I got asked this on Quora and thought I'd share it here.
Any school can be a great place or a horrible place based on your personal context. If you are a highly motivated internally driven student who is independently interested in learning then you will enjoy and find whatever school you attend “special” and valuable. I learned a lot both times I studied there and the library and facilities are excellent. The town is very accessible with plenty of things to do and geographically it isn’t too big. The campus is beautiful, the park on its edge is lovely and the main strips have wonderful shops, restaurants, and even the architecture is great. It tends to be very humid in all seasons.
I’m a retired professor and so I have a lot of experience with many schools and students and I’ve noticed that liking or disliking a school or campus is really more about the person making the judgment rather than the campus, city, or school itself.
I attended UC twice, once when I was in my early 20s as an undergraduate and then again six or seven years later as a graduate student in the 90’s to go for an MFA in painting. My opinion of UC was radically different the first time compared to the second time and I think it had something to do with my age and life experiences.
Both times I attended UC I noticed that both the campus police and city police were suspicious and aggressive towards students and often very unhelpful. I and a white nerdy guy but got stopped several times for riding a skateboard and was pulled over with some friends for absolutely no suspicious or even bad driving but we did have five kids in the car. Otherwise I loved the town and loved everything about the campus.
The second time in the early 90s I noticed some things that I hadn’t noticed as an undergraduate and I chalk that up to age and a different world view. The city was very conservative politically and really often the things that socially and politically were happening expressed a prejudice against LBGTQ and especially black people. So if I was in one of those groups or cared about people in those groups I would avoid that city and campus.