Help Me Choose! (UCLA, USC, Vanderbilt, NYU)

Hi! I’m a high school senior and I just got my college acceptances back as well as my financial aid statements. I’m super excited about all of my options (to be honest, I wasn’t expecting to get into some of these), but I’m having a hard time choosing, and I’m wondering if I can get some more insight on these schools with value and things that the colleges don’t advertise themselves (vibe, preparation for medical school, networking/connections, opportunities, prestige/look on resume). For background, I’m a student from Washington state and I’m looking to do premed. I’m really interested in the human body, social justice issues, humanities, sociology, and social sciences. I’m looking to major in Human Biology or a Medicine Humanities with a minor in public policy. My extracurriculars that I want to do are service, ballet, Indian dance, and opportunities to play the piano. Here’s my schools and their details with prices.


  • Major: Biology and Society
  • Cost: $65847 per year
  • AP Transfer Credits: 44

USC Dornsife:

  • Major: Health and the Human Sciences
  • Cost: $78359 (got a $3750 scholarship for every year)
  • AP Transfer Credits: 24


  • Major: Medicine, Health, and Society
  • Cost: $81350 per year
  • AP Transfer Credits: 26


  • Major: College of Arts and Sciences
  • Cost: $80876 per year
  • AP Transfer Credits: 33
  • I got invited to be part of the Presidential Honors Scholars program at

Right now I’m leaning towards an LA school, because its just close enough to home and I’m really in love with the LA area. However, I want to make sure I’m not putting on blinders and I’m taking the best opportunity. Study abroad is super important to me and I want to get involved in Public Policy and hands on medical service opportunities. Right now, my parents are really excited about all of these schools and they are willing to make the cost work for them. I don’t know what the significance of these credits are at each of these schools, and which school would give me the best connections to what I want to do. Any information, comparisons, opinions, are welcome!!

Hey! i can’t really speak for any of those schools personally as I am a senior, but I just wanted to comment on the social scene for Vanderbilt and NYU. One of my friends went to Vandy three years ago and LOVED IT! The social life/student life is amazing, and it’s in a really awesome city. It’s a lot of work, but she said it was really fun. My other friend went to NYU for languages and she also loves it - I know she spends a lot of time finding hidden gems in the city if that’s what you’re interested in!

So your parents are Ok paying $240K+ for your Undergrad and another $300-400K for Medical school?

California has too many Pre-Med students and cannot accomodate all these wanting to go to Medical school.

You need a High GPA in the Medical school pre-req courses, access to medically related EC’s and a school with good Pre-Med advising. You also want to keep undergrad costs at a minimum. In general you need a place where you can thrive as student–academically, socially and personally. Medical schools are looking for students who are not just top students academically, but also interesting, well rounded individuals with specific social competencies and leadership skills.

I would also look at the Pre-Health advising centers for more information.

Make sure you have a backup plan since 60% of “pre-med” students never make to the application round.


you have any lower cost but less pedigree options - for what you’re studying and trying to get to med school, you need to save your money and get a great MCAT. Hopefully, you have a much cheaper school that you eliminated that you can bring back into the fold. All great choices - but over the top expensive and that’s b4 you get to med school who will care about your grades and MCAT, not whether you went to Vandy or say U of Pacific on a scholarship.

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If money’s no concern, I’d say Vanderbilt: you get the best of both worlds in everything: real campus life AND city, a degree that’ll stand on its own regardless of whether you go to med school or not with the amenities of a sizable-endowment private university, and finally, you can’t want to stay close to home that badly of you applied to that many far flung universities.
If money is a concern, none of these work. They’re all way to expensive. Surely you got into UW or another college that’d cost half what the 4 you listed would?

That being said, if you’re not set on being premed, UCLA would be an awesome experience for most majors and it’s clearly the cheapest of the bunch. And California taxpayers will thank you for your 280k donation to their university system.


I don’t see a big difference in the schools other than NYU doesn’t really have a campus. It’s mostly in a bunch of office buildings. Of course the flip side of that is that you’re (figuratively) in the middle of Manhattan with all it has to offer.

Those AP classes might not do much for you as UCLA does not allow students to use AP classes to fulfill general education (GE) requirements. Also, some med schools do not allow students to use AP credits for pre-req classes.

Look here. The 4th paragraph says, “AP credit does not satisfy General Education requirements”

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AP credit that may apply to pre-med courses is a complicated subject. See FAQ Pre-med courses, AP/IB/etc. credit and college/DE courses, etc. .

If you are a Washington resident, why not attend a lower cost Washington public university and save money for expensive medical school, if you get in?

Be sure to have alternate plans. Most frosh pre-meds never get to applying to medical school (because they know that their GPA and/or MCAT is too low); of those who do apply, only about 40% get any admission to a medical school. Biology is generally associated with low paid jobs at the bachelor’s degree level.

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