UCLA vs. UMich

Kind of in crisis mode right now, would really appreciate some thoughts/input from you guys. Sorry for the extremely long post—I joined this forum today just to pose this question.

Some important background:

I applied as a transfer to UMich and UCLA as a history major and was accepted into both programs. I’ve been attending the University of Maryland Global Campus for the past two years, a completely virtual university. I’ve also lived in Ann Arbor for the past 9 years and went to middle school and high school here. Of course, Ann Arbor is also the home of UMich.

I don’t like living in Ann Arbor at all. I hate the weather (it has a huge impact on my mood), the culture, and the lack of things to do. Especially because I spent my entire adolescence here, I feel like I’ve seen all there is to see. However, I’ve had the privilege of making some really great friends here over the years. If I did attend UMich, I would have the opportunity to move into a pretty nice college house with some of my closest friends. My friends are also UMich students themselves, which would be helpful in my transition.

UCLA was always my “dream school” growing up, so actually getting admitted was definitely a pinch-me moment. From everything I’ve heard, UCLA seems like an amazing school. I also want to eventually live and work in California, and have interest in applying to Berkeley Law after undergrad. I do have some fears, though. I would be living in a dorm with two other roommates (strangers), which would be a huge adjustment and obviously much smaller in size than the living situation I would have at UMich. I would also have to leave my car behind (gas is expensive and parking is a nightmare), so I’m a little worried about being able to get around LA and explore the greater LA area (I’m a beach person). I also have a lot of self-doubt regarding my abilities and am extremely nervous about the academic rigor of UCLA (I could be wrong, but based on my friends’ experiences, UMich seems to be slightly easier). Maintaining a high GPA is extremely important to me for law school admissions. Finally, I’m of course terrified of being friendless, lonely, and overwhelmed by the combined transition of not only moving across the country but also beginning my first in-person college experience. I should also mention that I haven’t had the chance to visit the UCLA campus yet.

I also have a dog that I absolutely adore, and I wouldn’t be able to live with her in either situation (she’d be living with my dad full-time), but she would be much closer and easier to visit if I went to UMich, since my dad is a two-hour drive away.

All this considered, I am terrified of taking the plunge and going to UCLA, but I have a gut feeling that I should. I’ve always told myself I would get out of this town as soon as I was granted the opportunity, and now I have that opportunity, and I’m choking. I know it’s important to do something that scares me, meet new people, and have the opportunity to start fresh and potentially find a new home, especially when I’ve been so depressed in Ann Arbor for so long.

Money isn’t an issue, as UCLA gave me a lot of financial aid and Michigan barely gave me any. Michigan is still cheaper due to being in-state, but only by about a $7,000 margin.

Please help. I’m desperate, and I need to decide soon. Thanks guys.

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So you’re a bit afraid to move on, grow up and that’s understandable.

But - this to me says it all:

“I don’t like living in Ann Arbor at all.”

As far as law school - doesn’t matter where you go.

Good luck.


Thanks for your reply. Good point.

It’s hard to grow, move away from the nest and all that - and I get it. Part of growing is all that. It comes with complications. I had to fly my daughter home from college. At first my son was homesick. All that can happen. Your dog…I get it all.

But it’s clear Michigan isn’t for you.

Today you have facetime -and it can cure a lot of things - like seeing your dog. Also, schools have programs - like at my daughters - they bring therapy dogs on campus to cuddle. My daughter even has one she walks regularly - for like $20 a day - and frankly, the play time makes her happy forgetting the $$.

So there’s ways to cope.

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Two points: Living in Ann Arbor as a part of the University community will be different and my guess is more exciting than living in Ann Arbor as an online school student. My guess is that you will have opportunities for growth and exploration even if you stay. Also, you can find an apartment around UCLA and take your dog with you. Many students do.

Since you are contemplating grad school in a couple of years, you will have the opportunity to open your wings sooner rather than later. And any money saved for law school is a plus in my book.

So my inclination would be to stay. Good luck!

Sounds like UCLA to me. Good luck!

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The best things that will happen to you in your life will happen when you do things outside of your comfort zone.


I wouldn’t recommend doing this as an incoming transfer. You only have a short period to make friends and being in the overcrowded dorms on the hill is the way to do it. Not to mention it is significantly more expensive, especially if you wanted somewhere with your own room - and I can’t imagine a roommate you don’t know agreeing to a lease with you and your dog. It may be an option for your final year though.


