i think it really depends on the major. i got into berkeley and emory too in poli sci major. UCB is ranked 2nd in the nation in that major so i am thinking bout it. I think if you are doing science, emory would be better.
Cal's campus is beautiful but I was really disappointed with the quality of its facilities and the upkeep of its buildings. This really turned me off to the school and made me happy I had chosen Emory.
Since Emory gave you more money, I think it would make more sense to pass on Berkeley for a smaller, less expensive, and equally as reputable institution.
They are two completely different schools. What do you want to study? How liberal are you? Where do you think you will fit in better? Is some money worth sacrificing happiness? Think hard. Travel expenses are a factor as well, if you live in CA.
Clearly the two schools are very different in many, many respects; however, if one is flexible and adaptable, it shouldn't matter, so long as you can enjoy what each actually DOES offer. What may matter would be what your likes and dislikes are; what you favor and disfavor; and the essence of the kind of college experience you are seeking.
SIZE: Emory is a smaller, private research-based national university(6800 undergrads, e.g., Oxford College; 13,000 total, e.g., graduate level). UC Berkeley is the best public university in the county with 25,000 undergraduates; 35,500 total, e.g., grad level)
CAMPUS: Emory is large, but manageable in size, with very clean-looking, well-maintained buildings. Getting from anywhere, including dorms, to another part of the campus probably won't take more than about 20 minutes walking time. UCB is very large and spread out in a way that is not planned as well as it could be because it has fewer building sites within a mature, built-out community (i.e., Berkeley). Emory's campus has a sense of definition and boundary, whereas UCB blends into the city of Berkeley. This blending can be good and bad. For instance, one block from the "definitive" border of the campus on Bancroft Ave., you'll find panhandlers at work -- which is not a judgment on my part, only that there's more of an "open" atmosphere at Cal. UCB is a quasi-urban type of feel, and Emory has a suburban feel, but close to urban-like setting. As a parent, I would favor Emory's campus security to Cal's.
ATHLETICS: If you're looking for NCAA Division I sports, then Cal is the way to go. Emory has no football team, and although some of their athletic programs are excellent at the Div. III level, you're never going to have 80,000 people watching a football game on a Saturday afternoon. Emory has strong support for athletics, as evidenced by its national rankings in tennis (men's/women's); volleyball (women's national championship); baseball (No. 1 ranking currently); swimming (consistently among top 3 nationally); and track/field. Emory has strong support for club teams, as well as intramural programs. The facilities for students at Emory are superior to those at UCB for non-athletes.
ACADEMICS: Both schools have terrific programs, but at an undergraduate level, I'd have to say that the attention one would get at Emory would have to be stronger than at UCB. The overwhelming issue is simply the size of classes -- and therefore access to professors. A core class in say Economics can be held in a lecture hall with 700 people in attendance, plus having more class sessions taught by TA's, vs. professors. The student/teacher ratio at Emory is about 7:1. At UCB, the ration might vary in the range of 20-40:1, depending on department and even factoring TA's. I think it's challenging at Berkeley for first 2 years and then improves in one's upper-class years.
Depending on your academic interest, there are substantial undergrad research opportunities at Emory that are much more difficult to find at UCB. At UCB, there are more academic discipline options -- i.e., there's really NO electrical engineering program at Emory, but UCB has one of the best CS/EE programs in the country. Both schools offer plenty of academic options, but I think Emory may make it easier to do undergrad research. I think UCB is outstanding in its graduate programs and wins its distinction at this level.
HOUSING: Housing is pretty much guaranteed at Emory for first 2 years and then in junior/senior years, the majority of students find housing at the Clairmont Campus and/or close-to-campus apartments. At UCB, you start scrambling for housing by your sophomore year, and honestly, I don't know how the students manage -- although housing is "guaranteed" for first 2 years. UCB has tried to build new dorm facilities, but they also tear down old ones at the same time, leaving a lot of students concerned about housing. I have known some students who purposefully join a frat/sorority just to get housing options. The number of housing units available for upper-classmen is virtually non-existent -- thus the need to look at off-campus housing options. Also, the vast majority of undergraduate housing units exist are really not on the campus, per se, but rather within the Berkeley neighborhood periphery surrounding campus. From a cost perspective, the cost of housing/living in Berkeley is higher than Emory/Atlanta.
DEMOGRAPHICS: The make-up of students at Emory is much more diverse, with students coming from 49/50 states, plus dozens of foreign countries. At UCB, one will see 42% of the undergraduates being Asian/Pacific Islander descent, with the majority of students coming from California (makes sense since it's California's public university).
My daughter (now a junior at Emory) was admitted to both Emory and UC Berkeley. We live within 15 minutes of the Berkeley campus (in fact, I was there last night to see the women's NCAA regional championship game -- Stanford beat Iowa State), and she had ample time to get to know Atlanta (she spent part of her summer during HS doing community service project in urban Atlanta). Probably what sealed the deal for Emory was the relative value -- the Emory Liberal Arts Scholarship, grant funds, and overall finaid package actually made the cost of attendance lower than it would be for UCB. I think that although she has gone through changes in her academic focus, she knows that there's always a lot of academic support services at Emory. Everything and everybody, from the Deans at the Office of Undergraduate Education to Career Counseling to Professors, are easily accessible.
