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Comparing UCLA to Univ of Michigan

Norcal1972Norcal1972 38 replies3 threads Junior Member
I would like to get input / opinions from CC'ers - my son was fortunate enough to be offered acceptance early to UofM. Many of his friends who applied were deferred (we are OOS / CA) and I do believe his essays and legacy helped (34 ACT and GPA UW 3.98 W4.4)
Obviously UC's have no early application and we wont find out about those schools until March. My hunch is that if he is accepted to UCLA, the decision will come down to comparing both these options. Obviously in state tuition of UC makes the cost of UCLA about half - but because my husband is a UofM alum, he is supportive of paying the OOS tuition for that school (he would prob have a hard time agreeing to pay that at a couple of other top publics that my son also applied to but that's a moot point since Michigan ranks higher anyway).
Of course we know the weather is kinder in California. My son isnt necessarily worried about the weather in Michigan, but I do think he has NO IDEA because he has grown up in California. He plans to take a variety of classes, isnt set on one particular major yet - so that wont really impact the decision of where he attends.
I have already registered us for Campus Preview day in Ann Arbor / March. If he gets into UCLA I would do same in April.
There is a lot of emotional attachment to UofM because of my husband, but we are also big fans of the UC system (I am a UC alum). I believe the schools are fairly similarly ranked with UCLA slightly higher - but just trying to figure out if that's worth another 120+K over 4 years. I am aware that UofM has a huge alumni network, and I assume UCLA does as well - but am not as familiar.
Thank you for any opinions.
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Replies to: Comparing UCLA to Univ of Michigan

  • socaldad2002socaldad2002 2142 replies33 threads Senior Member
    edited December 2019
    What’s his potential major or interests and where does he want to work after college?
    edited December 2019
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  • AlwaysMovingAlwaysMoving 499 replies5 threads Member
    Since your son is undecided on his major there isn't a difference in academics. It might be a good idea to see what majors are restricted or tough to get into at each school.

    It really comes down to fit and if he wants to go far away for college.
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  • Norcal1972Norcal1972 38 replies3 threads Junior Member
    @socaldad2002 He really wants to explore different classes. High School has been a grind with all the AP classes he thought he "should"take. He took a psych110 course at the locall CC this past summer and found it fascinating - so he wants to explore psychology, but he has always done well with math and science and loves to write now, so we are encouraging him to explore classes and subjects. He has no idea where he wants work after college.
    @AlwaysMoving , he is interested in going away to school outside of California - but he also really enjoys Southern California.
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  • TomSrOfBostonTomSrOfBoston 15733 replies1052 threads Senior Member
    edited December 2019
    Has he visited Ann Arbor....in the winter?
    edited December 2019
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  • Norcal1972Norcal1972 38 replies3 threads Junior Member
    @TomSrOfBoston YES, we have visited AA in the winter. He did his tour during February, it was cold and snowing.
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  • sushirittosushiritto 5211 replies20 threads Senior Member
    We’re located in NorCal. My kid had choices of several of the top tier of UC’s. Also, my kid had not experienced much bad weather. So we also visited UMich on the CA admitted student day where there was light snow and it was cold. My kid is now a sophomore at UMich.

    Here’s a few comments off the cuff:

    1. Academically similar, both are rigorous. My kid is a STEM major and minor and UMich classes are VERY difficult.

    2. Changing majors at UMich is generally easy. The only difficult change would be to transfer into Ross. Otherwise, within LSA, you can change majors like you change your clothes. You can also transfer into the CoE or get a CS degree in LSA or CoE.

    3. UCLA is on a quarter system. My kid didn’t want that.

    4. If you enjoy attending and watching sports, hockey, basketball and football games at UMich are almost always sold out. Outstanding school spirit and everywhere you go, people will come up to you and say “Go Blue.” That’s B1G sports.

    5. Off campus housing will be much less expensive in Ann Arbor than Westwood. So there’s money to be saved there in the last 3 years of school.

    6. My kid hasn’t had any issues with class registration and is a semester + ahead due to AP credits. Full disclosure. There was a thread here on CC about not getting all classes at UMich from @brantly but no one that I’m aware of in my kid’s pack has had any problems.

    7. Fall semester starts after Labor Day. Winter semester ends late April. So 4 months of summer. :smile:

    8. UMich has the LSA Opportunity Hub, free tutoring and relatively easy access to advisors.

    9. If no financial aid, then yes, UMich will run a CA family a lot more than a UC or CSU. That and the weather are the only downsides IMO. The 2 or 3 say Polar Vortex last year didn’t stop fans from attending a sold out basketball game.

    Good luck with your decision. BTW, please excuse any typing mistakes, because I’m using my phone.
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  • socaldad2002socaldad2002 2142 replies33 threads Senior Member
    It would be really hard to justify attending UM and paying an additional 135k when UCLA is very comparable public flagship college with better weather, location (sun, beaches, snow skiing, hiking, road trips to Vegas / San Diego, etc) and internships in the same town as the college you are attending. You can also easily drive home to the NorCal to visit your parents or take a short one hour flight.
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  • Norcal1972Norcal1972 38 replies3 threads Junior Member
    @sushiritto - thanks for the comments, really appreciate it. I do think that my son wants to experience life in a different place and while I am a California native and it's making me slightly sick to my stomach the cost difference, I think he is leaning towards UofM and you reminded me of many things (like the semester vs. quarter system) that I had forgotten.
    @socaldad2002 - yes, I agree with you, justifying the cost difference is what I am struggling with, even though we can afford to pay full way for either school - it's a big difference. I would choose California over cold weather any day - but that's me and ultimately the choice will be his.
    I really do appreciate the comments.
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  • Twoin18Twoin18 2104 replies21 threads Senior Member
    We had a somewhat similar situation with S18 who had always wanted to go to the East Coast to do PoliSci and had never really considered UCB/UCLA. He had some great options including an Echols scholarship at UVA (no money, but lots of other benefits including no general ed requirements).

