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USC or UC Berkeley?

crjewellscrjewells 1 replies1 threads New Member
edited April 23 in California Colleges
Hi all! I am making my college decision and I am torn between two schools. I am from New York, so the out-of-state tuition for UC Berkeley is really high (almost $70,000) a year. I received a half-tuition scholarship from USC, meaning I would be paying a lot less to go to USC. I am a biomedical engineering major, and was wondering what school would be best for me. Although money is a factor, I also want to receive an education that will give me the best jobs, opportunities, etc. US News says Berkeley has a better engineering program than most ivies (Ranked #3, which I did not even know it was ranked highly at all) and USC is ranked #29. Is UC Berkeley clearly the better option?

Side note: How can UC Berkeley rank so high compared to most Ivies with its engineering program when it has a relatively high acceptance rate (17%) when compared to other schools (<10%). Is US News really that accurate?

Thank you!
edited April 23
12 replies
Post edited by CCEdit_Suraj on
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Replies to: USC or UC Berkeley?

  • NCalRentNCalRent 6378 replies14 threads Senior Member
    OOS tuition at our UCs is pretty insane - even UCB. IMHO - . USC at half the price of UCB is probably the right choice.

    What are your other options?
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  • me29034me29034 1950 replies94 threads Senior Member
    Ivies are not particularly known for engineering. It makes no sense to compare schools to Ivies for engineering majors. Many of the best engineering schools are large publics.

    In your case, I would pick USC because of the price.
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  • crjewellscrjewells 1 replies1 threads New Member
    Turns out half price at USC is still around 50,000, which is still a lot for me. I have only really considered USC and Berkeley because they are my best two options, but I also got into Purdue; however, the tuition is the same as USC and I did not receive any grants or aid. Prices aside, is UC Berkeley that much better than USC where I will not receive the same opportunities and internships if I were to go to USC? Thanks!
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  • GumbymomGumbymom Forum Champion UC 30314 replies391 threads Forum Champion
    Both are very good schools. An additional $15K/year will be additional $60K for 4 years. If money is an issue and you and your parents have to take out a substantial amount of loans to fund UCB or USC, then as a parent I say select the more affordable choice. USC’s alumni network is great as long as you take advantage of the opportunities available. No one is going to hand you an internship, you still need to do the leg work yourself and find these opportunities at both schools.
    Highest rank does not always translate into better and each individual situation will be different.
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  • lkg4answerslkg4answers 2211 replies241 threads Senior Member
    edited April 5
    @crjewells It looks like you are new to College Confidential. You might post your questions in the UCB and USC sections under "Colleges and Universities" to receive more responses.

    My child was accepted to USC early so we were able to go to Explore USC and hear the Viterbi admitted students presentation this year. I will share some of the information that was presented.

    13,000 students (out of approx 60,000 total) applied to Viterbi and they anticipate enrolling 410 first year engineers. They are 65% OOS, 17% international, 21% URM, 17% 1st generation and last year was the first year that Viterbi hit gender parity. They are very proud of this.

    Viterbi's mission (written verbatim from a photo I took of a slide that was presented) is "To engineer a better world for all humanity" They do this by:
    Having a diverse student body
    Collaboration and teamwork
    Interdisciplinary education
    Cultivate a mindset of social consciousness
    Continuously add value

    There are numerous engineering majors and specialties and the speaker put up a slide of all of the options at Viterbi. He said, "You have all been accepted into all of these majors" meaning that if you were accepted undeclared engineering, you can go into CS. If you are chemical engineering, you can do EE. They also very much encouraged students to take classes outside of Viterbi in areas such as public policy, foreign languages, arts, business, etc. The speaker showed the different schedules for the different majors and where there was room in your schedule to take classes outside of engineering.

    I am paraphrasing but the speaker said that the competition was getting in. Viterbi will be rigorous but you will be collaborating with your classmates as that is what you will ultimately do in your career.

    I am not 100% sure how the advising works but it sounds like you have an adviser/counselor who works with you before you sign up for classes. Some students mentioned counselors opening up an additional seat in a class if a student needed the course. This is something that will not happen at Berkeley.

    Programs that were highlighted
    Viterbi Summer Overseas - http://viterbiundergrad.usc.edu/overseas/summer/ Viterbi professors travel with students and offer engineering classes in different countries. This is not traditional education abroad but Viterbi chooses a different country each summer and students travel with the professors to that country to take USC engineering courses.

    Progressive Degree Program: http://viterbiundergrad.usc.edu/future/pdp/ Would allow you to complete a BS/MS in five years.

    Maker Space: https://viterbischool.usc.edu/re-imagining-science-engineering-library/ The freshman academy at USC is changing. They are opening a new Maker Space this year and all freshmen will have a course in this new facility.

