UCSC Colleges

The 10 colleges of UC Santa Cruz

If you choose to attend UCSC, one of your first choices will be deciding which of the ten sub-colleges you want to live in. This decision can definitely be pretty daunting and unclear, especially if you’ve never visited the campus. Many of the brochures that the school sends out don’t properly tell you what it’s like to live at a college, so I’ve taken some time to write a post about each college in hopes that you can make a more informed decision.

The UCSC college system

UCSC is divided into ten sub-colleges:

  1. Cowell College
  2. Stevenson College
  3. Crown College
  4. Merrill College
  5. Porter College
  6. Kresge College
  7. Oakes College
  8. College Eight
  9. College Nine
  10. College Ten

Essentially, your choice of college determines where you live for your first year or two of school. Your major won’t make a difference in what college you attend — all majors are allowed into all colleges. You’ll also be in classes with students from all colleges, so your academic life is not really affected by which college you choose. …

UCSC Colleges: Cowell College

History

In 1965, Cowell College was founded as the first college at UCSC. The college is named after Henry Cowell, who owned much of the property that UCSC exists here currently. The Cowell family became wealthy by withdrawing the limestone from the hills and from raising cattle. Many areas around Santa Cruz are named after Cowell.

Theme

Cowell’s theme revolves around justice — what is it, and how does media define it?

Location

Cowell is located in an extremely convenient spot on campus. Cowell is right by the bookstore plaza, which is the closest thing UCSC has to a central meeting area. Cowell is within walking distance of the east field (and all the athletic facilities). The Humanities area (and the Humanities lecture hall) is right next to Cowell. Science Hill (the main area for all sciences) is a little bit away, but it’s not much of an uphill walk.

UCSC Colleges: Stevenson College

This post is a part of my 10-post series about UCSC colleges.

History

Founded in 1966, Stevenson was UCSC’s second college. Stevenson is named after Adlai Stevenson, a former Illinois governor who also ran against Dwight Eisenhower for president.

Theme

Stevenson’s theme is “Self and Society” — the theme revolves around how an individual can find him/herself and how he/she can later benefit society.

It’s definitely worth noting that Stevenson’s core course actually takes two quarters, but it fulfills more general education requirements than a normal core class. I did recommend not deciding a college based on its theme, but be aware that the core class can be very tiring. …

UCSC Colleges: Crown College

History

Crown College was founded in 1967. Unlike its predecessors, I don’t believe Crown wasn’t named after anybody in particular — the name Crown just sort of came along. The famous chemist Kenneth Thimann, who the Thimann labs at UCSC  are named after, was the first provost.

Theme

Crown’s theme and core course revolve around ethics with technology. What are the social implications of technology — how do we decide what is ethical and what is not?

Location

Crown is located at the top of what is known as “Cardiac Hill”. This is a fairly steep hill that must be climbed to reach Crown and Merrill Colleges.

UCSC Colleges: Merrill College

History

In 1968, Merrill College became UCSC’s fourth college. The name “Merrill” comes from Charles Merrill Jr, an educator and philanthropist who donated much of the money to make Merrill a reality.

Theme

Merrill’s theme is “Cultural Identities and Global Consciousness”. The core course involves readings detailing how people fight to preserve their culture as other powers spread through the world.

Location

Merrill is located just next to Crown and above Stevenson. As such, Merrill is even more remote than either of these colleges. Merrill is surrounded by large redwoods, and it’s very peaceful up there.

UCSC Colleges: Porter College

History

Porter College is named after Benjamin Porter, the grandfather of three contributors to UCSC. The family owned some of the land of Porter Meadow (a meadow right next to Porter College), and donated this as well.

Porter was in fact named “College Five” for about 12 years before it received its official name. Porter opened in 1969.

Theme

Porter’s theme revolves around the arts. The core course explores art and the social implications of famous works.

Location

Porter was UCSC’s first college located on the west side of campus. Porter is currently nestled between Kresge (to the north) and College Eight (to the south), and is a short walk away from Science Hill.

UCSC Colleges: Kresge College

History

Kresge was UCSC’s sixth college and opened in 1971. Kresge was named after Sebastion Kresge, who was the founder of K-Mart. Kresge was often jokingly referred to as “K-Mart College”. The college was largely designed by students — the first provost taught a course titled “Creating Kresge College”. Even some of the apartments’ layouts were designed by students.

Theme

Kresge’s theme is “Power and Representation”. The core course revolves slightly around politics, as well as how individuals interact with their community.

Location

Kresge is just up the hill from Porter, at the northwest corner of campus.

The media center near the center of campus and McHenry Library are a bit farther away, so you will need to do some walking to reach them. The core buses that run to those places do not reach Kresge. Science Hill is a very short walk from Kresge, and Porter and College Eight are an easy walk downhill.

UCSC Colleges: Oakes College

This post is part of my UCSC college series. Check my whole series of 10 posts here.

History

During the late 1960s, a black power group demanded an all-black college. UCSC compromised and instead founded a new college whose theme would revolve around ethnic studies. Oakes was opened in 1972 as “College Seven”.

Oakes College received its name in 1975. “Oakes” is the surname of Margaret and Roscoe Oakes, who made a significant impact in the founding of the college.

Theme

The theme for Oakes College is “Value and change in a diverse society”. The core course consists of readings and films about ethnic studies and how to live in a multicultural society. …

UCSC Colleges: College Eight

History

Despite being founded in 1972, UCSC’s eighth college is still unnamed and maintains its number as its name. The reason College Eight hasn’t been named yet is because there haven’t been any benefactors who have contributed enough money to have the college named after them. The college was once nearly named “Adams College” after photographer Ansel Adams, but College Eight is still nameless.

Theme

College Eight is UCSC’s “green” college. The theme — “Environment and Society” — reflects on how humanity has impacted the environment. The core course involves readings about different ways in which our way of life has impacted the environment.

Location

College Eight is located just above Oakes College and just below Porter College on the west side of campus.

UCSC Colleges: College Nine

History

College Nine was the first college founded at UCSC since College Eight was founded in 1972. College Nine was founded in 2000, and still hasn’t received a name yet.

Theme

College Nine’s theme is “International and Global Issues”. The core course takes an international focus on issues such as human rights, the environment, and economic globalization.

Location

College Nine is located at the north end of campus, right next to College Ten. Both colleges share a bus stop, and campus loop buses and the city buses stop here going both directions.