Category: California

An introduction to the 10 colleges of UC Santa Cruz

If you choose to attend UCSC, one of your first choices will be deciding which of the ten subcolleges you want to live in. This decision can definitely be pretty daunting and unclear, especially if you’ve never visited the campus. Many of the brochures that the school sends out don’t properly tell you what it’s like to live at a college, so I’ve taken some time to write a post about each college in hopes that you can make a more-informed decision.

The UCSC college system

UCSC is divided into ten subcolleges:

  1. Cowell College
  2. Stevenson College
  3. Crown College
  4. Merrill College
  5. Porter College
  6. Kresge College
  7. Oakes College
  8. College Eight
  9. College Nine
  10. College Ten

Essentially, your choice of college determines where you live for your first year or two of school. Your major won’t make a difference in what college you attend — all majors are allowed into all colleges. You’ll also be in classes with students from all colleges, so your academic life is not really affected by which college you choose. Read More

UCSC Colleges: Cowell College


In 1965, Cowell College was founded as the first college at UCSC. The college is named after Henry Cowell, who owned much of the property that UCSC exists on currently. The Cowell family became wealthy by withdrawing the limestone from the hills and from raising cattle. Many areas around Santa Cruz are named after Cowell.


Cowell’s theme revolves around justice — what is it, and how does media define it?


Cowell is located in an extremely convenient spot on campus. Cowell is right by the bookstore plaza, which is the closest thing UCSC has to a central meeting area. Cowell is within walking distance of the east field (and all the athletic facilities). The Humanities area (and the Humanities lecture hall) is right next to Cowell. Science Hill (the main area for all sciences) is a little bit away, but it’s not much of an uphill walk.

Cowell College has many accessible bus stops for the main perimeter buses, city buses, and the central core buses, making it easy to reach just about all areas of campus from Cowell via bus, even if the locations are a bit of a walk away.


Read More

UCSC Colleges: Stevenson College

This post is a part of my 10 post series about UCSC colleges.


Founded in 1966, Stevenson was UCSC’s second college. Stevenson is named after Adlai Stevenson, a former Illinois governor who also ran against Dwight Eisenhower for president.


Stevenson’s theme is “Self and Society” — the theme revolves around how an individual can find him/herself and how he/she can later benefit society.

It’s definitely worth noting that Stevenson’s core course actually takes two quarters, but it fulfills more general education requirements than a normal core class. I did recommend not deciding a college based on its theme, but be aware that the core class can be very tiring. Read More

UCSC Colleges: Crown College



Crown College was founded in 1967. Unlike its predecessors, I don’t believe Crown wasn’t named after anybody in particular — the name Crown just sort of came along. The famous chemist Kenneth Thimann, who the Thimann labs at UCSC  are named after, was the first provost.


Crown’s theme and core course revolve around ethics with technology. What are the social implications of technology — how do we decide what is ethical and what is not?


Crown is located at the top of what is known as “Cardiac Hill”. This is a fairly steep hill that must be climbed to reach Crown and Merrill Colleges.

Crown/Merrill have a bus stop, but only buses going counter-clockwise around campus stop there. If you are going clockwise around campus and want to reach Crown, you can either walk from College 9/10′s bus stop or uphill from Cowell/Stevenson’s bus stop. Each of those is about a 5 minute walk. You probably won’t have to walk to one of those bus stops frequently unless you’re going off campus, since there isn’t much in that direction from Crown that you can’t reach by walking. Read More

UCSC Colleges: Merrill College



In 1968, Merrill College became UCSC’s fourth college. The name “Merrill” comes from Charles Merrill Jr, an educator and philanthropist who donated much of the money to make Merrill a reality.


Merrill’s theme is “Cultural Identities and Global Consciousness”. The core course involves readings detailing how people fight to preserve their culture as other powers spread through the world.


Merrill is located just next to Crown and above Stevenson. As such, Merrill is even more remote than either of these colleges. Merrill is surrounded by large redwoods, and it’s very peaceful up there.

HousingMerrill is still a short walk to Humanities and the bookstore area (as close to a central area as UCSC has), but reaching other important places such as Science Hill and the Media Center can be a bit difficult. The nearest bus stop is for Crown/Merrill, but only buses going counter-clockwise around campus stop here. If you’re coming back to Merrill, you’re going to have to stop at a different bus stop and walk a good ways, and then up the steep hill known as “Cardiac Hill” — be ready for a 5-10 minute walk when you return home. Read More

UCSC Colleges: Porter College



Porter College is named after Benjamin Porter, the grandfather of three contributors to UCSC. The family owned some of the land of Porter Meadow (a meadow right next to Porter College), and donated this as well.

Porter was in fact named “College Five” for about 12 years before it received its official name. Porter opened in 1969.


Porter’s theme revolves around the arts. The core course explores art and the social implications of famous works.


