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Help me choose between schools?

UnknownSaintUnknownSaint Registered User
edited July 2008 in Help / Advice Forum
So I made a thread a while back about my current school situation. Long story short I didn't get my admissions revoked and I'm still onboard and admitted to UCLA.

However, a few days ago they finally released their financial aid decisions, and the sum is pathetic. About $500 in grants each quarter (about $2000 each quarter in federally subsidized loans offered, and about $5000 a quarter in some 'Federal Parent Loan' that I have yet to look into more) - no Cal Grant and no Pell Grant in sight. I was accepted into Irvine for the Fall 2008 as well, but did not register because at the time I was not aware of how royally UCLA is going to screw me financially. LA has a much better philosophy department, and in class selection alone in my major (Philosophy) it beats the crap out of what Irvine has to offer. Seeing as I plan to go to school beyond my philosophy BA (I'm looking towards law right now, and if that doesn't pan out I would enjoy teaching Philosophy, as it is very enjoyable to me and a change in majors is not really something I would consider), I'm wondering if the school I go to is really going to matter that much. On a more important note, UCI financial aid is a hell of a lot more enticing. Because of my decision not to register there, I can not currently view what my offer was, but it was to the tune of $18k in grants in a single year, with a considerable amount of subsidized loans offered, as well as un-subsidized. From what I gathered from a few sources, this offer will be there even if I go in the winter quarter, I just won't receive the fall quarter sum. So re-application and re-admittance should open it back up for me.

This is a big intimidating block of text, so I'll break it down into the currently considered pro's and cons for each school. What I'm asking for here is advice, prior experience, or just about anything that can help me decide what's the reasonable course of action.

UCLA...
-Superior philosophy department. Tons of interesting courses offered that UCI does not, especially courses in political philosophy and the philosophy of law.
-Would probably look better on my record, though I'm unsure how much this actually matters.
-Probably easier to find a place and a roommate, as one of my best friends is looking to relocate from Hollywood to elsewhere, and his current lease situation would allow him to move whenever, if I were to decide to room up with him
-I would be starting in the Fall. This is probably a benefit as starting at an odd quarter may interfere with some multiple quarter classes I would want to take.

UCI...
-Much much cheaper. This is assuming I wasn't mislead about the financial aid that will be available to me. If both schools cost the same there would be no consideration, I would pick LA. But if I can avoid a $20-40k price tag and get an education that is good enough, I'd rather do that.
-Westwood is nice, but I'm not a huge fan of LA in general. I think I'd dig Irvine more. With the extra money from the superior financial aid I could probably get a small 1 bedroom or studio to myself, which would be much preferred over a roommate situation, even if it were a good friend.
-Would be starting in the Winter quarter, as I already chose not to register for the Fall under the impression that my admissions would be revoked anyway (They were simply re-written for LA when I broke my transfer admissions contract. Twice.). Due to some sort of program they have going right now though, I am apparently guaranteed admission if I meet a certain criteria that from what I can tell, I certainly do meet.

I suppose that's about it. Any insight on the value of what is probably a (perhaps marginally) superior quality of education versus cold financial burden - considering my future plans at the moment, would be appreciated.

UnknownSaint on

Posts

  • DaenrisDaenris Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    Well, if you're definitely going to go to school after your BA, then where you go doesn't matter beyond applying to graduate programs. I suspect that there won't be a huge difference between having UCI or UCLA on your grad school application as long as either way your grades/performance is stellar. Obviously another big part of law school is going to be your LSAT score, so unrelated to which undergrad you go to.

    Given the vast difference in the financial aid offered, I personally would choose UCI hands down.

    Worst case scenario, if UCI is terrible, you could probably transfer to UCLA after a year or two.

    And actually that might even be another option to consider. Spend two years at UCI getting your general requirements and basic classes out of the way without paying too much, then consider transferring to UCLA. I don't know about UC specifically, but at several other multi-campus/state schools they offer better financial aid to transfer students from other campuses. So then you could take the better philosophy courses without getting raped by the costs, maybe. But this would obviously take a lot of investigation to see if it's actually feasible.

  • kaliyamakaliyama Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    For undergrad? It doesn't really matter unless you're faced with a very stark choice - like a very bad school (e.g. a CSU, small religious private), or a very good school (e.g.s princeton/williams/stanford/pomona) as long as you can take a full plate of courses and make good contacts. if you want to be a philosophy professor, then your grad school and whatever publications you can scrounge are of supreme importance.

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  • UnknownSaintUnknownSaint Registered User
    edited July 2008
    Daenris wrote: »
    Well, if you're definitely going to go to school after your BA, then where you go doesn't matter beyond applying to graduate programs. I suspect that there won't be a huge difference between having UCI or UCLA on your grad school application as long as either way your grades/performance is stellar. Obviously another big part of law school is going to be your LSAT score, so unrelated to which undergrad you go to.

    Given the vast difference in the financial aid offered, I personally would choose UCI hands down.

