"Second Tier" UCs

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Discus: College Search and Selection: September 2003 Archive: "Second Tier" UCs
By Andrey1225 (Andrey1225) on Tuesday, September 16, 2003 - 06:45 pm: Edit

After UCLA, UCB, and UCSD what is the best UC?

I know davis, irvine, and santa barbara are up there, but everyone has a different opinion about which one is better. I'm sure SB has better humanities programs than the other two, but what about sciences like bio and chem?

Which would you go to if you got rejected from the first three? UCI, UC Davis, or UCSB?

I was just wondering since im applying to those three and want one of the second tier three as an ultimate fallback school.

By Sac (Sac) on Tuesday, September 16, 2003 - 07:58 pm: Edit

if you have some area of interest, check the different campuses out because some have departments or programs that others don't. Davis is a top school in environmental science, Irvine is known for creative writing, Santa Barbara has one of the strongest physics departments in the country. Santa Barbara has a special program for those who know what they want to do and are ready to work individually with a professor in anything from physics to music composition. If you're pre-med (I see you asked about bio and chem) you might consider that unlike Irvine and SB, Davis has a medical school which might provide some opportunities. Beyond that they have very different environments and you might want to base your decision on that. I think Irvine has more commuters, SB has more parties, Davis is in a small town and has a lot of intramural sports as well as access to skiing...etc. They are all reasonable choices and give students who do well a good shot at excellent graduate programs.

By Carolyn (Carolyn) on Wednesday, September 17, 2003 - 11:45 am: Edit

It's probably a toss up between Davis and Santa Barbara - their strengths are very similiar, although Davis is purportedly "the" place for pre-vet students and biology majors.

Strongest programs at UC Davis: Anthropology, Art, Bio, Biochem, Botany, Chemistry, English, Geology, History, Poli Sci, Zoology.

Strongest programs at SB: Art, art history, bio, business admin, classics, comp. sci, economics, foreign language, geography, geology, music, philosophy, physics, poli-sci, psychology, sociology.

After those two, I'd say academics are about equal at UC Irvine, Santa Cruz and Riverside. In my opinon, Riverside doesn't have the academic rep it deserves because of its horrible location. And, each of these schools have unique strengths as well. For example, UC Irvine's computer sci program is excellent, Santa Cruz has a nationally ranked astrophysics program, Riverside has a great drama program and good math department.

But, really, all of the UC's are very good schools.

By Ellemenope (Ellemenope) on Wednesday, September 17, 2003 - 02:54 pm: Edit

UC Irvine DOES has a medical school. What UC Davis has that neither UCSB nor UCI have are a vet school and a law school.

By Sac (Sac) on Wednesday, September 17, 2003 - 03:06 pm: Edit

thanks for the correction. my bad.

By Reidmc (Reidmc) on Wednesday, September 17, 2003 - 03:27 pm: Edit

I've heard very good things about the English and History departments at UC-Irvine.

By Kewkiekid (Kewkiekid) on Thursday, September 18, 2003 - 07:57 pm: Edit

UCR has an amazing honors college. it's the only UC i'm applying to.

By Lethalfang (Lethalfang) on Friday, September 19, 2003 - 12:05 am: Edit

UC Santa Barbara is a very nice place.

By Andrey1225 (Andrey1225) on Friday, September 19, 2003 - 12:37 am: Edit

Thanks for all your input. I know the other schools are great, I mean theyre top50 schools and a lot of people would kill to go to them, but I still don't think they can compete with UCLA, UCB, or UCSD, most kids just use them as surefire backups in case something goes awry with the admissions.

Yeah UCSB is an awesome place, right by the school. And UCI has a great campus, very green and open (alot better than UCLAs, but i think its open to discussion).

I always thought UCI was a better bio/chem school. I live like 20 minutes from the school, so going through the OC register there are always stories about the cutting edge research and breakthroughs in genetics and other sciences going on over there. Maybe its just bias by the newspaper?

That and I thought the UCI had a better reputation than UCSB and possible davis in a lot of subject areas but Carolyn compared it to UCR and UCSC. I'm right by the school so my judgement might be a little partial toward it. What do the people outside or in northern cali think of UCI, because I'm having doubts about choose it as my 4th UC to apply to after reading these posts...?

By Sac (Sac) on Friday, September 19, 2003 - 12:55 pm: Edit

I agree with you that UCI has an overall reputation that's a notch above UCR, UCSB and UCSC, especially in sciences. But individual departments at each place are outstanding. If you look at the booklet UC puts out with a few pages devoted to each campus, you'll get a sense of the selectivity at each campus -- UCB and UCLA are the hardest to get into with UCSD very close behind, while UCR and UCSC are the easiest. But that is only one measure. Do you want to go to college 20 minutes from your home? Would you like to be in Northern or Southern California? Are you more comfortable with a smaller campus or doesn't it matter, etc, etc. Outstanding students from any UC campus go on to outstanding graduate programs. Why not check off more than 4 boxes, see where you get in, visit, then decide?

