Humboldt State University
Arcata, CA, USA

Reviews

Humboldt State University
3.77 Average Rating

Dion from Thousand Oaks, CA

a current student here
9 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
In three sentences
The natural beauty up here with the redwood forest is really unsurpassed. I feel the school is a good choice academically for those in the natural sciences (which is what I am doing and is a major reason I chose to go there). Finally, the community itself is lively, and there are almost always people on the plaza doing something or other.
Tips for prospective students
I would definitely suggest visiting the campus before deciding to come here. The school's website seems very enticing, but the area up here is simply not like the area where most students come from (big cities). It's remote and secluded among the redwood trees. Arcata is a relatively small city. The campus itself isn't huge (takes maybe 15 minutes from end to end), but the campus is built on a mountainsisde and so is also known as Hills and Stairs University. However, I strongly recommend a visit before coming here. There's a good percentage of people who come here for a semester or two and then don't come back. I like the area, but due to the seclusion and all it's definitely not for everyone. I recommend visiting during the Spring Preview each spring, although you can of course visit anytime you want to.
Academic Rigor
The focus of this school is on the natural sciences, and the offerings in this department shine. If you want to take a class in Forestry or in Botany, this is the place to do it. Not all of the teacher's I've had were equally academically rigorous, but I did feel that I learned something from all of my classes. I went to community college before transferring to Humboldt, and the academics here are certainly greater than at the community college level. However, I'm also sure that the academics aren't up to par to a school like UCLA or something like that. I'd say that the academics are probably comparable to all the other cal states, with the school's emphasis being on the natural sciences.
Dorm Life
The people are friendly and the facilities are nice. Avoid the Hill unless you are a freshman. Upperclassmen usually gravitate towards the Campus Apartments or the College Creek Apartments. From my experience of living on campus for a year, there are few to no events put on for the dorm community itself, although there are various councils you can join if you so desire. The main thing with living on campus is the convenience of being close so close to classes, and that everyone who you live with is of course a student at the school.
Food and Dining
There is one dining hall on campus, the J, which primarily serves the Canyon and Hill dorms. The food here isn't bad and is the cheapest place on campus to eat. In the middle of campus you'll find the Depot. While the food here is good and is generally busy, it is probably the most expensive place on campus to eat. At the bottom of campus there is the College Creek marketplace and there is another marketplace at the very far end of campus by the BSS building.
What to do for fun
A lot of people here complain that there is a lack of things to do, and given that Arcata is not a big city (smallish town with Victorian houses), that's somewhat true. But if you go out and look for things you'll find them. There are various clubs on campus, and you're sure to find one the piques your interest. Right behind campus is a 600 acre redwood forest, and Redwoods National Park is only about half an hour north of campus. The hub of activity is definitely on the Arcata plaza, which is reminiscent of the plaza from Back to the Future and is about a 15 minute walk from campus. On it are various stores, restaurants, bars, and the oldest operating movie theater in the United States. The nearest mall is the Bayshore Mall, which is a 15 minute drive to the next city south (Eureka). Every Saturday during the non-rainy season there is a farmer's market on the plaza. Given the area on the North Coast and the natural beauty available, it is a good place to do outdoor events. The school's rec department offers backpacking, kayaking, and other trips year round. I've gone to the local beaches for bonfires with friends, and also hiking with friends is fun to do. Also, there are various acts booked year round in the campus Van Duzer Theater.
Bang for the buck
For me, who is an environmental science major, Humboldt State is a great campus and offers just what I need. The school has a strong focus on what I'm majoring in, and the natural environment up there is unbeatable.
Share any unusual traditions or locations on campus
Nothing really to say here, except that don't be surprised by a hippie vibe. There are handful of students (definitely not the majority) of people who dress up like hippies and may even walk around campus barefoot. Some people say that Arcata is a place that's like the 1960s just stopped in time. Arcata/Eureka is very secluded from pretty much everything, so there is certainly a niche community here. People here put an emphasis on being green, buying organic and local, and the farmer's market is a big deal.

