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University of California Santa Cruz vs University of Michigan Ann Arbor- Transfer CS

user_678320user_678320 5 replies2 threads New Member
Hi there! I'm a transfer student in-state to California and was accepted to UMich LSA and UCSC both as a transfer student to computer science, and I'm having an awful time deciding. Prior to this decision, I went to a tiny school in the middle of nowhere in Washington State and left due to seasonal depression, overwork, and nothing to do in the city. Something I very much miss was the academics, though, in which I learned more than I have for the rest of my life combined.

Time: (No preference) I think I could complete a degree at UCSC within a year and a half. Umich would take me two years. This is not a big factor for me as I kind of would like to experience the campus for a while anyway.

Cost: (Prefer UCSC) Finishing my degree at UCSC would amount to about $23,000 of tuition. Michigan, on the other hand, would take around $110,000 of tuition. I'm receiving no grants worth of financial aid and would graduate with around $20,000 in debt after Michigan. This is a very big deal for me.

Academics/Research: (Prefer Michigan) The courses at Michigan seem, so far, far more challenging and interesting than those at UCSC. Particularly with the fact that I'd like to dip into biomedical engineering, which isn't so much of an option at Santa Cruz. I'm aware that maybe I can take a master's in biomedical engineering afterward, but then I'd have to pay OOS tuition anyways. This is also a very big deal for me. Seeing as I miss the excellent academics of my prior institution, Michigan seems to take this one.

Social Life: (Prefer UCSC) I get the impression from talking to a lot of people that UCSC is a more laid back campus where people have time to take breaks from the intense academics. My previous institution consisted of 1000 students in the middle of nowhere working at 8am-12 am. I worry that UMich doesn't give students enough of that time to hang out with friends and chill out, and I don't want a repeat of the prior institution. This is also important.

Weather/Environment: (Prefer UCSC) My prior institution was located in a small city in Washington State. It was always grey and raining. I get seasonal depression easily, particularly when it's difficult to distract myself on weekends. UCSC has gorgeous weather and beautiful campus I know would have positive effects on my mental health. I have heard that Michigan is only gloomy a couple of months a year, and just cold the rest, which I'm totally fine with, and I'm excited about the snow!

City/Campus: (Prefer Michigan) I like to live in very walkable cities and have a lot of people around walking by. Ann Arbor seems more like the classic college town. When visiting UCSC I noticed there very much seemed to lack a central student hub of sorts, and the city is quite small, which worries me.

Reputation/Alumni Network: (Prefer Michigan) Michigan has a much wider known reputation. I'd be lying to say this didn't matter to me. Though UCSC is known in Silicon Valley, Michigan could help me internationally. It has one of the most highly rated programs in the world, and would also help me if grad school were a future interest. This means more amazing research opportunities, and generally more financial power by the school to provide any necessary facilities. Michigan also has a HUGE alumni network and a lot of pride, which makes me really happy because I love meeting people with experiences in common.



I'm really stuck on this. On one hand, I feel that if I go to UCSC I'm going to beat myself up for not taking an opportunity to go to Michigan, which is a public Ivy. Getting in was a huge accomplishment for me because I'd always been mediocre at schooling until two years ago, and I'm so proud my work paid off. I feel like I'd be wasting all that effort and I'd missed out on some amazing academics.

On the other hand, I have no guarantee my mental health situation would be any better than it was in Washington despite the larger campus. I'm worried about going to Michigan and just being sad and overworked like in Washington.
edited 11:32AM
10 replies
Post edited by CCEdit_Suraj at
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Replies to: University of California Santa Cruz vs University of Michigan Ann Arbor- Transfer CS

  • sbdad12sbdad12 278 replies13 threads Junior Member
    edited May 29
    Michigan grad here, living in SoCal. This doesn't seem difficult to me--go to UCSC.

    Michigan is great in everything, but for the reasons you laid out, Santa Cruz seems an easy choice.

