UC DAVIS (visited 7/17/12)
You have to love a school that has grapevines lining the road leading up to the entrance, and where bikes rule the school. The flat, attractive campus and the outdoorsy, environmentally conscious students seem much “crunchier” than Berkeley. Berkeley talks the talk, but the UCD students come through with action. There is extensive composing, co-ops, and organic and locally grown food initiatives – so local, in fact, that quite a bit is grown on campus and served in the dining halls! The buildings are absolutely beautiful and they appear to have some thought put into them in terms of style, usage, location, and being environmentally sound. Every aspect of the school appears to be deliberate; they are clear about their mission and are able to it into practice.
There’s a reason Davis is known as a Bike School: this is a physically extensive campus and students really do need quick, convenient transportation. Shuttles run constantly, but bikes are clearly the preferred mode of transportation. Racks are everywhere to lock bikes up, most of them almost full to capacity. It was not unusual to see what had to be a couple hundred bikes outside buildings.
Students are active in and out of the classroom; Student Government really is run by the students and has a multi-million dollar budget. 500 clubs are offered on campus, and if students are bored, it’s not for lack of things to do.
UCD receives over 49,000 applications just from California. Although lots of schools say that their application process is holistic, this is the first college to specifically say that they will look at things like perseverance through challenges and hardships, management of a significant disability impacting educational, and life goals, again illustrating that they are able to articulate a mission and put it into practice. The admissions rep was also very clear about what they want in the personal statement: “It needs to express something not already stated. Don’t write about getting the MVP. You already told us that on the application, and we’ve seen it. We don’t need to hear about the process of getting it. Tell us something we don’t know already.”
The admissions director was also very clear about expecting to see that students keep their grades up through the end of the senior year: If an accepted student’s grades deviates more than 1 letter grade, he or she needs tell the admissions early. They’re more likely to work with the student and have some wiggle-room if the student takes responsibility and owns up to the issue. They have actually told some students whose grades dropped significantly NOT to move in – as late as on move-in day when the information has gotten to them late.
Applications must be submitted between Oct 1-30 but so not send transcripts until asked for it. Students should check “yes” at the boxes at the end of the application which will enable the school to release information to high school counselors. This enables us to act as a liaison for the student. Out-of-state apps are reviewed manually to make sure they’re meeting the A-G California standards (listed on the website). Students need 4 years of English; at least three years of lab sciences, math (through at least Alg II), and Social Sciences; two consecutive years of a language; and one year of art, all with at least a C – although they recommend that students complete more than these minimum standards because things are getting much more competitive. Students need a minimum GPA of 3.4 during 10th-11th grades only and should take the SAT/ACT by end of 1st trimester senior year. SAT IIs are not required but encouraged – it gives students “additional” credit, but the school won’t penalize them for not taking it.
Engineering is the only major that does not let students automatically transfer in when they are on campus; they have to meet certain requirements to get into the program. Students can pick from 16 different engineering programs, making it the most extensive program in the UC system. Other notable majors are the neurobiology/physiology and viniculture programs.