I didn't know really where to put this, but be aware that it rains a LOT up here during the rainy season. Bring a nice umbrella or raincoat- you'll use it a lot. Also (due to the rainy weather) there are times when you don't see the sun for prolonged periods of time. When I was there the longest period of no sun was maybe a week or so. Some people who have been there longer then me say (non-jokingly) that drinking milk is important because the lack of sun makes people depressed. A few years ago in August the sun didn't show for nearly the entire month. Just be aware. The nicest weather is in the summer and fall when school starts, with the rainy season beginning I would say in mid to late November and going on through to April or so.
Great for these types of students
The school's strength seems to be on the natural sciences. The school boasts the nation's only undergraduate research vessel (I went on it for my intro Oceanography class), and as well people know the school for it's forestry department. Apart from the natural sciences the school also apparently does well in the art department. However, I have nothing to do with the art department and so can't really comment on that.
Clubs and Activities
There are a lot of clubs on campus, but interestingly there is no club specific for my major (environmental science). There are however many clubs and intramural clubs on campus, and if you looked I'm sure you'd be able to find something that interested you. Club day is a few weeks after the start of each semester. If you don't see a club you like you can start your own. Also, if you live on campus you can participate in the living area councils and plan events/things to do for your living area.
Greek Life
Minimal on campus. Occasionally you'll see the Greeks tabling, but I think that the entire Greek population of the school numbers only a few dozen.
Campus Safety
During this past year at Humboldt there were a few incidents, and the campus police were on the scene almost immediately. While the surrounding community has a problem with homelessness (don't go walking by yourself at night with dollar bills sticking out of your pocket), I feel that the campus itself is pretty safe. But you still have to be careful, of course. I had my locked bike stolen from right in front of the library.
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Julian from Blue Lake, CA

a current student here
8 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
Am learning a lot
HSU is a great school. there's an amazing faculty, all of whom are extremely knowledgeable and willing to help make sure that you learn what you aim to learn.
Am enjoying being here
The campus is amazing,though it has earned the nickname Hills and Stairs University for good reason. the campus, the CenterActivities, the consistent music playing and everything else makes for a wonderful experience.
Bang for the buck
HSU is a CSU, so it's ~$3K a semester but it is well worth it and in then end, if things go as planned, you'll earn that money right back from getting to use the education that you got there.
Tips for prospective students
Try to be fit and active, cause there's a lot of walking there and there is a great bounty of slopes, stairs and hills there. make sure you do all of the work assigned, especially if it's important. i know not all classes are great, but try to stick through it and make it to the end. it'll be worth it in the end.
Great for these types of students
Artistic, individual, athletic, outdoors-y, musical, environmental, science-oriented, hippy, open minded, cool people. :) it's a very well rounded university and regardless of who you are, you will find your niche.
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Freshman from SoCal

a current student here
7 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
In three sentences
Very involved in social justice, nice and interesting people to interact with. Professors are easy to talk and meet with, willing to sit and talk at your convenience. Beautiful campus to walk around in, surrounding city as well.
Tips for prospective students
Dorm life is almost essential for getting to know people in the first year. Also, don't be alarmed by the small town lifestyle. It may take getting used to but it is definitely interesting and a good change from the city.Register for classes as soon as possible, classes fill up quick and call in for info quick so you can get the info, whomever you call is always nice and willing to help.
Academic Rigor
Classes are definitely different than high school. You learn new things and get multiple perspectives and opinions. Just go to class, on time, pay attention and ask questions if you need help.
Dorm Life
Depending on where you live it may either be really loud night and day or just right. You can get a choice in how many people to live with besides your typical double or triple room assignment. Doorm life gives you a chance at independence and socializing just as long as you know how to control and balance with school work.
Food and Dining
The food is pretty great to be utterly honest. Many healthy options, vegan, gluten-free, and vegetarian. Produce is local and you get plenty for the right price with you meal plan. The cafeteria is definitely loud at dinner but it is a wide space. Breakfast is probably the best part of the day and there are so many options.
What to do for fun
If your outdoorsy then there is an overflowing amount of things to do and they are right next door in the community forest. Not only the massive amount of forest but you get more than 3 beaches to choose from as well. The farmer's market is also filled with great food stands, live music, and fresh produce. The surrounding stores at the Plaza are also great for stopping by and looking at what's local.
Clubs and Activities
Over a hundred clubs of all types, ultimate frisbee is quite popular. There are even some weird ones like how to exercise through laughter.
Campus Safety
If you are being stalked or just don't feel safe whatsoever, there are emergency buttons all over campus that will get the on campus police to you in less than 5 minutes, no lie. They are nice officers too, always on stand by and ready to help.
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Maria from Arcata, CA

