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.
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.
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.