    Ann Arbor is terrific. The classic college town. However, the weather sucks. It's not so much cold as it is gloomy. I grew up in the Midwest and my first year or two was brutal. You really won't see the sun much because of the lake effect cloudiness and snow from December through April. No kidding. And I went to Minnesota for my MBA. Much colder, but at least I saw the sun a lot more. To me, for seasonal disorder, it's up there with Seattle or Oregon, and you have the cold, which makes it worse.

    Ann Arbor as I mentioned has a lot going for it. Outside of A2, you have Detroit which is one hour away, Windsor Ontario, also an hour, Chicago which is 3.5-4 hours away, and Toronto which is 5. In Santa Cruz, you have SF which is 1.5 hours away, LA at 5 hours, Yosemite, and Sacramento, Napa Valley, Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo, all not far. Which one sounds better?

    If you are majoring in CS, what place is better than one that is 45 minutes from Silicon Valley? Sure, Michigan may have a better international reputation, but the UCs are no slouch either, and if you look at the original list of Public Ivies, the UC system was in there. And the alumni network is overblown. The only schools where the alumni network is so strong to help get you a job that aren't Ivies are Notre Dame and USC. Michigan is so big, and there are so many grads out there, that I doubt it skews employment in your favor.

    Now comes the cost. Michigan is $55K for upper division tuition RIGHT NOW, but it is likely for the upcoming year to be at least $57-58K. Count on it being at least $60K the following year. Then there are living expenses, which adds another $15K-$16K. And Detroit is not cheap to fly to. So you can go to Michigan for $150K for two years, or a UC for $65K...hmmm...not even close. Save your money for grad school.

    If you were out of state for a UC and didn't care about the weather, pick Michigan. Considering your situation, I'd pick UCSC.
    edited May 29
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  • simba9simba9 3372 replies20 threads Senior Member
    I'm not a big fan of the UCSC campus - too much like an Ewok village, but if that doesn't bother you, go to UCSC. The cost is so much lower, and the perceived reputation of the schools isn't going to matter when it comes to hiring for CS or going to graduate school.
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  • bluebayoubluebayou 28013 replies206 threads Senior Member
    instate is a no-brainer.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 83468 replies741 threads Senior Member
    Cost: (Prefer UCSC) Finishing my degree at UCSC would amount to about $23,000 of tuition. Michigan, on the other hand, would take around $110,000 of tuition. I'm receiving no grants worth of financial aid and would graduate with around $20,000 in debt after Michigan. This is a very big deal for me.

    Since the cost difference is both large ($110k versus $23k, or $87k difference) and a big deal for you, that makes the decision obvious in favor of UCSC, right?
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  • sushirittosushiritto 5360 replies20 threads Senior Member
    edited May 29
    simba9 wrote: »
    I'm not a big fan of the UCSC campus - too much like an Ewok village, but if that doesn't bother you, go to UCSC. The cost is so much lower, and the perceived reputation of the schools isn't going to matter when it comes to hiring for CS or going to graduate school.

    Ewok village. OK, now that’s funny. 👍

    We just recently visited UCSC campus (and ate in downtown SC). UCSC (and other UC’s) is on my younger kid’s list.

    And my older kid attends UMich. A CA kid who loves UMich and A2. There’s so much going for it, but I won’t bore folks.

    You summarized your situation and schools fairly well. If grey days bother you, then the winter months will be tough on you in A2.

    So for your mental and financial health, go to UCSC. But UMich IMO is superior in nearly every way, but for the cost, weather and beach.
    edited May 29
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  • user_678320user_678320 5 replies2 threads New Member
    edited May 29
    Ewok village hahahah! I do really think the campus is pretty. Though the lack of a central hub bothers me quite a bit.

    Thanks so much for all the answers. I was looking at stats on exit salaries and job prospects for graduates of the schools and it did seem to make a pretty big difference...
    https://mediafiles.ucsc.edu/iraps/surveys/first-destination-survey/14-16-fds-cs.pdf
    http://career.engin.umich.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/30/2020/04/annualreport1819.pdf

    Whereas UCSC CS bachelor degree holders had a median salary of 75k, UMich was at 100k with 11% more students finding employment by graduation. I don't know if that's simply some weird thing the stats are hiding though. That seems like it would compensate for the cost differential though, no?

