A Day in the Life at University of California, Davis

The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Kandace is a San Francisco tutor specializing in ACT prep tutoring, Literature tutoring, Writing tutoring, and many other areas. She earned Bachelor’s degrees in both English Literature and Psychology in 2013 from University of California, Davis. See what she had to say about University of California, Davis:

VT: Describe the campus setting and transportation options. How urban or safe is the campus? Are there buses or do you need a car/bike?

Kandace: University of California, Davis has a student population of about 34,000, and the population of the city is roughly 65,000. Since half of the town’s population is comprised of students, the town takes special care to cater to them. The campus and the town are incredibly safe. I never felt threatened, even when alone late at night. Bike theft is one of the most common crimes at the university (locks and bike chains are a must!). University of California, Davis prides itself on being a bike-friendly town. The streets are wide, the speed limits are low, the town is small, and there are no hills (just slight inclines). With that said, the campus is large. Many students ride bikes from class to class, especially if they have short breaks between classes. However, I found that once you start taking major-specific classes, the classrooms will usually be close together. The buses run on time and cover the whole city. You can ride the bus for free with a valid student ID. There is also a taxi service that runs from 10:00 p.m. - 2:00 a.m. It will pick you up from a specific place and take you to a specific destination. Student safety is a high priority.

VT:  How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants?

Kandace: All professors and teaching assistants hold regular office hours, usually multiple times per week. Most professors are willing to schedule appointments if a student is unable to attend their office hours. Academic advisers are slightly harder to meet with, depending on the size of the major and the time of year. I suggest making an appointment. Before meeting with your academic adviser, look at all your general education and major requirements, as well as your unofficial transcript.

VT: How would you describe the dorm life rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students?

Kandace: I lived in the Tercero dorms, which were newly built. They were clean and housed two students comfortably. Tip: loft your bed and use the space underneath for storage. The different dorm sections (Segundo, Tercero, and Cuarto) are in no way centrally located on the campus. If you have a bike, this is not a problem. The dining halls provide a wide variety of meal options—including vegan- and vegetarian-friendly! Every dorm section has its own dining hall. My dorm had a lounge with a television, as well as a designated study area. I was shy my freshman year, but I still found it easy to meet people. It is important to remember that everyone is out of their comfort zone when they move away to college. Some people might have friends from high school, but for the most part, everyone is eager to make new friends.

VT: Which majors/programs are best represented and supported? What did you study and why? Did the university do a good job supporting your particular area of study? 

Kandace: I studied English Literature and Psychology. I studied Psychology simply because I am fascinated by the subject matter. I studied English Literature because I could spend every day of my life reading and writing, and I would be perfectly happy. I want to take this opportunity to mention that at University of California, Davis, it is easy to double major with hard work and strong organizational skills. The university practices the quarter system, and classes are easy to get into. The general education requirements are not overbearing. The English Literature program is much smaller than the Psychology program, so it is slightly easier to get advising appointments. As I said earlier, professors and teaching assistants are easy to reach out to. I always felt supported.

VT: How easy or difficult was it for you to meet people and make friends as a freshman? Does Greek life play a significant role in the campus social life?

Kandace: It is not hard to meet people at University of California, Davis. There are plenty of activities that provide a way to meet people with common interests. There are also club and intramural sports teams. I joined the rugby team freshman year (having never played it), and I met some wonderful people, including my roommate for two years. Greek life plays a moderate role in the campus social life. I had no interest in joining a sorority, but if it interests you, it is available.

VT: How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services? Do many reputable companies recruit on campus? 

Kandace: The Internship and Career Center does active on-campus recruiting. It is easy to access its services, and to my knowledge you can utilize it for a year after you graduate. Many professors do research on campus, and it is relatively easy to find an internship in an on-campus lab. I did an internship in a social psychology lab for a year. Basically, if you send enough emails, you can get an internship. There are also internship and career fairs in the fall, winter, and spring. They provide a good opportunity to talk directly to employers.

VT: How are the various study areas such as libraries, the student union, and dorm lounges? Are they over-crowded, easily available, spacious?

Kandace: There are plenty of places to study at University of California, Davis. Most dorms have quiet designated study rooms. The library is huge, and it has multiple study spaces on every floor. You can also snag a meeting room if you want to have a study group. The union is also a great place to study. There is a quiet room on the first floor with tables, couches, outlets, and a fireplace. Tip: there is also an “art room” upstairs, which not many people know about. It has tables, couches, and outlets. If you want to study outside, the wireless internet at University of California, Davis is far-reaching. You can study on the quad or in the arboretum (the arboretum is beautiful… a must-see). If you would rather study off-campus, there are coffee shops and bars that offer free internet.

VT: Describe the surrounding town. What kinds of outside establishments / things to do are there that make it fun, boring, or somewhere in between? To what extent do students go to the downtown area of the city versus staying near campus? 

Kandace: Again, Davis is a small town. It is as fun or as boring as you make it. The downtown area of the city is right next to campus. It is comprised mostly of independent stores, restaurants, coffee shops, and bars. The Mondavi Center and Freeborn Hall host concerts, plays, and other performances. There is a farmers’ market on Wednesdays and Saturdays in the park downtown, which you must attend! There is amazing produce, meat, prepared food, and live music (on Saturdays). Since it is a small town, students get creative. The co-ops host parties frequently that include live music or DJ sets. With that said, my college social experience is defined by nights spent sitting around my backyard fire pit, hosting dinner parties, study sessions, poetry readings, and movie nights. Your friends will become your family. You depend on each other for all sorts of things, including entertainment.

VT: How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes?

Kandace: University of California, Davis has a relatively large student population. Class sizes greatly depend on your major, as well as the particular class within that major. For example, my Cognitive Psychology class (taken by most Psychology majors) was in a large lecture hall, but my Human Memory course was small (about 30 people). My English classes were much smaller overall than my Psychology courses. I was generally pleased with my class sizes. I never felt as though the class size negatively affected my ability to learn the material.

VT: Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most.

Kandace: In a poetry course my junior year, the professor started the class by exclaiming, “POETRY! What is it? And how do we read it? You’ll have to excuse me…coffee is the elixir of life, but apparently I’ve had too much this morning.” The class laughed hysterically. In the next ten weeks, this man completely transformed the way I read and thought about poetry. He was kind, thoughtful, and encouraged student participation. His passion for the subject matter inspired almost every student in that class. This is the type of eccentricity and enthusiasm I started to expect from my English professors at University of California, Davis.

Check out Kandace’s tutoring profile. 

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.