The College Tour Diaries


Photo by Aiden Bowen

Aiden Bowen, Business and Advertising Team

Senior year, the year filled with college applications, long meetings with counselors, and most of all, boring tours led by droning guides. Though these tours can offer a better insight into a college, there’s no better way to feel out a college than just spending some time around it. And that’s just what I did. 

When normal students visit the colleges of their dreams, there’s a pretty standard procedure for what goes down. When my parents encouraged me to go visit the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) and Santa Barbara City College (SBCC), I seized the opportunity but did my “college visit” just a little differently. In this agenda, I will describe my college experience, or, as I like to call it, my Endless Summer. 

Day 1: 

9 a.m.: After I finish packing up my camping stuff, surfboards, and the gear I’ll need for my visits. I’ll need to grab some lunch for the drive and hit the road. As I begin driving down the 101, I feel the excitement as I approach Santa Barbara seeing the ocean for the first time on the drive and entering Santa Barbara County. I think to myself as I drive “Wow! I’ve never felt this excited for school of any kind.”

3 p.m.: As I reach the turnoff for Jalama Beach County Park, a beach about 30 minutes north of Santa Barbara, I make my final calls, check my email one last time, and prepare to get out of cell reception for a while. Though I came down Wednesday, I won’t start my visits until tomorrow which gives me plenty of time to “get a sense of the area.” After the 30 minute drive from the 1 to the beach, I park in the parking lot. I rush out of my car, throw my wetsuit on, wax up my board, and get into the water.

7 p.m.: After an amazing “sesh” in the pumping south swell that’s filling in, I change back into my clothes and drive around Isla Vista to grab some food. A  sizable burrito fills me up for the night and now I’m on the road again looking for a place to stay. 

9 p.m.: With much luck, I found an unreserved campsite at Refugio, a once in a blue moon opportunity, and set up sleeping arrangements for the night. 

10 p.m.: After finally setting up my tent, I get to bed since I know I’ll have a long day tomorrow. 

Day 2: 

4 a.m.: To get a campsite at Jalama, you need to show up at 5 am. That means an early start to the day is necessary. Though most go to bed at this time, I don’t find the early morning too bad. 

7 a.m.: I finally get my spot, the last campsite available and as soon as I get past the gate, I change into my suit, wax up my step up (a board made for bigger surf) as the bigger waves have arrived, and get into the water. 

12 p.m.: After a long and enjoyable session watching the sunrise and the dolphins swim by, I change back into some nicer clothes, get in my car and head back to downtown Santa Barbara. I walk around the Isla Vista campus taking in what I can of the pre-school “bustling campus”. 

1:30 p.m.: After some time spent walking around and taking in what I can of the UCSB Campus, I head off down the coast to go check out SBCC. Exploring what feels like a Southern California version of Walnut Creek, I can’t disagree with how beautiful the campus is. 

4 p.m.: After spending a  good portion of my day exploring the campuses, I head out to do some more learning about the schools, AKA checking out the beach. As the tide is low, it’s time for my second session of the day.

7 p.m.: Though a little shorter this time, my second session was no less enjoyable. After it’s all said and done, I cook up my dinner and watch the sunset on the beach reflecting on my time spent here. 

Though my college tour was a bit unconventional and the entire Mirador staff makes fun of my random, parentless excursion through Southern California, and though I spent a large portion of my trip surfing, it’s impossible to ignore how much I enjoy Santa Barbara for more than just it’s surf. Relatively uncrowded and quite beautiful, both UCSB and SBCC are amazing schools and with a sense of their campuses and the surrounding area, they definitely make some of the top schools on my list.