Porter was UCSC’s first college located on the west side of campus. Porter is currently nestled between Kresge (to the north) and College Eight (to the south), and is a short walk away from Science Hill. Read More

UCSC Colleges: Kresge College


Kresge was UCSC’s sixth college and opened in 1971. Kresge was named after Sebastion Kresge, who was the founder of K-Mart. Kresge was often jokingly referred to as “K-Mart College”. The college was largely designed by students — the first provost taught a course titled “Creating Kresge College”. Even some of the apartments’ layouts were designed by students.


Kresge’s theme is “Power and Representation”. The core course revolves slightly around politics, as well as how individuals interact with their community.


Kresge is just up the hill from Porter, at the northwest corner of campus.

The media center near the center of campus and McHenry Library are a bit farther away, so you will need to do some walking to reach them. The core buses that run to those places do not reach Kresge.Science Hill is a very short walk from Kresge, and Porter and College Eight are an easy walk downhill. The bookstore area and the East Field are a bit farther, and fortunately Kresge has bus stops going both clockwise and counter-clockwise around the campus. If you do choose to walk, the walk is mostly level, without much uphill at all.


Read More

UCSC Colleges: Oakes College


Just in case you didn’t hear, I’m writing this series of post about UCSC .Check my whole series of 10 posts here.


During the late 1960s, a black power group demanded an all-black college. UCSC compromised and instead founded a new college whose theme would revolve around ethnic studies. Oakes was opened in 1972 as “College Seven”.

Oakes College received its name in 1975. “Oakes” is the surname of Margaret and Roscoe Oakes, who made a significant impact in the founding of the college.


The theme for Oakes College is “Value and change in a diverse society”. The core course consists of readings and films about ethnic studies and how to live in a multicultural society. Read More

UCSC Colleges: College Eight


Despite being founded in 1972, UCSC’s eighth college is still unnamed and maintains its number as its name. The reason College Eight hasn’t been named yet is because there haven’t been any benefactors who have contributed enough money to have the college named after them. The college was once nearly named “Adams College” after photographer Ansel Adams, but to this day, College Eight is still nameless.


College Eight is UCSC’s “green” college. The theme — “Environment and Society” — reflects on how humanity has impacted the environment. The core course involves readings about different ways in which our way of life has impacted the environment.


College Eight is located just above Oakes College and just below Porter College on the west side of campus.

The Media Center is very close to Eight (about a five minute walk), but it’s farther from other areas such as Science Hill, the bookstore, and the East Field. If you’re planning on walking to any of these areas, be prepared for a long uphill walk that can take anywhere from 15-30 minutes, depending on where you’re going.

Luckily, College Eight has two bus stops to choose from, though the main one is shared with Porter College. Most all buses come through these bus stops, including the major campus routes and the city buses. Because Eight is near the beginning of routes that are heading into campus, you can usually catch the first (or second) bus.


The dorms for College Eight are organized into four “quads”, which contain an L-shaped building and a garden building. Dorm room sizes are singles, doubles, small triples, and quads.               Quads are pretty rare, and most students will live in triples and doubles. Due to construction at Porter, some doubles have been converted into small troubles, which are simply a double room with three people living inside rather than two. Doubles are pretty spacious, though the triples may feel a bit crammed. Each floor contains several singles as well, and the bathrooms are not coed. The L-shaped buildings also contain three suites each — in a suite, six students live in three rooms and share a common living room and bathroom. Suites are set off from the rest of the hall by their own door.


The apartments are said to house four or five residents, but I’ve heard that they more often hold six. The typical plans contain either four singles, two singles and a double, two doubles, two singles and a triple, three singles and a double, or a double and a triple. Each apartment has its own balcony. The apartments are pretty nice, from what I’ve seen so far.

College Eight has its own dining hall that it shares with Oakes. The food is pretty average, with a good amount of variety. The dining hall is open most hours (until midnight Sunday-Thursday and until 7 PM on Friday and Saturday). Closing early on weekends is a bit inconvenient, and when this dining hall is closed, the only other dining hall open is at Crown College.

Things to Remember

  • Without buses, most areas of campus that are higher up are a long walk away. Be ready to walk if you can’t catch a bus, especially on weekends.
  • Since the dining hall closes early on weekends, be prepared to either go up to Crown’s dining hall or to go hungry.
  • College Eight stereotypically contains “suburban” or “preppy” kids. There is some truth to this.
  • Most days, you can see the horizon of the ocean from College Eight. On clear days, you can even see parts of Monterey’s coast. Few rooms, however, have this view.

UCSC Colleges: College Nine


College Nine was the first college founded at UCSC since College Eight was founded in 1972. College Nine was founded in 2000, and still hasn’t received a name yet.


College Nine’s theme is “International and Global Issues”. The core course takes an international focus on issues such as human rights, the environment, and economic globalization.


College Nine is located at the north end of campus, right next to College Ten. Both colleges share a bus stop, and campus loop buses and the city buses stop here going both directions.

Science Hill is a short walk down the road, up a slight hill, and the bookstore area is a short walk downhill in the other direction. The areas at the center of campus, such as the McHenry Library and the media center, are a bit tougher to reach and will definitely involve some walking, though it’s shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes to reach either. Read More