UC Berkeley vs UCLA Regents

I did not expect to be this torn, but I’m stuck between deciding between UC Berkeley and UCLA. Cal’s been my dream school since 6th grade, but UCLA is giving me their Regents scholarship, which has quite a few perks (and also a lot of money). I’ve visited both and talked to current students at both, but I’m still conflicted on which one to choose. (I also got into UPenn but I’m not really considering it because it would be my most expensive option and I don’t think their STEM programs are too great, but if anyone wants my pros and cons for that I can comment them later)

Background Info

  • currently live just north of san jose
  • planning on majoring in physics, applied math, econ, and/or polisci
  • I’ve taken most of my lower-div maths and GEs at cc and according to assist they would transfer over to UCs
  • weather doesn’t really matter to me (esp since it’s all just variations of CA weather anyways)

UC Berkeley

  • Pros: better academic programs for my potential majors, culture fits me better, I know more people attending right now in all years
  • Cons: housing seems kinda wack in general for both dorms and other off-campus options, might be a bit too close to home
  • Net Price: $14k ($4k work-study)


  • Pros: priority class registration, guaranteed housing and parking, better dorm food, campus is really pretty, quite far from home, socal is amazing
  • Cons: students seem too laid back for me, academic programs not as good as berkeley’s for my majors
  • Net Cost: $5k

Open to any and all advice that people have :))

How much difference does the $10k per year ($40k over four years) make to you and your family?

it wouldn’t be too bad, we could pay off UCLA upfront, for Berkeley we would probably use some of the federal loans (and work-study ofc) but could also pay most of it upfront as well

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I’d have my kid pick UCLA based on these perks (priority class registration and guaranteed housing).

LA is a one hour flight home to San Jose.

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If you need loans and work-study, then that would be a little more financially risky than if you need loans or work-study, or if you do not need either. There are low cost (several thousand dollars less than the off-campus budget for room and board) BSC co-op houses near UCB, but the waiting lists are long, so you may not be that likely to get into one first year.

UCLA is still excellent for your desired majors, so it is not like you have any bad choices. UCLA may be financially a bit safer, though.

Does semesters (two 15-week semesters in an academic year) or quarters (three 10-week quarters in an academic year) matter to you?

UCLA Regents. Students are not as laid back as they may seem and it’s still a competitive environment, but not as toxic as Berkeley’s sometimes is. Their program for Econ is insanely good, but I’m not familiar with your other majors’ programs. Also, you’re absolutely right, housing for Berkeley is impossible. That, in addition to the reduced cost, definitely definitely definitely choose UCLA. Congrats on getting in!!


Congrats on amazing options!

In your situation, I would also go for UCLA. Do not underestimate the value of priority registration at these schools. You’ll often be able to get your first choice of classes, sections, and professors at UCLA, with priority registration, whereas at Berkeley you’ll have to take what you can get. This could more than cancel out any difference in overall quality, and tbh I’m not sure there’s a real difference in the first place, at the undergrad level.

On top of that, you’ll graduate debt-free at UCLA, whereas UCB could end up costing even more than you expect because the housing crunch is driving up rents.

UCLA’s “laid back” vibe does not mean that students are any less driven; they’re just a bit less grim about it. There’s no meaningful reputational difference anymore, for an undergrad degree. I’d call it a toss-up if costs and “perks” were equal, but they’re not.

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My S18 chose UCLA over Berkeley (he had an Alumni scholarship at UCLA not Regents though that wasn’t decisive). Probably more important was getting further away from home (we are in the Bay Area), but he also loved how happy everyone is at UCLA compared to Berkeley. He planned to double major in PoliSci/Econ but ended up in Public Affairs and has had a great experience with lots of opportunities (eg a top DC think tank internship) that are just as good as at Berkeley. Given your interests the MathEcon course would definitely be worth considering.

Regents makes a huge difference, not just in class registration but also housing priority. If you are also concerned about the relative cost then it really is a no brainer to choose UCLA.


2 posts were split to a new thread: UCB EECS v UCLA CS with a Regents