    Worst case scenario, if UCI is terrible, you could probably transfer to UCLA after a year or two.

    And actually that might even be another option to consider. Spend two years at UCI getting your general requirements and basic classes out of the way without paying too much, then consider transferring to UCLA. I don't know about UC specifically, but at several other multi-campus/state schools they offer better financial aid to transfer students from other campuses. So then you could take the better philosophy courses without getting raped by the costs, maybe. But this would obviously take a lot of investigation to see if it's actually feasible.

    I suppose it is my fault for not clarifying, but I would be a transferring junior. I have 60 credits already completed at my current community college, so what I'm looking at ahead of me is my last two years of undergrad. I don't think that really changes much all things considered, but yeah.

    Anyhow, I need to make some more phone calls and make 110% positive my financial aid will roll over despite my not registering for the fall 08 quarter. Two people I've talked to at Irvine said it would, but I just need a few more details worked out.

    I think I'm leaning towards what is the consensus here, I can study my ass off for LSAT's at either school so the marginal difference in education may be pretty easily overlooked. Anyone have any specific experience with those departments at either school? Or know of any resources where I could look into them in more detail, beyond schedules of class offerings?

  • krapst78krapst78 Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    I graduated with a B.A. in Philosophy from UCLA back in 2000 so my experiences might be a little dated. The philosophy department was a fairly small department, taking up just one floor in Dodd Hall. Thiis means you will get a lot of face time with your professors, especially in the upper division classes. This also means that there is a lot of pressure for you to come to class prepared.

    The quality of the lecturers were generally excellent with a chance to meet some interesting visiting professors. The coursework was much more rigorous compared to other upper division humanities courses I had taken, with most 4 unit classes requiring you to read approximately 50-150 pages per week. 50-150 pages a week per class might not sound too bad, but many of the papers we went over in our courses were extremely dense.

    UCLA's philosophy department has a strong classical philosophy leaning with most of the undergraduate studies focused on the major western philosophical heavyweights (i.e. Aristotle, Aquinas, Descartes, Locke, Hume, Kant, etc...). I recall taking an abundance of classes on Ethics, but they also required me to fulfill requisites in the major branches of metaphysics, epistemology, and logic. The upper-division classes are a bit more diverse and you can delve into much more specialized areas such as philosophy of science, philosophy of law, and philosophy of language (with upper division courses taught by the excellent David Kaplan).

    I admit that I didn't take full opportunity of the truly great resources at UCLA, but philosophy for me was more a hobby than a passion. I could sense that for the students that really made philosophy their passion, they were able to learn a great deal of knowledge from the excellent faculty.

    Hello! My name is Inigo Montoya! You killed my father prepare to die!
  • UnknownSaintUnknownSaint Registered User
    edited July 2008
    Thanks for the feedback. That workload does sound intimidating, 250+ pages a week of philosophy text is no joke, some of it is incredibly dense like you said. I'll take all of that into consideration.

  • LewishamLewisham Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    I'm probably being silly here and misreading something, so do excuse my idiocy :)

    If you can't afford to go to school at UCLA... how do you intend to pay for living costs? When I was researching the possibility of being accepted to USC, the price of living in West LA was pretty high.

    Honestly, yes, UCLA has the cachet and what have you, but university is what you make of it, and it's only one piece of a large puzzle. I've seen plenty of Oxbridge graduates who pissed the opportunity away and are working tedious jobs, and I've seen people from other universities go on and do amazing things. I chose not to apply to Oxbridge (even though I could have gone, with my grades) because I didn't think I'd enjoy it very much. Very glad I didn't.

    If you're not worrying about debt all the time, you will be happier, which in turn will increase your academic performance, and that sort of thing radiates out to improve other areas of your life (like dating). I would go to UCI.

  • UnknownSaintUnknownSaint Registered User
    edited July 2008
    I'm not paying for school exclusively with financial aid, so cost of living is rolled into the whole consideration of what this is going to cost me. Either way, the difference in cost is pretty substantial so I'm going to look into a few more things and decide from there.

  • krapst78krapst78 Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    Oh yeah, taking 20 units of upper div philosophy courses in one quarter is a REALLY REALLY bad idea. Even 16 units of just philosophy courses in a quarter will probably burn you out really quickly. I made the unfortunate decision of taking 4 upper division philosophy courses in one quarter and that was probably the worst 10 weeks of my college career. Variety really is the spice of life, especially when it comes to an enjoyable university experience.

    The Law Building is also right across the lawn from Dodd Hall. That might be a good opportunity for making connections or finding resources on getting into Law school. Both buildings are right next to LuValle Commons which was a great place to hang out and grab a quick bite to eat. The pace and ambiance of North Campus is very pleasant, especially during Fall when the leaves turn red and the weather is nice and cool.

    Oh yeah, one very large difference between UCLA and UCI is the sports atmosphere. There's a big difference in being a Bruins fan and an Anteater fan. Even if you are not a hardcore sports fanatic, there is a lot of fun to be had when your team does well during March Madness or is making a run for the National Championship. Not to put down the Bren Center, but my sister recently transferred from UCI to UCLA last year and she was more than satisfied by the number of events you could attend at UCLA over UCI.

