My daughter went to Scripps after attending a public high school. She made close friends who attended elite prep schools, and equally close friends who attended public high schools. Some were able to pay full COA without batting an eye; some received substantial financial aid, Questbridge scholarships, etc. There didn’t seem to be any social divide along class lines or public vs. private. One advantage of the LAC environment is that campus life doesn’t tend to involve a lot of additional costs. I think there can end up being more economic segregation at some UC’s, where students disperse to off-campus housing which varies in cost, forcing them to form groups with others that have compatible budget constraints (or lack thereof).
Having small classes and personal interaction with faculty from day one was a distinct advantage over the UC environment, where lower-division classes are larger. Having the flexibility to explore and declare any major she chose, vs. be admitted to a particular division or program, was a perk too. Being able to take classes across the entire consortium, and choose an off-campus major at will, has been a huge benefit. There is so much support available, as well as opportunities like funded internships. Students do indeed get into top grad programs. The undergraduate thesis is a great springboard to grad-level work, and the topics students pursue are fascinating. The thesis archives are available online if you’re curious: Scripps Senior Theses | Scripps Student Scholarship | Claremont Colleges
That said, UCLA is a top-notch university, and the cost differential can be significant depending on the student’s financial profile and whether merit aid was offered. One has to weigh the strength of the preference vs. the magnitude of the price difference. I just wouldn’t hesitate to support your daughter in choosing Scripps, if she prefers it and if the cost is acceptable to you. What does she want to study?