Soka University of America
Aliso Viejo, CA, USA

Reviews

Soka University of America
4.36 Average Rating

Momo

a current student here
3 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
In three sentences
SUA is a wonderful university where students who have various backgrounds can expand their points of views! All people at Soka is so nice, and I really like peaceful atmosphere of this university! Liberal Arts education and a small class size class help us to find our identities and to find value in everything.
Tips for prospective students
Please do what you want to do in high school! Although GPA and SAT scores are important for entering Soka, SUA focuses more on your personal essays, which means your personality and what you have learned from your experiences. Soka really appreciates students' diversity, so please don't worry about your economic situation, your race, your religion, and anything that you feel you are minority.
Academic Rigor
As an international student whose first language is not English, it was so hard to catch up with a lot of assignments and class discussion. However, I think academic rigor at Soka is the same as other typical universities in the United States. You just have to keep in mind that each students has a responsibility to talk and share your opinions in class because our class size is so small (10-15 students).
Dorm Life
Except for special reasons, all students are required to live on campus. For first year students, they share one room with your roommate, and for second to forth year students, they have an individual room, but share one bathroom with your roommate. The room is not huge, but it is enough for one person. Each doom also has a laundry room, pantry, computer room, and living room. If students have concerns regarding their dorm lives, RA always support them!
Food and Dining
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are included in the cost of room and board, so students do not have to pay money for food. Each meal is all-you-can-eat, and there are three stations so that students can choose from several options. It also provides salad bars, ice cream, soup, dessert, and beverages! Because we have many international students, the cafeteria offer various international foods!!
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from Aliso Viejo, CA

a current student here
3 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
In three sentences
Soka University is a private, non-profit, four-year liberal arts college and graduate school located on 103-acres in south Orange County, California in the City of Aliso Viejo.
With a small class room settings (students to faculty ratio = 8:1), each student gains great attention and help from professors.
The school also offers generous financial aid to both domestic and international students. Full tuition scholarship is available to all students whose earned family income is $60,000 or less.
Academic Rigor
Although it depends on the course and professors, academic here is very challenging. Students earn up to 15 credits each semester (if you overload, it'll be more!), and each student has around 2-4 classes (90 min each) every day.
Students are required to finish and understand assigned readings before class. Grades are decided by writing assignments, exams and participation.
Dorm Life
The environment of residential hall is amazing. 2 students share one room and bathroom in their first year. From 2nd year, students are able to have their own spaces (suite room), connected by a common space and one bathroom.
Food and Dining
Our wonderful dining hall is a buffet style, and students are able to get breakfast, lunch, and dinner on weekdays, brunch and dinner on weekends. We have food from Bon Apetit. You can check our cafeteria menu at http://soka.cafebonappetit.com/.
What to do for fun
- Hiking to canyon
- Going out to eat
- Going shopping

Students are able to go off campus by Soka shuttle service for free.The shuttle runs every 30 minutes and takes students to shopping areas near SUA.

For further information, go to:
http://www.soka.edu/student_life/student-services/shuttle-services.aspx.
Clubs and Activities
There are about 30 clubs on campus. Clubs are student-oriented, and each club represents diversity on campus. Main clubs are Indian dance club, Hawaiian dance club, Japanese taiko club, hip hop and break dance club, Cheerleading club, Circle K and so forth.

Performing clubs get to perform at campuswide holiday party, International Festival etc. I have joined several dance clubs, and had a great time ! Usual practices take 1-2 hours / week. Joining clubs is a nice way of making friends, too :)

http://www.soka.edu/student_life/student-activities/student-clubs-and-organizations.aspx
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Ellyssa from Renton, WA

a past student here
3 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
In three sentences
Soka University of America gave me so many opportunities to grow and challenge myself as a human being as well as meet and befriend amazing people from all over the world. The mandatory study abroad was one of the best experiences of my life. Whatever your interests are, there is a club or activity for you, and if not you can start one yourself!
Tips for prospective students
Use your time and the campus resources wisely as your four years will go by so fast! There are some clubs that I wish I would have tried out because I will probably never have another opportunity, so if you are interested, go do it! Also, take advantage of the global connections you make with people because it can be a huge asset to you in the future.
Academic Rigor
The academics were great for the most part. There are a lot of amazing professors at SUA, and the more specialized, higher level courses are definitely worth the extra effort.
Dorm Life
Living in the dorms is amazing! I had my own room for 3 of the 4 years and you only share the bathroom with one other person. There are so many ResLife activities that get you connected with your classmates that quickly become lifelong friends.
Food and Dining
My experience at the Bistro was a challenging because I have a lot of allergies so the three meal choices left me with eating salad or cereal a lot of days. However, the staff are pretty accommodating and will fix you whatever you want if you have dietary issues. The international cuisine is great but they also have American staples like burgers and fries (my favorite).
What to do for fun
The campus is beautiful to walk around, go for a swim in the giant Olympic size pool, work out in the huge gym, lay out or play on the campus green, converse in the café/game room, and relax in the gardens and gazebo. The beach is about a ten minute drive, Irvine Spectrum about 20 minutes, Disney Land about 30 minutes, and if you want to go out LA and San Diego are about one hour away.
Clubs and Activities
There are so many clubs and activities at SUA that you may find yourself overwhelmed. I ended up choosing only a few but I would recommend trying any that you are interested in for a semester or two so that you can have the experience.
Greek Life
There is no Greek life.
Campus Safety
Aliso Viejo is ranked as one of the safest cities and I would agree. I never had anything stolen or broken into, and the campus is pretty well lit at night.
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Nobuyo from Aliso Viejo, CA

