UArizona vs. UNL

I’m an international student, and I know there isn’t much time left, but I’m seriously struggling to make a decision. I also got into Kalamazoo (3rd on my list) and Wooster (last). Any help will be greatly appreciated. Here’s where I’m at right now.


Arizona is the cheapest. Not taking into account the campus employment portion of my FA package (because I plan to work regardless or where I end up), It’s Arizona, then UNL (+15k USD), then Wooster (+33k), then Kzoo (+38k). The only things that would make Wooster and Kzoo worth it are the research (Wooster) and study abroad opportunities (Kzoo), but those seem a bit iffy. I took a look at Wooster’s Research Program catalog of the projects available for this spring and it seemed like 1. a pretty short list, and 2. none of the projects interest me, though it’s possible that it’s just for this intake. Kzoo has a lot of study abroad programs, but I want to study in an English speaking country for that, and the options for that seem pretty limited.

However, I’m thinking of graduating in 3/3.5 years. UA gives me credit for my A Levels for two 100 Math courses and one foreign language course that count toward GE for a total of 12 units. UNL doesn’t state on their website how this factors into GE, but I would get credit for two 100 Math courses and two 200 Physics courses for a total of 18 units, and a 100 History elective. I could get credit for 100-level English course, but I’ll have to appeal, because the A Level subject that corresponds to that isn’t standard (it’s only offered in my country) so that’s still up in the air. UNL could be the cheapest, but it’s a bif if and graduating early is never guaranteed, especially considering I’m thinking of doing a double major (more below).


I’m admitted as a philosophy major, though I intend to double major. In terms of the strength of philosophy departments, UA is in the lead by far (PGR top 20 vs UNL just outside top 50). I applied to UNL because I read that despite the seemingly low ranking, UNL philosophy professors actually do a surprisingly good job of getting their students into good PhD programs. Kzoo and Wooster too have good track records of sending students to grad school, though I couldn’t really find any information about philosophy specifically.

In terms of how this fits in with my long term goals, I am going to try to pursue a philosophy PhD with a career in academia being the end goal, but because of how huge of a risk that is, I want to double major. My interest lie with international relations/political science, but I’m naturally good at math, so I’m also thinking math, physics, or CS, especially considering the OPT extension for STEM. Arizona’s strengths are the sciences, and they do have an Astrophysics major, which I like. UNL isn’t particularly known for it’s sciences.

I didn’t apply to either of their Honors Colleges (I didn’t have time in terms of the US applications timeline matched with my country’s education system). I will be able to apply even after I enroll at UA, but I can’t find any information about that for UNL.

I prefer smaller class sizes, though I’ve also heard of how much pressure there is to speak up because of that at Wooster (not sure about Kzoo), and I’m more of a quiet thinker. I like listening and feel like I learn more listening to discussions than lectures, but I’m not really the most chatty. I think as long as I have access to office hours, I should be able to make do even with lectures.


If the PhD doesn’t work out, I do want to make full use of my OPT, but I don’t really have any information about how well these four schools do in job placements for international students.

Social life:

I’m not a partier at all. I know UA and UNL are party schools, but as long as it’s possible for me to avoid it I’m okay, and I’ve read that it’s more possible at UNL than at UA. However, I do like watching sports, and I don’t mind learning to watch football. I’m also really introverted and shy. I do have my friends, but when making new friends, I usually rely on the other person to make the first step. I’m working on that, but I don’t expect major changes by the time I go to college. I also really love my alone time. I want a tight knit group of friends, and there are pros and cons to both the universities and the LACs. On one hand, LACs feel more like a community, but I feel like if you don’t fit their type then it won’t work, whereas the state schools are big so it may be harder to meet people, but there’s something for everyone. I haven’t visited any of the schools. I also care about how accepting the students are of international students. I don’t want to just stick to other international students.

I don’t want a politically active campus, or one where politics bleeds into academics. I don’t want to be sitting in an ethics class and have everyone around act like if you aren’t decidedly liberal, you’re wrong.


I’m a city kid, which is why Wooster went from tied with Kzoo to bottom on my list. I thought I was fine when I applied, but then I just couldn’t with that isolation. Weather wise, it never falls below 75 degrees where I live, but I don’t mind snow, though I’m not sure about the brutal Michigan winters. They don’t call Arizona the desert for nothing, but as long as there are ACs in the dorms and everywhere indoors I should be fine.

Something else to note:

Accessibility to mental health support is extremely important to me. I’m able to find some information online, but if anyone else has any insights into this, as well the cost of psychiatric consultations at UNL (something that could affect how I feel about UNL vs UA), it would be immensely appreciated.

This is all I can think of to pen down at the moment.

Nebraska winters would also be brutal.

Double major in CS at Arizona.

You’ll be limited in how much you can work on a student visa.

But frankly, I’d get the mental health issues taken care of first.

Too much risk of disaster if you leave your country before getting that taken care of.

Thank you for responding! I have a few more questions.