a current student here
7 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
Am learning a lot
My belief is that the capacity to learn is related to one's willingness to learn. I came to Humboldt State to learn as much as I can, while respecting and caring for myself in such a transitional phase in my life. Most HSU classes are small, and this gives me this feeling that my role as a zealous student is respected and encouraged. I am a Political Science double major with Critical Race, Gender, and Sexuality studies, and I have a 3.889 cumulative GPA. I love to learn. And at HSU my major classes have been in intimate settings where I developed healthy relationships with my fellow students and teachers. Very cool.
Am enjoying being here
Arcata is a one of a kind town, and the wind, cascading redwoods, and the sea, all have a very unique character to them. If you don't mind small towns, and a little bit of a lot of rain, then Arcata and HSU are worth checking out. Personally, I am an avid Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Star Wars fan, and the forest here out does every fantasy land I've ever digested in a book. It is a magical place, and honestly, I think only a select few can really thrive up here. Those that can: you will entwine yourself with red wood roots and grow tall.
Bang for the buck
Yeah, it isn't really expensive compare to Ivy league or UC schools, and the undergraduate education is really good, IF you have the willingness to learn (key factor). I did run into a US Government class that I really thought was a waste of my time (the teacher didn't put in a whole lot of effort), but otherwise my classes have been superb. There are a lot of challenging classes offered here, where you really have to prove that you WANT to learn the material. I think regular brain gymnastics are fun, and healthy.
Tips for prospective students
Visit HSU before you decide to come. It is the campus of Hills, Stairs, and Umbrellas. So me friendly with all three. Take Vitamin D pills because the sun peeks out only occasionally during the year (vitamin D is the vitamin we receive from the sun, helps with overall mood and other things). You've got to love the rain, and small towns. Do not come up solely here to smoke the weed, you'll fail out. And make regular meditational trips to the Forest, it is breathtaking. Oh, and get involved in campus activities. The fire shows, circus shows, and dance concerts are really spectacular.
Great for these types of students
Artists (the art department is incredible, and Arcata can be an unlikely muse); Biological Sciences: the science classes up here are HARD, but amazing. Take Botany, you'll hold an undying love for plants afterward, and for your bed because of the sleep you may or may not sacrifice. Fisheries, Forestry, Environmental Majors are perfect for HSU as well. If you love planet earth, come see what it was like before capitalism destroyed most of the rest of the USA.
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Brian from Bayside, CA

a current student here
7 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
Am learning a lot
Humboldt State is an excellent university for the science majors. Their science programs are very impressive, even more so for the natural sciences. As a Botany major I am well challenged at the classes, some of which I would say are at the same level as some UC classes.
Am enjoying being here
Humboldt is a community, and when you go to HSU you join that community. I enjoy the close feeling we have the with the locals, and the scenery here is amazing. The beach is 5 minutes away, the redwoods right behind campus, and hiking, biking, rock-climbing, and much more not far away. One downside is that Humboldt has virtually nothing shopping-wise. Mostly mom and pop stores, the biggest superstore being Target in Eureka. But I like it, it feels more relaxed and slow-paced than the city.
Bang for the buck
Because HSU is a smaller university we get much smaller class sizes and are able to participate on a much more intimate level with the material and the professor. We can directly ask questions from our professors, and there are even times when we will run into our professors at the grocery store or at lunch and they will remember our names. I just find the education a lot more satisfying, because one learns alongside the masters instead of just from a book. It is not rare for a student to be asked to help with a faculty's research project, so the opportunity for hands-on work is greatly increased.
Tips for prospective students
As everyone knows Humboldt is the weed capital, but truly HSU is not that bad. There aren't really any more pot-smokers there than anywhere else. Also, because Humboldt is so small it is pretty easy to survive without a car, especially since parking at HSU is absolutely horrendous. We get the entire bus system free so its easier to just ride the bus around. One thing that does suck about Humboldt is the weather. Its pretty cold and foggy most of the time.
Great for these types of students
Definitely a great match the outdoors type of students. And its also a great stepping stone for undergrad science majors. People who like close-knit communities would fit in perfectly here. Definitely not a conservative school, a pretty liberal-thinking school focused on green-energy and working with the environment, which some students will probably find appealing.
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N from Arcata, CA

