University of California, Irvine—Irvine, CA
Cool, Comfy Community
What it feels like to go here
UC Irvine is family. Although everyone knows UCI for its large Asian student population, diversity and inclusion play a huge part in the UCI experience. Thanks to over 600 student organizations, including many thriving ethnic clubs, UCI students find communities to call home easily. At UCI you get the whole package: the classic big campus experience, familiar faces and friendships and your typical SoCal warm breeze. UCI Anteaters are ambitious and hard-working, but they’re probably also the friendliest people you’ll ever meet. Perhaps that’s why UCI doesn’t have much of a party scene—you don’t have beer-chugging contests with your siblings. But students don’t get bored with all the shopping, internship and leadership opportunities available at Irvine.
UCI alums have rocked to the top of so many fields that together they are the human canvas of success. Three Nobel Prize winners call UCI home. Dr. Frank Rowland, a textbook superstar for chemistry and atmospheric science majors, won the Nobel prize in chemistry in 1995 for his work in the discovery of the harmful effects of CFCs (a chemical with carbon, chlorine and fluorine.) on the ozone layer. In the same year, Dr. Frederick Reines won a prize in physics for co-detecting the neutrino (a subatomic particle). In 2004, Dr. Irwin Rose won in chemistry for the discovery of a special protein degradation. Sought after for its creative writing MFA program by aspiring authors across the nation, UCI shaped three Pulitzer Prize-winning writers: Michael Chabon, Richard Ford and Yusef Komunyakaa. If you’re a sports fan, you’ll surely recognize names like Darren Fells, NFL player, and Greg Louganis, a diver with multiple Olympic gold medals. And David Benioff, co-creator and showrunner of Game of Thrones, walked right out of UCI’s sunshine and into the extreme climates of the fantastic land of Westeros.
Where we hang
Students love going to the Student Center and the University Town Center (UTC) for some Panda Express, Starbucks or some famous Irvine boba. And being #blessed with the west coast sun, Aldrich Park is another all-time favorite place to hang out. Sprawling among no less than 11,000 trees and shrubs in a 19-acre botanical garden surely melst all the stress away. “People definitely go out to Aldrich Park and bring blankets to lay out and study there. They tie the blankets to two trees to make some kind of canopy to lie on,” junior Jane Tsui said. With grass fields so beautiful they belong in a Bob Ross oil painting, the purple, pink and blue flowers are just and extra gloss finish. Fun fact: the university let UCI students—well, actually their messy footsteps—mapp out the various pavements and dirt pathways. The wisdom of generations of students will help you sprint off to your next midterm by the nearest path, coffee in hand.
1. How much are students partying?
“Party culture is highly looked down upon, so police would always come to roll over the party. There are a lot of kick-backs and hang outs, but when there are parties, it is likely to be put out quickly. So I guess you can say at our school, it’s more of chill drinking types of parties.” junior Reeve Reyes said.
2. What will get you in trouble for at your school?
“The [excessive] competition among organizations, like how cultural clubs may hold grudges against Greek life. It gets people into trouble after there are activities like hazing and rumor spreading. These are against university rules,” junior Crystal Banh said.
3. How much sex are students having?
“I can’t really speak for the entire campus, but it’s college, obviously, it’s happening. And there are resources at UCI to make sure it’s happening safely,” sophomore Amber Li said.
4. What would you tell incoming freshman about your school?
“Don’t take your time at college for granted because of the endless opportunities it provides–the networking, the orgs, everything. I wish I could stay in college forever,” 2016 graduate Anna Morrell said.
5. What is one quirky and surprising fact about the UCI campus?
“There’s a guy named Swag Man: he’s an old man who wears a Bulls Jersey and walks around campus. Nobody knows how old he is. If you see him, it’s a sign of good luck. People have tried to talk to him but he doesn’t stop and talk to you. We like to look for him during midterms and finals,” junior Jane Tsui said.