    Weather is definitely my biggest fear :\ I wish I could visit the campus in Winter right now.
    edited May 29
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  • bluebayoubluebayou 28013 replies206 threads Senior Member
    So for your mental and financial health, go to UCSC. But UMich IMO is superior in nearly every way, but for the cost, weather and beach.

    Agree with all of these points. Ann Arbor is the quintessential college town, but debt is debt. And CS is in such demand, jobs are plentiful. (at least they were, preCOVID) If you are a good worker, you can move up fast.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 83468 replies741 threads Senior Member

    Note that these are 3-4 years apart.

    New CS graduate pay from UCB went up about 16% from 2015 graduates to 2019 graduates. If that occurred at UCSC and Michigan, that would explain about half of the difference between UCSC and Michigan.
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  • sushirittosushiritto 5360 replies20 threads Senior Member
    Ewok village hahahah! I do really think the campus is pretty. Though the lack of a central hub bothers me quite a bit.

    Thanks so much for all the answers. I was looking at stats on exit salaries and job prospects for graduates of the schools and it did seem to make a pretty big difference...
    https://mediafiles.ucsc.edu/iraps/surveys/first-destination-survey/14-16-fds-cs.pdf
    http://career.engin.umich.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/30/2020/04/annualreport1819.pdf

    Whereas UCSC CS bachelor degree holders had a median salary of 75k, UMich was at 100k with 11% more students finding employment by graduation. I don't know if that's simply some weird thing the stats are hiding though. That seems like it would compensate for the cost differential though, no?

    Weather is definitely my biggest fear :\ I wish I could visit the campus in Winter right now.

    The UCSC Campus is beautiful, but the small downside is that it’s 3 +/- miles to downtown. UMich Central Campus has two adjacent neighborhoods, South U and the area roughly between S. State and S. Main, with shops, cafes, restaurants, etc. The mall is about 3 miles away.

    As for the weather, I don’t live there, but I’ve been there several times. To me, it’s like Lake Tahoe, but much less sun during the winter. The bulk of time, in the “dead of winter”, the temp ranges from mid 20’s at night and mid 30’s during the day. And occasionally you get a Polar Vortex-like event, which took place a couple years ago. But I’ll tell you what, the basketball game that night against OSU was sold out. And the temp was -11 degrees (or whatever).

    I also attended the Notre Dame-UMich football game last October and the rain began just before game time. To me, a CA beach born and raised person, the rain was torrential. We had to wear those hefty bag-type rain gear to survive. And we were still soaked. But the game was sold out and I didn’t see any empty seats in the Big House.

    So, you live with the weather and people adjust. The “payback”? I went for a run about an hour ago. I ran 5 miles with a bright yellow Michigan Dryfit shirt. It was getting near sunset and I wanted drivers to see me. Anyway, I had 5 separate individuals yell at me “Go Blue!” This is normal.

    And regarding the alum network, my D had a summer internship lined up before the Coronavirus and that internship was setup via an Umich alum contact. That’s my story, as they say, but YMMV.

    Having said all that nonsense, I still think the weather and financial considerations likely overrule anything I “waxed on” about above. :smiley:
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  • user_678320user_678320 5 replies2 threads New Member
    Thanks everyone for all the help and advice! Everyone seemed so excited about Michigan, me included, I realized that's where I really wanted to go. Next year I'll be eligible for financial aid and hopefully that helps make up some of the cost difference. The day after I made the decision, I got an email from Columbia saying I'd been accepted. I'm still leaning towards Michigan, but if any of you have insight, I'd love to hear it at https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/college-search-selection/2190733-university-of-michigan-ann-arbor-lsa-vs-columbia-university-school-of-general-studies-p1.html?new=1

    Again, thanks to all of you for being so awesome :)
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