a current student here
6 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
In three sentences
HSU is a great school, it may be isolated from the big cities, but it has so much beauty to offer and people just have to live here to realize that. HSU also has great teachers who are always willing to help students one on one when they need it. One thing that is hard to get use to is how nice faculty is and how they are willing to provide the best service ever.
Tips for prospective students
If you love nature and want to get away from the big city, this is the school for you. Bring a bike and prepare to do stairs everyday, it may seem like a lot of them but after a few months you get used to it. Try not to get early classes your first semester if you are not a morning person and remember nobody knows you better than yourself and good luck in college.
Academic Rigor
So far I have had great teachers who are willing to help and put in extra hours just so you understand the material better.
Dorm Life
My dorm experience has been great, at first I was nervous I would be paired with someone I would not get along with but it turned out great. If for some reason you need to change, housing always gives you that option. Also the furniture is big and spacious and the views are not bad. Dorm life has also given me the opportunity to meet many people and make great friends so I definitely recommend it.
Food and Dining
The best thing about food here in HSU is that you have options on where you can go eat.
What to do for fun
There are so many activities that one can do for fun. It you're an athlete, you can go biking, hiking, and surfing. If you are the more mellow person, you can take walks at the beach or go down by the pond and read a book. There places so beautiful around here that there is no time to be bored.
Share any unusual traditions or locations on campus
There is a traditional bonfire in the beginning of the year and at the end. It is a great way to meet new people.
Great for these types of students
If you are not so attached to the city you will do great here in HSU. Students that like to explore in nature will definitely have a great time. Students that prefer cold weather and don't mind rain here and there will love it here. I think as long as you can live without big malls and a some of the fast foods like Chipotle, you will like it here just because it has so much to offer both the school and the town.
Clubs and Activities
There are a lot of clubs that a student can join. Clubs seem really active and are always welcoming and encouraging new members to join. They put on performances and have great energy that is vibrant across the audience that are walking to their next class and it is nice.
Campus Safety
I feel really safe on this campus, there are buttons all across campus a student can utilize if they need help or assistance. Security and campus police are always there to hear you out and make sure no one is in danger.
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Hayley from Bothell, WA

a current student here
59 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
Am learning a lot
My classes are all diverse, but you have to challenge yourself.
Am enjoying being here
I made tons of friends within days of coming to Humboldt, everyone is very friendly! The small campus makes it easy to be involved, there are clubs and activities for everyone!
Bang for the buck
Coming from Washington, I was a little nervous about going to school out-of-state. However the WUE (Western Undergraduate Exchange) program makes school very affordable. Now I am able to go to a great school without hurting my wallet too much.
Tips for prospective students
Don't expect a superficial crowd. Humboldt is very relaxed and down to earth. Sometimes the mellowness makes you forget that you're still going to school and you have to do homework sometimes! If you're a person who gets stressed out easily and needs lots of relaxation, this school is great!
Great for these types of students
Down to earth, creative, friendly, open-minded individuals. You will not win the rat race by coming to Humboldt. If you care for culture, the environment, and about having a deeper meaning in life, Humboldt may be what you're looking for. Challenge yourself in the classes, very important to be self-motivated.
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Taylor from CA

a current student here
34 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
Am learning a lot
The classes are really great at Humboldt. The classes are usually pretty small and the teachers are fun and will spend extra time with you during office hours if you need it. Every class I've taken so far has been good!
Am enjoying being here
The campus is gorgeous and if you like nature and the outdoors, then it would be a good place for you. It also gives you a lot of hands on experience when you're in classes that deal with nature and the outdoors. The atmosphere at Humboldt is pretty laid back. The students and teachers are really friendly for the most part.
Bang for the buck
There's quite a few classes to pick from and they're all small in size, which I think helps students learn a little bit better. It doesn't cost too much, although the fees just got increased and a few classes are getting cut or made bigger in size. Other than that, I would say it's a really great price for what you're getting from Humboldt!
Tips for prospective students
Wear comfortable shoes! Depending on where your classes are, there can be a lot of hills and stairs to climb!
Great for these types of students
People who like the outdoors and nature, people who are looking for a smaller to medium sized school with small classes and hands on experience, people who are on a budget.
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Justine from Arcata, CA

