The six colleges of UCSD

November 10, 2006 at 10:51 am 13 comments

Posted by Teja

The University of California, San Diego may be known for its sunny beaches and super hot surfers but don’t be fooled into underestimating its academic rigor. As a large campus with over 20,000 undergraduates, there is no lack of academic and recreational activities.If you choose to go to a big university, such as UCSD, it is very important to be independent. Unlike in high school and smaller colleges, there is no “spoon-feeding.” You are completely responsible for yourself: signing up for classes, asking for help, getting advice, etc. Consequently, studies at UCSD are as hard or as easy as you make them. There are many opportunities to get involved in leadership, research, and social activities but they do not come to you, you must go look for them. With that said, I’ll tell you a little bit about UCSD…

The academic year is based on the quarter system, which allows you to take a vast number of classes in various subjects. There are four quarters to a year. Fall quarter from September to December, winter quarter from January to March, spring quarter from March to June, and summer quarter during the summer (optional). Each quarter lasts about 10 weeks, so if you really dislike a class it will pass by with the blink of an eye. On the negative side, this system demands a constant output of work; I have only been here for 2 months but have already gone through midterms, and the quarter is almost over.

UCSD is the only UC that is split up into 6 different sub-colleges. The beauty of this system lies in community. As a student you live with and take core classes with people from your college. The rest of your classes will have students from any of the six colleges. With this system you get the community feel of a small college, but the top research facilities and opportunities of a university.

In the application process you are asked to rank each college in order of preference. I warn you now, do not make this decision hastily, because your college will affect your location, General Education requirements, housing, and community. It’s important to take all these factors into account. Do not just choose a college because of housing; since housing is guaranteed only for the first two years, after the GEs will come to haunt you.

Each college has a writing core requirement, with a “programmatic theme” that ranges from two quarter to six quarters.

Let’s start with Revelle, the oldest college on campus. Revelle has the toughest curriculum, requiring 20 to 24 quarters of GEs. Its five-quarter writing sequence is known as HUM. This college is surrounded by a majority of the performing arts facilities. It is bordered on one side by Mandeville, where the music and theater classes are held. On the other side it is bordered by the dance studios and the dance and theater offices. It is also home to CLICS, the biomedical library. The aura surrounding Revelle indicates that it’s nothing too special, just a lot of work.

The next founded college is Muir, known for having the least general education requirements. Muir has a total of 14 quarters of GEs, more than half of which do not involve math or science. Its two-quarter writing core is the shortest at UCSD; it has been described as “quick, but difficult.” Muir has two residence halls called Tioga and Tenaya. Tioga is a new building this year, with larger bedrooms than most other buildings. At Tioga residents have a view of the ocean from the 4th floor on. Muir is in an optimal location on the UCSD campus, it literally is at the center of everything. First, it contains the Sun God lawn, which hosts many school-wide events. It is surrounded by Mandeville (arts department), Humanities and Social Sciences, Applied Physics and Mathematics, and Biology. It is also relatively close to library walk and Center Hall (where many of the freshman classes are held). The only disadvantage with Muir is that it does not have a strong sense of community. Because the halls are so isolated and gated, it’s hard to go out and meet others.

The third college is Marshall, which is known for having the best dining hall and fine apartments. Marshall is home to Ocean View Terrace (OVT), the ONLY dining hall that is open past 8 p.m.; so if you are a late eater, consider applying to Marshall. Like Muir, Marshall is relatively close to the center of campus and has few general education requirements. Its three quarter writing core focuses on “Dimensions of Culture.” In total it has 15 quarters of required general education, which cover a breadth of subjects.

Warren is the fourth college at UCSD; it is home to the Jacob’s School of Engineering. Unfortunately, this makes its location ridiculously far from most lecture halls and classrooms. Warren has 11 quarters of GEs for engineering majors and 17 quarters of GEs for non-engineering majors. If you are considering being an Engineer, I would strongly recommend Warren (as long as you don’t mind walking far for classes). Luckily Warren’s GEs are so vague and flexible, you can literally take whatever you choose, as soon as you complete a two-quarter writing core.

