Living in the U.S.

English Language Resources


English in Action

International students, scholars, and/or spouses are invited to practice English for an hour each week, conversing with a volunteer American partner from the UCSC Women’s Club. There is no charge to participate in this program. Contact Karin Grobe,

Learning Support Services

Individual Writing or Reading Tutoring, Writing Groups, and Reading Groups are available to undergraduate students at Learning Support Services. Please visit the LSS Writing & Reading Support page for more information.

Writing Center

The Writing Center offers writing consultation services and tutoring designed to teach and support all students, undergraduate and graduate, in all aspects and phases of scholastic writing. All of the consultants either hold or are pursuing a graduate degree and are professionally experienced tutors, writers, and/or teachers. Consultants have diverse academic specialties to help you grow as a writer and to serve your varied academic needs with robust, personalized, and caring mentorship.


  1. Westside Writing Center (Oakes College room 111)
  2. Crown Writing Center (Crown Library 2nd floor)
  3. Stevenson Writing Center (room 107, behind and underneath the Stevenson Library)

Please register for an account to make an appointment at More information can be found on the Writing Center page.

Graduate Student Commons

Graduate students are invited to join Writing Together or Writing Together International at the Graduate Student Commons. More information on writing resources can be found on the Division of Graduate Studies Writing Resources for Graduate Students page.

In Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz Adult School

English as a Second Language classes are ‘open entry’ throughout the year, providing instruction in English speaking, reading, writing, and listening for adults who range from absolute non-speakers of English to those who are nearly fluent. Contact the Santa Cruz Adult School for the latest information: (831) 429-3966

The Volunteer Center

Local volunteers work with scholars on an individual basis in English instruction. There is no charge for instruction. Contact Barbara Davis (831) 427-5070 for more details or go to their website.

Santa Cruz City Schools

Santa Cruz City Schools offer a range of services to English Language Learners enrolled in the Santa Cruz City School District and to their families.

In Aptos

Cabrillo College: English as a Second Language (ESL)

Offers courses specifically designed for students whose native language is other than English. Courses range from beginner, intermediate, and advanced language study to ESL for Job Hunting and the Job Market, Writing Improvements for ESL Students, Pronunciation Improvement, Vocabulary, Reading, and Note Taking. Fees are charged for these programs. Contact (831) 479-6400 or (831) 479-6310 or go to the Cabrillo College English as a Second Language website.


The Purdue Online Writing Lab

Free resources on general writing, citations, research, ESL, and more

The Writer’s Handbook

Website created by the University of Wisconsin covering many aspects of writing a paper

A collection of ESL tools and resources

A College Student’s Guide to Citation Style

A list of various citations styles and helpful links for each

American English

Resources for English Language Learners provided by the US Department of State

College Writing 2.1x: Principles of Written English, Part 1

A Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) designed as an “introduction to academic writing for English Language Learners, focusing on essay development, grammatical correctness, and self-editing.”

College Writing 2.2x: Principles of Written English, Part 2

A Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) designed as an “introduction to academic writing for English Language Learners, focusing on essay development, grammatical correctness, and self-editing.”

Getting Around

California Driver’s License

In order to be eligible for a license to drive, your F-1, J-1, H-1B, TN or E-3 status must have an expiration date 30 or more days beyond the date that you submit your application. Go to the local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office to apply. The nearest office is in Capitola.

Additional Eligibility Requirements:

  • Must attend the Orientation, and submit required legal documents for check-in
  • Must wait at least 48 hours from the date that your record is validated in the SEVIS database, and
  • Must be physically present within the United States at least 10 calendar days

Bring originals of the following documents with you to the DMV:

  • Passport with visa and port of entry stamp
  • Electronic I-94
  • I-20, if in F-1 status
  • DS-2019, if in J-1 status
  • I-797A, if in H-1B status, TN, or E-3 status
  • Proof of residence in Santa Cruz, e.g. utility/phone bill, housing contract/lease. Bring at least two.

