My Core Class Experience in the College of Biological Sciences (First and Second Year)

For all majors in the College of Biological Science, there are some common preparatory major core classes that all students in CBS are required to take in the first two years of college. Regardless of your major, you will have to take calculus, chemistry, biology, physics, and statistics. These classes are important because they provide fundamental knowledge in the field of biological sciences. Before you start in-depth major classes, mastery in core classes gives you the essential tool kit.

I am currently a third year Genetics and Genomics major. In this blog post, I will talk about some core classes I took and my experiences in them.

MAT21AB: Calculus

Usually students in College of Biological Sciences take MAT17ABC to fulfill the math requirement. MAT17 is a year-long calculus class designed for biology students, featuring calculus applications in biology topics. MAT21AB, the first two classes of the MAT21 series, is an alternative option. Honestly, I chose to take MAT21A and MAT21B in my first year because I wanted to finish calculus in two quarters instead of three (which might not work for everyone). The two classes focused more on principles and theories, including solving proof questions and calculus equations. I took a light workload along with MAT21A and MAT21B, since I did not have much background in calculus.

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The Calculus Room is a great place to get academic help besides the Student Academic Success Center and the Residence Hall tutoring hours.

BIS2ABC: Introduction to Biology

I really enjoyed the BIS2 series because the series includes everything from micro to macro. BIS2A is about cell organelles, photosynthesis, chemical bonds, and properties of bio-molecules. BIS2B is an introduction to ecology, evolution, and biodiversity. BIS2C focuses on phylogenies, the five kingdoms, and life cycles of fungus/plants/animals. Note that BIS2A and BIS2B can be taken in either sequence, but BIS2C has to be taken after BIS2B. In addition, it is recommended for students without a strong chemistry background to start with BIS2B.

Capture(My BIS2C study notes for the final)

CHE2ABC: General Chemistry

CHE2 lectures are always in big lecture halls with hundreds of people. It is one of the most commonly taken classes for first year students, since many majors have chemistry as a requirement. CHE2 series provided me a solid background in chemistry, which helped a lot in my upper division biochemistry classes. I also learned to use the titration apparatus, the pH meter, and other cool equipment in the labs. An alternative option for general chemistry is the CHE3 series (“Integrated General and Organic Chemistry intended for majors in the life sciences”), which incorporates water-based reactions and some organic chemistry. CHE3 is a relative new course, and only certain biology related majors accept it for major requirement. If you plan to switch majors, take CHE2 series for more flexibility!

Image result for titration memesGet ready for General Chemistry with your lab coat, goggles, and carbon notebook:)

CHE118ABC: Organic Chemistry for Health and Life Sciences

Students in the college can choose to take either CHE118 (a three quarter series) or CHE8 (a two quarter series). I took CHE118, since a year of organic chemistry is required for many medical schools. I personally think that organic chemistry (especially CHE118B) is one of the most difficult classes I have taken in UC Davis. The class is all about understanding how electrons transfer between molecules and memorizing different reaction mechanisms. It is like putting together pieces of a puzzle to get a full picture of chemistry – this class will definitely change your view of the subject on a molecular level. After all, organic chemistry is very different from general chemistry, since no calculation skills are required for the class. You might enjoy the class even if you are not a fan of gen chem!

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PHY7ABC: General Physics 

In PHY7 series, students spend 5 hours in Discussion Labs (DLs) and 1 hour in lecture every week. Most of the learning will happen in the discussion labs with your small group of classmates and TA. In the DLs, we did short experiments and discussed about the results with our small group. In PHY7A, I was tired with having two 2.5 hour labs every week, but as I moved towards 7B, and then 7C, I felt that the DLs gave me a better understanding on the lecture topics. I learned the best by solving questions, so the DLs matched with my learning style after I got used to it. Topics in PHY7 include: chemical bond energies and thermodynamics (7A), Newton’s Laws and circuits (7B), mirror/optical lenses and electromagnetic forces (7C).

STA100: Applied Statistics for Biological Sciences

STA100 is a very informative class, in which students are taught to analyze biology data with the statistics program R studio. In the first two weeks of class, the professor went over basic statistics including calculating the mean, medium, and standard deviation. Later, we learned more advanced concepts such as p values and the ANOVA table. There were two group projects in the quarter. We had to process a given data set (in my class it was about diabetes population) with methods learned in class and wrote two four-page reports. A few quarters after STA100, I joined a fish ecomorphology research, and our project was heavily based on data analysis. Thus, I really appreciated learning about R Studio in the class.

