Check out the College of Creative Studies. It's easily overlooked but changed my life - classes are tiny, advisors are wonderful, and the sense of community is amazingly unique. UCSB overall is gorgeous (pictures don't do it justice), amazingly friendly (no, you don't need to drink), food is great (Carrillo is the superior dining commons), and housing is triple-heavy but a good experience overall (San Cat if you party and don't mind a 10minute bike ride; Manzanita if you want a quieter, less freshman-heavy atmosphere; Anacapa/SC/SR for a standard freshman experience, San Mig/Nic same but not as recently-renovated).
The campus is full of resources - be sure you use them! Really. The career center does resume/cover letter reviews and mock interviews; academic advising quality varies by major but is worthwhile; there are endless clubs and a lot of great space to study. Be prepared to something run up against huge UC bureaucracy, but there's always someone in an office somewhere who gets paid to explain processes to you, if you can find them. Don't worry about the party rep, but be sure to go to start-of-the-year events to make friends; you'll survive without it, but it really helps.
Isla Vista is scruffy but lovable, Goleta is small and quiet, Santa Barbara is a wonderful city (an easy 20min bus ride on the 24x). Bring a bike - cheapest beach cruiser you can find should be fine. If you have a nice mountain/road bike, lock it properly with a U-lock and cable. The area is gorgeous - More Mesa, Coal Oil Point, Lake Cachuma...
I was crushed when I didn't get into Berkeley, but this should've been my dream school. UCSB is amazing.