    But in the end he felt he would be perfectly happy at UCLA and there just wasn’t any point in spending the extra money. We had given him the choice of how to use his 529 money and he wanted to keep it for grad school/law school. He’s loved it in LA.
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  • Norcal1972Norcal1972 38 replies3 threads Junior Member
    @Twoin18 Thank you for that perspective. And yes, we have pretty much said the same thing to our son about his 529, that if he has the option and decides to stay in CA, he will have more than enough money for grad school if that's the path he takes. Of course my hunch is that my husband would still pay for grad school even if he went to UofM and that's where this all gets kind of murky. I have no doubt that my son would be happy in LA too.
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  • warblersrulewarblersrule 10201 replies176 threads Super Moderator
    edited December 2019
    It would be really hard to justify attending UM and paying an additional 135k when UCLA is very comparable public flagship college
    My thoughts exactly. It is one thing to drop the extra bucks for a radically different undergraduate experience -- the small classes and the attention to undergraduates that one gets at Swarthmore, for instance. An extra $160,000+ just so your S/D can attend a comparable college in another state? Not as worth it, IMO. There's plenty of time to do internships and get a job (or graduate degree) in another state.

    LA has a lot to offer, and only a handful of cities in the US are more diverse. Any student coming from Northern California will have plenty of new experiences.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I graduated from UCLA and now teach there, so I am not without bias. YMMV!
    edited December 2019
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  • Norcal1972Norcal1972 38 replies3 threads Junior Member
    @warblersrule thank you for your opinion.. I love LA, I really do - lived there for several years and think it's a great place.. And I think UCLA would be great for him. and selfishly I would love him a 6 hour car ride or 1 hour plane ride away too lol
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 82759 replies738 threads Senior Member
    Some majors at UCLA are rather difficult to get into due to capacity limitations for students who are not directly admitted to them (e.g. computer science). You and he may want to investigate whether that applies to any major he may want to do. The same investigation can be done for Michigan.

    If he has taken community college courses while in high school, UCLA is much more likely to accept them for subject credit than Michigan is (Michigan is notoriously stingy for a public university in granting subject credit for other college courses, even in-state Michigan community colleges). But it is best to check the specific courses in the articulation listings (assist.org for UCs, transfer credit database on Michigan's web site).

    Since you mention "grad school", what kind? PhD programs worth attending should be funded (no to minimal additional parent contribution), but professional programs (e.g. law, medicine, MBA, etc.) can be very expensive.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 82759 replies738 threads Senior Member
    LA has a lot to offer, and only a handful of cities in the US are more diverse.

    The largest ethnic group in Los Angeles makes up 49% of the population, while the largest ethnic group in Ann Arbor makes up 67% of the population. Median household income in Los Angeles is about $58k, versus about $64k in Ann Arbor.

    Demographics of the universities' undergraduates differ from each other (and their host cities):

    UCLA: largest ethnic group 28%, frosh with Pell grants 29%
    Michigan: largest ethnic group 58%, frosh with Pell grants 15%
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  • privatebankerprivatebanker 6640 replies148 threads Senior Member
    Isn’t living in NorCal and LA like living in different worlds?

    I think you can drive from Boston to Virginia in the same amount of time.
    That’s a long way imho.

    Not sure culturally. But weather is certainly different too.

    Love umich too though. So tough call.
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  • sushirittosushiritto 5211 replies20 threads Senior Member
    Isn’t living in NorCal and LA like living in different worlds?

    IMO, yes.

    Exploring SoCal for several days now, looking around at some colleges for my younger kid. Please “shoot me now,” the traffic on these SoCal freeways at all hours is beyond ridiculous.

    Is there any traffic in Michigan? :wink:
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  • yucca10yucca10 1405 replies40 threads Senior Member
    Not worth the money. They are on basically the same level academically. Also UCLA is supposed to have the best campus food in the country, on top of the great weather and the beautiful campus.
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  • rjkofnovirjkofnovi 10466 replies109 threads Senior Member
    If you can easily afford it, it’s worth it.
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  • Norcal1972Norcal1972 38 replies3 threads Junior Member
    @privatebanker - having lived in CA my entire life (with the exception of a brief stint in Austin, TX) yes Norcal and Socal are very different. The drive is not a big deal, especially if you have ever been stuck at LAX trying to get a rental car, we have wished many times we had driven vs. flying rather than dealing with THAT lol.
    @yucca10 YES - my son has current friends at UCLA right now and they rave about the food. That is very true.
    @sushiritto - did you notice how many people in LA drive really nice cars? It's because one spends a great deal of time in the car, in traffic lol. In all fairness, Michigan can have traffic too, but LA would no doubt win the traffic contest I am sure. Which colleges were you checking out for younger one? S22 says he wants to stay in California and he has seen many schools with older brother - but curious if you saw any smaller privates and your impressions. We mainly looked at UCs and Cal Poly for my older one.
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  • sushirittosushiritto 5211 replies20 threads Senior Member
    @Norcal1972 My comment was a bit tongue-in-cheek in the sense that your S’s decision won’t hinge on traffic. But, having said that, taking the Michigan Flyer to and from the airport has always been about a 35-minute pleasant ride. I haven’t encountered much if any traffic at any hour between the airport and the campus.

    My younger kid is looking at the big CA publics up and down the coast on this trip. Small private schools aren’t on the list, at least right now. OOS remains a possibility, which is a change from my older kid.
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