University of California, Santa Barbara: A Student Interview

The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Olga is a Miami tutor and 1997 graduate of University of California, Santa Barbara. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and tutors several subjects, including Essay Editing tutoring, Reading tutoring, and Writing tutoring. Check out what Olga had to say about her time at University of California, Santa Barbara:

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

Olga: The University of California, Santa Barbara campus is not in the middle of a big city. Instead, it is at the edge of Santa Barbara, partially surrounded by the ocean. The campus connects to a small college town, and most students live there. They either walk, skateboard, or bike to campus. For those living outside of the college town, a car is a must. The campus has a very friendly, low-key atmosphere. I never sensed any form of danger there.

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

Olga: The professors are not really available at a moment’s notice, but they will meet with you if you schedule a time. There are teaching assistants for every large class, and they meet with students much more frequently.

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

Olga: I never lived in the dorms, but I had friends who did, and they thoroughly enjoyed it. The college town that I mentioned not only has dorms, but also many apartment buildings that serve as rentals for college students. The college has many dining options, and healthy food options are everywhere. Students tend to bond quickly – especially in the upper-level classes, where they share common interests. Many study groups eventually lead to friendships.

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?

Olga: I am not sure what majors are best supported, but I know that as an English major, the curriculum was centered around literature (especially British classics).  They also have an excellent Education major, which I hear is far better than most.

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?

Olga: Meeting people was easy. I found that the students who attended University of California, Santa Barbara mostly had a very laid back approach to life, and they were easy-going, social individuals. I did not notice too much “Greek life” action going on, though it does exist.

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

Olga: I cannot honestly answer this question, as I never had a need for this particular service. There was not much recruitment going on in the English major world.

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

Olga: Study areas, libraries, and student unions were easily accessible. They were spacious and very scenic. I have no idea about the dorm lounges – I never lived in the dorms, nor hung out in them.  

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? 

Olga: The main street in Santa Barbara is beautiful, homey, and filled with quaint establishments for eating and drinking. Weekends are never boring. The town is very artsy, and music and art is everywhere. If you like that sort of thing, Santa Barbara is your place, not to mention the beach areas where surfing becomes a great way to spend your free time. Santa Barbara is very animal-friendly, and dogs can be seen everywhere. Weekdays are more quiet, but there are plenty of events and activities for those with special interests.

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

Olga: There are about 20,000 students. Some of my classes were quite large (with auditorium seating), but others were just the opposite. I was pleased with the class sizes because those classes that were large were all accompanied by a study class lead by the teaching assistant.

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

Olga: My father passed away the same week as finals, and he lived in another state, requiring me to travel. I communicated with my professors at the time, and I found that all of them were very sympathetic and accommodating. They worked with me to ensure that my exams were completed in time for me to earn credit for the classes. I really appreciated never having to go to the Dean with a request to extend my courses for this purpose.

Check out Olga’s tutoring profile.

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