The Pros and Cons of Each UC School

 There are nine UC campuses throughout California. Each of them have their pros and cons.

Granite Bay Today

There are nine UC campuses throughout California. Each of them have their pros and cons.

Danielle Huizar, Editor

As students in California, when we think about college, many of us are aiming to attend a University of California (UC) school. The UC system is one of the two main public school systems in California, the other being the California State University (CSU) system. There are nine schools in the UC system: UC Los Angeles. UC Berkeley, UC Santa Barbara, UC San Diego, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC Riverside, UC Santa Cruz, and UC Merced. Most of the UC schools have the quarter system, where their school year is separated into four ten-week quarters with the exception of UC Berkeley and UC Merced that  have the semester system, which contain two 15-week terms. For in-state students, tuition is around $13,000, and for out-of-state students, tuition is around $44,000 without living expenses and fees ( While deciding what college to attend, it is important to weigh the pros and cons of each school, and there are definitely positives and negatives of each UC campus.


The acceptance rates I will be using are from 2020, but many of these acceptance rates have gone down a great amount in 2022 ( Also, the rankings I will be using are from US News ( 


UC Santa Cruz

Located in Santa Cruz, California, UC Santa Cruz (UCSC) has a 51.3% acceptance rate and has the unique mascot of a banana slug. UCSC is ranked 103rd for national rankings and 46th for public schools. There are many positives to UCSC, such as the amazing science programs, which are conducting important research like developing an artificial retina and being the the first to assemble the DNA sequence of the human genome, the relatively low class size with 72% of upper-division and 58% of lower division courses having less than 30 students, and the close proximity to multiple outdoor activities since the campus is located in a forest, which contains many hikes and outdoor activities, and is close to the beach ( On the other hand, according to US News, it is the lowest ranked UC, the freeway that gets to the campus, Highway 17, could be dangerous, and social life is not as prominent compared to other UC schools.


UC Merced

Opened in 2005, UC Merced is the newest addition to the UC system and has the mascot of the Bobcat. With an 72% acceptance rate, UC Merced is easier to get into compared to the rest of the UC schools. According to US News, it is ranked 93rd for national universities and 38th for US public schools ( There are a variety of positives of this school, such as the social mobility of the students, as it is ranked 4th in social mobility for students ( Sharon Sun (12) states that “students should consider the high social mobility of UC Merced.” Because it is such a new school, it also has a very new campus with modern architecture and up to date facilities. Conversely, since it is located in Merced, California, there is not much to do in that area for students since it is in the middle of basically nowhere. Also, compared to other UC schools, it has the lowest name recognition, most likely due to the fact that it is such a new school. 


UC Riverside

Around 40 minutes away from Yorba Linda High School, UC Riverside (UCR) is located in Riverside, California, has a 56.5% acceptance rate and has a highlander as a mascot. UCR is ranked 83rd for schools in the US and 33rd for public schools in the US. UCR has a multitude of positives. Over the past ten years, UCR has been on an upward trajectory with its rankings climbing multiple places each year. Also, the student life at UCR is very prominent with concerts and raves occurring often throughout the weeks. To add, UCR is ranked 1st for social mobility out of all colleges in the nation. As a junior currently at UCR, Amina Abdelbary (Alumni) believes she has “had a good experience” there. Conversely, UCR is not an amazing location. Riverside has more crime than the rest of California, 1.33 times more than the state average ( Also, Riverside is known to be very hot since it is in inland California, and there are not that many entertaining things to do over there.


UC Davis

In the middle of Northern California, UC Davis is in Davis, California, has a 38.9% acceptance rate and has the mascot of an aggie. UC Davis is ranked 38th for universities in the US and 10th for public universities in the US. Some positives include the extremely respectable programs, the college town atmosphere, and the importance of sustainability on campus. Ranked 2nd in the world for Agriculture and Forestry and 5th for Environmental Engineering, UC Davis has some of the best programs worldwide. Most notably, UC Davis has the best Veterinary Medicine program in the entire United States. Also, the city of Davis is populated by 50% college students, so student life would be enjoyable. In addition, UC Davis is good for the environment and is ranked 1st in sustainability in the US ( On the other hand, UC Davis is in the middle of Norcal, which means a relatively long drive to get to entertaining places. For instance, there is around an hour drive to get to San Francisco from UC Davis. Also, a lot of farming takes place around UC Davis, which could make the area smell like cows.


UC Irvine

Located around 30 minutes from YLHS, UC Irvine (UCI) is located in Irvine, California and has a 26.5%  acceptance rate. UCI also has a very unique mascot with an anteater. UCI is ranked 9th out of all public schools in the US and 36th nationwide. There are multiple positives about UCI, such as its location and campus. As YLHS students, we live in Orange County and are very familiar with the multitude of fun things to do around the area. UCI is ten minutes away from Newport Beach and Fashion Island. Also, since it is located in Irvine, there is very good food all around, especially Asian food. To add, the campus is very modern, and there are dorms that are very new and aesthetically pleasing. There is also a campus center right next to campus with a Trader Joe’s, Target, and lots of food. Conversely, the student life and UCI has been described as boring. There are not many parties, athletic events, or social events that take place at UCI. Also, the parking situation is not the best, which affected commuters the most. Parking costs a lot of money, and sometimes it could take up to an hour to find parking to get to classes. 


