A Student Review of University of California, Irvine

The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach—they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Allison earned her bachelor’s degree in cognitive sciences at University of California, Irvine and earned a juris doctorate from Thomas Jefferson School of Law. She lives in Sacramento and specializes in algebra tutoring, English tutoring, psychology tutoring, and several other subjects. See what she had to say about her experience at University of California, Irvine:

Describe the campus setting and transportation options at University of California, Irvine.

Allison: University of California, Irvine has a great campus setting. There are plenty of transportation options. Although I lived on campus the first year in the dorms (so I didn’t need to worry about transportation because I walked to class), my remaining three years I lived off campus. University of California, Irvine provided shuttle buses for students outside of campus and even to some of the surrounding cities. I had friends who biked and carpooled as well.  

One of the reasons I loved UCI was that Irvine was voted one of the safest cities in America. I never had any issues and I found the campus and city safe, welcoming, and clean!

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

Allison: I loved the staff at University of California, Irvine. All of my professors and teaching assistants were not only willing, but eager to help. They were always an email, if not a meeting, away, and they really seemed to appreciate students who asked questions and took the time to meet with them outside of class. I also found that my academic advisors were knowledgeable, communicative, and helpful.

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

Allison: Dorm life was pretty great. We had lots of different options. I personally lived in Mesa Court, but I also had friends who lived in Middle Earth. I felt that I met students with similar interests, but I also had the opportunity to meet students with different backgrounds and goals. The dorms were pretty close to one another and to school, and it took about 5-10 minutes to get to class (walking) from either one.  

I loved all of the different options for using your meal card. I definitely bought one the first year and it saved my life—especially during midterms and finals.

The dorms, as well as the student body and organizations on campus, always had something to do. I felt that there was always a place for anyone and everyone on campus.

Which majors/programs are best represented and supported at University of California, Irvine? 

Allison: I think we are known more for biological sciences, and I met a lot of students who were pre-med my first year. With that being said, I was not pre-med; I was part of the Social Sciences School, but I felt that that was represented as well on campus. I had friends who were involved in different majors and programs, and we were all happy with our experience. University of California, Irvine really does go above and beyond, because they provide multiple opportunities and avenues for students to succeed. From professors, TAs, tutors, and even life coaches provided and sponsored by the Counseling Center, University of California, Irvine offers every opportunity for students to achieve their goals.

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?

Allison: I thought it was very easy to meet students and make friends as a freshman. For one, University of California, Irvine offers SPOP, which was the student parent orientation program that allowed students and their parents an opportunity to stay in the dorms for a night and meet some of the new freshman. I was so excited to start because I had already made friends before I even started school.  

I personally didn’t feel that Greek life was extremely significant, but that’s because I didn’t rush my first or even second year of college. I did rush my third year of college and I discovered that Greek Life could be whatever you wanted it to be. If you wanted to be super involved or just a little, finding a sorority or fraternity that respected or met your needs was easy, attainable, and fun. I loved my sorority sisters, but I am glad that I didn’t rush until I was sure that it was something that I wanted to pursue.

How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services?

Allison: I thought our Career Center was great. The staff was helpful and I enjoyed taking the personality assessment tests to find the right career for me.

I also really liked our Counseling Center, as they provided opportunities for those in psychology to get involved and harness their public speaking and/or people skills.  

I didn’t utilize the on-campus recruitment options like I wish I would have, but there are so many opportunities, and I had friends who worked at Fortune 500 companies right after graduation.

How are the various study areas such as libraries, the student union, and dorm lounges?

Allison: From the libraries, common hall, outside lounges, student lounges, and coffee houses, there are so many places to study on campus. The libraries could sometimes get crowded during midterms or finals, but as a whole there was always a seat or desk available when one needed it. And the lounges near Crystal Cove seats are so comfy! Try not to fall asleep!

Describe the surrounding town.

Allison: Irvine is in the heart of the OC. I lived in Irvine for 4 years, and eventually after school I moved to Costa Mesa and the Laguna Beach. I had friends who lived in Newport Beach, Long Beach, and Huntington Beach and commuted. There is always something going on, whether it’s at the beach, a music festival, or cook-off. Some students did stay near Irvine, but Irvine as a whole is a pretty quiet town. Some of us traveled outside of Irvine if we wanted to go to the beach or go shopping, but I really liked hanging out in Irvine and trying the different cuisines.

How big or small is the student body of University of California, Irvine?

Allison: Personally, the student body was overwhelming for me. I came from a school where my entire student body was the size of a full lecture hall. It felt a little too big, initially, but I’m so happy that it was such a large class size because I felt that’s what made our school so diverse.

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

Allison: I worked with the Counseling Center for the last two years of my college career. I was a C.O.A.C.H. (aka a student life coach), and it was myself and 13 other students participating in the program. We all had different majors, experiences, and goals, but we all had one thing in common: we wanted to help people. The purpose of C.O.A.C.H. was to help students struggling with social, academic, and personal goals. Although we worked with students with their problems, we also were able to share our own personal history and life stories with each other. I would have never guessed I would have become so close with the other coaches, but we were all so sad to leave by the end. Our mentor and professor set the tone for our group and required that we be honest, respectful, and thoughtful, not only with our clients, but ourselves. This life lesson is something I still use today while working with clients in the legal setting, and I am forever grateful for everything she taught me.

Check out Allison’s tutoring profile.

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