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UCLA vs. Berkeley, poli sci major, NEED HELP.

MikeRamseyMikeRamsey Posts: 68Registered User Junior Member
edited May 2010 in UC Transfers
Hey all,
I'm transferring after this semester at my CC, and I got accepted into UCLA, Berkeley, and Stanford. I just got back from a trip up through the bay area to check out Berks and Stanford, and have comfortably ruled Stanford out. It's too expensive, and according to an admissions counselor it's easier to get into the law school there from either of the UC's. Now, law school is my goal, and I've been accepted to the poli sci major at UCLA and UC, so I figure why make Stanford law harder on myself than it has to be in case I choose to go with them for my JD.
Now, all that said, I'm officially lost. I visited Cal and I love it. I also love UCLA. Financially they're about the same, I live fairly close to UCLA but I plan on moving near the campus anyway because LA traffic is hell and I just don't need the stress. So we can factor that out completely. For me it really comes down to which school is going to get me into a better law school. I've spent hours combing the internet looking for the answer, and I'm aware that Berkeley overall ranks a few spots higher than UCLA. But does that actually matter?
One more issue, possibly a significant one. I was accepted for Fall 2010 at UCLA, but Berkeley took me for Spring 2011. I talked to the poli sci counselor there who told me that I can take two classes during the Fall 2010 semester as a visiting student, but I wouldn't be able to take any of my upper division coursework so I'd have to settle for elective courses. This also means that to graduate by Fall 2012 like I would at UCLA I would have to take two upper division courses over summer 2011. She said there may also be some affect on my ability to graduate in that admission only guarentees four semesters, therefore by taking classes during a fifth semester (Fall 2010) I may be risking losing my Spring 2012 semster. I don't quite understand why the school would just kick me out after four semesters but I suppose it's possible?
On a sidenote, I'm also a bit concerned in that I've heard a whole lot about Berkeley being insanely competitive and promoting teachers grading on a curve in hopes of driving students to compete. Is there any truth to this? Is the poli sci major "softer" at UCLA? If so I suppose the fact that Berkeley may be a bit better school is irrelevant in the face of higher GPA at UCLA.
I apologize if my post is a bit jumbled... I think the stress is mutilating my ability to phrase my question in anything even resembling a coherant manner. I've only got a couple of days left to choose and I'm seriously considering flipping a coin. Any input would really be appreciated, thank you so much to anyone who can help.
Post edited by MikeRamsey on

Replies to: UCLA vs. Berkeley, poli sci major, NEED HELP.

  • janethed0ejanethed0e Posts: 152- Junior Member
    hey ramsey join the party!!!!!!!!!! hahahahaha

    there are a few of us considering flipping that coin...hahahaha

    i am in such a simillar situation its not even funny. just change Poli Sci to Anthro...and law school into just plain grad school.

    good luck on choosing between UCLA and Berkeley kid.
    you cant go wrong with either choice!!! they are both fantastic institutions.
  • edelynlyedelynly Posts: 1,379Registered User Senior Member
    Agree with Jane!

    Don't worry about which UC will get you into a better law school. It's totally and completely what you make of it. PS: Schools practically force seniors to graduate when they've met their unit cap, so I guess that would explain your situation with Berkeley's Spring '12...?

    Personally, I would rather not miss out on Fall semester, but that's just me. I'm also going to UCLA next year so I'm a bit biased. :P
  • foothilltransferfoothilltransfer Posts: 182Registered User Junior Member
    Whoah I thought Stanford paid for the tuition of those whose parents make less than $100,000?!

    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN2041220220080221

    ..I guess its not relevant anymore? Or your parents must be BO$$Y!!
  • rahrah203rahrah203 Posts: 189Registered User Junior Member
    I'm a poli sci major and also a spring admit accepted to Cal. I hate the fact that we would be forced to take classes over the summer or what ever. If I go to Cal I will try to take some courses at a local CC and possibly a local UC (if they let me...they should let us). Also, I read that students can request longer stays at Berkeley to finish up their coursework. Did you do the online TOOL orientation? It will definitely help you understand your requirements and stuff like that. Check it out: New Student Orientation-Spring Admits

    Janethed0e isn't lying..I have been literally flipping a coin all day between UCSD and Cal. I hear that Cal is pretty hard but I also hear that professors want there students to pass their classes, so they'll do what they can to help you succeed. Plus, there are lots of ways to study and such. Anyway, so the admissions officer said you can attend Berkeley during the fall, but you can only take elective courses. Did she say how many elective courses you can take? I believe we would only need a total of six units.

