By Rebecca Bogdanovic and Sicily Barry
The bustling of the arbor, the quiet chatter ringing throughout the crowded library, the morning bells echoing from Storke Tower; the chaos of the beginnings of your college career at UCSB can feel overwhelming. As you sit on your top bunk looking out through the window to students studying in the grass, it is not uncommon to feel a tad lost in the commotion of campus. While you may find yourself feeling alone and isolated, it is never truly the case. From mentorship programs to tutoring to mental health, the resources offered at UCSB will always have a helping hand to offer you. It is simply a matter of finding them and utilizing their help.
While not exhaustive, this guide will provide a breakdown of the campus resources that every first-year student should know about to help strengthen their UCSB experience.
Mind and body: Staying healthy
Your health is always of the utmost importance. Moving out of your childhood home can bring about new challenges and unexpected twists and turns. Sometimes the most difficult challenge is to ask for help. When life has you down and you want someone to speak to, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) will always open their door for you. To calm your nerves before your first midterm, Health and Wellness will walk you through deep breathing and meditation. And lastly, if you need a quick snack or supplies for a homemade dinner, the Associated Students Food Bank is just a swipe away.
Counseling and Psychological Services:
Known by the student body as CAPS, Counseling and Psychological Services offers a wide range of resources to keep your mind healthy and your worries at ease. They offer a wide range of services regarding student and faculty mental health. The most effective way to learn how they can best serve you is to an Initial Brief Assessment. You will begin by filling out a ten-minute questionnaire regarding your concerns and emotional health. Following the questionnaire, you will talk privately with a mental health clinician and will work together to develop a plan that will best fit your needs.
Your individualized mental health plan could entail brief therapy at CAPS, long-term therapy off-campus, group therapy, peer counseling, teletherapy, or even workshops. CAPS services are primarily covered by your university registration fee; therefore you will be provided care with no additional fees at the time of service. In addition, CAPS takes confidentiality very seriously and, with a few exceptions, anything you share with your clinician will remain between the two of you.
CAPS is a wonderful resource to air your mental health worries and find a solution for your concerns. You can find the CAPS building across the main bike path from Storke Tower. Rest assured that you are entering a judgment-free space full of people who care deeply for your mental health.
You can find more information here: https://caps.sa.ucsb.edu
Expert tip: CAPS also has free massage chairs to release tension and alpha wave “egg’ chairs to encourage relaxation.
Health and Wellness:
Health and Wellness works to support the overall well-being of students by hosting events and offering services catered to forming healthy habits. Two of their most popular events are pet therapy week and meditation classes. Each quarter before finals week, Health and Wellness brings licensed therapy dogs onto campus to reduce stress and anxiety among the student body. Each week throughout the quarter, Health and Wellness also offers free drop-in meditation sessions to improve sleep, concentration, focus, and self-compassion.
In addition to these popular events, Health and Wellness also puts on a sleep challenge, a happiness challenge, and games that work to inform the student body on healthy habits. If you attend Health and Wellness events and want to dive deeper, they offer certification workshops for Mental Health Basics and Safer Sex Peers. Health and Wellness is a great place to work towards the healthiest version of yourself, while also becoming more ingrained in the UCSB community.
You can find more information here: http://wellness.sa.ucsb.edu/
Expert tip: Health and Wellness also offers beginner cooking classes so you can chef up some healthy meals without your parents’ help.
Associated Students Food Bank
Students can use their access card to “swipe” into the food bank up to once a day. The organization services over 3,000 students at the university and provides fresh produce, toiletries, and canned goods. Additionally, the program provides meal tickets and gift cards to the IV Co-op. The Food Bank is a strong resource for students who need a quick snack in between classes and those looking for some locally sourced produce and non-perishable goods.
Located in the University Center and a short walk from Ortega Dining Commons, the Food Bank is handy for first-year students looking to supplement their meal plan, and especially for those who have just begun cooking for themselves- whether it be in the residence halls or off-campus.
Expert tip: The Food Bank has a microwave and small hang-out area, so this can be a great place to grab a snack, heat up food, or simply take a breather before class!
You can find more information here: https://foodbank.as.ucsb.edu
A little help from your friends: Mentoring and advising
UCSB offers a community like no other. When in need of some guidance, whether it be academic or social, there are a variety of resources to provide you with the answers that you are seeking out. The Undergraduate Mentorship Program, ONDAS Center, EOP, and CLAS all offer peer mentorship services so that you can learn from those who have gone through a similar transition as you and who have similar interests. In addition, Pre--Professional Advising offers career-specified advising for those who plan on attending law school or medical school.
Undergraduate Mentorship Program
The Undergraduate Mentorship Program for the College of Letters & Sciences works to provide first-year students with a peer-to-peer mentorship relationship. Together, the mentors and mentees focus on developing academic skills, increasing their self-awareness, enhancing their sense of belonging and self-esteem, and creating value-based goals.
First-year students who receive an invite or who want to become involved can apply to become mentees following their first quarter at UCSB. Throughout winter and spring, the experienced undergraduate mentors meet weekly with their mentees to work on activities such as mindfulness practices, goal setting, learning styles, and study sessions. This is a fantastic program to enable first-year students with increased support from advisors and increased awareness of campus resources
You can find more information here: https://duels.ucsb.edu/academics/academic-success/mentor
Expert tip: After participating as a mentee you may have the opportunity to become a mentor and help first-year students like your mentor helped you!
