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UCLA vs UCSD vs UCSB

bigbrainstudentbigbrainstudent 10 replies2 threads New Member
Hello! I have received all of my decisions and was fortunate enough to get into these three amazing UC schools. My major for all of them is mathematics. I am having a very hard time deciding, especially with not being able to attend admit days. I would love to hear some opinions on where you all think I should go, or where you would go and why.

CAREER GOALS

I am not entirely certain on my career path, and would prefer to have some flexibility, some room to explore. I am planning to go for a Master's or PhD, but I would like to be employable should those options close. My interests are math, physics, and computer science.

VALUES & ABOUT ME

I highly value academics; I would love to get a job through the school as a tutor. I definitely plan to do research, so I want to go somewhere those opportunities are plentiful. I do not want to be limited in this aspect.

Personally, I am an athletic person who loves doing flips and tricks. I would prefer a more relaxed campus vibe. I come from a very small town in a rural area, and live in the country (even more rural!). I am wondering if a big city environment would be rather shocking.

PROS/CONS

UCLA:
+highest ranked math program
+highest prestige
+has a math major with CS focus, could easily switch to physics
+prominent athletic vibe
+best food
+least expensive (marginally)
+great location for internships
+best academic opportunities
-unfamiliar, located in large city (intimidating)
-crowded
-not a huge fan of the architecture
-stress/competition

UCSB:
+love the vibe and atmosphere, I am certain I would flourish mentally
+strong physics, could easily switch
+closest to home
+most familiar
+least amount of competition/stress
+College of Creative Studies (if I could switch in)
+least crowded campus
-weakest (top 40 nonetheless) math department
-not as good of location for internships as other schools
-most limited options for CS, unless I attempted to switch into engineering
-most expensive (marginally)

UCSD:
+STEM focused
+has math major with CS focus
+good location for internships
+looks pretty in pictures
-would be most difficult to switch to physics (still totally doable)
-large campus, crowded
-least athletic/outgoing vibe
-most unfamiliar
-have heard least positive feedback overall in my own research
-farthest from home

MY POSITION

As it stands right now, I am leaning toward UCLA the most, with UCSB being a close second. I am hesitant about the vibe at UCLA and felt more at home and comfortable when I toured UCSB, however I feel as if it would be foolish to turn down UCLA. UCSB I have heard does not have the strongest math department unfortunately, and I would have a difficult time getting CS classes or trying to switch to CS. They are, however, stronger than LA in physics. LA seems to have a fantastic location for getting internships and job experience should I choose to pursue work after graduating. I am not sure if it would be competitive to get research there. I know UCSB strongly encourages research being a mid-sized campus. UCLA just seems a bit overwhelming to me, although perhaps with the best opportunities. I am wondering if UCSB would limit me in applying to grad schools or trying to get a job after graduating. I have a few friends at both of these schools.

UCSD I feel does not have the vibe I am looking for, and it is very far from home. I have never visited so it is highly unfamiliar. Although known for STEM, I am not sure this would be to my benefit as classes may be impacted and I would possibly have the hardest time exploring subjects in STEM. Unless someone has some game-changing insight about UCSD, I will probably not go there.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR ANY REPLIES
12 replies
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Replies to: UCLA vs UCSD vs UCSB

  • privatebankerprivatebanker 6625 replies143 threads Senior Member
    All great universities. UCSD has some of the foremost physics, astrophysics and math In the world.

    However, I agree with your decision making and ideas. 100,000 students from around the world applied to UCLA. I wouldn’t walk away from the opportunity unless a specific major, location or cost issue was involved.

    If none of those exist. That would be my choice.

    You’ll have to adjust but you’ll be fine. Eventually you’ll need to stretch out of the countryside for your career in academics and mathematics.
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  • bigbrainstudentbigbrainstudent 10 replies2 threads New Member
    Thank you! That is very true. I will have to get out of my comfort zone at some point, so might as well get a head start!
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  • bluebayoubluebayou 27879 replies196 threads Senior Member
    If you are a direct admit to SB's College of Creative Studies, it'd be difficult to turn down. (small classes, personal attention, focus on research, honors vibe)

    Since that appears to not be the case, Go Bruins!

    Congrats.

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  • bigbrainstudentbigbrainstudent 10 replies2 threads New Member
    Unfortunately not, although I am still definitely considering UCSB. Do you know how hard it is to get into the College of Creative Studies once you have already matriculated?
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  • sbdad12sbdad12 261 replies13 threads Junior Member
    Of the three campuses, my personal preference is UCSB. Love that campus and it's in one of the most beautiful locations on the planet. Maybe the only time of your life to live in a town that small. And CCS is a special benefit.

    There isn't that big of a difference in ranking, and even so, it won't impact your life that much a couple of years after graduating, if at all. Grad schools know and respect all of the UCs, especially the three where you were admitted.

    My vote is UCSB.
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  • bigbrainstudentbigbrainstudent 10 replies2 threads New Member
    I 100% got that same feeling when visiting sbdad12. My main reservations are really being able to take CS classes and not having the best location/prestige for internships etc should I choose to pursue employment directly after undergrad.
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  • sbdad12sbdad12 261 replies13 threads Junior Member
    edited April 9
    Santa Barbara/IV is not that far from LA so there's no real difference. You're in California any way so it won't matter. Can't talk to the CS classes, but I work in the technology space in LA, and the IT execs I work with that went to UCSB are all phenomenal people. If you got a 100% feeling about UCSB, that should tell you something.

    Your break for an internship and job will likely come through a connection, a professor, family friend, etc or if a company comes to campus to recruit, and companies I'm sure recruit UCSB. I've interviewed and been interviewed hundreds of times. Your ability to click with the person interviewing is what will get you the internship or job, not the school. Everybody that thinks the school gets them a job will find themselves reassessing this. I went to a pretty good school, Michigan, and was sorely unprepared for interviewing. It took me years, even after getting an MBA, to figure out how to interview well.

    Pick the place you want to be, and the path you want to study. It's pretty straightforward. If you're not going to be happy at UCLA, UCSB, or UCSD, then don't pick those schools just because you want an internship. You may find another passion in college (believe me, it's more likely than not that this happens over the next four years), and you will be disappointed that you banked your choice on college on where you would get an internship or a job, rather than where your heart is.

    Disclaimer: my daughter is waitlisted at UCSB and is picking somewhere else. But hey, if you want to give her your spot, she might be willing to take it.
    edited April 9
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  • bigbrainstudentbigbrainstudent 10 replies2 threads New Member
    Thank you! That is very helpful insight, and I do believe you are right as I got my first part time jobs through connections.

    I am still having a hard time because I'm sure I would be happy at both LA and SB, but I am undecided on my path forward. I am trying to see what school would give me the most options and potential opportunities, should I discover any new passions as you mentioned.
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  • theloniusmonktheloniusmonk 2879 replies5 threads Senior Member
    If you really want to explore other majors or minors, I would lean to UCLA, it has the strongest programs across the board.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 82721 replies738 threads Senior Member
    Have you compared the faculty rosters and course offerings in the math departments at each school to see which looks better to you?
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  • socaldad2002socaldad2002 2129 replies33 threads Senior Member
    UCLA, hands down. I think you are waffling because you come from a small town and Westwood (and West L.A.) seems scary big and urban. Get out of your comfort zone and experience the big city life. UCLA is nationally and internationally known for Mathematics and many other programs. You will thrive there as a math major.
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  • LilPaloAltoLilPaloAlto 19 replies1 threads Junior Member
    UCLA
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