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Linya Hu
BASC Peer Advisor
Third Year, Genetics and Genomics Major

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Campus Food

Boasting the largest of the UC campuses, one would think that UCD would be hard-pressed to provide adequate dining opportunities for its ever-expanding population and across its sprawling campus. Yet, as I will highlight in this article, UCD has many excellent dining choices, whether you are looking for a full meal, a quick snack between lectures, or a cup of coffee before your morning lab.

Residence Hall Dining Commons

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This is the most familiar dining option for students who lived in the residence halls. The dining commons are all-you-can-eat cafeteria style buildings located in each of the three residents halls.  Each DC includes eight mini-restaurants, which each offer a couple of choices on any given day. Vegetarian and vegan options are always available. The menus change daily, and you can see the menus from each DC on the housing website. In addition to hot meals, the DC (almost) always stocks ice cream, cereal, and fruit. It has been a couple years since I have been there, but late night (~9PM-12AM) was always the most happening time at the DC, when fresh-baked cookies are available in addition to pizza and other late-night munchies.

For students without a meal plan or AggieCash: fear not! The DC accepts cash and card too.

Residential Markets

Nearby each DC is a market that offers typical convenience store snacks and drinks, in addition to smoothies, caffeinated shakes, and grab-and-go sandwiches, salads, and more. The markets also stock basic first aid, personal care, and hygiene products if you are in need of something and on campus. The residential markets’ hours vary slightly depending on the residential area, and all hours can be found on the student housing website.

The Gunrock

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Once named the Gunrock Pub, and the only place on campus to crack a cold one, “The Gunrock” is now a dry establishment, but it still has a mouth-watering menu. The Gunrock offers a sit-down restaurant environment with the convenience of being located centrally on campus in the Silo. The Gunrock accepts reservations, which is helpful for planning lunch with friends or making sure you make it to class on time.

The Silo

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In addition to The Gunrock, the Silo is home to several other restaurants. Spokes Grill offers burgers, fries, and shakes. La Crepe offers authentic French crepes, and is run by the same owner of the Crepe Bistro, a very popular restaurant downtown that closed after suffering damages in a fire. Once famous for its french onion soup as well as crepes, Davis localwiki describes La Crepe as a “small rendition of what the Crepe Bistro used to be, minus the soup”. The Silo also houses a Peet’s coffee, and a selection of grab-n-go meals.

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As all UCD students know, the construction and renovations on campus seem never-ending, but sometimes they result in new eateries that open under the radar of most of us. Most recently, the Silo Market opened, featuring a new made-to-order pizza place and a sandwich deli. The Silo Market otherwise is similar to the residential markets, offering soft drinks, candy, and snacks, although with more variety.

ASUCD Coffee House

Located on the North quad, the Coffee House is one of the most popular eating spaces on campus. It has a selection of student-staffed restaurants, including pizza, TexMex, bagels, sandwiches, and more. Of course coffee and baked goods are available.

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In addition to the eponymous Coffee House, there are places to get coffee all over campus. There are Peet’s in the Silo, the ARC, and outside King Hall. My favorite coffee stop on campus, however, is Bio Brew. Bio Brew is located on the 1st floor in the Science Laboratory Building, just inside on the North side. Just next door, you will find BASC! Stop by and say hello to a peer advisor!

Scrubs cafe

If you find yourself hungry but you are all the way in the Health Sciences district, there is no need to walk 40 miles to the Silo for a sandwich. The Scrubs cafe is conveniently located on Garrod drive next to Vet Med Student Services, and serves coffee, breakfast, and lunch items.

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Food Trucks

UC Davis is visited daily by a caravan of food trucks of different styles, which take up residence at various spots around campus. The most food trucks can be found lined up outside the Silo next to the Bike Barn. Other locations are between Science Lab Building and Storer Hall, outside the Mondavi center, and by Medical Sciences in the Health Science district. Shah’s Halal is a campus favorite, but I suggest trying them all. My personal favorite are the fish tacos from Azteca Street Tacos. Food truck schedules and locations can be found online.

