- Class: Senior
- Major: Communications
- Gender: F
- High School: Valencia High School
- Transfer Student: N
You cannot think about UCSB without thinking about Isla Vista (IV). IV is UCSB's immensely populated and condensed college town that is literally across the street from campus. At first glance, it may seem run down, full of homeless people, and a bit crazy. That's because it is. But at the same time, for many UCSB students it's home and we're proud of it. The homeless become your friends, you get used to the "run downness" and paying way too much rent to share a tiny room, IV has some of the best food (including Freebirds and Silvergreens), and everyone you know lives there. Isla Vista intimidated me at first and I was positive going into college at UCSB that I would never life in IV. But its been two years since my habitation in IV and I can condidently say that you WILL feel left out if you never live in IV and trust me, it's worth it. Where is the place to be on campus? The UCEN (university center) and the Arbor. Both of these main spots are filled with students throughout the week. In a school of over 15,000, you're bound to see someone you know at one of these spots during the day. The walkway between Ellison and the library is also a beautiful place to nap, eat lunch, or just take a stroll on. Is there anything unusual about UCSB? While UCSB's campus is on the beach and BEAUTIFUL, there are a lot of awkard looking buildings and mismatched architecture. I guess you chould say that it gives the campus some variety, but I personally think we cannot make up our minds as to what we want the campus to look like. Some are modern, some are very old and out of style, and some are very new and aesthetically appealing (HSSB or Kohn Hall). The library could use a makeover as well. Overall, the trees, grass, and beach make up for any visual/physical flaws the campus may have.
So UCSB now has five Nobel Prize winners and is known for academically for its contributions to research. As an average student would you be able to tell? I would say yes. Overall, most professors I have are engaged, with their research and their students. Most professors let their students in on their work and often even ask for student participation. Perhaps as a Communication and Sociology major my classes have been more social and participation driven, but from friends in other majors, I get the feel that you'd be lucky if you could find a class where participation was not encouraged. Interested in Communications? The Comm department is absolutely wonderful. The faculty is all about their students. My favorite classes have been those taught by the Afifi's. They are husband and wife who teach on Family, Interpersonal, and Nonverbal Communication. They are all about participation and both have done some amazing research, which they share, in their field. One thing to keep in mind with this major is that it is very research and theory driven. If you're looking for practical skills in advertising or journalism then you might reconsider. However, I have learned a lot and it is not hard to apply the theories and research to those job markets. The education at UCSB widely differs. A biology or political science major is naturally going to find themselves studying more than a communications or linguistics major. But overall, people balance their studying well with extracurriculars and fun. Professors will get to know you if you make an effort to know them (which I recommend you do because they are all unique and have something to offer). I would say that students are less about competing with each other and more about their own personal accomplishment. Unlike Berkeley, you don't find students checking out books just so that other students cannot.
Since my freshmen year I have been involved in Real Life which is part of a national Christian organization called Campus Crusade for Christ. As someone who had just become a Christian, I wondered if UCSB had anything to offer me in this area. I soon realized that Real Life had a great community (over 200 students) of people who believed in what I believed in but also cared about reaching out and loving the UCSB campus too. Yes, Real Life is a close community that leans on each other but they are in no way exclusive. Weekly meetings on Thursday night are a great way to meet new people and experience a personal connection with God. There are other spiritual/religious groups as well. Hillel, the Jewish student group, is another popular and active one. One of the things that shocked my most was how active UCSB students are politically. We are known for being the school, or one of the top schools, with the highest amount of voters at the election polls. The overall feel is a liberal one, but which public campus isn't? For the last two years there have been marches against the war and active campaigns for social justice. But the best part is seeing how political groups, religious groups, sororities/fraternaties, and different ethnic groups can all co-exist. Most of the UCSB population is open-minded.
The Best Things
Tie between active students (esp. politically) and the beautiful scenery
The Worst Things
Lack of spiritual/non-material conversation