Northern California: Stanford University, UC Berkeley, and UC Davis

Stanford University

Beth Cassie

Thirty-five miles south of San Francisco I took a break from vacation to visit Stanford University – California’s flagship private university. The campus was unlike any campus I had ever seen.  The mission-style buildings with their red-tiled roofs are attractively situated on this huge (over 8,000 acre) campus.  60% of the land remains open space, part of founder Leland Stanford’s stipulation that the original land he gave to found the University could never be sold.

Life is focused on campus for the 6,500 undergraduates at Stanford. Housing is guaranteed for all four years and there are many different types of options ranging from residence halls to small-group houses, apartments, and coops.  Freshmen live in freshmen dorms and are paired with roommates by the University.

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UC Berkeley

Lisa Bleich and Beth Cassie

University of California, Berkeley or “Cal” as it is known is California’s flagship public university.


I visited there during the summer when only a fraction of the 25,000 undergraduates at Cal were on campus taking classes.  It is a beautiful campus with impressive buildings and attractive green space.  There was no organized tour the day I visited, however there was a computer where I could download an app for a self-guided tour.

Using this I hit many of the highlights of the campus.  The hub of the campus is the courtyard pictured here that is typically brimming with activity.  According to a student I spoke with there is usually someone protesting or proselytizing about some cause when you walk through this area.  Student activism and Berkeley go hand in hand.

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UC Davis

Lisa Bleich

Park like grounds at UC Davis

UC Davis is a beautiful, flat campus nestled between Sacramento and the Salinas Valley.  It’s about an hour’s drive from San Francisco. Davis has very strong programs in Agriculture, Viticulture (wine making), and Animal Science. Students who are interested in learning to brew beer will also find a great home. Engineering and the sciences are also strong.

We spoke with a girl who had just graduated with a degree in neuro-science.  She had done undergraduate research and loved Davis.   She said the community and excellent town/gown relationships were her favorite part of the campus.

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