Set the next four years of my life

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by goodtimes5, Apr 25, 2006.

  1. goodtimes5 macrumors 6502a

    goodtimes5

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2004
    Location:
    Bay Area
    #1
    I'm deciding between UC Berkeley and UC San Diego as my undergraduate college, both majoring in biology. I intend to move on to medical school after my undergraduate studies and become a doctor or work in the health field.

    Berkeley has the prestige and ranking as #1 public university in the world. How could I pass on that?

    San Diego has the reputation as one of the top biology-orientated schools in the world. How could I pass on that as a biology major?

    Campus-wise, Berkeley has beautiful Greco-Roman architecture, and San Diego has the weather and beach five minutes away.

    Atmosphere-wise, Berkeley is awfully competitive and stressful, and San Diego is laid-back but utterly boring.

    I live in San Francisco, but I wouldn't mind getting away, nor would I mind staying home.



    Which one?
     
  2. WildCowboy Administrator/Editor

    WildCowboy

    Staff Member

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    #2
    It's a very personal decision for you with factors only you can weigh, but I would choose UCSD. It's good to get away from home and make a clean break from your high school years. I've spent time at both UCSD and Berkeley and found UCSD a more relaxed, pleasant place to be. There's plenty to do on campus and in town...definitely not boring.

    They are very different schools...while you can't go wrong with either one on the academic front, you need to figure out what other aspects are most important to you and choose accordingly.
     
  3. jefhatfield Retired

    jefhatfield

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2000
    #3
    the good thing about cal is that you can live at home with the parents/relatives and save a lot of money (but that may be an ethnic thing with me where many friends and relatives went to cal while living at home, and a good number of them stayed home after graduation and stayed there until they got married, and yes, some stayed at home with spouse and shared house with in-laws...sounds like a funny adam sandler movie, but it's much more common in some asian nationalities ;) )

    san diego, even for a cheap apartment, is a very expensive place to live
     
  4. Oryan macrumors 6502a

    Oryan

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    Lincoln, NE
    #4
    No one can say "utterly boring" until they have experienced a year at the University of Missouri-Rolla. It's 5,500 engineering students in a rural town of 16,000 with a 4:1 guy-to-girl ratio. It's an hour and a half from any major city. There's only two bars and two coffee houses and no night life whatsoever. It's a great school, but the social life is nonexistent.
     
  5. AvSRoCkCO1067 macrumors 65816

    AvSRoCkCO1067

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    #5
    Sounds like Mines! Except we have a 5:1 guy-to-girl ratio, but it's closer to a big city (Denver).
     
  6. Oryan macrumors 6502a

    Oryan

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    #6
    Actually they say UMR is for engineers who like to camp whereas CSM is for engineers who like to ski. Good times!
     
  7. jamesi macrumors 6502a

    jamesi

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    Sep 13, 2005
    Location:
    Davis CA
    #7
    i was deciding between UC san diego and UC davis last year myself. Berkeley is a fine school but it isnt exactly known for its science. however, their program is still very solid. UC san diego may have the science down but what if you change your mind later on? it could go either way. berkeley is a nice campus, but the city is trapped in the 60s and is ugly. also, its competitive over there and then some, some students while in groups give thier classmates the wrong information so that they wont do well on exams. its pretty crazy. i know all roads logically point to berkeley b/c it is the best public school but maybe you should go to both places and ask yourself how you feel. there isnt really a right or wrong choice in this, its all what you make it
     
  8. jamesi macrumors 6502a

    jamesi

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    Davis CA
    #8
    oh one more thing, ive been to berkeley alot for parties and they really do have some good stuff there. lol plus its funny to find all the kids there that want to be a hippy more than anyting
     
  9. dmw007 macrumors G4

    dmw007

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    #9
    Quite the opposite at my school. Although, the numers are more like 2/2.5 girls per every 1 guy. :)


    I think that UC San Diego sounds like the better choice between the two goodtimes5. But either way, they are both very good schools. :)
     
  10. muffinman macrumors 6502

    muffinman

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    Location:
    San Diego, California
    #10
    i live right next to UCSD. the surfing is choice, if you want to learn how to surf. right next to la jolla shores beach (2 minute drive away), windensea beach, the cove, numerous art galleries, shops, wonderful resturants (Tapenade and Milanos Cafe come to mind), UTC Mall and world class Torrey Pines Golf Course are all within 5 minutes from UCSD.

