Puente on the Central Coast: Touring UC Santa Barbara & UC Santa Cruz

Puente and Honors students visiting UCSC (and the famed "Mystery Spot").

Puente and Honors students visiting UCSC (and the famed “Mystery Spot”).

Our Puente and Honors programs recently paid a visit to UC Santa Barbara and UC Santa Cruz. Photo galleries of the tours are posted online (UCSB here; UCSC here). If you’re considering transferring to either campus, you’re in good stead: the University of California system is accepting more California Community College students. The best way to get a feel for each school is, of course, to take a tour. Our Cypress Transfer Center regularly offers free bus trips for Chargers interested in visiting a variety of four-year institutions throughout California (programs like Legacy, Puente, and Honors do the same). Stay up-to-date on the transfer calendar for these valuable opportunities to explore potential transfer destinations.

Could your next school be UC Santa Barbara or UC Santa Cruz? While both are on the Central Coast, the look and feel of each are very different. Some comparative takeaways from our visit:

  1. Vibe

UCSB is an undergraduate focused research university with a relaxed, beach feel.
Bordering the beach and close to beautiful Santa Barbara, UCSB has a relaxed California feel – young, lively and active. The campus is filled with students and faculty, which gives it real vibrancy. Our student tour guides spoke with pride about the university’s research and undergraduate focus. Unlike other large universities, undergraduates at UCSB have the opportunity to collaborate with senior faculty on research projects, honors theses or by working directly with professors in the field or lab, which provide excellent resume and career building experiences.

UCSC is also an undergraduate focused research university, but with a relaxed woodsy feel.
Nestled in the trees on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean, UCSC is an earthy, woodsy, beautiful campus. Though our group didn’t get to walk the campus on-foot (it was pouring slanted sheets of rain), we did take a guided bus tour around the perimeter. With so much natural beauty, the campus feels fairytale-like, ethereal. Students were very friendly, slightly quirky – in a great way – (a banana slug is their mascot – enough said). Their love of the university was evident. UCSC focuses a great deal on undergraduates and provides plenty of opportunity for students to engage in exciting research projects with senior faculty (one of our guides will be doing a marine biology project in the Greek Isles next year), and to develop friendships with professors. UCSC is particularly strong in the sciences.

2. Requisites – 

USCB – you’ll need a bike.
A bike is a requisite of UCSB life. People bike. Everywhere. Crossing the bike lanes requires caution – the traffic is real and sometimes chaotic.

UCSC – buy rain boots.
UCSC is located in prime Central Coast area, in the heart of California’s exquisite coastal forest. Students walk through wooded paths to get to most places on campus. Paths + rain = mud. Great fun, but proper footwear is needed. If you love the outdoors, you’ll probably really enjoy this location.

Diversity – 

Both campuses are diverse.
Stereotypes about UCSB are dated. The campus reflects the diversity of California. In fact, it was recently recognized as a Hispanic serving institution, meaning more than a quarter of its student body identifies as Latino. The college has a strong Chicano Studies program, which primes students for careers in public service, law and advocacy.

UCSC is the most diverse UC campus. It is also a Hispanic serving institution, and was recently named first in the nation among top 50 colleges for Hispanic/Latino students.

Puente students conversed with professors of the UCSB Chicano Studies Department.

Puente students conversed with professors of the UCSB Chicano Studies Department.

3. Faculty – 

UCSB has six Nobel laureates.
UCSB’s renowned faculty includes six winners of Nobel prizes for landmark research in chemistry, physics and economics. University professors also include numerous Fulbright recipients, Guggenheim grantees, MacArthur fellows, the list goes on…

UCSC has involved faculty, top in their fields.
UCSC faculty are also the recipients of many prized distinctions including National Medals of Science, Sloan Fellowships, National Science Foundation awards and other prestigious recognitions. Our guides praised the faculty on their approachability and the quality of their teaching – two very important factors in student success.

4. Alumni – 

UCSB has many alums in the entertainment industry.
Jack Johnson – singer, musician / Gwyneth Paltrow – actress & entrepreneur / Michael Douglass – actor & producer (recent donor of a new film and digital media facility) / Benjamin Bratt – actor.

UCSC has many top-notch science, engineering and mathematics professionals. More here.

5. Social Scene – 

UCSB  is known for being lively.
Google provides plenty of info.

UCSC is known for being more laid-back and club-oriented.
Campus clubs are a big activity. There’s a club for just about any interest. Also, students tend to study abroad or spend a semester at another U.S. institution on an exchange program.

After visiting both campuses, our Puentistas and Honors students could clearly tell whether they fell more in the UCSB potential student camp or that of UCSC – two very different institutions, yet both so great. Again, photo galleries of each are posted online (UCSB; UCSC).


Cypress College is recognized as one of California’s top community colleges. Recent accolades include:

#1 in the U.S. | Top Toyota TTEN Auto-Tech Program in the Nation.

#2 in C.A. | Top Two ESL & Basic Skills English Programs in California.

#3 in C.A. | Ranked as a Top Three California Community College (Schools.com)

#3 in the Region | Ranked Top Three in Greater Los Angeles & Orange County for Student Transfer and Graduation Rates (EdSmart.org)

15 of 113 | California Community Colleges piloting a Bachelor’s Degree (Mortuary Science)

#17 in the U.S. | National Ranking on MTV-U’s website “Rate-My-Professor”

Top National Licensure Exam Pass Rates | Perfect state licensure pass rates for students in the following programs: Dental Hygiene, Diagnostic Medical Sonography: Abdomen; Diagnostic Medical Sonography (OB/GYN); Diagnostic Medical Sonography: Physics; and Mortuary Science: Sciences. 90+% state licensure exam pass rates for students in the following programs: Dental Assisting; Mortuary Science (Arts); Radiology Technology. And85%+ state licensure rates for students in: Health Information Technology; Nursing; and Psychiatric Technology.

2/3ds of the Class of 2015 qualified for transfer to a UC or CSU institution.

75 Orange Empire Athletics Conference Titles

25 California Community College Athletic Association State Championship Titles

#Cypress College #Puente #Honors #Transfer #UCSB #UCSC

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