Individuals applying for a California driver’s license or identification card are often asked to have a Social Security Number, but it is not mandatory if you are in a status that is ineligible for SSN (e.g. students). If you encounter any problems while applying at the DMV, please speak with a DMV Representative familiar with international students or scholars.

J-2 dependents who are legally present in the US, but who are ineligible for an SSN must follow additional steps in order to be eligible for a drivers license. In short, J-2s must apply for a SSN and receive a denial letter from the SSA. The J-2 must then present the denial letter to the DMV, along with documents demonstrating legal presence, to apply for their drivers license. 

For more information, go to the California DMV website.

Santa Cruz Bus Passes

Students automatically have a bus pass through their student ID. For some academic staff and faculty, UC Santa Cruz offers subsidized bus passes. For more information on this, please contact the Transportation and Parking Services Office. You will need to either complete the online application with a UCSC staff ID number or go to the office and present your academic offer letter and identity as proof of eligibility.

Enrolling Children in School

By law, every person having custody of any child between 7 and 18 years old who has not completed the 12th grade is required to send that child to and maintain that child in regular attendance at a public or private full-time school.


What Grade Should My Child Be Enrolled In?

1 – 5 Years OldPre-School & Pre-Kindergarten
5 – 12 Years OldKindergarten & Elementary (Grade 1-5)
12 – 14 Years OldMiddle School/Junior High (Grade 6-8)
14 – 18 Years OldHigh School (Grade 9-12)

Which School Will My Child Go To?

Typically, your child’s school is based on your residential address within the school district. For Santa Cruz, this is within the Santa Cruz City Schools (SCCS) district.

How Do I Enroll My Child in School?

Each school will have their own enrollment procedures, but you can expect you’ll need to fill out an enrollment packet and a health form.

How Do I Find a School’s Information?

Parents can find more information on schools within the SCCS district online here. Information on how to enroll your child in SCCS schools, including preschool/pre-kindergarten and kindergarten, can be found here. Those considering private schools or other schools outside the SCCS will need to contact those schools directly for more information and enrollment procedures.



Early Education Services (EES)

EES’s centers are located in the Family Student Housing complex and includes infant care, preschool, and after school care. Please note that this service is only available to enrolled UCSC undergraduate and graduate students’ children. International scholars are unfortunately not eligible.


Child Development Resource Center (CDRC)

The Santa Cruz County Office of Education’s (SCCOE) listing of licensed childcare providers in the community can be requested from this web site. The site also has links to other childcare and community resources.

California Child Care Resource & Referral Network

This statewide resource supports parents, providers, and communities in finding and accessing childcare. For families living outside Santa Cruz County, the website also has a searchable database of childcare providers across the state.

First 5 California

First 5 California provides early childhood development resources for parents of children who are prenatal to 5 years old.

Off-campus Housing

Important Information

Finding housing off-campus is notoriously difficult in Santa Cruz, where rents are high and availability is low. The University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) offers a variety of resources to assist students as they search for off-campus housing. The primary resource is the Community Rentals Office (CRO). Community Rentals provides extensive information on where to look for housing, how to choose roommates, things to be aware of, how to avoid scams, and many other items.

Additional resources are our Student Welcome Guide and our Scholar Handbook, which you can read and download through our website. These handbooks have additional information that will make your transition to the U.S. and/or Santa Cruz easier, and also include descriptions of various Santa Cruz neighborhoods.

When you find a place to live off-campus, you will likely be required to complete a housing application. Since many international students and scholars do not have a Social Security Number (SSN) and/or credit history, a landlord or management company may ask for more proof of financial ability before agreeing to a lease or contract with you. ISSS has prepared a housing letter for those without an SSN or credit history, which you can print and show as evidence of your financial solvency. Please read this letter before using it, so that you understand what it states and can explain it if asked. 

Health Insurance


You are required to have health insurance while studying at UCSC and are automatically enrolled in the UC Student Health Insurance Plan (UC SHIP). You may waive this if you have other insurance that meets certain requirements. More information can be found on the UCSC Health Insurance 101 webpage.

Last modified: Mar 15, 2024