    I realize this is one sided but we did not attend a Berkeley open house this year. I hope it helps.

    edited April 5
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  • firmament2xfirmament2x 642 replies5 threads Member
    edited April 5
    @lkg4answers . . . those are some nice stats. The gender parity thing is extremely admirable for the entire E department. But Biomedical has been pretty gender-balanced for a good five plus years.

    I'm just curious what Viterbi's rate of acceptance is; is it ~ 10%?

    If it is, then:

    Applications, 13,000 (about 1/4 who apply to E school is fairly typical of a CA uni, at Cal (edit:) it might be higher.)

    Accepted, 1,300 (10%)

    Enrolled, 410 (31.5%)

    31.5% is a pretty good yield considering the competition between all E schools. 410 admits is a pretty small E department; USC has a much larger grad-school enrollment, a bit more than 2:1, grad : undergrad in 2019, or 6,199 : 2,848.

    Just trying to do some math:

    410 x 4 would be 1,640 from high school enrolled at the University in any a snapshot in time. Figure that it might take a bit more than four years to graduate, so let's adjust the 1,640 upward by a factor of 1.10 or maybe 1,804 total from high school at USC undergrad. The 2,848 total undergrad enrollment from 2019 might mean that ~ 1,000 might come from transfers. That'd be ~ 500 or a bit less from other colleges/year. That would seem a bit high.

    There must be some other Viterbi admits per year, because 500 xfering in would seem to be a bit high, or maybe it is 500 from other colleges.

    edited April 5
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  • lkg4answerslkg4answers 2211 replies241 threads Senior Member
    @firmament2x I do not know the stats nor did I try to calculate whether they were accurate or made sense. Early admits were able to attend Explore USC in person so I was just sharing what was quoted at the presentation.

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  • firmament2xfirmament2x 642 replies5 threads Member
    Gotcha, thanks.
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  • UCBUSCalumUCBUSCalum 1175 replies4 threads Senior Member
    Of the Ivies, only Cornell and Princeton are ranked in the top 10 or 12 for undergraduate engineering. Berkeley is usually in the top 5 with MIT and Stanford. Purdue is #9 and USC is #29. This according to the US News 2020 rankings of undergraduate engineering schools.
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  • jmek15jmek15 775 replies3 threads Member
    edited April 10
    Congratulations on being accepted to such great schools! I don't have experience with Berkeley, but have a USC grad (ChemE 2019, Presidential Scholar) and a Purdue junior (MechE). I can tell you first-hand that they are VERY different schools.

    You will find more than enough to challenge you at all three schools. You should focus less on prestige/ranking and more on fit with your personality and goals. Consider the campus culture. How you feel about each location is also important because it will definitely impact your college experience. I cannot emphasize fit enough - think it through carefully. Prestige doesn't matter if you are miserable.


    edited April 10
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  • lkg4answerslkg4answers 2211 replies241 threads Senior Member
    @jmek15 can you elaborate more about your grad's USC experience?
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  • AngelWings606AngelWings606 6 replies1 threads New Member
    Hello! I just wanted to say I'm actually in the same boat this year, which is really weird but I could also say serendipitous? I'm stuck between USC and UC Berkeley for a bioengineering major, the only difference being that I am a California resident. Seeing your financial aid plans, however, I would honestly choose USC based on that. The years do add up. Since I'm a California resident, the cost isn't as bad for me and would be around the same for both schools, but the biggest thing my Tio told me when I was applying that once you get your college acceptance letters, choose the University that has the best financial aid package. Once you've graduated with your degree and pursue a career, possibly a Graduate degree, you don't want to be super deep in debt. Having large loans will be hard to pay off.
    I can also say, as a California resident, that both the LA area and the Bay area have many opportunities, which is why it's also very difficult for me to choose between them. They're both very urban, and both have their fair share of crime problems. It all depends on the type of opportunities you want. Obviously LA has more theatre and cinema type opportunities than the bay, and San Francisco has the main base for Google. However, there are also Google offices in LA, Irvine, and San Diego(which are all SoCal). They're both outspoken cities, both have many opportunities. For academics, I am very confident in the engineering program at USC, having been in an engineering program my entire high school career and because of such have visited many good and bad engineering colleges. Of course, UC Berkeley is more prestigious, but USC still has an amazing program for engineering. It all depends on which area you think best fits you and also your financial aid, whether you want to have a more expensive package or not. In all realness, if you plan on getting a graduate degree, the bachelor's degree won't matter as much as the graduate degree. As long as you can still get into a good graduate program after graduating, you should be fine.
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