Opening New Doors to Accelerating Success Student Center
Known on the UCSB campus as the ONDAS Center, Opening New Doors to Accelerating Success Student Center creates a space for first-generation and underrepresented students to connect with one another and faculty members. Through weekly programs, such as Office Hours with OSC Peers, Real Talk, STEM Power Hour, Grad School Guidance, Academic Advising, and Professional Staff Office Hours, the ONDAS Center fosters an inclusive and helpful community.
In addition to their weekly programs, the ONDAS Center holds a Speaker Series with academic professionals for students and faculty to learn more about inclusivity and student success. Upon entering this space, you will be greeted with welcoming faces ready to provide you with additional support.
You can find more information here: https://ondas.ucsb.edu
Expert tip: You can sign up on their website to receive the ONDAS Newsletter in order to stay informed about upcoming events.
Pre-Professional Advising: Pre-law and Pre-Health
In addition to college and department advising, UCSB offers advising tailored to those interested in law and health professions. Pre-Professional Advising is designed to help students plan and navigate the process of continuing their education after their undergraduate experience. While you may be unsure of your career aspirations upon entering your first year, Pre-Professional Advising can inform you of some possible paths to take.
Offering both drop-in hours and scheduled appointments, Pre-Professional Advising guarantees help for answering your questions. Both Pre-Health and Pre-Law advising can offer you academic guidance and guidance regarding experiences outside of the classroom.
You can find more information here: https://duels.ucsb.edu/professional
Expert tip: Visit the Pre-Professional Advising website for a breakdown of the law school and medical school application process.
Educational Opportunity Program
EOP provides a variety of networking, social opportunities, advising, and academic support sessions for first-generation and income-eligible college students. Mentorship opportunities are available for students looking to serve a leadership role. EOP is essentially a great place to meet other like-minded students, and get to know staff members who share similar college experiences.
Pro tip: Visiting EOP in the early days of freshman year can be a great way to start off your academic journey at UCSB, as well as an opportunity to form relationships with professional staff members.
You can find more information here: http://eop.sa.ucsb.edu//
Campus Learning Assistance Services
CLAS is a campus department that provides free tutoring opportunities for all UCSB registered students. Their purpose is to help with everything from Economics, to Writing, to language-related courses, and study skills. Appointments are free and can be booked using your netID and password- you don’t even need to create your own account! Aside from getting help in challenging classes, this is a great way to meet other like-minded students in your major/ begin to form a community!
CLAS is also a wonderful employment opportunity for third year and above students. Applications open in the spring of the previous academic year, and interviews are conducted throughout the quarter. The friendly directors and camaraderie from other student staff members make this a great place to work!
Pro tip: CLAS tutoring courses open up the first day of the given academic quarter so in order to secure a spot, it is important to be proactive, plan ahead, and set an alarm!
You can find more information here: http://clas.sa.ucsb.edu/
Even more opportunities: Accommodations and research
Undergraduate Research Center
Individuals who need funding for their research projects can visit this department in order to do so, as well as network with other students engaging in similar research topics. Even though engaging in research may seem like a daunting task, visiting the URC can help you connect with topics that interest you and learn the grant-application process. Visiting the URC even as early as Freshman year can help students feel more comfortable with the research process.
You can find more information here: https://undergrad.research.ucsb.edu
Disabled Students Program
DSP is a place for students to learn about the many accommodations and support that they can receive in their classes. For students who do not receive accommodations, these individuals can make a few extra dollars by signing up to be a notetaker for a class they are enrolled in or serve as a proctor during finals. The
Pro tip: For students interested in becoming a notetaker, the portal opens the first day of the quarter and functions on a first-come-first serve basis. Students can make $25/ unit for simply submitting their meticulous notes throughout the quarter!
You can find more information here: http://dsp.sa.ucsb.edu//
Undergraduate mentorship program: 1st year mentees, 3rd and 4th year mentors
To provide first-year students with a peer-to-peer mentorship relationship to develop their academic skills, increase their self-awareness, enhance their sense of belonging and self-esteem, and create value-based goals.
Creates an inclusive space for students to connect with one another, university staff, and faculty. Provides peer mentoring and programs to foster community in hopes to promote the success and retention of first-generation and underrepresented students at UCSB.
Pre-Professional Advising: Pre-law and Pre-health
Provides pre-law and pre-health advising in order to guide students through the complex path of continuing their career-focused education following graduation.
Health and wellness
Works to support the overall well-being of students at UCSB through hosting events and offering services catered to forming healthy habits. Some of their most popular events are dog therapy days, meditation drop-ins, and cooking workshops.
Purpose: To provide community for first-generation college students and a sense of support from staff members who were also first-gen. EOP offers a variety of networking and social opportunities, as well as advising and academic support sessions.
Undergraduate Research center
Purpose: Individuals who need funding for their research projects can visit this department in order to do so, as well as network with other students engaging in similar research topics.
AS Food Bank
Purpose: Students can use their access card to “swipe” into the food bank up to once a day. The organization services over 3,000 students at the university and provides fresh produce, toiletries, and canned goods. Additionally, the program provides meal tickets and gift cards to the IV Co-op.
Disabled Student Program
Purpose: A place for students to learn about the many accommodations and support that they can receive in their classes. For students who do not receive accommodations, these individuals can make a few extra dollars by signing up to be a notetaker for a class they are enrolled in.
Purpose: To help students with everything from Economics, to Writing, to language-related courses, and study skills. Appointments are free and can be booked using your netID and password- you don’t even need to create your own account! Aside from getting help in challenging classes, this is a great way to meet other like-minded students in your major/ begin to form a community!