UC San Diego is well-known for its strength in the sciences. Proximity to the biotech corridor in La Jolla – literally across the street – has definitely helped students connect to internships and jobs in this growing field.
UCSD is structured differently than the other UC campuses. There are six colleges, each having a different world philosophy, and when students apply, they must rank the colleges in the order they would prefer to attend. Ninety percent of accepted students are assigned to their first-choice college. All students in all colleges can major in any subject; members of the same college are housed together.
The colleges have different requirements that reflect their outlooks (click here for a pdf brochure that describes the philosophies and requirements of each – UCSD Colleges). It is very difficult to transfer to a different college. When asked the differences between the colleges, my two tour guides, who attend different colleges, said that the writing courses have different foci.
For example, Eleanor Roosevelt College’s (“ERC”) guiding principle is “Making of the Modern World,” with an emphasis on international studies, so the writing courses ERC students take focus on politics and foreign relations issues. Sixth College students, on the other hand, are guided by the “CAT” philosophy – Culture, Art and Technology, so their writing courses take them in a different direction.
UCSD students declare their major at the end of their sophomore year. The average student changes his/her major SEVEN times at UCSD. [This may contribute to UCSD’s 56% four-year graduation rate, lower than UCLA, Berkeley, UC Irvine, and UC Santa Barbara.]
UCSD is the second-largest UC campus with 1200 acres, four times as large as UCLA, and has about 29,000 undergraduates. The school is on the fast-paced quarter system, with ten weeks of instruction before final exams. While many general education courses and introductory subject lecture classes may have 250-300 students in them, about half of the classes have a 20:1 student-to-faculty ratio.
The Price Center is the physical center of campus, and the center of student life. A dozen restaurants, including healthy options, as well as the bookstore, student organization offices and study space are all located in this central hub. The International Center is home to students from other countries studying abroad here, as well as information for UCSD students interesting going abroad (22% go abroad, leading the UC system) and ethnic student groups. Every Friday has a different themed cuisine.
More photos from my visit are here.