The fifth college, Eleanor Roosevelt College, also known as ERC, has the newest and best-looking dorms in the entire university. It is also located right next to the RIMAC, the largest college gym facility west of the Mississippi. Unfortunately, other than nice dorms and a location near the gym and sports fields, ERC does not have much to offer. It has 15 to 19 GEs, a six quarter writing core and a location that is unbelievably far from the rest of campus. I personally would ask you to think twice about applying to ERC, unless you are an athlete or a gym-buff. Then again, once you visit ERC you might just be so blown away by its beautiful, futuristic dorms and forget all that is mentioned above.

Finally, we come to the sixth college, ironically, named Sixth College. As a resident of Sixth, I have to say that it is comprised of the best community at UCSD. Sixth is called “camp snoopy,” because of its log-cabin-like residence halls, which surround a lively quad area. Residence halls are little buildings that are like houses, equipped with a kitchen, living room, study hall and four common rooms. Each building houses 53 residents, including one Residential Advisor. This set-up allows residents to meet and make friends easily, it allows for community events and best of all, it is very “home-like.” Unfortunately, with anything wonderful comes a negative consequence. Sixth has 17 quarters of GEs, with a three quarter writing core. The writing core focuses on the topics of Culture, Art and Technology, but don’t be fooled, the class is nowhere as interesting as it appears.

With that, I wish you the best of luck in applying college. The toughest part is choosing really.


Entry filed under: Academics, Admissions, Advisor, Application, Applied science, Art, Athletics, Beach, Biology, Classes, Colleges/Universities, Community, Core, Dance, Description, Dorm, Education, Eleanor Roosevelt, Engineering, Extracurricular activities, Flexibility, Freshman, Friend, GE, High school, Housing, Humanities, Leadership, Lecture, Library, Marshall, Mathematics, Midterm, Motivation, Muir, Music, Online application, Organization, Physics, Profession, Public schools, Quarter, Ranking, Recreation, Registration, Research, Revelle, Science, Sixth, Social science, Sports, Summer, Surfing, Technology, Theatre, Tips/Tricks, UC San Diego, University of California, Warren, Winter, Writing.

Importance of a CV A “duh” tip #2

13 Comments Add your own

  • 1. TalkingMango aka Mandy  |  November 11, 2006 at 11:00 pm

    I wanted to tell you this is the entry I really needed to read. Thank you. You have no idea how much this is helping me.

  • 2. Teja  |  November 12, 2006 at 5:40 am

    Thanks Mandy!

  • 3. Melody  |  November 17, 2006 at 2:22 am

    I loved this entry! Thanks.

    I have a question: if I apply for Bioengineering:Premedical, does that still count as an engineering major (I looked through the courses and it seemed more premed than engineer)? So if I do go to Warren, the GE would be 11 and not 17?

    And, I see that you mentioned Muir isn’t very social, what about Warren?


  • 4. Kenny  |  November 19, 2006 at 10:06 pm

    Thank you so much!!! I have been looking for something like this for over 2 hours.

  • 5. Melissa  |  November 25, 2006 at 2:49 am

    I strongly disliked this entry, honestly. I think it misrepresented many of the colleges discussed. (Esp the part about UCSD being full of “hot surfers”… where are they hiding? Anyways, I feel that the generalizations you assigned to the colleges had little to do with their programmatic focuses and resources, but rather on their location on campus (which really doesn’t matter after your 2nd year when you move off campus).

    I must defend the other colleges!

