The Six Colleges at UC San Diego, Ranked
Everyone who has applied to UC San Diego is aware that the university is almost unique in that they offer six different colleges independent of one's major. It can be a confusing system, and while each college has its merits I will rank each of the six colleges from 1-6 based on general education requirements, general living standards as I remember them, and overall appeal.
Revelle College is UC San Diego's first college, named after first provost Roger Revelle. For those interested, he apparently coined the term "greenhouse effect." Many Revelle College students liken the writing sequence, Humanities or HUM, to having a bandaid slowly and painfully ripped off. You are required to take five quarters of HUM, as well as a full three quarter sequence of calculus. Many students believe that Revelle has the least flexibility in terms of general education requirements. However, if you are a pure science or math major, there is some pretty generous overlap with the general education coursework.
Plaza, Revelle's dining hall, is, as of 2013, closed for renovation. It will reopen in 2014 I believe. Revelle's residential halls for freshman are a little older in comparison to other residential halls, but the Keeling Apartments for continuing students is popular. So popular, in fact, that not every continuing student that is in Revelle College will get the chance to live in them. Overflow students generally go to Sixth College apartments instead.
As a separate note, transfer students be warned: Revelle College is the one college where you're most like to have the least amount of courses fulfill your general education requirements. If you are a transfer student, avoid this college like the plague.
Warren College is named after a former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Warren is often known as the engineering college, primarily because the Jacobs School of Engineering is located within Warren College. However, you do not have to be an engineering major to be in the college. The general education coursework requires students to study two areas of concentration. These areas of concentration must be outside of your major and not related to each other. For example, if you are an Economics major, like myself, you would be required to study an area of concentration in the Science/Math area of study as well as a separate area of concentration in the Humanities area of study. Engineering majors have to study fewer courses for their areas of concentration, so although Warren is "officially" not the engineering college, it is the only college that gives leeway to engineering majors.
Warren's dining hall, Canyon Vista is neither good nor bad, and the residential halls and on campus apartments are as equally mediocre. There has been a few issues with overflow in Warren as of recent times however. As students are guaranteed less years of guaranteed housing, expect the problem to subside.
Sixth College is the newest college. Sixth College is generally considered the most spirited college across the board, and their Orientation Leaders will even teach you some strange hand sign that is unique to Sixth. The general education sequence is focused on the 21st century scholar. The writing sequence, Culture, Art, and Technology, is considered one of the more interesting writing sequences offered. You are also required to do a practicum, which I never had fully explained to me, but apparently amounts to a personal research project on a topic you are interested in.
I like Sixth College's dining hall Foodworx because you can build your own pizza. The residential halls are decent, as are the apartments. From what I understand, Eleanor Roosevelt College used to be located there.
Eleanor Roosevelt College
Eleanor Roosevelt College is usually the most applied to college at UC San Diego. Whether it's because Eleanor Roosevelt is the most familiar name, or that people hear about the college's relatively new residential halls, ERC is the most popular college choice among first years. Be warned, however, that you will be required to take a five quarter writing sequence known as Making of the Modern World. While it's not terribly interesting, it does give you the opportunity to learn about the formation of different civilizations.
Eleanor Roosevelt's dining hall, Cafe Ventanas, is very inconsistent with their offerings. I have never a satisfying dinner at Cafe V, although their breakfast burritos are really good. The residential halls for freshman are, yes, some of the newest on campus. However, in many areas, the wireless internet signal is very weak, so I strongly recommend bringing an ethernet cable. The apartments are also very nice, and some of the most popular go-to places during the Sungod Festival, although that may be subject to change because of new rules regarding Sungod.
Transfer students, if you are placed in Eleanor Roosevelt College, you will be required to take 2 quarters of Making of the Modern World.
John Muir College
I'll start off by saying that John Muir College has the most flexible general education sequence. Muir is all about promoting the independent spirit, and no matter what major you are, you can get a lot of leeway in which courses you choose to be credited as general education. Muir Writing, although considered difficult by most students, is only two quarters. I knew a first year student that had essentially completed their general education sequence by taking Advanced Placement courses in high school.
John Muir's residential halls and apartments are in very tall buildings. If you don't like heights, make it known with the person placing you into a room. The new Tamarack apartments are nice, but again space is very limited and many students have been required to overflow back into freshman residential halls, which can be frustrating. Pines has been very inconsistent in the past few years, but is one of the newer dining halls.
Thurgood Marshall College
It would be remiss not to tell you, the reader, that I was placed into Thurgood Marshall College. I do know the most about that college, and it holds a very special place in my heart. That being said, I think that Thurgood Marshall College offers the most flexible general education requirements for both first year and transfer students. It is a popular choice for both groups of students. Marshall has a three quarter writing sequence known as Dimensions of Culture, when you study equality issues.
Marshall's dining hall, Oceanview Terrance, is generally a popular pick among students. Oceanview Terrance became a buffet for two quarters in the 2012-2013 year, but has since reverted back to being a la carte like all the other dining halls. The residential halls are above average. The apartments are split into uppers and lowers, but both areas are actually pretty nice as well.
For me, the best college offers a flexible general education sequence, a good dining hall, and a good overall experience. I have known many students from all six colleges and I find that Thurgood Marshall College students are generally the most pleased with their placement. I highly encourage the reader to do further research based on their major. You really can't go wrong with any one of the colleges.