Davis/Santa Barbra/ Santa Cruz/ Irvine

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Discus: College Search and Selection: April 2004 Archive: Davis/Santa Barbra/ Santa Cruz/ Irvine
By Pandaman (Pandaman) on Sunday, April 11, 2004 - 08:19 pm: Edit

hi i got accepted to the Davis/Santa Barbra/ Santa Cruz/ Irvine. I'm having trouble deciding on which college to go to. I want to major in Philosophy and possibly minor in Political Science. Which college has the best reputation for philosophy or can offer something in that field that none of the other campuses can?

By Pandaman (Pandaman) on Sunday, April 11, 2004 - 10:03 pm: Edit

also, which one offers the most academic freedom?

By Rana (Rana) on Monday, April 12, 2004 - 12:02 am: Edit

Congrats on getting in to so many UCs! This was a tough year to get in! These schools all have their good points, starting with good academics. But they are all VERY different from each other.

In terms of over-all "academics," this is how the 2003 Princeton Review rated these schools:
UCSC 3/4 (3 out of 4)
UC Davis 2/4
UCSB 1/4
UCI 1/4

On "campus life" the Princeton Review gave them:
UCSC 4/4
UC Davis 3/4
UCSB 3/4
UCI 2/4

I went to UC Berkeley for grad school and taught there and at UC Davis; I also had a research assistantship at UCSC, and I am currently doing research at UCSB. And, believe it our not, I went to University High in Irvine and spent a lot of time on the UCI campus. So I actually know these campuses rather well. (I teach at Cal Poly SLO).

Each school has it's advantages and your selection depends more on you than the schools themselves. I'd be happy to give you a run down on what I think of each school if you'd like, but here is how I would rank them in terms of "academic freedom" since you did ask about that:
3. UCD
4. UCI

But more important than any of this is how you feel about the schools after you visit them and research them. They each couldn't be more different from each other...

FYI: I think the Princeton Review ratings above caputured those two aspects of the schools.

By Pandaman (Pandaman) on Monday, April 12, 2004 - 02:41 pm: Edit

Thanks for the help. However the only reservations I am having on UCSC, are a) the whole concept of narrative evaluations (which I think is a great concept but I'm not sure if law or business schools really like that kinda stuff) and b) the ranking according the the U.S. News and World Report is rather low (so I'll have a tough time convincing my parents to allow me to go there.)

By Rana (Rana) on Monday, April 12, 2004 - 05:45 pm: Edit

The other schools are good, but you should know regarding your points:

a) UCSC got rid of that system about the year 2000. You can still get a written evaluation if you want, but you also get the letter grade. You can take up to 25% of your courses Pass/N0 Pass, but that is not too different from other schools.

Just so you know, I sat on a grad school admissions committee when I was at Berkeley and we were generally very impressed with UCSC students. I admit reading their written evaluations were sometimes a pain (the files were so thick!), but they proved to be a useful tool for us in deciding who to short-list and let in. We found them to be better predictors of how the students would do in our program than regular GPAs. The fact that they were written evaluations instead of regular GPA transcripts never affected our consideration of the student. The current combination of GPA with evaluations that we see now is very useful.

b) The USNWR rears its ugly head again! Rankings can be problematic in any case, but that particular one is really questioned by profs and other academics. It is so frustrating to see how they rank schools and that it has become the ONE set of rankings people use the most! Personally, I like the Princeton Review's and the Yale Daily News guides best. They give a more detailed look at and better assessment of what the schools are really about and what their academic strengths and reputations are like.

Anyway, I like all the schools you listed, but thought you should know that your view of UCSC does not match the reality of the place today and how it is seen by those of us who actually decide who gets into grad school or not...

By Pandaman (Pandaman) on Tuesday, April 13, 2004 - 12:29 am: Edit

Thanks again for the input. But on another factor, do u know if which one has a better philosophy program? I know for sure that Davis offers a critical theory emphasis on the graduate level, so I know their program should be fairly good. But on the other hand, Santa Cruz has some fairly compelling classes in their general catalog. Also, a friend of mine mentioned to me that Santa Cruz has a fairly large drug problem their.

By Rana (Rana) on Tuesday, April 13, 2004 - 01:17 am: Edit

I'm afraid I don't know which philosophy program is better. I do know that UCSC also has MA and PhD programs in philosophy. You'll have to find someone else who knows more about them than I do. One thing you can do is compare the grad schools of the profs and see where they went to school, that often is an idicator of the faculty's calibre. The other thing you can do is look for student evaluations of the profs at websites like http://www.ratemyprofessors.com

As for drugs and drinking, what can I tell you, they can be a problem at just about any campus, including UCSC and UC Davis. I know that the attitude at UCSC between students is to let each other "do their own thing" and if that means not doing drugs or drinking, that choice is respected. I imagine Davis is much the same.

By Dad_Ed (Dad_Ed) on Thursday, April 15, 2004 - 11:54 am: Edit


U seem very knowledgable on UC's. I enjoyed and benefited from ur answers to others. If allow me I like to ask for ur advice. My S is accepted to UCSC and UCR (He is a good student but his GPA was not good enough for other UC's I guess, He had a real bad GPA in 10 grade.. :( ). Anyhow, he likes the business major. I know that UCSC does not have a business program, but one can do economic and go to MBA later. My q is how u think about UCSC VS URC.

Thanks again...

By Rana (Rana) on Thursday, April 15, 2004 - 01:44 pm: Edit

Dad Ed,
First of all, I congratulate your son on getting in to the two campuses he did. No UC is ever "easy" to get in to, and this year esp, the competition was very stiff.

UC Riverside is actually developing a very good reputation for its academics. On campus, students enjoy the attention they get from smaller programs; the place seems to have the feel a private liberal arts school. According to many students and professors, it is a more rewarding exprience than some of the other campuses; the 2003 Princeton Review rates its academics higher than UCI and UCSB. If it has the major your son is looking for, it could be a very good choice. The downside for UCR is that it is still a largely a commuter college and the surrounding area is anything but a college town.

While academics and major selections are perhaps the main things we look for in college, I think it is very important to consider the campus life and surrounding area as well. It affects the attitude of students and their ability or opportunity to make friends, form study groups, establish future professional contacts, develop survival strategies and study techniques, and in general, provide the conditions that reinforce the idea of college as something that is positive. Therefore, I tend to favor schools that have a large % of on-campus and out-of-area students AND that have solid academics.

Academically, UCSC is considered stronger than UCR, overall. And it has a very good campus life and culture. But as you correctly pointed out, there is no buisness program, as such. But it's economics program is good, however, and that is certainly a major business grad schools look at carefully. In fact, business schools consider ANY major if it demonstrates the students intelligence and academic preparation. Some MBA programs actually prefer non-business undergrad majors as they bring a set of knowldge that goes beyond just business techniques. So I don't think you should rule out UCSC because of this. I think it's overall academics and it's economics major will make your son competitive for an MBA or other type of grad school (UCSC students are known to get into some of the best grad schools in the nation, including MBA programs).

UCSC also has the advantage of letting their students take classes at UC Berkeley. It is a bit far to Cal, but there is a shuttle that takes students and profs to one of the BART stations so they can go to Berkeley for the day for classes, research, or just to hang out. That is certainly an opportunity that he would not have at UC Riverside.

Obviously, your son needs to decide which campus is best for him. Either one will serve him well. But the worry that he might not be albe to go on to an MBA program after graduation from UCSC should not really affect his decision.

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