Choosing a college, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, can be challenging for students who want to learn more about their options beyond the information on admissions websites. While admissions boards have been getting creative with virtual open houses and webinars for incoming students, the on-campus experience is difficult to virtually replicate.
Last year, my decision ultimately came down to picking between UC San Diego (UCSD) and UC Santa Barbara (UCSB). After visiting both schools, I committed to UCSB based on the academic opportunities I found and the overall vibe I got from the campus. Yet, with the plethora of online resources at our fingertips, getting a gauge of how a school operates is still possible without visiting.
Here are some resources I used as I made my college decision last year:
I can’t count how many day-in-the-life videos I binged instead of studying for advanced placement (AP) exams in the days leading up to graduation. But YouTube has far more to offer than small glimpses into the daily lives of a few students on campus. Many UCSB-based YouTubers will answer questions that admissions counselors and tour guides may not be able to answer, such as questions surrounding any potential challenges with adjusting to college life, the party scene, Greek life, or anything you should expect to see in Isla Vista. Not sitting on the curb on DP? You won’t hear that on an admissions tour. For more information and advice-oriented videos, I’d check out Hailey Sani or Michael Stallworth’s channels. For more lifestyle-based videos, I’d recommend looking at Eryn Krouse’s channel.
Chances are that you’ve visited College Confidential at least once during application season. As nerve-wracking as the site is to visit with annoying “Chance Me!” threads and parents grooming their children for elite colleges, the site presents a decent amount of information on academic departments, organizations, and dorm life. Imagine you had all of that information AND informed perspectives from alumni and students. That’s on our subreddit page — r/UCSantaBarbara.
On r/UCSantaBarbara, posts abound with discussions, questions, and simple day-to-day observations from current students. If you have any extra questions about the school, don’t be afraid to ask them on the Reddit page! Many current students are happy to answer your questions and share their own experiences as you make your decision.
While classes can be hard to secure in one sitting, especially after fall quarter of freshman year, looking at potentially interesting classes can give you an idea of what kind of content you can expect from your department of choice.
If you plan on graduating early, want to know how AP or international baccalaureate (IB) credits translate into your coursework, want to double major, want to minor, or just want advice in how to plan your schedule throughout the year, the UCSB undergraduate advising website offers advising services to guide both new and current students on determining their academic pathways.
By following pages like @ucsbbarstool and @ucsb.2024, checking out some of the local businesses in Isla Vista, or keeping up with campus media like @kcsmfb and our school newspapers (@tbl.ucsb and @dailynexus), you can get an interesting look at UCSB’s student life and meet new people planning to attend in the fall.