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Hopefully you are hungry now after reading this. Go out and try some new UCD cuisine!

Justin Waskowiak
BASC Peer Advisor
3rd Year: Evolution, Ecology, & Biodiversity major

Plant Facilities of UC Davis

I am an Evolution, Ecology, and Biodiversity major and a huge biology nerd with a special passion for herpetology, but before going through the BIS 2C labs – tracing plant evolution from bryophytes through monocots, and studying the adaptations of the miraculous plant world – I had never bothered giving plants much thought. My eyes were opened as a 2nd year when I took BIS 2C. I am now a plant enthusiast almost as much as I am a snake enthusiast, and I credit UC Davis and our incredible plant facilities and collections on campus to sparking my interest. Here are a few of the many plant facilities that UC Davis has to offer.

The Arboretum

Probably the most popular plant exhibit on campus – the Arboretum is a long stretch of gardens, plant collections, and paved walkways along the pond where the North fork of Putah Creek historically flowed. Among their plant collections include the Shields Oak Grove on the West side of the Arboretum, with an astounding diversity of large oak species, and the T. Elliot Weier Redwood Grove, a perfect spot for a nicely shaded picnic near the Southeast side of campus. The Arboretum is lined with plant collections from around the world, including South American, Mediterranean, South West U.S.A./Mexican, East Asian, and California foothill collections. The Arboretum is open to the public all day, all week, and all year and seasonally holds plant sales. Last year I bought my first carnivorous plant at the Arboretum plant sales!

Plant Conservatory

Most of us are probably aware of the greenhouse on top of the Science Laboratory Building, but have you been inside? Did you know that the Science Lab greenhouse is just the start of what the UC Davis Plant Conservatory has to offer? The Plant Conservatory runs a lot of the campus’s plant propagation needs, including preparing divisions for the Arboretum plant sales. In addition to the Science Lab Building greenhouse, the Conservatory operates several greenhouses with an astounding collection of tropical and arid plants located behind Storer Hall. The greenhouses operated by the Plant Conservatory are open to the public for drop in hours during the day as well as guided tours – check the Center for Plant Diversity website for more information.

Center for Plant Diversity Herbarium

In addition to the Plant Conservatory greenhouses, the Center for Plant Diversity provides a great resource for researchers, amateur plant biologists, or anyone with a curiosity for plant identification. The Herbarium is a repository of over 300,000 preserved plant samples and lengthy species keys managed by UC Davis resident plant identification experts. You can take samples to the Herbarium for accurate identification, free of charge for the first 5 times each year. The Herbarium is now located in the Science Laboratory Building on the first floor, right next to the Biology Academic Success Center!

Other plant resources

The CAES greenhouses, west of campus by the stadium, are available to rent space through a simple google form.

The Plant Conservatory’s controlled environment facilities serve as an incredibly helpful research tool to plant, agriculture, and environmental sciences among others. These state-of-the-art climate controlled chambers are available to rent monthly.

Hopefully attending a school with such a strong reputation in agriculture and plant biology will instill in you an interest for plants like it did me. It’s a great time to start learn how to garden or pick up some interesting house plants. Here are my indoor plants I’ve collected since taking BIS 2C:

Justin Waskowiak
BASC Peer Advisor
Third Year: Evolution, Ecology, and Biodiversity

Pumpkin Spice Is Not All That’s Nice in Davis

Fall is hands down the best time of the year. Mostly because my birthday is in the fall, but also because it means we have all finally escaped the infamous “Davis summer.” BeforeImage result for pumpkin patch davis long, it’ll be winter and we all know that once the California snow comes in, we’d rather just stay huddled up in bed. So take advantage of your newfound freedom to actually go outside without melting or freezing. Fortunately, the Davis area is full of classic fall activities to help you distress after midterms and keep a healthy mind throughout the stressful quarter. After all, the great outdoors is the perfect place to relax and be around friends.

 

UC Davis Arboretum

The UC Davis Arboretum is one of the most beautiful spots on campus and a great place to unwind all year. During the fall, you can see the leaves change colors, making it the perfect place for a stroll or picnic.  The Arboretum is right on campus and is the most convenient way to get into the fall Image result for uc davis arboretum photosspirit. Besides the scenery, there are also Fall Plant Sales going on in the Arboretum (Saturday, October 22 and November 5) where you can find seasonal and local plants to brighten up your home. Be sure to stop by between classes, or make a day out of it! It might even be your lucky day and you’ll see that elusive river otter.