    San Diego sunny weather, surfing, laid back atmosphere, and comfort all make UCSD a wonderful choice

    edit: forgot to say also: hot chicks
     
  11. dukebound85 macrumors P6

    dukebound85

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    #11

    Nice a fellow coloradoan. I almost went to mines and have 2 or 3 of my buddies their currently, but decided to stick it out with CSU and their engineering program. Doesn't have the bad stigma as CU seems to be getting as of late and a girl to guy ratio of like 1.5 to 1. The best of both worlds lol. That and FC has a sweet college atmosphere
     
  12. dmw007 macrumors G4

    dmw007

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    #12
    Sounds good to me. But alas, I am stuck in the middle of PA- no sun or surf here. :( ;) :)
     
  13. yg17 macrumors G5

    yg17

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    #13
    What he said.

    Also at UMR, and every minute I spend in Rolla is another minute I wish I was dead :D
     
  14. itcheroni macrumors 6502a

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    Sep 23, 2005
    Location:
    CA
    #14
    As a Cal grad, I say go with SD. There's a disparity between the quality of the undergrad and graduate departments, making the undergrad highly overrated. Though it's still not too shabby. But it really comes down to your sensibilities. Take away the academics- which town could you see yourself enjoying more?
     
  15. Chaszmyr macrumors 601

    Chaszmyr

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    Aug 9, 2002
    #15
    Unless SD has a better biology department that would help you get into med school, I'd probably go to Berkeley just because the name carries more clout.
     
  16. devilot Moderator emeritus

    devilot

    Joined:
    May 1, 2005
    #16
    Thanks for saying that. I was going to comment on that but you've saved me the effort. If I could do it all over again, I would have chosen UCI where in the honors program, I would have my own set professor acting as a mentor for my entire stay at that university and smaller classes. It gets old being just another face in a Wheeler (sp?) or Dwinelle auditorium lecture. :p
     
  17. fuzzynavo macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2004
    Location:
    CA
    #17
    I just graduated from Berkeley undergrad this last May, with a major in Molecuar and Cell Biology. I'm entering UCSD (which I chose over Berkeley) this September for grad school as well. I've done some real thinking regarding the two places in regards to grad school, and think I could be of some help.

    -Living-
    I've experienced the Berkeley area extensively, and visited UCSD a handful of times. Definitely Berkeley/SF/Bay Area is a much more condensed, metropolitan, and "happenin" place than La Jolla. Of course at UCSD you could go to the Gaslamp district or downtown SD or Pacific Beach among other things. But in my opinion nothing beats the college town atmosphere that you'll find at Cal Berkeley. Of course Telegraph avenue does look ghetto at first glance. But amongst the transient population and the hippies, there are some real gems when it comes to coffee shops and restaurants at Berkeley, all within walking distance from the campus. I believe the atmosphere there is a lot better, especially for a college student. On the other hand SD definitely has a car culture, where you won't be able to do much without your own car. I wouln't know much detail about what there is to do at SD not having spent too much time there, but I must say that the impression I have now is that I would miss the atmosphere up at Cal. Rent at both places is exorbitant. =\

    -Academics-
    I must disagree with the previous poster who stated that Berkeley does not have a good reputation in the sciences. It's common consensus that Berkeley is amongst the best universities in the nation when it comes to science, particularly physical sciences and engineering. The graduate programs rank consistently in the top three amongst places such as Stanford, MIT, and Caltech. In the biological sciences, they're still pretty darn good. Competing with other universities such as UCSF, UCSD, Johns Hopkins, Stanford, etc. Of course I'll admit rankings aren't something you should base your decision upon. But my point is, for the sciences, Berkeley is one of the TOP places to be, both in the public's eye and reputation among the academic community. Cal is VERY well respected.

    BUT, a majority of the innovation and high profile research at Berkeley (and in SD) is on the graduate level. Obtaining a world class undergraduate experience IS possible at either university, but its up to you, the student. Interacting with top notch professors requires a proactive approach. I have many friends at Cal that are lazy and just breeze by with C's and the minimum effort. Doing so is still possible as there's very little individual attention in such a huge undergraduate population as Berkeley (or SD). So you WILL run into slackers, stoners, and burnt out asians that got pushed too hard in high school and now just want to watch anime 24/7. But the majority of the population at Berkeley is very bright. I don't have extensive experience with UCSD undergrads, but what I hear from a few undergrad friends there is that its very much more laid back.

    That being said, I believe its somewhat safe to generalize that Berkeley has a much better repuation than UCSD on a school-wide context. In the area of Biology, the gap is a lot finer, with both schools having areas that they excel in. SD is top notch when it comes to neurobiology, Berkeley better in biochemistry and structural biology. Furthermore, I believe its also safe to generalize and say that Berkeley has a more competitive and "high achieving" undergraduate population than SD does. To the OP, this may translate to having more clout when applying to med school. A 3.7 GPA, may in many cases look *better* from Berkeley than it would at UCSD, where the competition is substantially lower. Trust me, Berkeley premeds are INSANE. But...med schools love 'em.

