The perks of UCSB can be amazing. It is a well-respected university in the heart of Southern California, where the party scene is a prominent aspect of the social atmosphere. So why would anyone want to transfer out? Are they crazy? Although the appearance of UCSB may seem pleasant and beautiful, I warn you to be careful because looks may be deceiving.
There is no question that UCSB has the potential to give anyone the opportunity and tools to do extraordinary things later in life. The problem comes down to a very fundamental question: “Am I in the position where I will grow as a person?” The most extraordinary people tend to be individuals who thrive in the face of challenges, question the world around them, and are open to different ideas, cultures, and experiences. After paying close attention to IV culture, I found that the predictability of the social atmosphere, in addition to the lack of diversity, hinders the ability for one to grow as a person.
It is much easier to party your way through school when everything comes easy in life because “what do you got to lose?” However, there are those who went through incredible struggles just to be at this university and they are going to take full advantage to flower as an individual. People who value growth are people who worked hard to be in their position. Those that eased their way through do not value growth as much.
Some people say that our campus is diverse, and I strongly disagree. I often ask people, “Do you have any idea what it is to be a Hispanic in Santa Barbara?” All you have to do is open your eyes and pay attention to the scenery. If you simply take a stroll through campus, you will see the social dynamics among the different races. The minorities travel in packs because as a collective unit, they support each other in an environment where it is easy to feel out of place. Even in IV you have to make a choice. Do you want to go to a Latino party? A black party? An Asian party? Or a white party? Where is the diversity in that? Many students enjoy the beach atmosphere at UCSB. There is nothing wrong with a campus that embraces Abercrombie and Fitch, tanning, volleyball, surfing, and sandals, but by no means is that close to diverse. Seeing how there is a homogeneous style, I found myself with two options. I could either feel out of place and stay true to myself, or assimilate to something I know I am not.
When I talk about predictability, I refer to the fact that I can predict what most people are doing on any given night. There is nothing wrong with having fun by partying it up, but when it becomes the automatic and only thing to do beyond school, there is nothing fascinating about your life. The way I see it, the “laid-back” IV culture tends to be apathetic towards anything outside of partying, besides exams, and beyond what the media deems to be appropriate.
So now I ask, “What are the qualities that people look for at other institutions?” I remember when I walked through the campus at NYU. On any given day, you could watch magicians perform, watch an artist draw a portrait, listen to rappers freestyle, have a random conversation on socio-political issues, and then listen to poets recite their work, all in one campus, in the span of one day. My point is that, it was refreshing to see the density of the students at NYU. I understand why anyone would want to seek that. Barack Obama openly speaks on his experience with transferring from a school in Southern California to the East Coast. In his memoir, he wrote, “What I needed was a community that cut deeper than the high fives I might exchange on a basketball court. A place where I could put down stakes and test my commitments. And so when I heard about a transfer program, I’d been quick to apply.”
It comes back to the question, “Beyond the lecture hall, how will I grow as a person?”
Different people have different values about what they want out of a university. To those who want to transfer, you make a lot of sense. Therefore, when you run into someone who wants to transfer out of UCSB, see the world through their eyes and maybe you will get a deeper understanding of their ambitions. Moreover, I say this because transferring is not an easy process, so there must be a legitimate reason to do so. For those that will transfer, good luck, and I hope you find what you are looking for. I wish you nothing but the best.