UC Santa Cruz named No. 2 public university for ‘making an impact’

Students study in the greenhouse
UC Santa Cruz provides many opportunities for students to engage in impactful change.

Princeton Review has named UC Santa Cruz the No. 2 public university in the nation for students focused on making an impact on the world. The honor underscores the university’s commitment to encouraging positive social impact and is an increase from last year’s No. 3 spot.

“UC Santa Cruz students are determined to create real, lasting change,” Chancellor Cynthia Larive said. “The work of our faculty, students and alumni opens minds, informs policy, and helps to create a better, more equitable world. I am so proud of the great work happening 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.

“Our students have a thirst for knowledge and are hungry to create a better world,” said Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Success Akirah J. Bradley-Armstrong. “They are determined to develop innovative solutions that address the range of issues impacting our local, national, and global communities.”

UC Santa Cruz provides many opportunities for students to engage in impactful change. Every year, students lead the Practical Activism Conference, which aims to further local and global change by representing diverse perspectives on a variety of social justice issues and providing hands-on tools to make practical change. 

Coastal Science and Policy Program students are trained to identify critical threats to social and ecological systems, respond to complex problems with effective, practical alternatives, and to confront institutions with innovative, interdisciplinary solutions. 

Students interested in the connections between diversity and sustainability have the opportunity to collaborate with their peers, faculty and staff to advance “Inclusive Sustainability” on campus. Their efforts have led to national recognition with Princeton Review ranking UC Santa Cruz the No. 3 green college in the nation in late 2021. 

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 Association of American 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 holds the distinction of being one of only two members of the Association of American Universities designated both as an Hispanic Serving Institution and an Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution, highlighting its commitment to equitable educational access and research excellence.

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.

UC Santa Cruz was also listed as No. 30 on the list of Best Value Colleges (Public Schools).

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. They also took into account PayScale.com’s percentage of alumni from each school that reported having high job meaning.