Covering over 810 hectares of land surrounded by Santa Cruz Mountains the main university campus has 10 colleges, residential colleges and the modern McHenry library gathering publications related to arts, humanities and social sciences.
Alongside their work on campus scholars are also encouraged to benefit from the university’s strong connections and gain work experience in the industry. Alternatively students can choose complete a yearlong exchange programme with a partner university such as the University of New Mexico or the University of New Hampshire.
The university drives changes in the local area encouraging sustainability initiatives which are an integral part of life on campus. UCSC has made a considerable effort to local water resources preservation, traffic reduction and recycling and has achieved a notable reduction in traffic congestion locally among other things.
The heavily forested area has allowed UC Santa Cruz to operate a recreational vehicle park as a form of student housing. There are a number of natural points of interest throughout the UCSC grounds. The "Porter Caves" are a popular site among students on the west side of campus.
On campus, there are more than 25 miles of hiking and jogging trails and more than 100 student clubs and organizations. Only about 3 percent of students are the members of the school's small Greek system. The UC Santa Cruz sports teams are independent competitors in the NCAA's Division III. Athletes are cheered on by the Banana Slug, a nontraditional yellow earthen creature that has been recognized among the best mascots in the country.
For fun students can tour Dead Central, a room full of Grateful Dead memorabilia donated by the band to UCSC or explore the small beach town of Santa Cruz located on Monterey Bay. There are rides and games on the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and opportunities for swimming, sailing and kayaking on the bay. To get around students can travel on the Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District buses for free with school ID. For longer road trips Monterey is 45 miles away and San Francisco is a 75-mile trip.
Most of the UCSC undergraduate housing is affiliated with one of the ten residential colleges. The residence halls which include both shared and private rooms, typically house fifteen to twenty students per floor and have common bathrooms and lounge areas.
Some halls have coed floors where men and women share bathroom facilities, others have separate bathroom facilities for men and women. Single-gender, gender-neutral and substance-free floors are also available.
All of the colleges except for Kresge have both residence halls and apartments. Kresge is all apartments. Apartments are typically shared by four to eight students, have common living/dining rooms, kitchens and bathrooms and a combination of shared and private bedrooms.
Apartments at colleges other than Kresge are generally reserved for students above the freshman level.
Career student services in UCSC include finding job opportunities, career coaching, exploring majors and careers, preparing for a job (resume, search and apply), organizing career events, connecting with employees.