fbpx Taking the ACT? ENROLL in INSIGHT'S 2024 August ACT BOOT CAMP!

Insight Alma Mater: UC Santa Barbara

Welcome back to the Insight Alma Mater blog series! The story you’re about to read is one with an unexpected ending – make sure you return to our blog this time next week to find out what happens! Below is Insight Counselor Jenny Huang’s experience at the University of Santa Barbara. 


Growing up in a competitive area, I was sucked into believing I had to attend the top universities in the nation; otherwise, I “failed” (Jenny, 4 years later: THIS IS NOT TRUE.  Regardless of which school you end up attending, make the most of your time there, and you will significantly increase your chances of having a fulfilling experience.  Anyway…let’s flash back to my senior year of high school).  Thus, I somewhat begrudgingly attended UCSB. 
However, when I entered the dorm room on move-in day, a mesmerizing ocean view welcomed me in–the beach was literally across the street from my dorm! That set the tone of the next two years of my time at UC Santa Barbara. 

The view outside Jenny’s dorm at UCSB


If you become a Gaucho, you’ll quickly learn the schools’ motto: “I gaucho back.” If I had to sum up my UCSB experience in one phrase, it would fittingly be that phrase; the people around me generally tried their best to exemplify this statement.

Professors and TAs? I GAUCHO BACK.   While I evidently can’t speak on behalf of all the departments at SB, the professor and TAs in the Linguistics and Chinese departments were always available during office hours. They were so approachable and never belittled me for asking questions.

Mentors? I GAUCHO BACK. I’ve been blessed with an incredible mentor who has helped me in so many ways, from giving me advice to being the listening ear I needed.

Friends? I GAUCHO BACK. During my two years at SB, I was part of two organizations. These individuals have been some of the encouraging people I have met in my life. One friend, bless their soul, biked to my dorm at 3am, just to comfort me. Through the love they bestowed on me, it encouraged me to be more loving to those around me.     

Of course, my time at SB wasn’t always calm. There were definitely challenging times, where the waves were rough; however, I was able to overcome the rockier times because of the people I’ve been lucky to meet. That, above all, is what I remember about my time at SB. 

Downtown Santa Barbara


1.  Don’t be fazed by other peoples’ opinions—Unfortunately, there are some stereotypes about UCSB.  However, this is your college experience, and you can choose which activities you want to participate in. So do not be ashamed, and hold your head high, future Gaucho!  
2. Take advantage of Surfing/Sailing Lessons/Whale Watching/Kayaking—Campus Point and/or Downtown SB offer these activities; you might even get a discount if you bring a valid Student ID.  If only I had known this sooner, I could have gone whale watching! But of course, be safe!
3. It’s a quarter system school—Classes are 10 weeks, and depending on your major, it could be packed with midterms and tests. Stay on top of your work, and don’t be afraid to ask for help!
4. Blenders, McConnell’s, and Freebirds are must tries—Smoothies, ice cream, and great Mexican restaurants are close to the school. Be mindful of what you consume in your body, but these are wonderful treats after a midterm or final!
5. Be open to change, but don’t change your core values College is a time to explore your interests, passions, and character.  I was able to broaden my perspective by trying new experiences, and I became a more emphatic person by being exposed to people from diverse perspectives. At the same time, I’ve held to my core values amidst it. In doing so, I kept myself grounded.


Beauty all around at UC Santa Barbara!


Final Thoughts
My time at UCSB was like the ocean (I mean, I was literally across the ocean)…sometimes, the water was calm. Sometime, the waters were like big waves, swallowing me up.  However, I learned to reach out to those around me, and I found that people will try their best to pull me to shore.  But most all, the best thing you can do is soak it all in before it’s gone.


….‘Cause you know, my time at SB suddenly ended two years earlier than I expected.


Want to know what happens next? We’ll see you back here this time next week! 

All the best,
Team Insight

Blog Post

What Are Insight Students & Parents saying?
  • I liked the structured method by which Zach approached the whole admission process. First, there was research into colleges to make a list, then a rigorous back and forth on […]

  • Priya was absolutely amazing to work with! We are thrilled that our son got into his top choice for college at LMU for the undergraduate business program. We couldn’t have […]

  • Thank you so much for helping me formulate my thoughts into words and help me write my essays. I got into Ut Austin for biology – still waiting for the […]

  • I just wanted to thank you again for your help during the college admission process. My family and I have been scrambling to figure out the process for years, and […]

  • I really couldn’t have gotten to Harvard without you. In shock. Thank you x10000000000000! I have the best college counselor in the world!

  • I just wanted to say thank you for taking the time out of your day to organize a meeting with me and help me in writing my summer program essays. […]

  • I just got my SAT scores on Friday, and I am happy to let you know that I scored an 800 on both the Biology-M and Math II tests. Thank […]

  • Our ACT instructor methods were so helpful and wonderful to have.

  • Zach, thank you so much for helping me become a confident and successful writer

  • We were extremely happy throughout the process – got much more than what we invested in Insight counseling.

Contact Us