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*Help Me Choose!!*

pineapplepat123pineapplepat123 Registered User Posts: 5 New Member
edited March 2018 in College Search & Selection
I am having a very hard time deciding between UNC, UCLA, and Emory. I do not receive any financial aid and each of them cost:
UNC Chapel Hill- $50,634
UCLA- $62,858
Emory- $69,502

UNC Chapel Hill is the least costly and sends me the most emails out of interest. It also has beautiful weather and seems to be a very thriving and great community, but I am not sure if UNC can match the academic opportunities available at Emory and UCLA. Emory is a private school that has amazing dorms and really great personalized attention for each student, but doesn’t match the beautiful campus of the other two and seems a lot more intensely focused on studying. UCLA has stunning weather and one of the best dining systems of all US colleges but since it is a state school the class sizes will be extremely large and it will be very hard to build a strong relationship with a professor. Cost will not play a huge role in this decision, but I will consider it. There is also a high possibility of attending graduate school, so I would like to find a school that helps me the most with that and provides me with the best career opportunities when I finish college. With all of this in mind, here is a bit about myself:

I am an asian male from New York who currently goes to a prestigious high school with lots of academic rigor. The school is about 1,200 people (300 per grade) and I have no trouble making friends as an extrovert. I have taken 11 AP classes throughout my high school career; however, I have struggled quite a bit with non STEM based subjects like history and english. I am always super engage with my teacher and have become quite good friends with them, which has played a vital role to thriving at my school. My intended major is chemistry, but can change at any time since I am very interested in the STEM subjects and would like to explore more in college and maybe even consider a law/premed track. I will be definitely doing a minor in music. Outside of the classroom, I am on the varsity badminton and tennis team. I am also the leader of the school acapella group and part of the school opera. I have done science research for the past four years, and worked in biology laboratory with cells so I might be looking to pursue greater research opportunities. I am also very big on volunteering and have worked in various hospitals and am a part of a non-profit charity group. On my free time, I like to play volleyball with my friends (a growing interest) and spend time hanging out with friends. I also like to occasionally pick up a book or two on my kindle. At college, I am really hoping to continue my sports and musical interests along with keeping in line with my academic rigor. I am very social and enjoy spending time with a close group of friends, but I do not like parties. I am also a huge foodie and enjoy eating a variety of unique foods. I do not mind the location of the college, and am willing to travel long distances.

I really enjoy the different aspects of all these colleges and hope to find the perfect match soon. As someone fairly new to this process, I would like some guidance on making this decision.

Thank you! :)
Post edited by Chedva on
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Replies to: *Help Me Choose!!*

  • nouvellerynouvellery Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
    Are your parents paying for all/most of your college? If not, then cost should be a huge factor, as these are very expensive.
  • pineapplepat123pineapplepat123 Registered User Posts: 5 New Member
    Yes, my parents are paying for all of it.
  • fivesagesfivesages Registered User Posts: 228 Junior Member
    I would pick Emory for the following reasons:
    (1) Emory is amazing for STEM, for academics and for research opportunities in/around campus (e.g. CDC, medical school, Atlanta)
    (2) You're coming from a relatively smaller sized public high school. UCLA and UNC are very large.
    (3) Last, assuming money is not an issue, smaller the better, especially for pre-med


  • bernie12bernie12 Registered User Posts: 5,293 Senior Member
    edited March 2018
    @fivesages : Size and pre-med? Didn't know there was a relationship. I thought it was mainly grades, resources, and rigor. Small places have a lot pf rigor as well and this can be both good and bad. Just because most top privates are "small" doesn't mean that professors do not grade on a curve/write very difficult exams. It "may" mean that professors are more accessible. Admittedly, I would be down between UNC and Emory. Also, depending upon the major, class sizes will shrink at any decent school, and UNC and UCLA are great.


