Ten easy steps: Some good advice for new UC Santa Cruz students

Don't forget to tell your friends and parents that you share the UCSC campus with all kinds of wild critters, including peaceful deer such as this one. (Photo by Elena Zhukova)
Don't hesitate to brag about the UCSC mascot, the once-subversive Sammy the Slug, who now enjoys mainstream acceptance. (Photo by Carolyn Lagatutta)
UCSC's 2,000-acre campus--situated above Monterey Bay, with geography ranging from redwoods to rolling meadows--offers plenty of inspiration for students. (Photo by Carolyn Lagatutta)
Way-finding is important on campus. For starters, figure out the shuttle system as soon as you can. (Photo by Elena Zhukova)


We hope you enjoy this list of handy suggestions, which we compiled in consultation with a group of smart and savvy UC Santa Cruz students.

1. Explore your horizons academically

This is the time to have fun and take risks. Expand your mind, and try out different divisions. You just might find something you love, unexpectedly. Just remember to declare your major by the end of sophomore year!

2.  Make sure to tell the folks back home that you share the campus with wild deer

Never mind that those deer are quite tame and can act a little weird sometimes. The campus is also home to some wilder critters that require more caution, including bats, raccoons, golden eagles, foxes, and, on rare occasions, mountain lions.

3. Take advantage of social groups, hobbies, and extraordinary activities

The campus offers an incredible array of extracurricular activities, and many of them are student run. For instance, did you know that UCSC is home to award-winning a cappella music groups and a fantastic tango dance collective called Tangroupe? You might even launch your own business at UCSC, with help from the campus’s very own Center for Entrepreneurship.

4. Learn the history of your famous mascot, who turns 25 years old this year

Go Slugs! Read more right here.

5. Remember that dining halls are all-you-can-eat

While some students may be leery of the dreaded "Freshman 15," they should never worry about going hungry. And if you’re veg, take advantage of Meatless Mondays offered on campus.

6. Four years pass quickly: explore the Bay Area (and Santa Cruz environs)

Campus is beautiful and full of activity, but adventure awaits you beyond UCSC lines, as well. For example, there's nearby Wilder Ranch State Park, a highly hike-able and bike-able hot spot that’s not too far from campus. Nisene Marks State Park, in nearby Aptos, is just waiting to be explored--and you may even see some banana slugs there, so watch your step! Or take public transportation to San Francisco, where world-class art museums often give steep discounts to students.

7. Summarize your lecture notes!

This will force you to write legibly, too.

8.  Get involved with "going green"

UCSC students are justifiably proud of their efforts, which include a groundbreaking and student-administered Carbon Fund that backs worthy green-friendly projects. Reuse and recycle--but that’s just the starting point. Why not start up your own carbon-reducing project?

9.  Figure out your favorite spots to contemplate life and nature

With its gorges, bridges, fern groves, and redwood glens, this campus is undeniably inspiring.

10. Figure out the shuttle system (and the Santa Cruz municipal bus system), use the newly updated interactive campus map, and take advantage of UCSC’s very own way-finding app.

The new campus online map uses a Google interface, but has a variety of custom search fields, letting one easily find dining locations, different parking options (including the ones that are free on evenings and weekends), and transit stops. Students can also search for class locations by the abbreviations used in the class catalog – a feature that students have been requesting for years. Meanwhile, explore the campus and get to know the UCSC environs.

(First years aren't allowed to bring a car, anyhow.) You're liable to see many wonderful and curious sights, from grass-munching cows to historic buildings to student artwork. Besides, to make it all easier, the streets on campus finally have names--believe it or not, many campus streets hadn't been named since UCSC's founding in 1965.