I am going to contemplate something different. Go with some friends to Ann Arbor campus and walk around now. Go to the arb. You know campus will be with few students compared to the school year. See how you feel now when with friends you might be rooming with. Do you still feel the same way?

If not, it seems you want UCLA, then just go for it. Both of my kids are the road less traveled kids. Sometimes you don’t know what’s on the other side unless you go there…

Good Luck. Only good choices.


It sounds like your living conditions would be much better at UMich than at UCLA and living as a college student in a friends’ house would be quite different from being an online student.
How about you save the 14K and use a part 1° to spend a term abroad (esp. Jan-May) where the weather is bright and sunny and 2° to see if you could secure a junior summer internship in LA using UMich’s excellent career center?
However, I don’t think UCLA is harder academically than UMIch, both are very rigorous and respected.
You could also compare the Fall semester offerings in history, what courses are required for a history major, whether you meet all the distribution/gen ed requirements already, and see whether one has an advantage.


It’s not difficult to get around LA without a car, especially in west LA. I was at UCLA for almost a decade (first as a PhD student, then instructor) and never bothered getting a car.

For what it’s worth, the first time I set foot on campus was in September shortly before classes started. Moving across the country for something new can be very stressful for sure, but it’s also pretty exciting.

I say go! Living/experiencing new places can be so transformative and is part of growing up- and this is the time to do it. You may never leave Michigan if you don’t go now. I went away for college and now live back in my hometown. I love my life, but am so glad I got the chance to live somewhere else for a while.

As an OOS transfer student? I’m very curious about this, as it’s exceedingly unusual! If you could describe the source of this aid, it could be very helpful to others on CC who aspire to attend UCLA but can’t find such funding!


Yeah, I submitted my housing application and would plan to live in the dormitories if I went to UCLA. They have a “Transfer Experience” Living Learning Community, which basically means you get grouped with other transfer students on a designated floor in one of the dorms, and you have the opportunity to participate in events/programs together (I think they do a movie night, a beach bonfire, etc). I would definitely consider living off-campus with my dog my senior year, though!


That’s definitely a good idea—just walking around campus with my friends and prospective roommates to see if I would feel ready to leave all of this behind. I will say, though, that I have a lot of experience with downtown Ann Arbor and the Michigan campus (not just the greater Ann Arbor area). My high school/middle school experience very much revolved around hanging out in the diag, going to the arb, and spending a ton of time downtown with friends. I know downtown A2 like the back of my hand!

Good points! I was definitely planning on studying abroad for a term if I did end up going to UM, whereas if I went to UCLA, I’m not sure I would want to spend the extra money to leave LA since I’ll only be there for a short time (two years) and the weather is great. You’re probably right that UCLA and UMich are very comparative academically. I know that UCLA has the quarter system and UMich has the traditional semester system, though.

I think both schools have relatively esteemed history programs, but I will say I do think UM offers slightly more interesting history courses. However, UCLA has the option of a “Musicology” minor, which is the study of music without the performance aspect. I’m a huge music nerd, and I’d be really interested in taking on that minor (which UM doesn’t offer).

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That’s a relief! I would definitely take advantage of public transportation and walk as much as possible. I would just like to visit Santa Monica, Malibu, etc. and I know that those are not exactly walkable distances. However, if the bus routes enable me to do that (which I’m sure they do), then I’m sure I’ll have no issues!

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Thanks for your input! Yeah, I definitely have the thought of “if not now, when?” Especially if I plan to attend law school OOS. I imagine it would be much harder to leave home and make this huge change to attend law school, where it might be much more stressful/competitive/isolating.

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I know, I was shocked too! When I got my acceptance, it was bittersweet because I thought it would be too expensive to even consider (especially with UM in the picture). I haven’t gotten my “official” aid package—I think those are released in mid-July. However, I do have a provisional offer, which is what I expect to receive in my package. My provisional offer gives me about $30,000 in aid, with most of it coming from UCLA’s “Non-Resident Grant.” It specifies that the UCLA Non-Resident Grant is awarded to OOS students that apply for aid on time and exhibit high financial need. Hope this helps!


Santa Monica is easy (down Wilshire on frequent buses) and relatively quick for LA (about 40 mins each way). Malibu isn’t, but many people use Zipcar or ride with friends. Downtown LA is more like 75 mins by bus.