    Having said that, the best bet is to visit both campuses and see what fits you best. Yes, my belief is that Berkeley is a better choice due to the college town life, and the substantially better university reputation. However, if you end up hating it there, or getting stressed to a point where you can't excel in your classes, there would be no point in going there over SD. UCSD is by no means a bad choice, especially if you think you'll enjoy the atmosphere there over Cal. Regardless, I don't believe you should live at home unless for financial reasons. You'd be missing out on a huge part of the college life if you lived in SF. Plus you don't wanna BART every day do you? :p And yes, SD has great biology programs and nice new facilities, but I think these matter more on a graduate level. Most undergrads focus on class requirements, getting good grades, having some fun on the side, and doing some undergraduate research in a lab. It doesn't matter too much that SD has so many private partnerships, receive X amount of money for stem cell research, spend X dollars per year on alzheimer's etc. because an undergrad wouldn't be able to take advantage of it as much. But this is why I personally chose SD over Cal. I felt that there were more cutting edge opportunities in the medical/biological field at SD on the graduate level.

    I think my post is long enough, though if you have any more questions, feel free to ask, as I've just finished making my own decision not two weeks ago. :)

    :edit: One more thing: one of the previous posts metioned lack of attention. I think this is one thing I forgot to stress. There are 20,000+ undergrads at Berkeley. So personal attention is NOT something you'll receive. I went though my undergrad career there and saw my "advisor" twice. For five minutes each visit. I never met any deans or got any acknowledgement of my existence aside from being issued a student ID number. So if this is a problem for the OP, it might be something to consider. Being premed, you very well might major in Molecular and Cell Biology as well. And that I believe is the largest department on campus, so this problem is even further exacerbated. So: persistence, independence, and proactiveness are all qualities you would need to succeed at Berkeley. Of course I would imagine this is true for UCSD as well.
     
  18. goodtimes5 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    goodtimes5

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2004
    Location:
    Bay Area
    #18
    Although going to Cal certainly gives you more weight in the med school admissions process, comparitively how much easier is it to get a high GPA at Cal than at SD? Would the name Berkeley weigh enough to get past a low GPA, or would a high GPA at SD weigh enough to trump the name Berkeley?

    Would you agree that UCSD has all the "problems" Cal has, but only in a much weaker form?

    Personally, I would very much like to attend Cal, but the whole competitiveness-sabotage-other-people's-labs-to-get-ahead and high standards worries me that I won't succeed enough to get into a med school. Would it be smarter to attend the "lower" college for long-term benefit?
     
  19. maxterpiece macrumors 6502a

    maxterpiece

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    Mar 5, 2003
    #19
    Yes, it will be easier to get a good grades at UCSD, but having attended a well reputed university, if you work hard then you should have no problem getting a 3.3 GPA or so. You may be able to do the same amount of work at UCSD and get a 3.6, but Berkeley has a WAY better reputation overall. This is gonna hold more clout. Also, if you are into the subject and study your butt off, then a 3.7 should not be out of reach at Berkeley.

    If you care about getting educated you will find many more fellow students who also care about getting educated. The student body will also be more varied and international, and you will find a greater variety in people's interests. It will be a better experience, which is important. You don't want to miss out on any kind of opportunities, because once you finish with college you will probably never have the same mixture of freedom and opportunity again.


    Also, you may love Biology right now, but things can change very quickly. People change a lot in college. Hell, I went into college as a compsci major and left as an english major. UC Berkeley will have very good programs in other subjects, just in case you change your mind.
     
  20. fuzzynavo macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2004
    Location:
    CA
    #20
    Comparing different GPA's between Cal and SD is something really difficult to do. Of course there are other factors as research experience, recommendations, etc. So it's really hard to say, and I'm definitely not qualified to make guesses here. It definitely is possible to get a 3.6 from Cal, and that should be decent start for med school apps. But, you will have to work hard for it. Lower div classes like calculus and organic chem are KILLERS. Will this be worth more than a 3.6 from SD? Yes, but you are also putting a lot more time into it. This extra little boost by reputation wouldn't be worthwhile if you end up hating the experience there. Would someone with a 3.6 and the right recommendations/experience from SD be able to get into med school? Of course.

