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UC Merced vs CSUN

19Alex9919Alex99 Registered User Posts: 9 New Member
edited March 2017 in College Life
I'm a senior in High School graduating this year and have seriously regretted not doing better during my early years in High School knowing that I was capable if I tried, nevertheless my options are limited.(I am not saying these schools are bad, I just wish I had more than two options) I am now deciding whether to go to UC Merced or CSUN for Mechanical Engineering. I was just wondering which is better if my goal is to get a masters in Mechanical Engineering?

Also Financial Aid wise, at Merced I'm practically getting a full ride and approximately 2K dollars extra which is a hug plus factor, while at CSUN I'm only getting 11K fwhich all comes from the federal Pell Grant and Cal Grant and isn't enough for Room&Board. CSUN has offered me unsubsidized loans but I would really rather not take out too much money on student loans. Another plus factor for UC Merced is that I could transfer to another UC after two years.

The Bad side of UC Merced is that since I live in LA I'm not sure if I would be happy at Merced, I want to live on a campus where student life is exciting and is full of things to do whenever you want and I'm not sure if UC Merced offers that. CSUN is really close to where I currently live and the campus is huge and I know many people that are going to CSUN which is both a good and a bad thing lol.

I just want to know what do you guys think I should do? Some people say Cal States are better if you want to find a job right away and some say that UC's are better in if you want to be promoted. One thing I would like to do is go to UC Merced for two years if I don't like it there and then transfer to UCSB or UCLA and then pursue my masters degree at CSUN. What do you guys think? And also how is the college life at Merced now that it's grown a bit and is now expanding to become double its size by 2020? Is it possible to transfer from CSUN to a UC for mechanical engineering?

One of the things that ties me to CSUN is that I have close friends and family that go there and I live in the area so I know places where I could go and also I can visit my family whenever I want (only to see my baby niece and nephew) and also because I have a job at Dominos right now and I love the people that work with me which is something that I fear I won't find at Merced. Ok I'm done babbling I just have a lot of questions since I am the first in my family to go to a 4-Year University directly after High School.

Thanks in Advance to anyone that takes the time to read and answer my questions! :)

note: I edited this just to give it some paragraph breaks to make it easier to read. All the other content is intact. - juillet
Post edited by juillet on

Replies to: UC Merced vs CSUN

  • juilletjuillet Super Moderator Posts: 12,649 Super Moderator
    My vote is for UC-Merced, simply for this:
    Also Financial Aid wise, at Merced I'm practically getting a full ride and approximately 2K dollars extra which is a hug plus factor, while at CSUN I'm only getting 11K fwhich all comes from the federal Pell Grant and Cal Grant and isn't enough for Room&Board. CSUN has offered me unsubsidized loans but I would really rather not take out too much money on student loans.

    How would you even pay for the remainder of the cost? You say you want to live on campus, but CSUN would only really make sense if you commuted. Then the additional cost might be manageable (it'd be around an additional $5-6K per year). But if you stayed on campus you'd be borrowing an additional $10K per year - $40K over the four years of college. You can't even borrow that much, so your parents would have to co-sign for you, which is generally not a great idea.

    UC-Merced is a medium-sized school - nearly 7,000 students, with enrollment divided evenly between southern California, northern California and the Central Valley. I'm sure you'll find some other people that you can hang out with and that you'd love to work with. There's nothing wrong with wanting to be comfortable and stay near your family and friends, but it's probably not worth the debt when you are essentially making money by going to UC-Merced.
  • 19Alex9919Alex99 Registered User Posts: 9 New Member
    Yeah the financial aid provided by UC Merced is perhaps what I find most appealing from the school but I believe I could apply for scholarships and save up money, since I work, I feel like I could be able to pay off the remainding 6 thousand that is needed to cover housing at CSUN. At the moment I'm leaning towards UC Merced but I just want to know that if I do go there, that I will enjoy the student life and that there will be enough to do around campus.
  • UndercrackersUndercrackers Registered User Posts: 749 Member
    Also, wouldn't getting classes/small class size be more of a reality at Merced? I spent my last 3 years at CSUN oh so many years ago, but I had so many units at that time, I didn't have to fight for classes. And I commuted into the valley from L.A. every day, BTW.

    As I see it, it's either Merced or commute to CSUN. Inflation = whatever gap there exists currently between Merced and CSUN will only widen as the years march on. Taking on debt to go to a school when you have other good choices that don't require that is not smart. Go with Merced.
  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 Registered User Posts: 39,603 Senior Member
    edited March 2017
    UC Merced. Not because it's cheaper (although that's a nice perk) but because it's more residential so there's more if a community feel, more access to professors (and research if that's your thing), not so many problems getting classes and much higher odds of graduating in 4 years. Plus, excellent housing vs. Commuting would make a huge difference to your living situation and focus on classes.
  • noname87noname87 Registered User Posts: 1,198 Senior Member
    You need to look at the whole picture.

    You mentioned that you could work to make up the cost difference. I caution you that engineering can be a lot more demanding of your time then many majors. You will have labs that most non-stem majors don't have. You will likely have more group projects. You might not be able to work as much as you think. Having the flexibility to work less or not at all is a MAJOR plus. Also little to no debt will greatly enhance your life after college. Also, counting on future scholarships is not a good plan.

    I think your plan to try Merced for two years and then decide makes sense. A school with 7000 student is not that small. I am sure that they have plenty of clubs and activities.
  • dayannaortiz6dayannaortiz6 Registered User Posts: 62 Junior Member
    UC Merced hands down. UC's are better known and often viewed much better. Since UCM is new it is hard to tell about student life but honestly you can contribute on what it will be known for since it is so new!!!. AND if you are at the top and show good grades you could transfer!!! At UCM you will actually experience the college life of being a complete stranger and being completely independent. Change is good especially for ONLY 4 years or even less if you transfer. UC MERCED!!
  • CalDudCalDud Registered User Posts: 1,763 Senior Member
    edited April 2017
    To be honest, I wouldn't touch the CSU System unless it was either of the Cal Poly schools. Disclaimer: I went to Cal Poly Pomona. I only really view them as good for STEM majors.

    At the time that I was a transfer student, going to CSUN was a running joke among everyone applying for colleges. Almost everyone who made fun of the school got into a better school but the person who made fun of the most ended up going there for Mechanical Engineering. However, he works at Northrop Grumman, so it can't be that bad if you're a strong student.

    I'd still go with UC Merced. If there isn't a transfer program you can take advantage of there, I'd go to a community college first and then transfer to UCLA or UC Berkeley.

    I've since graduated and most of the people I know as other software engineers only came from the Cal Polys, UC Berkeley, or UCLA here in Kentucky if they're from California.
  • Lilliana330Lilliana330 Registered User Posts: 1,610 Senior Member
    Make sure MechE is fully accredited at UCM.
  • 19Alex9919Alex99 Registered User Posts: 9 New Member
    It is accredited :)
  • Emsmom1Emsmom1 Registered User Posts: 1,020 Senior Member
    Go to UC Merced. It's the better choice.
  • OttermaOtterma Registered User Posts: 1,425 Senior Member
    Have you signed up for one of the UC Merced overnights in April? If not, try to do that. Contact someone in the engineering department and ask if you can view some labs and classes and maybe chat with a professor about opportunities for research. Go in with an open mind and positive attitude and see what happens.
This discussion has been closed.