a current student here
2 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
In three sentences
Soka University challenges me a lot in many ways. By getting many great opportunities and learning closely with professors and global friends, I am able to broaden my perspectives and interests. I have learned a lot not only academics but also many life lessons.
Tips for prospective students
Determine to be a global citizen and find out what your passion/interest/mission is here at Soka!
Academic Rigor
The average class size is 12, and the student-faculty ratio is 8:1. Thus, we have intimate relationships with each professors and highly discussion-based classes. We have both general courses and concentration courses, so you can broaden your perspectives and interests by taking general courses while being able to pursue what you are truly interested in by taking concentration courses. General education courses offered here are different from normal courses you take at other universities. In physics class I took, I learned how truth can be interpreted differently depending on the explanation about how it happened. Professors have interesting, insightful perspectives in their courses, so you gain a lot from them by asking questions in class and interacting with them outside classroom. Since we have a small class size, the expectation that professors have for you is really high. You challenge yourself a lot and raise a bar of yourself. But remember, because we have a close relationship with a professor, you can always seek for help and grow with your professor. Your professor understands what you are struggling with, what you learned, and what you need to work on. I have studied here only one and a half year, but when I think about how much I have grown and learned over the years, I cannot appreciate enough.
Dorm Life
I do not have any complain about the dorm life I have here at Soka. Since we have our own room from second year, I can have my own time anytime and distance myself from others when I want to. At the same time, we have fun events organized by Res life pretty often and friends are my neighbors, I can connect to my friends anytime I feel lonely.
Food and Dining
Our cafeteria has lots of international selections and that's the best part I really like. The rotation of the selections are really good. Three meals are offered everyday and students can bring the food back to their dorm, so I can make soon tofu from tofu, kimchi, meat, and rice from cafeteria as well! We have a lot of international students, so you get to be invited to ethnic food party sometimes.
Great for these types of students
I was told that if you don't know what you want to do in the future yet, you should go to Soka. Since Soka is a liberal arts school, you are able to expand and find your interests! Also, if you wish to become a global citizen, this school is meant for you. Not only academic courses are designed to teach upon humanistic principles and global perspectives, but also you learn to be a global citizen by living with diverse community. When you learn about a certain event happening on the other side of the world, you have a friend who comes from that country in your classroom. It is truly amazing how Soka expands your world in everyday life.
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ya-chien from aliso viejo, ca

a current student here
2 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
In three sentences
the school is beautiful and is student-oriented. there are only 400 students in the campus. being in a small-sized campus is nice-- you can know each other and make different friends from all around the world.
Academic Rigor
you can always see people around studying in the 24-hours room. everyone will focus on studying and not just having a lot of with their university lives.
Dorm Life
everyone, without any special reasons, have to live on campus so you can get to learn how to live a social life.
Food and Dining
the fee of the students' food is already included in the room and board so we do not have to worry about the food money every month. also, it is the style of all-you-can-eat buffet. they serve different kind of food each time so we will not be sick of it. they really cook delicious food.
Share any unusual traditions or locations on campus
the campus is surrounded with beautiful scenery and there are some hiking trails that you can explore.
Great for these types of students
want to have impact on the world
want to experience some cultural diversity
Clubs and Activities
you can create your own clubs and the clubs are diverse
Greek Life
no greek life
Campus Safety
there are always securities walking around the campus. some students said that it is so safe that you can put your wallet in the library with students around and it would not be stolen
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Jaroslav from Aliso Viejo, CA

