Why I Chose UCI
I remember the stress of being a high school senior, anxiously awaiting the notification that you (think) will change your life forever. Here’s what I learned about that moment, and wish someone had told 18 year old me:
Please don’t stress out about college admissions. You’ve done the best that you can.
Your “safety school” is someone’s top choice - stop talking down on universities that aren’t world-famous to you!
Wherever you’re accepted, or not accepted, is the best course for you.
What I mean to say is, there’s a huge narrative at UCI that UCI wasn’t any person’s “top-choice” school. But as UCI continue to grow in prestige and rank, that narrative is shifting.
When I was in high school I applied to 5 UCs and 1 state school - I ended up getting accepted into 4 of these schools, and after getting over the initial “oh my god, why don’t people want me?” phase, I really started to get down to business by narrowing my options. It came down to UC Santa Barbara and UC Irvine. I had no idea what I wanted to study back then - I actually chose a different major for each school I applied to, hoping to just let fate decide, so I didn’t have much input on rankings of programs/majors. I ended up visiting each campus to break the tie, and went to UCSB’s “Gaucho Day” and UCI’s “Celebrate UCI.”
After exploring and taking tours of both campuses, the tie breaker was location. As a Southern California girl, I wanted something close to home - not too close, just close enough to visit every so often, and get free laundry done and a home cooked meal. I wanted somewhere that felt safe, and that had plenty of stuff to do around the area. I’ve been used to suburban living all my life, and to me, UCI was the neighborhood to be. It was near the beach, had plenty of biking paths and outdoor parks, but also shopping centers and Disneyland at its backdoor. I would never be scared to walk alone at night, and if I craved good Asian food, Little Saigon was also right around the corner. This level of convenience was comforting for me. The people were all extraordinarily kind, and the campus itself was gorgeous - I knew I could spend every day exploring the campus and still find something new everyday (and I still do!)
My older sister was already at UCI, which helped a lot - to be honest with myself, I’m not sure how easy it would have been for me to live very far from home at 18. As much as we like to think that we’re adults when we’re 18, whoever decided 18 was adult-aged was seriously delusional - I would have missed home, my parents, and my dog way too much. UCI felt like home already to me as soon as I stepped on campus with my older sister on her move-in day.
On the very last day before the deadline to submit my statement of intent to register, I chose UCI. Whatever you choose, remember to choose what fits best for you, not your parents, and not your friends. Regardless of the choice, you define your college experience, and not the university around you.