Corn Maze

Challenge yourself and your friends to a Guinness World Record corn maze. Cool Patch Pumpkins is located in Dixon, less than 6 miles away from campus. If you have gone before, no worries! The maze design is changed every year. If you haven’t, get ready for 43 acres of corn. Before you panic, there is an intermediate path and an advanced path to choose from. Although Cool Patch Pumpkins is open throughout the day, the most popular time to go is at night to up the thrill level, but be forewarned: the maze gets very crowded at night and it is recommended to bring a flashlight. (I went a little earlier in the afternoon and preferred it more, though, since my group essentially had the entire maze to ourselves. Tradeoffs, you know?)

Pumpkin Patch

Of course, it’s not fall without Halloween, and it’s not Halloween without pumpkins. Don’t settle for Safeway pumpkins! Treat yo’ self to fresh pumpkins at the many pumpkin patches around Davis. These include Impossible Acres Farm in Davis, Bobby Dazzler’s Pumpkin Patch in between Davis and Woodland, Cool Patch Pumpkins in Dixon, and Uncle Ray’s Pumpkin Patch in Sacramento. For anyone without a car, Impossible Acres Farm is not an impossible patch to get to and is a bike-able 3 miles away from campus, and Bobby Dazzler’s is just a little farther than that. Cool Patch Pumpkins is a good two-birds-one-stone patch to also experience the world record corn maze. Uncle Ray’s may be worth the drive to Sacramento for its free admission, hay rides, and corn maze (sadly, the pumpkins aren’t also free). There is a pumpkin patch for every need so don’t miss out!

Apple Hill

Spend a day with the pumpkin’s biggest fall-time rival: the apple. Apple Hill is filled with orchards, farms, and all sorts of activities. Whether it is eating fresh apple cider donuts at Rainbow Orchards or eating every other apple variety you can think of and more (apple tasting, wine tasting, juice, cider, pies, jams, syrups, etc.) at Boa Vista, you will have all your college student food cravings satisfied. And yes, you can pick and eat your own apples! For a more active day, Sly Park and Jenkinson Lake offers a picnic area, hiking/bike trails, kayak rentals, and camp grounds. Although Apple Hill is an hour away, there is more than enough to do to occupy you for an entire day or weekend.

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A big part of making yourself feel at home in Davis is exploring its surroundings. Before long, you’ll basically be a local. I finally felt like a real UC Davis student when I began to experience things outside of school and was able to recommend activities and places to visiting friends and family. Being happy and comfortable in Davis is important to your mental health and success at UC Davis. Start the school year off strong and make the most of everything our community has to offer. Good luck, and have fun!

Amanda Dao
BASC Peer Adviser
Third Year, Neurobiology, Physiology, & Behavior Major

 

Making a Four-Year Plan

Pass 1 for Winter 2016 is coming up. Some of you may already have a beautiful schedule lined up and some of you may still be frantically searching for classes to take, feeling lost and anxious. Whichever individual you are at the moment, you should seriously consider making a rough four-year plan or revising one you already have. Creating a four-year plan can seem daunting, time consuming, and unnecessary; however, in the long run your academic life will be much easier with a pre-planned schedule. Think about all those pass times that you won’t have to stress over! For many of you, creating a four-year plan may mean making life defining decisions such as: Should I go to Medical School? Will I be taking a gap year before work? Do I want to change my major? Am I finally going to minor in Spanish like I said I would?  Our recommendation is: make a plan now and don’t be afraid to change it along the way! Here are some simple steps to get started.

 

  • FRUSTRATEDKIDTalk to An Adviser (Or Multiple) 

Not sure where to begin when planning your future? When in doubt, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with your major adviser or come by during drop-in hours  to see a peer adviser. Trained professionals are available to give you the know how’s and the what’s ups to making an academic plan.

What about Double Majoring?

Finishing a double major at UC Davis requires tactful and strategic arranging of classes and definitely, lots of planning. When making a plan be sure to visit the advisers of both majors you intend to finish.

Thinking About Minoring?

