It’s all about the water here. UCSD boasts nationally ranked surfing and sailing teams, and its Mission Bay Aquatic Center claims to be the planet’s biggest instructional waterfront facility, teaching more than 15,000 people per year to row, wakeboard, paddle, sail, surf, and dive. It rents out big equipment, from full-on sailboats to Hobie Cats to water-ski boats (skipper included). The school’s recreation office rounds out that selection by lending out low-cost body boards, snorkels, and wetsuits, plus providing a repair shop that mends too-used gear.
The university’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography—a hugely important hub for the study of the sea—offers graduate programs that take full advantage of the fact that it’s on the edge of the mighty Pacific.
Landlubbers need not overlook the home of the Tritons, though. Many of the classes offered here, especially those that are needed for a forestry degree, get you out into the field.
There’s a ropes-based obstacle course on campus and a well-run recreation department that organizes affordable adventure journeys, like bouldering locally or backpacking Joshua Tree, and puts on an outdoor-themed film series that, says its website, “is about building Stoke.”
With the sweeping, majestic Torrey Pines State Park just five miles away, and weather that arguably bests anywhere else in America, San Diego’s your spot if you want your four years to be filled with sunshine and saltwater.
CONTACT: (858) 534-2230, ucsd.edu
STUDENT BODY: 23,663 undergraduates, 5,513 graduates
TUITION: residents $12,128, nonresidents $35,006, room and board $11,684