    Also, it is hard to argue that Chapel Hill (this one is looking awfully good because of the comparatively low cost) and UCLA are less resourced than Emory in terms of healthcare and medical opps. UCLA healthcare is HUGE and you know what research apparatus Chapel Hill is affiliated with. The person may wanna figure out social fit and try to feel out "style" of academics at each.
  • pineapplepat123pineapplepat123 Registered User Posts: 5 New Member
    I am also considering boston college ($70,143) and UMichigan ($62,176) as well.
  • bernie12bernie12 Registered User Posts: 5,293 Senior Member
    edited March 2018
    @pineapplepat123 : "I have done science research for the past four years, and worked in biology laboratory with cells"

    uh.....I don't get how that last part is relevant. You mean you did cell culture studies over those 4 years. Were you an assistant or were you driving a part of a project. Either way, there are many different types of research you can do as an undergraduate and a lot of it will not involve mammalian cells at all, especially if you think you will do chemistry. Either way, this isn't relevant for choosing between 3 schools with huge opportunities in biomedical research and may be less relevant if you join a chemistry lab.

    "I have taken 11 AP classes throughout my high school career"

    I can really only help you if you tell me the ones you have credits in. Not interested in how many you took. You got into UCLA, Chapel Hill, and Emory. Plenty of people took lots of APs and even high passed them. Tell me which ones you got 4/5 in as this can help see a plan for pursuing a chemistry major or pre-medical courses at each.


    "My intended major is chemistry, but can change at any time since I am very interested in the STEM subjects and would like to explore more in college and maybe even consider a law/premed track."

    Emory is great for this type of student (and excellent for chemistry, though so is UCLA), BUT is very expensive as you showed above.

    "Outside of the classroom, I am on the varsity badminton and tennis team. I am also the leader of the school acapella group and part of the school opera."

    Relatively easy to become involved in that stuff at Emory. Big intramural scene for sports and music scene and participation is easy for those who want it.

    "I have struggled quite a bit with non STEM based subjects like history and english."

    If you considered Emory, you really need to get over this, or learn to embrace especially if you are pre-med or considering something like pre-law at any of these schools.


    " I am very social and enjoy spending time with a close group of friends, but I do not like parties. I am also a huge foodie and enjoy eating a variety of unique foods."

    LA would be the best for the latter, but Atlanta can definitely work, and Emory is definitely not a big "rah rah" or party scene school. UCLA has more of that while having quite a bit of rigor like any top school.



    You "may" fit Emory better, but it is EXTREMELY expensive. If either UCLA or Emory will strain the finances, you may want to make Chapel Hill work. It is an excellent school, especially for life sciences and pre-healths (depending on one's "style", one may argue that Emory is more pleasant academically at the undergrad. level but that really depends on how much academics really matter to you. If you are someone who cares less about how things are taught/how much you actually learn/just want the grades to present to your post-grad opportunities, and there are many like this despite not wanting to admit it, then I wouldn't worry about that).
  • fivesagesfivesages Registered User Posts: 228 Junior Member
    @bernie12 I am not suggesting the other two schools are good for pre-med. I agree that small doesn't mean they don't grade on curve. While many smaller schools (e.g. liberal arts don't use curves), some do. Small schools tend to better when it comes to support services and recommendations, in addition a little less competition for opportunities to do research. Also, private colleges tend provide more flexibility than large publics when it comes to changing majors. All those things help. With respect to UCLA, while it is a great school, each year it sends the highest number of medical school applicants...close to 1000 applicants.
  • bernie12bernie12 Registered User Posts: 5,293 Senior Member
    edited March 2018
    @fivesages Just keep in mind that Emory is a RESEARCH university. As an alum, I give it props for trying to run its STEM curriculum (mainly the introductory level) more like the way that some LACs would than many other comparable research universities, but ultimately it is still s more like them than it is the LACs. Also, Emory is saturated with pre-meds as well...I guess you have to scale for size, but places like WUSTL, JHU, Emory, and Harvard put up huge numbers considering their student body size (like 300-400/cycle). And yes, theoretically the competition for research is less, but I feel departments are much larger at publics. It kind of balances out. I think Emory is great among its "near peers" if one cares about how they can learn as it puts lots of effort into curriculum renovation at a decent scale compared to most private research universities (most who do, except like HYP levels, restrict such changes to honors courses. The same can be said for many top privates). However, a lot of pre-meds don't care much about that (more like: "are the classes offered?, is the teaching at least okay?, can I make A's without exorbitant effort?" not: "gee I actually wonder what level they pitch courses at and what they teach versus my AP courses"...if one is the latter type, then yeah Emory may be the place )and most who want research opps. at places like UCLA or Chapel Hill will get them (though maybe not as early....and admittedly the undergraduate research apparatus is very well-organized). Given the OPs EC interests, those may definitely be easier at somewhere like Emory, but again it just seems so expensive .
  • pineapplepat123pineapplepat123 Registered User Posts: 5 New Member
    @bernie12 in response to your question

