UC Santa Cruz named No. 3 public university for ‘making an impact’

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To identify the best schools for making an impact, Princeton Review surveyed students about their experiences and opportunities.

Underscoring a reputation of pushing for positive change, UC Santa Cruz has been named the No. 3 public university in the nation for students focused on making an impact on the world in the Princeton Review’s latest college rankings.

“This reaffirms so much of what UCSC and our students are all about,” Chancellor Cynthia Larive said. “You’ll find everything from art exhibits on prisons, policing and justice to research that documents the collapse of kelp forests. The work of our faculty and students opens minds, informs policy, and helps to create a better, more equitable world. I couldn’t be more proud of what unfolds on our campus.”

UC Santa Cruz pairs high-impact research with 10 tight-knit undergraduate residential colleges that offer students the experience of a small liberal arts college with the depth and rigor of a major research university. The colleges are guided by distinct themes that inform their academic and student life programs.

“Curiosity defines the student experience,” said interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Success Jennifer Baszile. “Students create new solutions and follow them to see where they lead.”

Since its founding, UC Santa Cruz has been on an unprecedented trajectory, with faculty conducting transformative research and scholarship that serves the world. UC Santa Cruz joined the American Association of Universities (AAU) in 2019 and the Association of Pacific Rim Universities in 2020, remarkable achievements that underscore the impact and quality of the campus’ research as well as graduate and undergraduate teaching.

UC Santa Cruz shares the distinction of being the youngest member of the esteemed 65-member AAU and is one of only four members that is also a Hispanic-serving institution. Additionally, for the second year in a row, US News and World Report ranked UC Santa Cruz among the top-five universities nationally for student social mobility.

To identify the best schools for making an impact, Princeton Review surveyed students about community service opportunities at their school, student government, sustainability efforts, and on-campus student engagement.

The ranking also took into account PayScale.com’s percentage of alumni from each school that reported having high job meaning. UC Santa Cruz was also listed as No. 28 on the list of Best Value Colleges (Public Schools), and No. 11 spot on the list of Top 50 Green Colleges.

The ranking of best value colleges is based on a “return-on-investment” analysis that factors in a university’s academic rating, financial aid rating, and cost of attendance.