a current student here
2 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
In three sentences
A unique school with unique program and unique faculty. It will change you and make a distinguished individual even after your first year. Soka will help you financially and will give you a chance to prove that you are worth it.
Tips for prospective students
Contact someone from the faculty or staff, like Richard Daily. He will tell you everything you need and will help you INCREDIBLY. Carefully consider if to apply, because it will change your life.
Academic Rigor
The education here was compared to education you can get from such schools as Yale or other Ivies. Soka is a top-quality school.
Dorm Life
Dorms are clean and beautiful. You have a roommate with whom you share a bathroom. Just two people! And after your freshman year you get your own room.
Food and Dining
Food is really good. Really good. They don't forget on vegans and other people with different 'eating habits' as well.
What to do for fun
Soccer, tennis, swimming, improv, philosophy club, go out to the town, attend lectures and concerts that are free for us, read all the amazing books from the library. There are so many activities available.
Clubs and Activities
Amazing.
Greek Life
No greek life.
Campus Safety
Security does a great job.
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H

a current student here
1 person found this review useful
Categories Comments
In three sentences
If you would like to study liberal arts and are ok with the small campus and student body, I would highly recommend attending SUA. The close contact you get with professors opens many doors for you, and the internationality of the school together with the guaranteed study abroad semester provides you with an open-minded and progressive education. While the city surrounding SUA is relatively small and quiet, there are many beautiful beaches and a variety of interesting communities in close proximity.
Tips for prospective students
The admission process wasn't difficult, as there was a lot of helpful staff ready to provide support and answer questions. Generally, I felt like the admission office really cares about the prospective student being a good match for the university's culture and community.
Academic Rigor
The classes at SUA will teach you a lot, as the small class sizes will automatically engage you more. Some classes can be very challenging, others relatively easy.
Dorm Life
The campus is very small, but virtually all students reside on campus, so everybody knows each other. The dorms are extremely nice, and you never have to share a bathroom with more than one person.
Food and Dining
The cafeteria on campus is great, as it provides all students with three meals every day. All meals are all-you-can-eat, and the price is included in the room & board fees, so you don't have to pay on a daily basis. Furthermore, Orange County has a nice restaurant scene, and you can find many different dining options in the surrounding communities.
What to do for fun
There are many 4 collegiate athletic teams as well as many different clubs on campus. Furthermore, many beautiful beaches are easily accessible from campus.
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victor from Seattle, WA

a current student here
17 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
Am learning a lot
I think any college experience will result in learning a lot...weather from professors or friends. So in that respect Soka does not stand out. However it does have excellent, dedicated professors who you get to know if you choose to. Classes are eclectic, but mostly interesting, especially the ones that are only found here at Soka. As a freshman everyone is required to take the course Core which is essentially examining, using western/eastern philosophy, what makes people happy, and how to live well. Very interesting class. Core 2 is taken sophomore year, and is less theoretical and more practical, i.e. how to live well in your own life, not just in general.
Am enjoying being here
Soka has potential to be very fun. Dorm life is luxurious compared to most schools; every room has its own full bathroom, thermostat, and all rooms are a good size larger than most other schools Ive seen. However, the small size, (<500) can be frustrating for social life. There arent big parties, and on the rare occasions when there are they are usually busted by the Resident Hall Coordinators. Without a car you will be restricted to hanging out primarily on campus, which can be frustrating. However, Soka does have high quality people in abundance. Forming friends is easy as most people are friendly, and friendships are put in time-capsules, that is it feels like youve known people for years, even though it may have been only a few months. Gossip spreads quickly with the small student body, which can be frustrating, but college is a time of drama for everyone, and Soka is obviously not the only place this happens. Administration is where Soka severely lacks; they are unreliable, sometimes not helpful, and not nearly as personal as the schools small size might infer. Food is usually good, and the grill option is great for really picky eaters. The athletic facilities are absolutely fantastic, get lucky and you'll see lots of pro athletes from every sport training here.
Bang for the buck
With the SOS (soka opportunity scholarship, free tuition for students from families with less than $60k a year in income) it is excellent, a private, prestitious institution for only about $12k a year (room and board + travel). However, having to pay full price, upwards of $36K, would be perhaps too much, compared to say a state school of equal or even greater quality. There is mandatory study abroad, which is included in tuition, a great bonus, as well as a free laptop to start your journey there. Quite pleasant.
Tips for prospective students
Do not buy into the image Soka portrays, find out for yourself. Ask students of all kinds how much they like it, why they do/dont, and make your own decision. It can be stressful here, and it is not the all-loving, peaceful place some people claim it is. Also the food you get during the specified freshman overnight visit event, is much much better than usual, so dont get used to it.
Great for these types of students
Soka is really well suited for mellow people. If you dont want your college experience to include loud music, big parties, and rambunctious sporting events, you'll do great here. It is a quiet place, and even on weekends most people are doing low-key activities. However there are many many opportunities to showcase talents (even imagined ones) to very supportive, mostly sincere people. You will, if you so choose, make many great friends here. Ive been here for only a year and a half and I have many friends I know I'll keep in contact with for the rest of my life. So if you like making friends, in a low key, academically focused atmosphere, you will probably like Soka.
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Furkey