    I can really only help you if you tell me the ones you have credits in. Not interested in how many you took. You got into UCLA, Chapel Hill, and Emory. Plenty of people took lots of APs and even high passed them. Tell me which ones you got 4/5 in as this can help see a plan for pursuing a chemistry major or pre-medical courses at each.

    AP Language (5)
    AP Chemistry (5)
    AP Psychology (5)
    AP World History (4)
    AP US History (4)
    Currently taking:
    AP Microeconomics
    AP Macroeconomics
    AP Physics 1
    AP Calculus BC
    AP Literature
    AP Statistics

    However, a lot of pre-meds don't care much about that (more like: "are the classes offered?, is the teaching at least okay?, can I make A's without exorbitant effort?" not: "gee I actually wonder what level they pitch courses at and what they teach versus my AP courses"

    I can definitely say that I am more of the latter person and having the ability to form a strong relationship with a professor is very important to me.

    I do not think the money cost will pose too much of a problem to me as of now, but UNC is still a good possibility just because it's 20k cheaper.

    As a follow up question to @bernie12 , How was your research experience at Emory University? Did you find it to be just as accessible as the ones found at bigger research universities? Do most of the pre-med track students have a hard time competing against other big-name schools for graduate?
  • VANDEMORY1342VANDEMORY1342 Registered User Posts: 1,076 Senior Member
    @pineapplepat123
    I agree with @favesages. I say your choices are between Emory and UNC. Emory because of best fit and UNC because of cost.
  • Collegemom888Collegemom888 Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
    Why counting UCLA and UMich out? Both are excellent School too. Cheaper than Emory. The upper class in these schools also offer smaller size classrooms. Because the size of school, they offer more choices of major. Med and Law school are hard, a lot of students gave up during their college time. At UCLA and Umich you have choices go to other major. At Emory, I never been there, but heard it is more a pre-profession school. So what’s the prospect of getting a good job and career if OP cannot make it to MEd and law school? UNC is a decent choice giving its cost, but name recognition and OCR is not as strong as the other two schools.
  • bernie12bernie12 Registered User Posts: 5,293 Senior Member
    @pineapplepat123 :
    "How was your research experience at Emory University? Did you find it to be just as accessible as the ones found at bigger research universities? Do most of the pre-med track students have a hard time competing against other big-name schools for graduate?"

    Getting research at any research university is very easy, and Emory deliberately makes it easy. Your second question is irrelevant. Access to medical school is performance and character based. It is not about "competing against big name schools graduating"....either your application is strong or it isn't. No solid application with a good GPA, MCAT, and ECs is going to have trouble getting interviews (so no, not even those state schools without competitive admissions). Get this notion of prestige and brand out of your head when you think medical school. It is irrelevant. Many people also get prestigious external opportunities. In addition to this, Emory is one of the few places to host its own internal research abroad program (called IRES) and apparently it is coming back. That program has a track record for producing Fulbrights.


    Here is a website on undergraduate research at Emory:
    You can see how it works, and read some of the happenings and stories of students conducting it:
    http://college.emory.edu/undergraduate-research/

    Go maybe check for similar websites at Chapel Hill and UCLA.


