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.

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. Rachel Carson College (formerly 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.

Each college has its own unique architectural style, so if you don’t like the looks of one, chances are you’ll like the looks of another. Within a college, you have your own advisers and your own student events.

The impact of your choice

Because UCSC is such a large campus, your college is likely where you’ll spend most of your free time and meet most of your friends, so it’s a good idea to make sure you make a good choice. It doesn’t matter whether you graduated from high school or have a GED. The school even accepts GED College-Ready scores.

Choose a college based on its location, reputation, aesthetic value, and simply overall appeal. You’re going to live here for at least one year (if not longer), so choose a college that you actually like.

I strongly recommend taking a tour of the school — no amount of photos can really substitute for seeing a college in person.

The theme and “Core” class

Every college has its own “theme”, which revolves around an issue of sorts — “power in society”, “environment and society”, and so forth. The first quarter of your freshman year, you’re required to take a writing class (called “Core”) that revolves around the theme of your college.

The school advertises these themes a lot, but beyond the first quarter of your freshman year, the theme really won’t make a difference. I don’t recommend even factoring the college’s theme into your decision at all really since the other factors will probably make a much bigger difference.

Each college does have its own stereotype of sorts, and sometimes the stereotype ties in with the theme of the college, but not always.

Locations of the colleges on campus

The ten colleges are placed in a semicircle around the upper half of campus. The colleges are placed in groups of two, so each college has one right next to it. Every college contains its own dorms and apartments, and the group of two colleges shares a dining hall.

I recommend taking a look at maps of UCSC to familiarize yourself with the basic layout of the campus.

When do I choose my college?

When you fill out your application for housing (after you submit your Intent to Enroll), you’ll be asked to rank your top five colleges. Even if you don’t get into your top college, you’ll probably get into your second (or maybe your third).

I have a question about a college or the college system in general.

If you have a question, post it as a comment here or on the post for the appropriate college.