Is UCSC a good option?

When I was looking at colleges online, specifically the UC system, the campus of UCSC called to me. I fell in love with everything about this university. I’m planning to major in engineering (hopefully biomedical engineering) and go on the pre-med track.
UCSC has really good research opportunities, but from talking to people who currently go to UCSC, they mentioned that you can get little to none volunteering or research or clinical experience unless you have a car because the campus is so isolated. I have no means of bringing a car freshman year to any university. Coming from a family that is going to struggle to send me to both undergrad and medical school, a car is not an option.
Would it be a good idea for me to go to UCSC?

Are you a CA resident? What are your qualifications( stats)? You first need to be accepted before deciding if UCSC would be a good fit.

The campus is isolated so having a car will probably be needed eventually but there is bus service that can take you into town. Most Freshman are discouraged from bringing cars their first year anyways.

Research opportunities would be available on campus while most students would have internships during the summer. I would if possible visit the campus even informally so you can get a better perspective.

I suggest you do a little more research on the campus and surrounding area. Look into the ease of traveling back and forth during breaks and holidays and include transportation costs to your college budget.

Best of luck and make an informed decision once you have all your acceptances in hand.

We looked at UCSC in January (my older daughter will transfer fall 2021). She loved the campus but is hesitating because of the housing problems. There aren’t enough housing options for all the students (except Freshmen) and living in Santa Cruz is very very expensive. She went ahead and applied and will make a decision when all the acceptances come in.

If your family is going to struggle with both undergrad and medical school, maybe consider community college first, then transfer to a CSU. Or start at a CSU. They are significantly cheaper and medical school will be a huge expense.

I’ve heard from pre-med students that research and interships in the medical field are hard to find in the area and you’d have to commute to San Jose and other areas for the experience.

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UCSC does not have a biomedical engineering major.

I presume OP meant the Biomolecular Engineering and Bioinformatics major?

@ucbalumnus I was considering Biomolecular Engineering specifically for UCSC.

@Gumbymom I am a CA resident, I have a 3.8 GPA unweighted & I’m taking the SAT next March.
UCSC is about 4 hours away from where I live, so traveling back and forth is no issue with my family.

Since you are not applying this admission cycle, it will give you time to explore more options for your Undergrad education.

Biomedical Engineering is a good field but it could be difficult to maintain a competitive GPA if Medical school is your ultimate goal. Medical school is more about GPA and MCAT scores than the school you attend and your major.

The UC’s are great options for in-state CA students, but the competition for “pre-med” students is tough, however UCSC might be a better option than some of the top UC’s such as UCLA and UCB. Always have a backup plan since many students never to get the application stage for Medical school.

If you are that close, it is definitely worth a trip to visit and see for yourself. As noted by another poster, that volunteering opportunities could be limited and many students will move off campus after Freshman year so transportation should be a consideration.

Make sure you run the Net Price calculators for each school of interest since you want to keep your Undergrad debt to a minimum and be open to many type of schools where you could excel.

Best of luck in your search.

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I would prefer a backup plan if I don’t get into medical school, which is where engineering came in from. Engineering is a second passion, so to speak. My parents aren’t willing to leave due to rising covid cases, but if it does get better, hopefully I will have a chance to visit.
Why is UCSC better than UCLA?

How did you learn about the housing problems? Is it specifically due to covid, or are problems with dorms regular?

I wonder if you might want to look into UC-Riverside, since it has a direct admit programfor its undergrads to its med school. It’s called Early Assurance. Also, rumor has it that UC-Davis med school may confer some admissions advantage on its own undergrads, but idk if that’s factual.

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You have a better chance of standing out at UCSC than a highly competitive school like UCLA. Competition for grades, research and volunteering positions are even greater at UCLA.

California schools in general are not conducive for “pre-meds” since there are far more applicants than spots available.

My sons had several classmates that made into Medical school but only one was admitted to a CA Medical school. The majority are out of state in the Midwest or East Coast and one even in Australia.

UCR’s Thomas Haider program is a great option to look into if you plan to practice in the local area.

The UC Davis Vet school has shown preference for their Undergrads but not for Medical school.

You have time to research all options to find the best fit for you.

FYI. Since the UC’s are test blind this admission cycle, they may continue for next years admission cycle also. It is to your benefit to prepare and take the SAT when available.

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If they’re going test blind, how will taking the SAT be beneficial?

The goal was to go test blind in 2023 not now but due to Covid, they opted to go test blind this admission cycle. If they will stay test blind for next year, then the SAT will not be required but if they go test optional, high scores will be beneficial. You are early in the planning process and may find schools that require test scores or are test optional so it is to your benefit to have scores just in case.

This is for Fall 2021 only:

UC will not consider SAT or ACT test scores when making admissions decisions or awarding Regents and Chancellor’s scholarships. If you choose to submit test scores as part of your application, they may be used to determine your eligibility for the California statewide admissions guarantee, as an alternative method of fulfilling minimum requirements for eligibility or for course placement after you enroll.

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Thank you so much for your help! My school is planning a verified SAT in March so if all goes well, I’m planning on taking it then.