    Your AP credits so far:
    AP language is useful, but you still must take 3 Continued Writing Requirements and some medical schools will want at least 1 done in the English department.
    5 in Chemistry gets you access to frosh ochem: You can do this....but maybe just take Dr. Soria for 150 and 202, or just 202 (former combination is recommended because Soria covers things and problems not covered in AP.....he is tough so you would have to get over that, but if you take learning seriously beyond a grade, he will become a great mentor. He does things like take groups of students out to lunch and stuff for good performance on activities).

    No school will take both language and lit, but you can just use the Lang credit to open up a space in the freshman schedule to take something else of interest.
    Physics, eh...
    A 4/5 in calculus BC can gain you access to classes like multivariable, Diff. Eq, and linear algebra immediately (a 5 would also get you access to honors math) which is nice as courses like physical chemistry or "pre-physical chemistry" at Emory are made easier by knowing that math. Most medical schools will want a statistics class, and BC can get you credit to some of the statistics classes with a calculus requirement (you shouldn't really take QTM 100 unless an NBB or biology major....and just generally not if you have a calculus credit. There are many smaller courses including QTM 120, Math 361/362).

    Economics: Have at it if you would like to take any intermediate level economics courses.

    AP statistics: Emory has no equivalent for this one anymore: QTM100 is the university wide statistics class and it has a lab with a computational component (R), and has more focus on inference and less on math unlike AP, so AP statistics only goes towards graduating credit hours.

    History courses: Maybe these go towards graduating credit hours, but I do not think they count towards GERs because the history department does not have equivalents (most privates are not going to have a course called "world history" for example. The mere concept of that is strange).



    Also, if you are aiming for professors that mentor at a place like Emory, expect to be academically challenged. The academically rigorous instructors for whatever tend to be the mentors (no surprise, because most very rigorous instructors put extra effort into their course materials, and then transfer extra effort into developing and advising students). If you take joke instructors, you are more likely to fly under the radar.
  • Collegemom888Collegemom888 Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
    OP has great choices in a number of well known public schools. UNC, UMich and UCLA.

    These schools are cost less than Emory, yet the program they offer and options of majors are much more. Unless OP is set on Med or Law school, if he decides to drop this path during his college year, I think he will have more options at UNC, UMich and UCLA. The recruiting and job prospect will be much better than Emory.

    Based on what he said, my vote is

    UNC>UCLA=UMich>Emory>Boston college.
  • BennyBopBennyBop Registered User Posts: 104 Junior Member
    edited March 2018
    I take a more holistic approach to college choice. As a west-coaster the brutal winters and sweltering summers of the east coast would be a deal breaker. But the OP is from NY, so you are used to extreme weather and tougher than me! Tenderfoots like me would chose UCLA. Don't rule out proximity to home as being like the home field advantage for the closest school. The farther you move away, the more issues you'll most likely have.
  • bernie12bernie12 Registered User Posts: 5,293 Senior Member
    edited April 2018
    @Collegemom888 : That is completely new to me. Emory places quite well into all of that stuff, especially law school and MBA programs, and even medical schools. I am just confused by that statement. My strike against Emory are the expenses. Nice try though. What is "much more"....the OP described what he was interested in and BC and Emory have a lot to offer and the things that the OP are interested in are known to be done VERY WELL at the undergraduate level at either. I'm so sick of "it offers"....okay, but how well is it done? How accessible is it versus a smaller school. I love public schools, but I'm sorry, based on that person's description of what they wanted socially and academically, Emory or maybe Michigan (though I didn't see that one up there) are probably the best fits. The only reason I slightly lean towards Chapel Hill is because it is substantially cheaper.


    I think pulling the "they're big" card is kind of disingenuous and pretends that medium sized privates do not have that many options when there are actually tons. They may not be the same "types" as some publics, but there is a lot of stuff and tons of programming easily accessible to undergraduates. When a person goes off a track, they usually are not just left without options of interest. That seems highly unlikely. Also, if you wanted to do this based upon more than finances using your logic, you should at least put Michigan and UCLA ahead of Chapel Hill as they have engineering schools.

    But this person did not mention Michigan or BC, so I don't know what you just did there.

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