For what it's worth, the travel expenses are not overwhelming. The cost of housing differential alone between the two schools might offset the travel expenses. As a parent, I usually spent about $350-400 for a round-trip ticket (e.g., mid-August departure from SFO and return in mid-December for Winter Break). She generally has spent fall/spring breaks with her friends and/or traveled up to Philadelphia to visit her aunt/uncle/cousin. When I visit, I am usually able to find a nice hotel room (I prefer Marriott Century Center - Atlanta) for less than $100/night.
Good luck in choosing, and congratulations on your acceptances!
Both schools are clearly liberal. However, at Emory, you will not find weekly protests or an ultra left wing student population (not to say that you will at Cal). Emory is a rather liberal school as is the city of Atlanta (don't let the location in Georgia fool you).
Since you are interested in being on a pre-med track I don't think you can go wrong with either school. There are many research opportunities at Emory because of the smaller student body. I began research my sophomore year and have received funding for last summer and this summer to continue research. My experience has been through the SIRE program (Emory College | Current Students | SIRE) and I know of many others such as SURE (Undergraduate: The SURE Program). I hope this helps.
Wow, Norcal's post was really damn good. I'd also like to point out that Emory's premed program is really one of Emory's top points. Emory knows a lot of its prestige is derived from its premed population, and it devotes a great deal of funds, advisors, etc to helping premed students. Berkeley's premed is great too; both schools send their top premed students to the best of the best post-UG places. However, the different, I believe, is that Emory will hold your hand more through the process, whereas Berkeley has more of a sink or swim mentality.
Also keep in mind where you want to be post-ug in terms of location. Emory's job placements are very good, but a large percentage of students stay in the south. Berkeley students have access to some of the best opportunities as well; many of those happen to be in CA. If you love CA, Berkeley might be a better choice, as you will do internships there, and be higher on the radar of CA institutions.
^^ Nick017 ... thanks for the praise on my earlier post -- though it has always been my intent since participating on CC to provide good advice to students, having accumulated a great deal of knowledge and insight over the years.
Regarding job placements, internships, etc., I honestly believe that it's a hurdle, but not insurmountable, to choose a job prospect/location and/or internship anywhere geographically. With select colleges, there may be formalized arrangements with businesses/corporations close to the locale of the college, and in this case, it's essential to be attending that particular school. (For instance, Claremont McKenna and Pomona College, two of the Claremont Consortium of Colleges in So. CA have such arrangements.) However, in general, one can target the geography (i.e., SF Bay Area) and then pursue opportunities that might exist. The timing is important, of course, and one would have most success by beginning their search early in the Spring Semester for a summer internship. Given the capabilities of the Internet, there are many more "virtual" opportunities that one can access -- just don't wait too long.
Interestingly, the Emory Alumni Association chapter here in the SF Bay Area is reasonably active and has hundreds of members. It may be coincidence, but each and every one of the Emory alumni I have met seem to be highly successful and happy (two of them who live here in my community are married... and go on and on about how the "best years of our lives" were at Emory -- this despite his subsequently receiving both his MD and MBA from Cornell.)
Those who are in the know, which hiring authorities tend to be, recognize the Emory brand. They also recognize the UC Berkeley brand; however, with thousands of graduates being pumped out each year, a Cal degree is hardly unique around these parts. This may sound strange, but a "network" seems to work best when you're away from the core geography. I see this to be true with Dartmouth alumni here, and also with MBA's from Northwestern's Kellogg School here in this area.
Personally, I like Berkeley -- a lot -- but I would not want to live there (it's only 10 minutes away) because it's truly a frenetic place, even for somebody who is "liberal". In fact, Berkeley is hardly liberal, so much as it's on the extreme side of "progressive". I suppose it's a bit like NYC ... I love New York, but I wouldn't want to live there.
I don't mean to hijack the post, but I see knowledge here regarding the schools my D is contemplating. She is OOS for Berkeley, lives close to NYC, and has little frame of reference for Atlanta other than being impressed with Emory. She would get scholarship from NYU and very little assistance from the other two. Undergrad would be focused on humanities/English. I think Berkeley is the way to go, but I'm just the mother. Any thoughts based on academic focus? Thank you.
I'm also from SF and was Debating between UC Davis's Biomedical Engineering program (which is a definite BS degree i can get in 4 years) and going all the way to Emory in Atlanta Georgia(where, i know no one) for an undergraduate degree in Behavioral biology and neuroscience or just gen bio. I'm kind of an outdoorsy kinda person so Davis really appealed to me(biking, arboretum,trees) but the undergrad classes were just ridiculously large. i'm afraid i might fall through the cracks. so when i went to visit emory, where i knew the classes would be much smaller, i looked for the outdoorsy feel. I found it at the Oxford Campus, so i'm headed there next year.