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Discus: College Search and Selection: April 2004 Archive: URGENT: Cal or UCSC
By Rubencabrerajr (Rubencabrerajr) on Monday, April 19, 2004 - 02:13 pm: Edit

Hey people,
I have been brwsing cc board for over a year now and it has been really helpful in my college search and sellection. I am posting now because I am stuck between two schools: UCSC and Cal.


This school has the hippies (which I don't mind) the interested academic programs like Latino and latin American Studies and the Psychology department and Sociology, and some other one's that seem really interesting to me. I have also been awarded a Regent's Scholarship so I will not have to worry about money if I go here.


Cal had been my dream school for some time and I did end up visiting with the Overnight Host Program. One of the things that was dissaponting was that I did not meet that many people like me (from low-income family, passionate about heping out the latino community). I did meet with the latinos on campus but there are few of us and the ones that are there tended to be from middle to upper class families. That's what was dissapointing. But I think I will find that at all selective universities. Anyways, I did end up meeting some coll ppl so I'm ok with that aspect. The other thing that I liked about Cal was the energy it seemed to be emitting. I was jsut so excited when I was there. I was meeting new people having some cool discussions with incoming freshman and current berkeley students. As for finaid my financial aid ackage consists of $4,000 in student loans, $1,000 from my parents (with an efc of 670), and about $4,000 in work-study. I'm fine with the work-study amount but the the $1,000 from my family and $4,000 in loans is not as good as a full ride from UCSC.

I guess I am having a hard tiume deciding because at berkeley it seems that I would have a lot to gain because it is a very challenging place but I also have a lot to lose if I don't cut it. Also I don't know how much fun I will be having since I'm not into drinking. (does berkeley have a rock music scene?) The thing I loved abotu berkeley is the enthusiam and energy that it created in me. Also like it has everything in terms of the clubs and majors so if my tastes ever change I have a lot to choose from. At UCSC I would probably have a higher chance of success in academics, and I do like the hippies, but I do not know about the social aspect. What kind of peopel are at UCSC? Would there be more people like me or what? Would I fit in there? I have to visit it I know but I do not have that many resources to do that.

OK, I know my post is all over the place but this is what I am feeling so please respond more intelligently than me.

Thank You.

By Rubencabrerajr (Rubencabrerajr) on Monday, April 19, 2004 - 08:28 pm: Edit


By Toesover2 (Toesover2) on Monday, April 19, 2004 - 08:53 pm: Edit

There's a thread on the College Admissions forum titled "Berkeley or Santa Cruz", and the OP has a similar situation as yours, as do I. People have brought up some interesting points; check it out.

By Bobcat44 (Bobcat44) on Thursday, April 22, 2004 - 01:29 pm: Edit

CAL! I'm from California and I think we all know the UCSC stereotypes that are out there, and how these stereotypes tend to be very true. UCSC doesn't tend to attract students who are as serious about academics as CAL kids. Also, even if this sounds rather superficial, think about the reputation of both schools. Berkeley is widely considered to be one of the best schools in the nation, whereas Santa Cruz doesn't have nearly the same caliber of a reputation. I'd go with Berkeley, personally.

By Rubencabrerajr (Rubencabrerajr) on Thursday, April 22, 2004 - 02:40 pm: Edit

I don't like being a prestige whore so I do not just want to be one of those people that sends in their SIR to berkeley because that's the best school they got accepted to.

Right now, I am leaning towards berkeley but im getting a FULL-RIDE at UCSC! It is really hard to decide because of that huge incentive.

By Nicksummers (Nicksummers) on Thursday, April 22, 2004 - 08:41 pm: Edit

Prestige matters, and it's not all empty. Cal is a far superior school academically, and future employers and grad-school adcoms know that. The $ isn't worth it in the long run unless you cannot pay for Cal at all and therefore cannot go.

Don't shortchange yourself - UCSC is not near the caliber of USB. In the long run, a full scholarship isn't worth the education/experience gap.

By Sdsurf69 (Sdsurf69) on Friday, April 23, 2004 - 09:24 am: Edit

Your major is not one that is marketable unless your going to be a teacher or researcher. I'd say Berkeley if your a business or science/engineering major. But reallistically, I'd go to UCSC for your major if you know any business/science/engineering will NOT be apart of your future if you decide to change majors. Save that money for apply to grad school b/c reallistically with that major, I'm 85% sure thats what your going to do.

By Rana (Rana) on Friday, April 23, 2004 - 09:33 am: Edit

It is simply not true that the students who attend UCSC take their education less seriously. That is just a silly statement. But there is certainly a difference betweem the experience of attending UCSC and Berkeley.

Let's face it, Cal can and does offer you a great education, but so does UCSC. And while the name recognition of Cal is obviously higher than UCSC, that does not automatically mean an individual will find the experience "better" at Cal. Cal is notorious for being very large, impersonal, and its undergrad education often being very mechanical. The priority at Cal really is its grad and research programs and the grad students. There is no question about that. For the right student, however, that environment, particularly the competitive nature of the place, is just what they need to flourish.

But for students who want a more personal, intimate education, and a setting where they can really explore their subject areas, with actual professors as well as fellow students, then Cal would probably NOT be the place for them. UCSC, or some other school, might have the better "quality" education in that case. It really does depend on the individual and what it is they are looking for in their college experience.

I think a lot of people would be surprised to know where so many of us who are or were faculty at Cal wind up encouraging our own kids to go to school.

Most of my colleagues will tell you that they want their kids to go to undergrad school somewhere else. Many of our kids learn that Cal's real strenght is its GRAD schools; it is what Cal does best (this is the real basis of Cal's reputation). But for the undergrad years, there are schools that will give most of them a much deeper and better undergraduate experience.

There is no "gap" between which school will give an individual a good education. What really matters is picking the school that will provide the best academic environment for YOU. It does you no good to attend a school that is mismatched to your goals, educational interests, and financial situation.

Ultimately that will hurt you and most likely affect your performance and grades. But more importantly, it affects how and what you will learn, and after all, that really is what college is all about.

Choose Cal not because people tell you its better, select it because it is right for YOU. Likewise, don't feel compelled to go to UCSC ONLY because they gave you money, select it because it offers what you're looking for. Pick the school that you are the most enthused to attend, the one you think will bring out the best in you, the one you will find the most welcoming to your talents and goals.

By Rubencabrerajr (Rubencabrerajr) on Friday, April 23, 2004 - 01:55 pm: Edit

Thank you for your excellent post Rana. It was great advice. Well right now I am leaning towards Cal but I'm going be sending an SIR on Wed. when I got to visit UCSC. I know I can't make a wrong choice so that is a good thing.

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