Finishing one minor or even multiple minors is a great way to broaden your academic experience. Most minors require roughly 20 units; it’s also important to check for prerequisites and other minute details. For more information, talk to an adviser for the college or department you plan on minoring in.

Planning on Going to Professional School?NorthHall-Large

For many of you, applying to college won’t be the last time you needed to write a personal statement; find teachers for letters of recommendations; take a standardized exam; and ensure you fulfill all the prerequisites for your future dream school. This is where a four-year plan can really help you reach your professional dreams and make sure you fulfill all prerequisites, GE’s, and university/major requirements before you graduate. Applying to professional school is indeed difficult, but thankfully there are trained advisers available to guide you through the application process. Visit UC Davis’ Pre-Graduate/Professional Advising in 111 South Hall or go to 1011 SLB to talk to a Pre-Health Professions Adviser \

  • Make a List of Prospective Classes  

So, you’ve already seen your major adviser and you’re on track to graduate–Great! The next thing to do is incorporate interesting and/or relevant classes into your four-year plan. Exploring the General Catalog is a great place to begin, as it contains all the major/minor requirements, a list of all the GE’s offered on campus. Tip: The letters and numerals you see here:  QL, SE, SL, VL.—I, II, III. (I, II, III.) These tell you what GE’s the class fulfills and also the quarter that class is offered. (I. means fall, II. means winter, and III. means spring)                                                               You can also narrow down your search using Schedule Builder’s Advanced Options. Extra Tip: Jot these classes down into a planner or into your computer so you can access them later.

 

  • Sit Down and Actually Make a Plan planning baby

So, you’ve more or less decided on a career and have compiled a list of interesting classes–you’re ready to start planning! Be sure to allocate a time block of a few hours to sit down infront of a computer and churn out a four-year plan. Many students like to use Excel but we also recommend using Oasis‘s Academic Plan form.    Such a form can be found under the Forms and Petitions Tab on Oasis. When plugging and chugging the classes you want to take, be sure to consider a few things…

Fulfill Prerequisites:

Most upper-division major requirements have prerequisite classes, and it is important to make sure you’ve filled in all your prerequisite courses before putting in your major classes. Not having the right prerequisites could result in being dropped from the class or being unprepared for the course, so be sure to take a look in the General Catalog or on Schedule Builder for specific details.

Consider SS1 or SS2: 

UC Davis offers a large majority of major classes during the summer, and students tend to perform better in classes taken during the summer time. Instead of spreading yourself thin with multiple classes, you can focus all your efforts on one class! If you want to get ahead of your schedule or take a load off of your normal academic quarter, definitely plan on taking a class or two in the summer. It’s important to plan ahead so that you can talk to the Financial Aid Office regarding your financial needs or make vacation plans with friends and family.

Make Time for Studying Abroad: abroad

Did you know students can take BIS 101 in Europe every summer? This is just one example of the many classes and places students can explore with the Study Abroad Program. Studying abroad is usually the experience of a lifetime, but there may be a lot of hoops to jump through before actually going abroad. That is why it is important to have a plan, so you have time to prepare documents and figure out living expenses.

Whether or not you’ve decided on a future career, it never hurts to make a four-year plan and then change it as life goes forward. Life happens and your plans may be uncertain; however, a four-year plan may elucidate certain fuzzy details about the future, and set you on the right track to success!

Happy Planning!

Melissa Li                                                                                                                         Class of 2016  Biological Sciences, Emphasis in Neurology, Physiology, and Behavior                                                Biology Academic Success–Peer Adviser

The Many Advantages of Summer Sessions

Spring quarter is off in full swing and it is time to start looking ahead and thinking about summer plans. Many of you may be excited to get some rest and relaxation, or to just get out of Davis for an adventure. Although these all sound very enticing, remember that Summer Sessions is a great option. Whether you are looking to get ahead, catch up on units, or take a challenging major course, the advantages of enrolling in Summer Sessions are plentiful. To peak your interest in staying in Davis to take classes this summer, I will share my experience with Summer Sessions in the following paragraphs.