    I wish I could help you but I don't know much about UCLA to really judge it. I've never been a fan of LA but I hear that the area around UCLA is really beautiful. Social life might be really good too. From the sounds of it UCLA sounds more convenient for you but Berkeley is still catching your eye because of what that school can do for your future. They are both great places..Good luck choosing!

    ps. here are some Cal videos that I think are awesome
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6BP09VHK58
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_wfECalJVY4&feature=related
  • JC1029JC1029 Posts: 94Registered User Junior Member
    MikeRamsey: First, take a look at my thread regarding the Stats requirement for UCLA Poli Sci major in case you haven't fulfilled it. Keep in mind, this isn't the Stats course listed on IGTEC; it's the one listed on assist.org for UCLA Pre-Poli Sci majors. I want to point you to this info since you're discussing about graduating by 2012, and after doing a bit of course planning on my own, I find that if you are able to declare major starting this Fall at UCLA, you would certainly not have any problem in accomplishing that aspect of your academic goal:

    http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/uc-transfers/934587-new-transfer-questions-regarding-poli-sci-major.html

    Ok, with that said, I was in the same shoes till last night. I was a Fall admit to UCB, but ultimately, I went with UCLA because I thought, with each schools having relatively the same ranking and prestige, I wanted to stay closer to an environment I'm familiar with. I have visited both campuses; I simply felt more "at-home" here in UCLA and LA in general as opposed to Berkeley and the Bay area. Berkeley is a great school, and I will probably apply for it come grad. school / MBA time; however, for now & undergrads, I feel more confident and at ease with LA.

    Oh yeah, don't think too much about competing with other Bears or Bruins. You were accepted to either schools for good reasons. Don't psyche yourself out before the game even begins! Which of the two schools do you like more in terms of the programs and overall environment? Based your decision on that and don't look back. That's my suggestion!
  • emilsinclair9emilsinclair9 Posts: 2,597Registered User Senior Member
    Hey Ramsey! I'm also a spring admit to Cal and a fall admit to UCLA. Psych major.

    Essentially your decision led you to rule out Stanford due to cost and your aspirations for law school. That's fine, but then that leaves you with Berkeley and UCLA.

    The thing is: You CAN graduate by the end of spring 2012 as a spring admit. I'm taking 2 summer school courses and will be taking more in the fall through Extension. It's just about how you plan things. I know for the Psych department, I need 8 upper division classes, and 4 of them are electives. These electives I can take at UCB (and DO count for upper div work). Thus, I'm hoping that I'll have roughly 6 more UD classes to go by the time I officially start in the spring.

    Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that if you do Extension from your CCC to UC Berkeley, the courses you take AT Berkeley will even be CCC priced.

    Being a spring admit also allows a lot of flexibility. You can pursue an internship, job, travel, read a bunch of books, whatever you want.

    Tbh, I don't know that much about poli sci at UCB or UCLA, but I would take a serious look at the course requirements for both school before making your decision. That was ultimately the deal-breaker for me. The classes offered in my major at UCB were just more appealing than those offered at UCLA. This could be the case (in either direction) for you in poli sci.

    Also, take into consideration the semester and quarter systems. UCB runs on semesters and UCLA on quarters. You may have a preference.

    On top of all of this, consider the impact of moving away. Do you think it would be beneficial or burdensome?

