. But UC Davis includes students from all 50 U.S. states and more than 100 countries. 68% of UC Davis students receive some form of financial aid, and Davis itself ranks right in the middle of all UC campuses in terms of cost of housing. Students are politically aware and active--the Davis College Democrats and Davis College Republicans are both active clubs, and engage in organized debates with each other--but the reputation of being a "hippie" campus is misguided. Money is generally not the focus of UC Davis students.
The Best Things
Friendly, welcoming atmosphere
The Worst Things