It was Spring quarter during my second year at Davis, and I had just taken Physics 7B. Physics proved to be challenging to me compared to other courses, so I began thinking about taking it as soon after Physics 7B as I could. After sitting down and mapping out my third and fourth year classes, I realized taking Physics would not only clear up my schedule but help me concentrate on other challenging courses that I was planning to take during fall quarter of my third year, like NPB 101 and BIS 101. My next decision was whether or not to take Session 1 or Session 2. I wanted to take Session 1 because I felt it would be good to take Physics 7C right after having taken 7B, with only a couple of weeks separating the two rather than a couple months. However I felt pretty drained from Spring quarter and I ultimately decided that Session 2 would be best because it would give my mind a break and I could come back ready to learn in the beginning of August.  I also realized that many of my friends from home that were going to semester schools would be going back to school around August too, so I would not feel like I was ending my summer early.

Summer session 2 was fast-paced to say the least. Although I was only taking Physics 7C and a GE course,  I had to constantly study in order to keep up with the work. However, I found it much easier to do so when I only had two classes to concentrate on because the material was constantly being reinforced. This, along with the fact that I was able to go to my professor’s office hours because I had a more open schedule, is why I was able to have a remarkably better learning outcome in Physics 7C than I had with Physics 7B when I took it during the regular quarter. I was also really happy to finish classes in 6 weeks rather than 10 weeks!


Although Summer Session at UC Davis may not be your first idea when it comes to making summer plans here is a short list of the advantages of taking Summer Sessions:

  • Improve your UC cumulative GPA
  • Work towards reaching minimum progress
  • Take prerequisite courses for graduate school
  • Clear up a packed schedule by taking some classes in the summer
  • Benefit from concentrating on less classes
  • Summer session is only six weeks
  • Have more time to explore the city of Davis!

When registering for Summer Session classes, be sure to keep a balanced schedule during each session. This means you should avoid taking two science classes together during one session due to the time constraints and rigor of of science courses.

There has been an important update to financial aid for Summer Session. It will now be awarded based on the earliest date that you are registered or wait-listed in at least 6 units total over the whole summer. For example, if you only wanted to enroll in one session, you would need a minimum of 6 units. But, if you wanted to take both sessions, you would need a minimum of 6 units total for both summer sessions. Also, be on the look out for Summer Sessions pass times coming out April 27th!

 

Have a great Summer Session and good luck!

Zoe Lim

Biological Sciences

BASC Peer Adviser

 

Decision time!

Congratulations on making it this far! This is such an exciting time- you are getting to choose where you will spend the next four years of your life!

For me, the decision was actually very clear and deep down I knew I would end up choosing UC Davis, but I am such an indecisive person that it took a lot of going back and forth for me to actually commit to going to UC Davis, (I think I signed my Intent to Register on the very last day). I initially thought of UC Davis as “the school off I-80 that is on the way to Tahoe” but after my first visit I began to associate it as an exciting school with a gorgeous campus, big egg heads, and cute and fun downtown. I began to form this opinion of UC Davis during a school field trip in 7th grade on my first college tour. I have a clear picture of walking along the arboretum, sitting on the quad, and walking through the very exciting and busy Memorial Union on that sunny Spring day. I remember having a great time on the trip and really liking that atmosphere. I knew there were many wonderful things about UC Davis, mainly that it was a great science school, and so I began to start picturing myself as a UC Davis student.

When I found out I was accepted, I was very excited because I knew a few people who had gone to school at UC Davis and I always heard positive things from them. My parents had also told me great things about UC Davis, saying that it was one of the last “true college towns.” When they told me this I had no idea what that meant, but after spending four years living in Davis and getting to compare it to other schools, I now know that this is true. Taking a stroll in downtown Davis will allow you to experience the sense of community centered around the school and the excitement about events happening in both the school and the town. Most people that live in Davis seem to be affiliated with the University in some way and are always happy to speak to students and offer advice, which for me was a very positive factor because I really wanted to go to a school with a welcoming and hospitable environment.

I can empathize with many of you who are weighing different factors and trying to decide between your options. An important factor for deciding is thinking about yourself and the type of person you are, and trying to match which school will offer you the most opportunities to succeed both academically and socially. With this in mind, remember that UC Davis has SO MANY different resources and opportunities for a wide variety of students to get involved and feel included in academics and the campus community. Here is a brief list of these resources and opportunities:

Good luck and I hope you are all future Aggies!

Zoe Lim
Peer Adviser
Biology Academic Success Center
Biological Sciences, Class of 2015