a current student here
5 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
Am learning a lot
Soka Education really allows for open minded students to learn about the rest of the world. Depending on which concentration you are in, the classes you will be taking will change and so will the type of subjects you will be exposed to. Overall, all students will typically get a thorough introduction to philosophy.
Am enjoying being here
You meet such amazing people, and take classes for with such quirky and amazing professors, it's difficult not to enjoy being at Soka.
Bang for the buck
Soka is a private liberal arts University, which like most private Universities are more expensive than public school. But Soka has a scholarship provided to all students who's family income is $60,000 or less. The university is affordable to most students and well worth it in pursing a college career.
Tips for prospective students
Come to the Open house programs throughout the school year, or Lions Roar and Experience Soka. These type of events are hosted by the students and really allow for perspective students to see if Soka is perfect for them, when deciding on which college to enroll in.
Great for these types of students
Any type of student will enjoy Soka, but those that benefit the best, are those who are concerned about issues such as poverty, war, conflicts which plagued our planet. Open minded and determined students would be a perfect fit at Soka.
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Anon from Aliso Viejo, CA

a current student here
4 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
In three sentences
Soka is truly one of a kind. Students will graduate with an understanding of various world cultures and an appreciation for cultural differences. They will have discovered and/or developed their passions and will be ready to go out into the world and make it a better place.
Tips for prospective students
Come visit campus for yourself-- free tours begin daily at 10AM and 2PM, starting at Founder's Hall (the main domed admin building).
Be open minded to different cultures.
Study hard and do well your Jr and Sr years--you may just receive a huge scholarship.
Academic Rigor
Students can choose to take an academically rigorous or light course load.
Students have many opportunities to take classes which will stimulate their intellect more than anything they've experienced prior. Soka has a handful of very excellent professors-- just ask other students when you arrive on campus and you will have an idea of which courses and professors are a must take.
Dorm Life
Dorms are, like the rest of the campus, beautiful. Rooms are spacious, 2 students share a bathroom. Incredible landscape views from certain floors.
Quiet in the dorms is enforced from 10PM to about 6AM or so (Sun-Thurs). This is good for people who enjoy sleeping, but if you want to party past then, other students may call noise complaints and an RA will come knocking at your door. Very few huge parties.
Food and Dining
The buffet at the Soka bistro is one of the reasons I came here. Food from cultures all over the world is served here. Generally, there are 3 options every meal, as well as a made-to-order grill where you can ask for Stir Fry, Cheeseburger, quesadillas, etc. Miso soup is served every day, and the Cream of Mushroom, Cream of Potato, etc soups are awesome. White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies are ridiculously tasty.
What to do for fun
Join Clubs, go to the beach, work out--Soka's exercise facilities are world class. Our pool was modeled after the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Stadium, and professional athletes train in our facilities with a local training company. The British Olympic team trained on our track for a few weeks a few years back; it was good fun meeting them.
Bang for the buck
Tuition is very expensive, but Soka is very generous with scholarships and financial aid.
The Soka Opportunity Scholarship pays full tuition for students whose parents' income is $60k or less.
Academic scholarships are awarded as well, and can be combined with the opportunity scholarship. Five full scholarships (Tuition, Room+Board, Incidentals, 4-yr) are awarded every year to incoming freshmen.
Share any unusual traditions or locations on campus
Every year we hold a Spirit Festival and Student Festival, which are very unique to Soka University.
For Spirit Festival, each class (Freshmen, Sophomores, etc) get up and do a performance for the rest of the student body, and there are inter-class competitions as well. It's pretty fun, and is a great way to destress and get to know your classmates better.
Student Festival is a little different. There are performances by smaller groups, as well as small group breakouts where underclassmen have the opportunity to ask upperclassmen for advice on certain topics.
Great for these types of students
Open-minded, studious, inquisitive, good-hearted, passionate.
Clubs and Activities
There is an abundance of clubs on campus. Since Soka students are often very passionate about their interests, they tend to start a lot of clubs and work hard to build their membership.
Incoming Freshmen will have no problem making friends or joining clubs. At Club Expo they will be invited to join at least 20 or 30. There are many performing clubs, but also special interest (ie. Photography, Scuba Diving) and professional (ie. Medical Pathways) clubs.
Greek Life
None. There is very little exclusion at Soka, and very few cliques.
Campus Safety
Very safe campus, as Soka is surrounded by canyons on 3 sides. The only possible danger is wildlife from those areas. We've had deer on campus before.
Soka and the surrounding suburban neighborhoods are so safe, in fact, that it can get boring sometimes. It's nice to get off campus every once in a while and drive to LA for a night out.
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