a current student here
26 people found this review useful
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Am learning a lot
I'll make it simple it basically seems that I'm learning. I mean I do pay for my education so I make sure I learn. The school gives you the tools needed to learn whatever you wish, I know because I use all the resources available to me.
Am enjoying being here
The atmosphere here is amazing! There are things I do dislike but overall it's stuff that you'll find at most colleges, the substance use. The people here are pretty helpful and very kind which makes loving the school much more easier.
Bang for the buck
Well it seems that even with the rise of cost to attend and dorm its worth it. I mean the professors and staff here make it worth your buck.
Tips for prospective students
Don't think you're off the hook because you're finally on your own. We make sure the campus is clear of substance issues and clean. Be smart and learn because you are now paying for your education.
Great for these types of students
The school is great for those who love the outdoors. We are near the beaches and basically surrounded by the woods. There is always something to do if you like being outdoors.
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Jamie from Northern California

a current student here
23 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
Am learning a lot
I am learning a tremendous amount here at HSU - I've become a better student and a more educated scientist. The classes are challenging, some in ways I hadn't expected, but they have greatly expanded my critical thinking and observation skills. I am a kinesthetic learner, so HSU's focus on hands-on learning has been invaluable to me. The small class sizes (my smallest so far has been around 15 students) have made a huge difference in my education and have enabled me to interact with my professors beyond the classroom. Teachers from previous semesters still recognize me around campus and stop to see how I'm doing. Overall, I know my degree will be practical and will serve me well in the future. I cannot recommend HSU highly enough.
Am enjoying being here
As an outdoor enthusiast, I am more than enjoying my time at HSU. 60 minutes or less to backpacking, 15 minutes to rock climbing, 10 minutes to the beach, and 0 minutes to the forest, it’s easy to see that I’m in an adventurer’s paradise. But aside from the outdoors, I could list a million and one other reasons why I love it here. The campus community is wonderful – very unique and welcoming to students from all walks of life. The surrounding community also has so much to offer – why not check out a new movie at The Minor (the country’s longest running theater) or play laser tag with some friends after some delicious fresh sushi! If you're coming from the big city, don't fret! We do have a mall and an airport, too! ;-)
Bang for the buck
HSU is one of the most affordable universities nationwide for a number of reasons. Maybe it’s the small size – just around 7800 students – that allows them to keep the price low. Or maybe it’s the Western Undergraduate Exchange program that lets out of state students study for about the same price as California residents. But those are just the financial reasons. Humboldt has more than meets the eye; it's a secretly awesome university! Are you interested in the sciences? Try studying on our 90 foot research vessel, the Coral Sea, or stop by our marine laboratory. Do you love stars and nebulas? If you do, you’d be very pleased to work alongside professors in our observatory – and with a lot of hard work and a bit of luck, you may end up like two HSU students who recently discovered a new galaxy! But don’t let our science-nerd reputation fool you – HSU is well known for its Arts and Social Sciences as well. We have art galleries reserved just for student work throughout the university, a community counseling clinic for Psychology majors, and one of the largest art foundries on the West Coast! I could go on and on about HSU, but you get the picture. It’s a big box in a small package!
Tips for prospective students
Visit the campus, it will make a world of difference! When you come, take a tour and ask questions about anything and everything HSU-related! Also, schedule your appointment in advance, and take advantage of your opportunities while you're there - sit in on a class, meet with a professor or the dean of your department! You will find that Humboldt's staff and faculty is very accessible, so don't be shy to ask them questions, too!
Great for these types of students
All types - the beauty of HSU lies in it's diversity (and the surrounding redwoods, of course!) Outdoorsy, indoorsy, there is something for everyone. You must, however, have an open mind and tolerate about 40 inches of rain a year!
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