“In high school I was one of the top 10 percent, but here at UCI you’ve got so many headstrong people and they’re very smart. I’ve noticed it’s harder to stay on top because there’re other people who intellectually challenge me, and that’s great.” — Amber Huynh, Class of 2019
“I initially intended to go to UCI and go back to the East Coast after I graduate, but I fell in love with everything Irvine has to offer, and that made me decide to move here.” — Anna Morrell, Class of 2016
“I love the school, the academics and the community. Everyone is so driven and working really hard to further themselves. Everyone I talk to is doing whatever they can do to pursue their careers and hobbies, and they want their peers to be successful as well.” — Amber Li, Class of 2019
“I really like how the environment is around here, it’s safe and there’s a lot of food to eat and cool places to hang out. Before I got here I didn’t realize how much shopping is around UCI, but there’s actually a lot of around.” — Jane Tsui, Class of 2018
“There’s a place for everyone. What I really like here is that eventually you’ll find your own niche within the UCI community. Honestly though there so many opportunities that you’ll want to do everything.” — Reeva Reyes, Class of 2018
Top three majors
Top three student organizations
1. Greek Life
Greek life is just a hell hole of tank tops, partying and hooking up, right? Not at UCI. “Greek life at UCI is definitely on the smaller side compared to other campuses, so there’s a strong sense of community here because everyone knows everyone,” sophomore Amber Li, a student staff of UCI Greek life, said. People also go into Greek life for the leadership experience and to be more than just a member. “It’s given me a lot of leadership opportunities, and that has given me a lot of confidence,” Li said. After a year of preparation, chapters on campus put on the annual Greek Songfest. There, students perform Broadway-inspired musical theater pieces for UCI and the Irvine community as a way to fundraise for their philanthropy. That’s right, gleefully gasping musical theater fans: this is Greek Life 2.0, Return of the Music.
2. Kaba Modern
Attention hip-hop dancers: UCI may just be your dream school because of its very visible dance culture. As the oldest dance team on campus, Kaba Modern is about to celebrate its 25th anniversary this year. “It gave me a home at UCI and a big group of friends,” junior Jane Tsui said. Kaba Modern dancers train in fundamentals, and you can see them at SoCal’s famous Body Rock Dance Competition and campus events. “The performances are definitely very nerve wrecking as they have really high calibers, but it’s also really rewarding,” Tsui said. “We put in hours of work, sometimes staying up until five in the morning.” Staying up late with friends, not studying and getting exercise? That’s the college dream.
3. Chinese Association at UCI
Cool fact: the student body at UCI represents 87 countries in the world. As a result, students have over 40 multicultural clubs to choose from. As one of the biggest ethnic clubs, Chinese Association at UCI puts on well-known traditional events such as cultural nights. But the fun CA members have doesn’t stop at Chinese dance and martial arts performances. The student org builds a diverse community with weekly trips to shopping centers, ice skating and bowling allies. “CA definitely made me more social and willing to try new things,” sophomore Amber Huynh said. Oh, did I mention they had a calligraphy workshop?
Most of the admitted UCI undergrads graduate high school with a top 10 percent GPA, so make committing to your classes a priority. However, the school also wants applicants who can distinguish themselves with extracurricular experience. UCI received a pool of nearly 78,000 applicants in 2016, so you need to stand out as much as you can. “In your personal statement try and find something that makes you unique,” sophomore Amber Li said. “It doesn’t have to be academic related, maybe something you’ve overcome and that has helped you grow.” Get creative in personal essays and make your stories show why you’ll be an amazing Anteater.
Location: Orange County, Irvine, CA
Tuition & Fees: $14,750
Total Cost on Campus: $33,158
Undergrads Enrolled: 27,331
Grads Enrolled: 5,432
Total Enrolled: 32,754
Acceptance percentage: 41.5%
Percent Admitted who Enroll: 21.0%
Percentage of Male Students: 47%
Percentage of Female Students: 53%
Percentage Receiving Financial Aid: 74%
Percentage Receiving Federal Grants: 43%
Percentage Receiving Federal Loans: 44%