University of California at Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara, CA: Late last summer, my family and I took my brother back to school at University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB). From his descriptions, Santa Barbara is cold and windy, but for the few days we stayed at the dorms it was a perfect 75 degrees with a cool beach breeze.

If you’re looking for a school that’s not too big but not too small, Santa Barbara is the place. The 989-acre campus has a great location right on the beach about 100 miles northwest of Los Angeles and you can take a ferry to the islands. The only problem with the location is it is far from shopping. If you end up here, make sure you come with a car, or at least a bike.

As for the college itself, it’s not too hard to get in – the acceptance rate is 51 percent. Almost 20,000 students attend (94 percent from California), working toward degrees in more than 200 majors. In-state tuition is about $6,200 but those rare non-Californians are charged $14,000. The dormitories are very small and it’s hard to get an apartment or at least an affordable one. More than likely you’ll end up in a dorm your first year.

UCSB is a great place for an education, always ranking in the top 50 public universities. The instructors are enthusiastic and make you feel welcome, but I warn you, UCSB is the biggest party school on the planet (in my opinion). If you’d like exciting college years, this is the place to be, but be prepared for non-stop action.

Reviewed in 2004