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  • Swati Chopra

University of California, Irvine

This is a series of posts on campuses I've visited. At times I've had the chance to meet up with admission officers and have included specific majors and data here. Please keep the date of my visit in mind as admission requirements and freshmen profiles change annually and updating these posts will not always be possible.

February 2023 - Counselor Tour

Founded in 1965, UCI is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot (ZOT, ZOT!!) and ranks in the top ten public universities in the nation. UCI has more than 37,000 students and offers 222 degree program.

Campus Feel and Surrounding Areas

When you first arrive at UCI, you can't help but feel surprised that you're so close to LA but it's so green and quiet! You'll find students relaxing and studying in the center of the campus at Aldrich Park. The campus has a unique circular layout with graduate buildings forming the outer and undergraduate buildings forming the inner of two concentric circles that

surround Aldrich Park. The campus is covered with clusters of oak, pine, and eucalyptus trees and feels like an oasis. Aldrich Park is also used throughout the year for new-student welcome events, campus-wide events, concerts, club fairs, etc.

UCI is an ideal location for students who like sunshine, mild weather, ocean breezes, and spending time at the beach.

The surrounding town of Irvine is very suburban and has been designated as a 'Safe City' by the FBI for 17 years straight. On top of all the amenities that Irvine offers (there's a Target, theater, and a Trader Joe's within walking distance), there's still a lot to do for students. Balboa Island is close by as is Newport Beach and Laguna Beach (both less than 10 miles away). John Wayne Airport (SNA) is a mere minutes away making it easy for students to fly in and out of Irvine.

Career Focus

UCI offers 5 career fairs throughout the year which averages over 100 employers from throughout the nation

Student Body and Social Life

UCI students and faculty are diverse and accomplished, and the campus is inclusive. UCI has over 4,400 international students. The student body is roughly 7,500 Hispanic, 10,000 Asian, 700 Black, and 4,000 White (plus other two or more races and those who are of unknown race). The undergraduate population totals about 29,000 out of which approximately 84% are in-state California students.

The U.S. Department of Education named UCI a Hispanic-serving institution, meaning that fully one-quarter of undergraduates identify as Latino and that half of all students receive financial aid. UCI is a founding member of Hispanic Serving Research Universities alliance, which aims to double Latino doctoral students and increase professoriate by 20 percent.

UCI also is designated as an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-serving institution.

Housing is guaranteed for two years for freshmen. 15,000 students live on campus and 95% of the student body lives within a 3 mile radius. You'll find gender-inclusive housing and restrooms at UCI as well as LGBTQ+ housing.

The 18 fraternities and 18 sororities attract 8 percent of the men and 9 percent of the women, and each has something going on every weekend. Even with all the clubs and activities available, students will have to make an effort to have a social life at UCI.


UCI is on the quarter system and offers 85+ majors and over 70 minors. UCI has 14 undergraduate 'academic schools' within the university and the advisors/counselors of each school work together and are familiar with the course catalogs from other schools; this makes it easier for students who want to transfer or pursue a minor from another field. All students have the same graduation requirements, regardless of which school they are attending.

The UCI Capital Internship Program helps students take part in the UC-DC or UC Sacramento programs and for students who are interested in studying abroad, UCI offers 170+ programs in 30 countries around the world.

For the 22nd consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report has recognized UCI Medical Center as one of America’s Best Hospitals.


56% of freshmen applied to the following 10 majors: Biological Sciences, Business Administration, Computer Science, Psychology BS, Nursing Science, Economics, Mech Engineering, Computer Science and Engineering, Criminology and Law & Society, and Undeclared. All majors within Computer Science are impacted. Most Engineering majors are also impacted except Material Science. Business Administration, Dance, Music, and Nursing are also impacted. The overall admit rate this past year was 21% and 18.5% for California students.

Students Who Thrive and Students Who Might Find it Challenging

Students who want to get involved in research will have access to world-class research facilities and professors who care about their students. Students who thrive are self-starters, self-driven, and are not intimidated by large classrooms - sometimes over 300 students strong. Students looking for a more personalized learning experience with broad academic advising services might want to look elsewhere. Professors have large teaching loads and graduate TAs serve many students, in place of professors. Since UCI is on the quarter system, students will also have a tough freshmen year getting used to the fast pace of lectures. UCI, like most of the UC schools, tends to cater to the strongest students and its assumed students are coming in with AP and Honors class experience.

However, UCI’s Student Success Initiatives provides robust support programs for students with unique needs and is worth looking into.

UCI is recognized among the 30 Best Colleges for Students with Learning Disabilities. The campus provides extensive offerings via the Disability Services Center.


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