    Anyway, I'm sure you'll make the best decision for yourself. Good luck!
  • MikeRamseyMikeRamsey Posts: 68Registered User Junior Member
    Thanks for the responses everyone.
    @foothill transfer: It's a little odd but apparently even though I live on my own here in so cal they did take my parents' incomes into account because I was denied any kind of significant financial aid. I also work full time so my income is pretty substantial.
    @rahrah: She said I could take elective courses during the fall, and she said two classes would probably be the limit. I appreciate the videos I hadn't seen any of that, I definitely love the Berkeley campus.
    @JC1029: Yeah I found myself in the same boat with the stat class, I already know mine won't count unfortunately. Odd that Berkeley doesn't seem to have the same issue. I guess the prospect of not having to take another math class is nice. I do feel more at home here in the LA area, although the weather up there is the Bay was PERFECT for me. I'm not a big fan of the summer heat down here. I appreciate your advice on the competition, it's just a little hard not to take it into account.
    @emilsinclair: From what I understood in talking to the counselor, until you're actually admitted to the school you cannot take ANY upper div classes. This may only apply to impacted programs (poli sci is close enough to count apparently) which would explain why you can pull it off and I can't. So unfortunately upper div is out for me until Spring 2011 if I settle on Cal, so I'd have to get my 2 upper div courses in Spring 2011, Summer 2011, Fall 2011, and Spring 2012. Fall 2010 would basically be a wash. That's good advice on checking out the class listing, I never even thought of that. As far as semesters vs. quarters, I've been thinking about that non-stop and I can't seem to find a reason to let it sway me. I suppose staying on the semester system would be nice. Moving up to the Bay is a mixed bag for me, I love the weather and I have a few friends up there, but I suppose no matter how you look at it being close to home definitely has it's benefits.
  • usdenickusdenick Posts: 295Registered User Junior Member
    I'm currently at Cal and they usually give you at least 4 semesters from the time you enter school to graduate. I don't think they can kick you out unless you have met your graduation requirements and you can petition for an extra semester (or even year).

    The one thing to consider with Cal is that it can be difficult to get into classes. The Pol Sci major seems to be growing, but with budget cuts they don't have $$ to add new classes and the classes just fill up faster. I don't know what the situation is like at UCLA, but I would check out schedule.berkeley.edu and see the enrollment numbers for Berkeley. Right now, all Pol Sci majors have already finished their enrollment and you can see that many upper div pol sci classes are full. As a junior, you'll probably be able to get into classes, but there is no guarantee that you'll be able to get into your first choice classes (especially if your first choice classes are popular). By senior year, you'll have senior standing for registration purposes and enrollment will get easier.

    In summer, they usually offer fewer classes but they tend to be easier to get into.

    I personally would not worry about the competitiveness thing. I'm not saying it's easy to get straight As here, but most people in the pol sci department seem to be nice and want to help each other. I think if you work hard here, you'll do well. Professors in Pol Sci do not seem to grade no a curve much. The curved grading is all in the hard sciences, and I think the students there are a bit more competitive.
  • MikeRamseyMikeRamsey Posts: 68Registered User Junior Member
    @usdenick: Yeah the advisor mentioned that to me. Thanks for the link though that should help. The problem is apparently I can't even register for classes until Spring 2011. Until then I just have to ask professors to allow me into classes as an add (if I understood the advisor correctly.) Also according to her, since I'm not a registered student I'm not going to be able to take any upper division classes.
  • usdenickusdenick Posts: 295Registered User Junior Member
    Yeah, it will probably be hard to get into classes if you don't have any sort of enrollment priority for Fall. You might be able to do it, but you would probably have to be lucky or know a professor or some such thing. If you want to graduate by Fall 2012, you'll probably have to take more than two upper-div courses in some semesters (which can be difficult to do because of Berkeley's enrollment situation) or do summer school.

    P.S. I updated my last post about the competitiveness thing that you mentioned in your first post.
  • MikeRamseyMikeRamsey Posts: 68Registered User Junior Member
    I really appreciate the update about the competitiveness, a lot of where I saw it was with reference to the hard sciences so it's nice to know it's limited to that. Obviously I plan on working extremely hard, and don't get me wrong I'm all for competition, but with something subjective like poli sci it's just really hard to picture curved grading being a safe environment.
    And yeah I figured as much... but the odd thing is the advisor told me upper division coursework is limited to two classes per semester in poli sci regardless of enrollment status. So there's no way I could rely on taking more than two during any given semester. It looks like the only way to graduate on time would be 2 upper div courses in each Spring 2011, Summer 2011, Fall 2011, and Spring 2012.
  • iambeowulf710iambeowulf710 Posts: 611Registered User Member
    go to stanford. if you go to stanford, you can get over a 3.8 (massive grade inflation at stanford. MASSIVE), score well on the lsat, and get into every top 14 law school (except maybe stanford).
  • MikeRamseyMikeRamsey Posts: 68Registered User Junior Member
    Wow really? I didn't know about the grade inflation. I don't know though, something about that place... I just wasn't feeling it. I guess I should consider it a little more before discounting it completely though.
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