    Hello! My name is Inigo Montoya! You killed my father prepare to die!
  • LewishamLewisham Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    krapst78 wrote: »
    Oh yeah, one very large difference between UCLA and UCI is the sports atmosphere. There's a big difference in being a Bruins fan and an Anteater fan. Even if you are not a hardcore sports fanatic, there is a lot of fun to be had when your team does well during March Madness or is making a run for the National Championship. Not to put down the Bren Center, but my sister recently transferred from UCI to UCLA last year and she was more than satisfied by the number of events you could attend at UCLA over UCI.

    There's no reason why you couldn't adopt UCLA as the home UC team and just go to the matches regardless.

  • UnknownSaintUnknownSaint Registered User
    edited July 2008
    To be honest the sports aren't a big draw for me whatsoever. I'm there for academics, and even if it's a big social thing, my interest is...meh.

    Anyhow, I wasn't planning on overloading myself with units when I get there. Most I've had was 18, and while it was doable, I wouldn't really want to compromise any of my classes just for the sake of taking a shit-pile all at once.

    Good to know about the Law building there though, because despite where I go now I am heavily considering UCLA's law school afterwards. I need some more research on the matter, but it seems like an improving, progressive school and would be a solid choice, though that's a decision I'll worry about in at least a year from now.

  • ZeroCowZeroCow Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    One thing to think of with cost, particularly if you plan on going to law school, is not front loading the debt too much.

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  • Monolithic_DomeMonolithic_Dome Registered User
    edited July 2008
    I smart man once said this to me, in response to the hypothetical question of "Does the reputation of the school I attend matter?"

    Yes it does, but only for the last place you go.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • TaGuelleTaGuelle Registered User
    edited July 2008
    Don't throw yourself in debt over some BA program. It's not worth it. Do well in UCI and use that money to pay for a good Law School.

  • LewishamLewisham Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    I smart man once said this to me, in response to the hypothetical question of "Does the reputation of the school I attend matter?"

    Yes it does, but only for the last place you go.

    From my discussions with various academics when I was applying for grad school (disclaimer: accepted to UCSC, studied at UCD for a year), pretty much any of the UC schools (perhaps not Merced or Riverside) means your application is going to get looked at for whatever you want to do next.

    OP, if I was you, I would be freaking out and worrying that UCLA was the only place worth it, and doing everything in my power to justify to myself and others that the debt will be worth it. I would be very surprised if you looked over this thread and suddenly had a change of heart and realised that UCI would be great. What we can do is just reassure you that if you go there out of circumstance, it's actually going to be great if you want it to be. Like I said before, uni is what you make of it.

    And you will realise this during your studies, and you will feel much better, and UCLA will be a distant memory.

    In fact, I made a thread where I freaked out about going to USC or UCSC. I got rejected from USC, after being told I had a 2/3 chance of getting in. My gf was pushing hard for USC, so when it didn't come through we both felt it. Everyone here said "It's going to be fine" and I didn't believe them, and Thanatos came in and reminded me that UCSC was a great school, and I felt a bit better. I slept on it for a couple of days, and then felt great about it. Things worked out way better than I had hoped; I applied to UC San Diego expressly to work with one professor, and he's been hired to work at UCSC with another professor I really wanted to work with.

    What I'm trying to say in a long-winded way, is that things will work out :)

  • PlutoniumPlutonium Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    I go to UCI right now, and I must say that if you want to do philosophy, this really isn't the best place. It's pretty much just a school for the hard sciences. Most everyone you'll meet at UCI is either in engineering, computer science, physical sciences, or bio sciences, or had started out there and changed to something else.

    Everything else really gets shoved to the side by the administration, and you can't take a lot of classes that are major-specific.

    If you're planning to do a postgraduate program though, it really doesn't matter much where your undergrad is as long as you do well and make the right contacts.

    Cost-wise for housing depends on what you plan to do, and apartments around UCI vary wildly in prices depending on proximity to the school, as well as whether the apartment is in Irvine or Newport. Stuff in very close walking distance is all owned by the Irvine company and will run between $600-800 a month + utilities, depending on the roommate situation. You can shop around for apartments further from the campus to get better deals, but you might not always find other students as roomates, especially if you're starting in the fall.

    On-campus housing at UCI's only guaranteed for one year, if you want to go that route. However, the on-campus apartments (compared to the lame dorms) are pretty swanky and very inexpensive - like $450 a month including utilities. I would recommend trying to get a sublease on something in Campus Village or Mesa Court if you're going to be transferring in during winter quarter and don't want to worry about a drive. I started in winter quarter, and that worked out great for me.

    There isn't much of a coherent social situation at UCI. Most people commute, and both sports and greek presence are minimal at best. The campus is very good looking though, it's very safe, and it's a great campus for academics - the people who go here are mostly serious students.

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