A recent survey published by PayScale.com listed UCSB as the nation’s second best party school whose graduates continue to make it rain.
PayScale used the Princeton Review’s infamous list of hardest-partying colleges — on which UCSB placed fifth this year — to rank listed schools by mid-career median salary. UCSB finished $3,300 behind University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, with Gaucho alumni averaging salaries of $91,000 after 15 years of experience.
UCSB’s Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Michael Young said he is not surprised by the survey’s findings, as UCSB graduates’ strengths in and out of the classroom have been noted by employers.
“We’ve known for some time that employers like UCSB students not only because they are well-educated, but because they have good people skills,” Young said. “In the work world you need both, and, in general, UCSB students have both.”
UCSB has maintained its image as a party school for years, consistently ranking in both the Princeton Review and Playboy’s lineups of raucous colleges. However, Alumni Association Assistant Director John Lofthus said the campus’ picturesque coastal location and active social atmosphere should not overshadow its scholarly reputation.
“Clearly the fact that we have such a beautiful campus and proximity to the beach makes it easy to label it as: ‘Well, it’s got to be a party school, look where they are,’” Lofthus said. “Our university is really preparing students very well for life after college. Not only are they going out and landing jobs, but they are going out and landing very successful jobs. That’s something that may get lost [in the party school reputation], but that is good to see.”
Although the campus’ academic performance continues to build a positive reputation, Young said its location contributes to its recreation-heavy image.
“I think part of the problem is we are just pretty,” Young said. “I am looking at mountains out of my [office] window; we are just a beautiful institution, but we are also an extraordinary educational institution. We are a world-class university in an absolutely drop-dead gorgeous environment.”
While balancing academic careers and social lives is a challenge at any college, Young said his office focuses on promoting an environment that helps students find a balance and succeed.
“My goal is to have every student who arrives here leave here successfully, having completed their goals,” Young said. “Do we have students who drink too much? Yes. Am I concerned about that? Yes. But we also graduate a lot of extraordinary young people.”
As well as ranking the average earnings of “party school” alumni 15 years into their career after graduation, PayScale also calculated the average starting median salary, with an estimated two years of experience. UCSB graduates averagean annual salary of $47,300, according to PayScale.
Certain schools with lower mid-career salaries like the University of Maryland and Pennsylvania State University rank higher than UCSB in this category.
UCSB College of Creative Studies alumna Kimmy Helling, who graduated with a degree in literature and an emphasis in creative writing, said the university’s academic demands and vibrant social scene complemented each other.
“I think that having the social life and academic life actually rounded us out more — we had to get all of our work done before we could go out,” Helling said. “Because the party environment was so available, it gave us more incentive to get our work done.”
Though most students eventually strike a balance between the books and the beach, Helling said putting off social plans for the sake of schoolwork was often difficult.
“It did sometimes get hard when you had a project due and you had to turn down your friend’s offer of a nice wholesome game of Scrabble or Apples to Apples and go to Caje and do work instead,” Helling said.
Lofthus said this preparation was an important part of UCSB’s curriculum and experience, giving graduates the necessary skills to succeed in the workplace.
“What is so great about a school like UCSB is that it prepares students both in the classroom and outside,” Lofthus said. “I think a lot of employers realize that someone coming out of UCSB is going to have the full package.”