By Becks777 (Becks777) on Friday, September 19, 2003 - 11:15 pm: Edit

i believe all the 3 second tier ucs are excellent....they are just over shadowed by la,berk,and even sd....otherwise compared to other state schools in the states.....they are pretty good
But again...........remember that uc davis and irvine are made up of students who were basically rejected from la, berk, or sd

By Sac (Sac) on Saturday, September 20, 2003 - 03:28 pm: Edit

I don't think that's entirely true. There are students who end up at campuses other than UCLA and UCB because they got rejected. But many students apply to uc davis because it feels more manageable than huge campuses like UCLA and UCB and they like the less urban atmosphere. Many students apply to Irvine because they choose to live at home or because, unlike UCLA and UCB, it offers National Merit. (UCB doesn't offer an honors program, while many of the others do). Lots of undergraduates are intimidated by the sheer size of UCLA and UCB and therefore choose another campus without applying to the "big" ones. Plus, it's UC policy to try not to duplicate too many programs on the different campuses, which means that you might find journalism only at UCB, the study of wine only at UC Davis, history of conciousness only at UCSC, etc. Each campus has reasons that might draw good students.

By 3ucs (3ucs) on Monday, September 22, 2003 - 09:55 pm: Edit

Having attended 3 UCs, I can tell you that you'll get an excellent academic experience at any UC, no matter which "tier" you choose (or which tier chooses you). I got my BS at UCLA (neuroscience), took summer courses at UCI (cheaper than LA), and am currently in a PhD program at UCR. The faculty quality at all 3 is outstanding. The biggest difference is the selectivity. But a non-selective school like UCR offers just as good of an education as a very selective school like UCLA. It's just that nobody wants to go to school in the desert, so top applicants don't apply there. Carolyn was right, UCR definitely doesn't have the rep it deserves. For your purposes (bio or chem), you should go to a large school like UCLA or UCSD for having choices regarding who to work with to gain research or volunteer experience. The best "second tier" if you want to do bio research would be UCI, followed by Davis. But this is only speaking generally. You should decide what area of research (if research is what you want to do) you're interested in. For bio relating to medical research, try UCI. For bio relating to agriculture or the environment, try UCD. If you're interested in plant bio/chem , UCR is tops in the country. If you plan on med school, UCI would probably best prepare you for an atmosphere like UCLA or UCSD med school, while UCD would probably best prepare you for family practice. Or, if you're super competitive, UCR's biomed program lets you get an MD from UCLA after 7 years instead of 8 (combined undergrad/med school), but I don't recommend that program. But NO MATTER WHICH UC you attend, you're likely to get excellent placement at the postgraduate level (even "third tier", as people in my program have gone on to postdoctoral research at Yale, Stanford, and Harvard, as well as biotech companies). If you get into any UC, you'll be fine.

By Carolyn (Carolyn) on Monday, September 22, 2003 - 10:31 pm: Edit

3ucs - I'm curious about your take on how the "budget crisis" is affecting the UC's. It's hard to tell how much programs are really being impacted and how much is over-reaction from the media. Do you have any thoughts on this? (I recognize that you're in the doctoral program at UCR but could you specifically address undergraduate program effects?) thanks!

By Speechpathmom (Speechpathmom) on Tuesday, September 23, 2003 - 12:43 am: Edit


Could you tell me more about UCR's honors program? I have looked at the web site but would appreciate more inside info. Do you have friends there? Also, is the campus remote from the town. Is there anything to do in the town? We are SF Bay Area folks, not real thrilled about SoCal; however, I have been trying to find some good honors programs anywhere and have found that they are extremely variable.

Thanks much.

By 3ucs (3ucs) on Tuesday, September 23, 2003 - 02:30 am: Edit

I think that some of it is a dramatization, but some effects are definitely felt by the undergrads. The most obvious is the fee hike, though it's still a bargain to go to a UC. Since my fees are waived, I'm not sure how much fees have gone up, but any amount is bad. Less funding also probably means less recruitment of new faculty, which affects the smaller UCs the most. Less state funding also means a slow- down of campus expansion. If you go to UCR's "campus growth" site, there's a section somewhere in there about new buildings and the source(s) of their funds. Many say "state" for part of their source. The new biological sciences building was supposed to begin construction last spring. Fewer new faculty members and fewer new facilities, plus an ever-growing student population, translates into more and more crowded classes for undergrads and less personalized attention, which is one of Riverside's strong points. In my opinion, I think these are the biggest problems for undergrads attending ANY of the UCs as a result of the state's budget crisis: fee hikes and overcrowding. Just an opinion, though. And financial aid helps out a lot of students when it comes to the fee hike issue.

By Carolyn (Carolyn) on Tuesday, September 23, 2003 - 11:09 am: Edit

3ucs - Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I agree - even with the fee increases, the UC's are an educational bargain compared to other state university systems. Hopefully, the UC schools themselves will be able to minimize overcrowding and other problems as much as possible. And thanks for verifying that UC Riverside is a great school - it's unfortunate that it is overlooked by so many students.

By Ellemenope (Ellemenope) on Tuesday, September 23, 2003 - 11:26 am: Edit

One result of the budget crunch--the opening of UC Merced has been pushed back one year.

By Carolyn (Carolyn) on Tuesday, September 23, 2003 - 11:38 am: Edit

sorry I double posted.

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