UC San Diego

In La Jolla, California, UC San Diego (UCSD) has a 31.5% acceptance rate and has a mascot of a triton. UCSD is ranked 34th out of all schools in the nation and 8th out of all public schools in the nation. Some pros abo0ut UCSD include the esteemed faculty, the great programs, and the location. The faculty has achieved multiple honors, such as a Nobel Peace Prize, Pulitzer Prize, National Medal of Science, Academy Award, Tony Award, and National Humanities Medal ( Also, all of the majors and programs at UCSD are ranked very high, especially the science based programs. They are ranked 8th in Biomedical, 7th in Mobile/Web Applications, and 1st in Biocomputing. In addition, the campus location is very nice. UCSD is located near the beach and San Diego. On the other hand, UCSD has some cons as well. A nickname given to them is “UC Socially Dead” because there is not that big of a social scene in the campus. Also, UCSD is known to be competitive and to not have a great balance between social life and academics (


UC Santa Barbara

Located in Santa Barbara, California, UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) has a 29.6% acceptance rate and has the mascot of a gaucho. UCSB is ranked 28th out of all universities in the nation and 5th out of all the public schools in the nation. Some positives of UCSB are the location, the programs, and the overall vibe of the school. UCSB is located on the beach, and if you live in dorms near the beach like Anacapa, the beach is basically your backyard. The extremely close proximity to the beach means water activities are very prevalent. Also, UCSB has very good science programs, especially Physics and Computer Science, and they have a College of Engineering and a College of Creative Studies, which are both programs that are very prestigious and difficult to get into ( Additionally, the overall environment of UCSB is exceptional. Alexis Herrmann (Alumni) is currently a freshman at UCSB, and she believes that “there is a really great balance between work and play,” and “there is a relaxed vibe compared to other UC schools.” Some cons of UCSB include the lack of major choices. In comparison to other UC schools, UCSB does not have as many major options. Also, UCSB is considered a “party school,” which could be a good or a bad thing for you, but it could be distracting to study with parties occurring in Isla Vista multiple days a week.


UC Berkeley

In Berkeley, California, UC Berkeley (Cal) was the first established UC school. Cal has an acceptance rate of 16.3% and has the mascot of a bear. Cal is ranked 22nd out of all universities in the nation and 2nd out of public schools in the US. Some pros about Cal include the location and the programs. Diya Shah (12) says the “bay area is very close to Berkeley,” which is “extremely helpful for job opportunities.” To add, Cal is very close to San Francisco, which is a city that contains many fun events. Also, Cal has some of the best programs in the nation and the world. Cal is ranked 3rd in Business, 2nd in Engineering, and 1st in Computer Science out of all the schools in the nation. Some cons of Cal include the student environment and the grade deflation. Cal is known to have a very competitive atmosphere, which could cause students to experience mental distress. Between 42% and 48% of Cal Ph.D. in science and engineering have depression ( Also, Cal has grade deflation “is the phenomenon in which course grades decline over time because of academic policies, student performance, culture shifts or even mere coincidence” ( 


UC Los Angeles

The most applied to college in the nation, UC Los Angeles (UCLA) is located in Los Angeles, California, and it has a 12.3% acceptance rate and has a mascot of a bruin. UCLA is ranked 20th out of every university in the nation and 1st out of public schools. Some positives is UCLA include the student life, location, and programs. With a prominent D1 football and basketball team, UCLA students tend to watch many of those games, and it is a huge student event when UCLA plays their rival University of Southern California (USC) in any athletic competition. Also, UCLA has been ranked 1st in campus food in the nation with fancy meals served weekly. In the heart of LA, there are a multitude of events to attend, and there is a lot of diversity in LA. UCLA has some of the best programs in basically every major with top engineering, nursing, and film programs. Some negatives of UCLA are the competitiveness and area. Some people think UCLA’s environment is “stressful and serious,” as many students are extremely focused on academics ( Also, some areas in LA are very dangerous, such as Compton and Skid Row, due to the high crimes and homelessness. 

UC’s were very rough this year, so don’t be discouraged.

— Nick Lin (12)

Overall, every UC school has unique aspects about them, and they are all top schools in the nation. For those who did not get into their desired UC school or any UC school, Nick Lin (12) adds that “UC’s were very rough this year, so don’t be discouraged.” In fact, the applications to nearly all UC schools increased by a very large amount, making each school way more competitive to get into. Whether you attend a UC school or another college, the college experience is what you make out of it, so for the seniors attending college next year, work hard but also have fun!