Are winters in Nebraska really as bad as Michigan? Maybe I should have said in my initial post that I actually want to go somewhere that snows. I can bear with the heat, but I kinda hate it.

Will I be at too much of a disadvantage if I choose CS having no (like seriously zero) background in coding?

I know the limitations to working on a student visa, but on-campus jobs are also open to international students right? Except that since it’s not part of a FA package like at Wooster and Kzoo, I won’t have priority.

I have an idea in the back of mind that I already know is stupid, but I can’t get it out of my mind, so I’m hoping having someone else tell me how stupid it truly sounds will shut that down:

UNL would be way better than UA in terms of chances of transferring to a better school after freshman year. If I went to UNL, it would be easier for me to make the argument that it’s a school that doesn’t suit my academic needs compared to UA. But 2 things: 1. transferring up (as in to a school better ranked) is hard and pinning my hopes on that is extremely risky, and 2. spending the entirety of freshman year thinking “what grades do I need”, “which professor should I suck up to so that they’ll write my recommendation”, and “do I have enough extracurriculars to be competitive” seems like a miserable way to spend freshman year.

“Are winters in Nebraska really as bad as Michigan”


What’s the worst winter you have experienced?

“UNL would be way better than UA in terms of chances of transferring to a better school after freshman year. If I went to UNL, it would be easier for me to make the argument that it’s a school that doesn’t suit my academic needs compared to UA”

Not really. UNL offers a ton of majors and grad-level classes. How would you make a convincing case?

My Michigan kid has spent the last 4 years in Lincoln, Nebraska. Winters are not warm, but they aren’t as bad as Michigan winters.

@moooop, the average January low in Lincoln (-10.1C) is actually lower than the average January low in Kalamazoo (-8.2C). Granted, the average January high in Lincoln is higher.,_Nebraska#Climate,_Michigan#Climate

Regardless, they are both freezing.

I live in southern Michigan. I’ve gotten a text from my kid in Lincoln almost every day for the past 4 yrs. A recurring theme is the warmer daytime weather there. Average temps can be very misleading. There are some freaky weather patterns that hit Lincoln due to the Rocky Mountains. I’ve been there in Mid-Feb when people were wearing shorts & playing softball.

It sounds as if UA is the most affordable option and the best fit. Tucson is beautiful, with both the resources of a small city and gorgeous nature nearby. You wouldn’t be there for the worst of the heat. The option to apply to the honors college is great, and the range of major options seems stronger in your areas of interest. (UNL has some terrific strengths too, like business for example, but these seem not to fit your interests as well.)

I feel as if all of your reasons to consider UNL are sort of second-order strategic ones that are either dubious altogether or unlikely to come into play… definitely not reasons that I would sink another $15K/year into up-front. Based on everything you describe, I would go with UA and not look back.

One more point in favor of Arizona: UA, unlike UNL, participates in the National Student Exchange - you could elect to spend a semester in another part of the US through this program, which could be a great way to broaden/enhance your experience as an international student:

@PurpleTitan About the case for transfer, I figured I could argue that UNL’s strengths don’t lie in my majors, but to be honest I don’t even want to consider transferring right now. Maybe if I truly am unhappy I will submit a few applications but I don’t want to spend freshman year already thinking about getting out. I want to go in with a open and positive attitude and do my best to make the most with wherever I go.

Most brutal winter was a week in Beijing, really enjoyed it.

@moooop Thank you for your input! By freaky weather patterns do you mean within a day, or throughout a week?

@aquapt I should have been clearer, the difference in costs are after four years, so UA is 15k cheaper after the entire degree, but you’re right with everything you said. Plus, UA also has an accelerated master’s program. However, while I was looking into clubs and activities on campus, I felt more excited by UNL, BUT I haven’t actually visited either school, so should I follow my gut with this, or choose the school that fits my academic needs the most? After all, college isn’t just “the experience”, you’re also getting a degree out of it.

Something else: UA’s GPA requirement to keep my scholarship is 3.0, UNL’s is 2.0. How important is this?

I know I’m cutting it real close, but I want to make sure I cover all the bases before submitting my deposit, so thank you guys very much for all your help.

Re: transfer, I think any colleges you did apply to would be more interested in hearing about why you do want to go to their college, not so much about what’s wrong with the one you want to leave. I don’t think either school will disadvantage you if it does come down to transferring, unless there were a reason you’d be likely to get better grades at one vs the other.

Speaking of grades, a 2.0 threshold to keep your scholarship would be nice, of course, but I don’t feel like a 3.0 threshold should be too onerous, especially since you’re not going into a GPA-killing program like a first-year-engineering curriculum. Given your grad school aspirations, I’m sure you’re aiming to be comfortably above a 3.0 anyway. If it were a 3.5 threshold, I would be wary of the associated stress and risk, but 3.0 should be enough leeway IMHO.

