College review: Cal State University Channel Islands

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Cal State University Channel Islands is the 23rd member of the sprawling CSU system, having opened in 2002. It is a small (roughly 4000 students) public institution which is projected to grow, eventually, to a size of about 15,000 students. CSUCI is located in rural Camarillo, the first public institution located in Ventura County. A majority of students hail from Ventura County and commute from home, while 800 live on campus. Having said that, there appears to be a lot of opportunities for socializing and fun for those 800 students!

The most well developed and popular majors include Business, Psychology, Communications, Nursing (impacted), Art, and Biology. The classes are small with the largest lecture hall having about 110 seats (our student guide said she had never been in a lecture hall where more than 50 seats were filled). There is a good student support system on campus with writing and math labs, a career center for help with resumes, internships and jobs, and just a general attitude of “student centeredness” among the staff on campus. It is no problem to get a job on campus if a student wants one.

The campus is set in rural Camarillo, surrounded by farmlands, sandwiched between the beautiful Camarillo hills. There is a city bus available to take students to local transportation centers, or into town. The beach is 15 minutes away. There is a nice blend of Spanish and modern architecture on campus; the library, built in 2008 is an impressive modern vision of glass and concrete beauty.

Student housing is guaranteed for all students, with one dorm for freshmen, and more apartment style dorms for upperclassmen. The freshmen dorm has game rooms, music rooms (for rehearsing, etc.), workout rooms, an art room, etc. and the campus is very focused on achieving a “community” environment.

Extracurricular activities are plentiful on campus with a snow club, triathlon club, block parties, the waterfront program (sailing, kayaking, and windsurfing), lacrosse club, bicycle kitchen, Brazilian jiu jitsu club, school newspaper, leadership club, yearbook, running club, and intramural softball, volleyball, dodgeball, as well as an outdoor club for camping, sportfishing, and day hikes. The Student Union hosts numerous events such as live music, open mic nights and even the “Maximus Awards” where students, faculty and community members can be nominated for making the finest contributions of the year.

Overall, CSU Channel Islands is a charming place well suited for a student who would enjoy the “community” benefits of a smaller campus that could offer more support than some of the other larger CSU campuses.