    I'm also not too familiar with the UCSD undergraduate experience so hopefully someone else can chime in here. Both Cal and UCSD are research universities and I know that means often undergrads are treated like second class citizens. Though I think how the undergraduate colleges are structured at UCSD might make it less of an issue than at Cal. I can't comment for certain how much attention you would get or how difficult getting a 3.6 at Berkeley is over SD since I haven't done undergrad at both places, nor have I even started my grad school work yet. :eek: I don't think you should get caught up in numbers as much. Suffice to say that you WILL have to work harder at Cal, but not to the point where you're pulling all nighters every other night, eating coffee grounds straight, etc.

    I would assume at both places you'll really have to be proactive in finding a lab. I know I started looking for a lab in sophomore year but didn't actually find one willing to take me until summer before senior year. IMO the cutthroat image of all the students there is definitely exaggerated. Most of the people I've met have been friendly. However, it definitely is a competitive place, and that translates directly into making it difficult for students to find labs and professors willing to mentor them. It's gonna take more work to stand out there.

    Whether these problems are prevalent at UCSD as well, I wouldn't be able to say for certain. It might be a little less a problem due to the larger amount of biology labs they have there. Not only UCSD, but the Salk, Burnham, Scripps Insitute, and Scripps Oceanography are all private research institutions running high profile research. Whether or not undergrads are allowed in them is something you should look into. SD also has a med school in itself while Berkeley does not. This would be beneficial in terms of finding an undergrad lab that does medically oriented research.

    I reiterate that IMO the "Berkeley reputation" isn't a good reason to go there, if that is your only reason. If any of this is vague, it's because none of us can really give you a straightforward answer. Most if it has to be based on where you think *fits* you better. As for me, if I had to choose again for undergrad, I would pick Cal again, for the same reasons that maxterpiece stated.
     
  21. jefhatfield Retired

    jefhatfield

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    Jul 9, 2000
    #21
    in the context of public administration/non profit/state funding/federal funding and that whole big ball of red tape (i just finished a year as chairman for an aids project, but that's a diff topic and i promise not to get political ;) ), berkeley has a medical school, technically, in ucsf which isn't fully independent of berkeley...it's just slightly off a few miles

    stanford, for instance, has a marine biology lab, which is semi independent but still stanford's, in monterey, california which is 90+ miles away from stanford's main campus (hopkin's marine)

    cal is unique, i think, in the fact that they also have, administratively, two law schools, boalt on campus, and hastings with the latter in nearby san francisco...both are good with boalt holding a slight edge but for many years, in the past, hastings was the best law school in the usa not in chicago or the east coast and relied a lot on those top eastern schools' retired professors

    if you go to cal, just because the med school is not right there on telegraph avenue, you can still have access to lots of info on ucsf, which along with stanford, are tops in northern california and excellent medical schools

    ucsf is the country's leading school in the research in fighting aids and hiv
     
  22. WildCowboy Administrator/Editor

    WildCowboy

    Staff Member

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    Jan 20, 2005
    #22
    UCSF is fully independent...that's where I am. We're one of ten campuses in UC, just like Berkeley...no more, no less.

    To the general public, Berkeley has a higher reputation than UCSD. That's in large part a function of Berkeley's long (by California standards) heritage when compared with UCSD's relatively recent founding. There are plenty of people in this country who went to college before UCSD even existed.

    But in the small circle of academia, the gap between Berkeley and UCSD is much, much smaller. Do well at either school and you'll be in fine shape for med school.
     
  23. jefhatfield Retired

    jefhatfield

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2000
    #23
    that's good to hear and i know among fellow public administrators, this was a sore subject some years back and i haven't talked to anybody about the ucsf status in a long time...it seems like every little move of the powers that be at cal would find its way in some form of protest on the campus in one way or another ;)

    we had an independent language school in monterey, but due to increasingly high rents, the school had to get swallowed up by a much larger, richer school on the east coast...uc santa cruz was one of the bidders for monterey institute of international studies but they didn't get it and many here in monterey were bummed out over that one

    but monterey, california central coast, did get a real full on university with cal state university, monterey bay but the whole process, from the early 90s until now has been very slow and painful...the local weekly paper mentioned numerous times that the completed school with 30,000 studnets, many of them online, would take three decades to realize...when it's finally done, the school recently got wasc accredited, people will hopefully quit all their bellyaching and political manuevering...sheesh
     
  24. After G macrumors 68000

    After G

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2003
    Location:
    California
    #24
    If you are planning on grad school, go to Berkeley.

    If you are not planning on grad school, go to each campus and decide which atmosphere is better for you. When you get a job, it won't matter where you went to school in 2-3 years. :D
     
  25. jefhatfield Retired

    jefhatfield

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2000
    #25
    a harvard alum and stanford alum basically told me the same thing when i was a college student and it made me feel a little better that some harvard applicant won't be lording over me forever the way the yankees did over the red sox :)
     

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