Clubs and activities are some of the hardest things to gauge with online research. There’s probably stuff going on at both schools that you wouldn’t come across online, and some of the things that look great may not be “all that” in real life. They’re both such big, vibrant schools that I can’t imagine either having a true lack of rewarding things to do… but if there’s something you feel like UA is missing, maybe post on the UA forum and ask if people are aware of student activities in that realm? Nebraska does have a higher percentage of students living on campus, which can be an advantage; but that number can be deceptive, depending on whether “off campus” students are clustered nearby in housing that is still effectively part of the campus community, or if they’re truly “commuting.” (Maybe people familiar with the campuses can comment on how this plays out at these specific schools.)

I do feel as if the National Student Exchange could be a real plus. You could spend a semester at a completely different but equally well-regarded flagship - U of Minnesota Twin Cities, for example, has strong philosophy and STEM programs and is in a major city with a vastly different climate and culture from Tucson. Or you could go to one of the Northeast flagships - UMass Amherst, UNH, URI, or one of the SUNY’s.

But as you say, a 15K total price difference isn’t huge, and if UNL resonates with you more, it’s a fine school, and Lincoln is a great small city for students. I really doubt that you’ll regret your decision, regardless of which you choose!

@aquapt I read on another thread that when applying to transfer, schools look for why you want to attend college in the sense of what they offer that you can’t already find at the college that you’re currently attending, which makes UNL stronger as UA already has a very strong philosophy department. However I’m really trying to get this notion out of my head and not dwell on this as I feel thinking of how to get out is a really crappy way of approaching freshman year.

About students going home on the weekends, apparently UNL students like to go home on the weekends, while UA students like to party. Neither is great, but no school is perfect anyway.

NSE is a big plus, considering as how I won’t have to pay extra regardless of where I go.

I know ultimately college is what I make of it, and UA and UNL are both good options to have. Just having last minute jitters I guess. Thank you for responses and encouragement, they’re greatly appreciated :slight_smile:

Tuscon is a more fun location for a younger person than Lincoln Nebraska. Tuscon will also be sunnier if you do suffer from depression. Tuscon also has better access to Los Angeles, and San Diego, an easy drive with friends.

The midwest of the USA can be isolating. Nebraska does not have vibrant cities, although the music and art culture is good in Lincoln if you like art and music. There is crime in Lincoln and it gets a little depressing at times.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
Go to the best school for your major, philosophy. Do not go to a school, like U of Nebraska that is weak in
your major, thats a bad plan.

U of Arizona is also good for the sciences, if you do decide to try computer science, Arizona is better.

@Coloradomama How hot is Tuscon in the fall and spring? Winter seems to be a nice temperature, but I live in a tropical city now and I’m…not a huge fan. Could be due to the humidity though, so maybe Tuscon is different cause it’s dry.

I’ve read that crime is definitely a thing in Tuscon too, is it worse in Lincoln?

UNL isn’t exactly bad in philosophy, it’s just there’s a higher chance of me getting a recommendation from a well-respected professor for grad school from UA. Though if I’m completely honest, I think there’s a good enough chance I won’t actually graduate with philosophy as my major. Maybe somewhere down the road I’ll realize I’m not actually smart enough to be competitive for the top grad schools, and academia is already saturated with PhD grads that a PhD from a mid-tier school isn’t worth the investment.

Can you elaborate a little more about the Midwest being isolating? Is it just the geography, or are the people cold too?

About the art and music scene, that’s interesting. What kind of music? Played competitive sports since elementary school, want to continue playing volleyball though likely will not be good enough for the campus clubs at both UA and UNL, and Lincoln seems to have more volleyball clubs. Free time will be spent doing sports in some kind of way and working an on-campus job.

“schools look for why you want to attend college in the sense of what they offer that you can’t already find at the college that you’re currently attending”

Yes, in terms of majors and courses. Not in terms of rankings.

my kiddo is graduating from UNL in 3 days and he’s right here talking to me about this. He liked his experience; he would have gone out of state if we had more $; but with 4 kids he took an in-state scholarship. He is graduating with NO debt, has a good job lined up making a good salary.

He said the international kids sort of stay to themselves if they don’t speak English well; that’s the biggest barrier. He said there’s all kinds of groups to get involved with to meet others; from campus government to dorm government to your college groups. It’s all what you want to put into it. UNL wants to be diverse; but the state itself is very rural, farmland, and made of small towns where there is typically no diversity. The kids are kind, but not always fully accepting; and international kids mostly hang with others until they get further into their studies and groups within their majors.

He thinks there are lots of opportunities for abroad studies, and getting involved; but that will be on you. My son dates someone who is from another country/culture and has enjoyed every minute of learning about her family and such. He worked at the Health Center and said there’s all sorts of counseling options available.

about transferring: my daughter transferred to UNL from a small LAC. She lost ALL scholarships she was originally given to UNL; and is full pay. Transfers are costly to where ever you will go; just keep that in mind. There aren’t a ton of transfer scholarships out there. If money is important, I’d try not to transfer.

Kiddo liked his experiences; was in a top ranked act.sci program, and is so excited about graduating and moving forward. I think you’d like it too; you just need to know it will be different.