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HELP! U Washington or UCSD for biochemistry?

indecisive19indecisive19 32 replies3 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 35 Junior Member
edited February 2018 in College Search & Selection
Hi! I'm an international student that applied to University of Washington, Seattle and University of California, San Diego for life sciences (intending for biochemistry). I also applied to Berkeley and UCLA, but I kind of doubt that I'll get into these two, I'm more confident with UW and UCSD. I got accepted to University of Toronto so that is also an option, but I want to go to the US more since I intend to do grad there.

From my research so far, I realized that UW and UCSD are quite similar in terms of their campus atmosphere. Huge school, huge classes, busy students, not a whole lot of school spirit, city-like location, you also need to be willing to work hard and put yourself out there... at least that's the general vibe I'm getting. In terms of their biochemistry program, I know that both have really good research opportunities and a lot of funding, which is primarily why I like them.

I've never been to Seattle, but I have been to San Diego when I was 10... not exactly a fresh memory.

I was wondering if I could get any insight from either current students at UW/UCSD or applicants?

Thanks in advance!
edited February 2018
11 replies
Post edited by warblersrule on
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Replies to: HELP! U Washington or UCSD for biochemistry?

  • bogeyorparbogeyorpar 751 replies31 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 782 Member
    Be patient and wait for another week or two, when the two schools make their decisions. The decisions may eliminate some options for you and make it an easier choice.

    That said, I have been to both campuses and I just helped an international student make the decision last year between the two schools. You are right that the two schools are very similar with huge classes, diverse student body with a heavy dose of Asians, and lots of research funding (but undergrads are not getting much.)

    There are a few differences. I'm not familiar with biochemistry, so the comparison is not major specific.

    Pro for UW:
    1. Better international reputation
    2. The campus is more traditional and grand
    3. Tuition for international student is a few thousand dollars less than UCSD
    4. Seattle is a bigger city than SD and has a more vibrant high-tech industry
    5. You get two seasons (cold+wet and warm+dry), ski resort and beach both are half an hour away
    6. Why do you say both has no school spirit? Go to a Husky Football game and experience it.

    Pro for UCSD
    1. California sunshine
    2. Torrey Pines
    3. Nice surfing waves
    4. Close to theme parks (there's no themes parks around Seattle)

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  • geraniolgeraniol 163 replies0 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 163 Junior Member
    Both Seattle and SD are strong biotech hubs. Seattle has Fred Hutch, SD has the Salk Institute and Scripps Research Institute. But then again, Toronto is good for that too, with a lot of major hospitals in the viscinity driving research at the university. If you’re looking into internships, the biotech arms of big pharma are more in SD, though Gilead has a new site in Seattle, and Novo Nordisk is also there...

    You’re picking between pretty equally good biochem/biotech schools for academics and reseach opportunities, imo. Maybe check what kinds of in-department funding the schools have for summer research scholarships since a lot of NSF and NIH scholarships are restricted to US citizens/permanent residents.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 76129 replies663 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 76,792 Senior Member
    At both Washington and UCSD, biology majors are capacity limited and may be competitive admission, if you do not have direct admission to the major as a frosh. So you may want to check whether (a) you get direct admission to your desired major, and (b) if not, how difficult it will be to enter your desired major at each school if you enroll as an undeclared student.
    http://www.washington.edu/students/gencat/academic/bioc.html
    https://biology.ucsd.edu/education/undergrad/admission/capped-major.html
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  • indecisive19indecisive19 32 replies3 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 35 Junior Member
    @bogeyorpar thank you for your detailed response! I must have gotten UW mixed up regarding its school spirit, although I have heard from general reviews that UCSD has practically none. Could you tell me which school the student you helped ended up choosing?
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  • indecisive19indecisive19 32 replies3 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 35 Junior Member
    @geraniol thank you so much for your response! I will definitely look into the companies around the schools and the internship opportunities available. And thank you for bringing the research scholarships restriction based on citizenship to my concern, never actually thought about that so I'll look into that as well!
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  • indecisive19indecisive19 32 replies3 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 35 Junior Member
    @ucbalumnus thank you for your response! I enrolled directly to the biochemistry major so I believe (hope) it won't be an issue.
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  • Dancer14Dancer14 154 replies25 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 179 Junior Member
    I can tell you that UCSD is a very science and math based university. They have great programs in all aspects of science. Perhaps things to consider are weather, class sizes, living on campus, etc.
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  • TTGTTG 1662 replies14 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,676 Senior Member
    Any of the schools you mention would be great choices. We looked closely at both UCSD and UW for the same field--researched, visited, spent time in the areas, and have spent pretty much time in Seattle and the PNW in general. Again, both great schools, and great for your area of interest. Both cities offer lots of internship, etc. opportunities.

    UW is much more urban. A light rail goes right from the foot of campus to downtown Seattle, with just a few stops in between. Seattle is very much of a prototypical North American city. There is lots to do downtown. There are surrounding hills and mountains very nearby. The cherry trees on campus are beautiful. I was there last year at peak bloom. The weather is definitely cool (not very cold) and gray and damp, which is why it is such a green area. As a state flagship with big-time sports programs, I think it does have more traditional school spirit. Alums and others showing up for football games, etc.

    The UCSD campus is more suburban. It would be much more of an effort to get downtown from campus. There is a nice little beach and affluent beach community close to campus. It will be sunny and warm there the whole school year. The vibe seemed more chill and less overtly spirited, not to say many of the students aren't very happy there.

    Maybe some current students can comment regarding their ability to get classes they need/want to take. That can be an issue at large state schools when the state is experiencing financial stresses, and I think it was true, at least to some degree, at UCSD when we were looking at it 1-2 years ago.

    UCLA has a very beautiful campus in a pretty iconic area. It is urban in an LA sort of way (definitely more so than UCSD). Weather will also be very sunny and nice. I know less about Berkeley. Good luck!
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  • bogeyorparbogeyorpar 751 replies31 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 782 Member
    @indecisive19 , the student I helped with ended up choosing UW. She loved the UW campus and the urban location, and her family loved the few thousand dollar savings. She doesn't watch football, so to her, the school spirit is too much on game days.

    About housing -- she got into the newest and nicest dorm. According to her, international students get priority for the new dorms. Presumably, the school wants to leave a good impression with international students and attract more in the future. The new dorms are NICE! Better than a lot of private university's dorms. Ground floor activity rooms, gym, game room, maker lab, kitchen; each floor has kitchen, study area, TV room; and many rooms have a nice Seattle downtown or Lake view!

    Good luck tomorrow -- UW decisions are coming out!
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 76129 replies663 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 76,792 Senior Member
    I enrolled directly to the biochemistry major so I believe (hope) it won't be an issue.

    Check your admission offers carefully. Even if you apply for direct admission to the desired major, it is possible to get admission to the school but not the major.
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  • annaynayannaynay 2 replies1 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3 New Member
    I want to go to those schools too! Do you mind sharing your stats?
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