    Personally, I am a 4th year Revelle Student. I wouldn’t agree with you that it is “nothing too special, just a lot of work”. I do agree that the GE’s are a lot of work, but this is ignoring the whole point of having this many GE’s. Revelle is perfect for the student who is not sure what they want to study. The GEs provide an opportunity to explore MANY different disciplines. It is also perfect for the science major who wants to be well-rounded in the social sciences and writing, as well. It has been shown that the students who complete the HUM sequence score higher on the writing portion of the MCATS! Also, Revelle is a very prestigious college, which is ranked separately from (and higher than) the rest of UCSD in several national college ranking systems. Since it was the first college, Revelle carries with it a strong sense of tradition– evident in the events it puts on, its College Council, and its Student Affairs/Academic Advising Staff and programs. Nothing special? I would strongly disagree.

    As for Muir, I would say that it is FAR FROM being the least social college! Muirons are known for being fun and creative!

    In response to “If you are considering being an Engineer, I would strongly recommend Warren (as long as you don’t mind walking far for classes). ” Warren students who are engineers REALLY don’t have to walk far at all from the dorms, since all the engineering buildings are IN Warren.

    Poor ERC! You ripped it apart! I think this is a wonderful college! In response to ” Unfortunately, other than nice dorms and a location near the gym and sports fields, ERC does not have much to offer. ”
    I would HEARTILY disagree! This college is full of REALLY good-looking people! Plus the International House is here, so hot FOREIGN people too! Student government and College Council in ERC is very active (and has a lot of money). It is also a very spirited college (won Spirit Night last year). Further, since it is home to the International House and the Graduate School of International Relations/ Pacific Studies, many opportunities/programs are put on that have to do with culture and diversity. Plus they have a REALLY nice dining hall, possibly my favorite!

    I love Sixth College! I am an RA in the Matthews Apartments, which house Revelle 2nd years, but are located in Sixth College. Though it is really far away from most things, this does foster a great sense of community. They’re a fun bunch!

    As for the problem of distance to classes, there are many ways to avoid this– ie. take the shuttle! Just be sure to get to the shuttle stop early, or else you may be late. Or ride your bike! UCSD is pretty spread out, so everything requires some amount of walking. It is possible to get across campus by walking in about 15-20 minutes at a brisk pace.

    I would love to talk more about these colleges, so should any readers out there have any questions at all, shoot me an email at

  • 6. Dee  |  November 26, 2006 at 11:12 am

    Thanks for the comment, Melissa!

    I definitely appreciate your insight; we liked Teja’s post because it gave a comprehensive review of each UCSD college, but as with all things, people will always have differing perspectives so it’s great to hear other people’s views too!

  • 7. Julie Ann Fan  |  December 4, 2006 at 8:42 pm

    Thanks Melissa for defending ERC because that’s my first choice college! 🙂 Pray i get in! Anyways, I was feeling doubtful about my decision, but now I’m completely happy about it. Thanks. 🙂 WISH ME LUCK!

  • 8. Teja  |  December 14, 2006 at 11:13 am

    Thanks Melissa.

    I think we needed a second opinion regarding this topic. As a freshman, I might not know as much as a junior or senior student. A majority of what I’ve written is what I’ve heard from other people. The students that I’ve talked to at various colleges appeared to complain and give negative feedback rather than positive. I simply reported what I heard.

    This is a very personal decision and I want to reiterate that it is based on personal choice and opinion. I was just here to give mine. For those who are considering this article in their decision making, it is important to do more research and get more feedback before jumping to any conclusions.


  • 9. Zach  |  March 26, 2007 at 4:49 am

    UCSD is the only UC that is split up into 6 different sub-colleges

    What about UC-Santa Cruz … it has 10 different sub-colleges?

  • 10. Seep  |  June 6, 2007 at 9:57 pm

    Oh my goodness… I can’t tell you how much this helped….. thank you loads for taking out your time to write this! 🙂

  • 11. Joseph  |  August 31, 2007 at 7:59 pm

    good read. i’m going to be in sixth this year.

  • 12. Brendan  |  September 3, 2010 at 7:15 am

    Awesome, thanks.

  • 13. janet  |  November 23, 2010 at 2:50 am

    thanks so much. this helped alot. =)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

AdmitSpit Photos

%d bloggers like this: