CM’s Guide to University of California, Davis

University of California, Davis

UC Davis’ Instagram

The Vibe

Small-town environmental academics

What it Feels Like to Go Here

Imagine a small-town-college-vibe, where everyone living in the city either currently attends the college or proudly reps their alumni status. “I was shocked to hear that at other schools, it isn’t normal to offer a scantron and pencil to a stranger who forgot to bring theirs to a test,” said freshman Veronika Dvorakova. Mainly sporting athletic clothes, people at UC-Davis are friendly and helpful. The partying scene exists, but it’s not a staple for all students. You can find a party if you want to “get turnt,” but you can also avoid them and chill out on the weekends if you choose. The hot, dry weather at UC-Davis makes its students eco-conscious, and you’ll find signs in the bathroom telling you to take shorter showers.

Awesome Alumni

The list of famous Davis alumni runs a mile long. Current Congresswoman Jackie Speier, who represents the 14th district of California, got her BA from UC Davis.  Up in space, astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson, who has completed three spacewalks and was present on the Space Shuttle Endeavor flight in 2007, earned her Ph.D. in chemistry from UC Davis and worked as a chemistry lab TA. Even though UC Davis is very much #WestCoastBestCoast, fans of the New York Jets or the Philadelphia Eagles will recognize the name Ken O’Brien, a former Quarterback for both teams and a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. Many of us grew up watching The Chronicles of Narnia movies and now love Captain America. Did you know that the duo who writes for those franchises, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeeley, met in the UC Davis graduate writing program and have worked together since?

Where We Hang

The small-town vibe of Davis means that students tend to hang out on campus or at students’ houses around town. “On campus, the quad and the ‘coho’ are really popular. The coho, formerly known as the coffee house, faces the quad and is run by the student government,” said Dvorakova. With hammocks around campus, you’ll probably see students fighting over the last hammock hanging free. “Our whole campus looks like a park,” student Kaitlyn Kelly said. In town, students like to go to places like Temple Coffee Roasters for their caffeine fix, Open Rice Kitchen for cheap and quick Asian food and Armadillo Music for the coolest old records.


1. How much are students partying?

“UC Davis definitely has a small town feel so we don’t have a bunch of fancy bars or cool concert venues to go to. If you want to party getting involved in Greek life and other organizations can maximize your party experience. However, if that’s not your thing, the party culture will never be on you face (except on picnic day). You can easily drink 7 days a week or none depending on what you like. Something to keep in mind though is partying at Davis is almost always fairly casual so there’s no pressure to look hot,” said Tereza Dvorak, junior and international relations major.

2. What will you get in trouble for at your school?

Like most schools, hanging anything with a regular nail or hook isn’t allowed. The campus focuses on academic excellence, so you’ll rarely hear about someone getting in major trouble. “Honestly I haven’t heard of many students getting into trouble,” said Soha Said, freshman human development major.

3. How much sex are students having?

“I feel like it’s pretty 50/50. There are some people who engage in the hook up culture but I also know a good amount of people who are in exclusive relationships either with people from home or people they have met here,” said Danielle Al-Abed, freshman and international relations major.

4. What would you tell incoming freshman about your school?

Freshman and Human Development Major Taylor Sexton said, “[Davis] is the friendliest town I’ve ever been in, it feels very homey and everything truly is accessible by bike, due to the biking-town nature. It’s generally very easy to make friends due to the welcoming atmosphere. I would highly suggest joining clubs because it is such a big school and having just another place to go to, like a club, makes it easier to make connections and always have something productive and fun to do.”

5. What’s the best place to eat on campus?

“The food trucks! They are always parked around campus and they’re all good. It’s definitely a nice break from the food at the Dining Commons,” saidKarissa Tom, freshman and design major.

Overall Experience

“I was surprised by the fact that even though Davis is a huge school, it doesn’t feel that large because of all of the people I have met. Everyone is so nice here and easy to talk to so making friends is pretty easy. I think every time I go somewhere I see someone I know and that makes Davis feel like a very tight-knit community.” – Kaitlyn Kelly, Class of 2019

“People here go out of their way to be especially kind and supportive of one another. One time I was in the laundry room and I forgot my laundry hamper, but I had folded all my clothes. One guy offered to carry all my clothes up the stairs to the fourth floor.” – Olivia Pollart, Nutrition Sciences major, Class of 2019

“I think freshman year can be really hard at UC Davis though that may be the case at all universities. Here students don’t get really pumped for sports or anything like that so it can be hard to have a super exciting first year. Davis is excellent once you establish your hobbies and through that you are able to find your people. At Davis people are really involved in student organizations so joining a few and feeling it out your first year is the way to go.” –Tereza Dvorak, International Relations major, Class of 2017

“[UC Davis] is a small town on the edge of becoming a small city. I’m from the South Bay in California so I’m used to the cramped, busy lifestyle of a big urban area. But Davis allows us to take a step back and have some breathing room. The people here are amazing and nice and there’s plenty of room (physically too) to grow as students and leaders. There are so many opportunities here and we’re definitely underrated in the way we engage and empower students.” – Alex Lee, Political Science and Communication major, Class of 2017

“Because it’s a research university, there are a lot of opportunities to get hands-on experience, whether you’re in a lab or with the animals. I know a lot of first-years that are involved in research for their major. So, it’s definitely something that you can get involved with easily. It’s a great place to get experience, especially for Animal Science majors. I got to see newborn goats, cows and pigs up close just last week.” –Karissa Tom, Design major, Class of 2019

Top 3 Majors

1. Psychology

2. Economics

3. Biology/Biological Sciences

Top 3 Most Popular Student Organizations

Because of the campus’ size, there are a million organizations that fit anyone’s interest. For each member of an organization, theirs can feel like the center of their universe.

1. Greek Life

Like many state universities, Greek life dominates campus life at UC Davis. Although it’s not necessarily as popular as on other campuses, Davis Greek life embodies a close knit community. “Everyone in the Greek community is super close no matter which sorority and fraternity they’re in. There are really tight connections among them all so whenever we have social events they’re always great because everybody knows everybody that’s there,” Said said.


The Associated Students, University of California Davis is a 100-year-old nonprofit that includes many programs run by the student government. “We positively impact students by being an integral part of the student experience: bussing you to school, making sure you’re fed, fulfilling your professional interests and making your voice heard to policy makers. My favorite part of ASUCD is definitely the fact that students get the opportunity to create things they want to do,” junior political science and communication major and ASUCD President Alex Lee said.

3. Entertainment Council

The Entertainment Council brings the best concerts, movies and dance parties to campus. Recently they brought Robert DeLong and have brought groups like Muse and Death Cab for Cutie in the past. “It lets me be part of the inner working of big music and be in control of smaller things like open mic nights. I think people want to get involved with it because it’s honestly fun to do it, the people in it are so fun, and it’s a chance to be around and exposed to great music,” said Kurtie Kellner, freshman managerial economics and international relations major.

Getting In

Like all the UC schools, UC Davis has holistic admissions, meaning they consider you entire person instead of only your scores. A solid GPA and high SAT and ACT scores will help, but they care about how you spend your summer and free time. Rather than filling a campus with academically high-achieving students, UC Davis would rather see someone with an interest, talent or passion and a lower GPA. They want people who will succeed on the campus and meaningfully enrich the community. “Being a well rounded student and having done some volunteer work or really anything outside of academic life that requires a commitment [will help],” said Al-Abed. Still, getting in isn’t easy. The competition at UC Davis rises each year. For the admissions in 2015, 32.8 percent of in-state applicants were accepted, down from 40.6 percent in 2014. “Getting into UC Davis or other similar UCs is not an easy task and only continues to be more challenging. If UC Davis seems like the right school for you there are way other than what people traditionally advertise to getting in,” said Dvorak.


Location: Davis, CA

Tuition & Fees: $13, 951 (in-state), $38,659 (out-of-state)

Total Cost on Campus: $34, 323 (in-state), $59, 031 (out-of-state)

Undergrads Enrolled: 27,966

Grads Enrolled: 6,605

Total Enrolled: 35,186

Acceptance percentage: 38.2%

Percent Admitted Who Enroll: 21.8%

Enrollment: 5,369

Percentage of Male Students: 41%

Percentage of Female Students: 59%

Percentage Receiving Financial Aid: 76%

Percentage Receiving Federal Grants: 38%

Percentage Receiving Federal Loans: 41%

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