Should I go to a more expensive, prestigious school for the experience and opportunities, or take a more affordable route so that I will have less financial burden in the future?
I got accepted to UCLA, however, I am wondering if it is worthwhile to attend UCLA if it means that I will create more debt for myself in the future. I want the diversity, club organizations, experience, and research opportunities that it offers (I am an Undeclared- Life Sciences major at the moment), although I am not sure what I want to do for a career or exactly what major I want. I have many varying interests in completely different areas (such as acrobatics, dance, biology, theater), and I am hoping that by attending such a diverse university that I will be able to explore these interests and define what is best for me. But then again, the debt (*sigh*). I also realize that it will be more cutthroat at such a university, and therefore I will have to dedicate more time towards studying and possibly might not be able to fit all the things I want to do into my schedule. If I go to a more affordable school, I may not have the same opportunities as at UCLA or be around as driven students as myself. Also, IT'S UCLA!! What should I do??
#UCLA #affordablility #experience #undeclared #choosing-a-college #college-selection #college #college-advice
First off, congrats on your acceptance into UCLA! I'm a former Bruin and, like you, was an Undeclared-Life Sciences major.
Some perspective as you choose between UCLA, and potentially a less expensive school:
- If you go to UCLA, you will definitely get the range of experiences you're looking for (diversity, clubs, experience, and research opportunities). In fact, I dabbled in all of that! I met a ton of different people, joined a TON of clubs -- ranging from pre-law, to environmental, to community service, to cultural -- and greatly enjoyed it. There's SO much to see and do! I also served as a lab assistant in the Psychology department, and ended up getting mentioned in the PhD research paper that my supervisor published. Super awesome.
- However, if you are concerned about cost, UCLA can definitely be really expensive. That kind of debt is considerable, and it may weigh on you for years after graduation. That is simply today's reality, and you are right to be thinking about it. Do you have scholarships going in? Are you eligible for financial aid in the form of grants (that you don't have to pay back)? I myself took on a work-study job, in which I worked PT during school and was able to make some money to help alleviate my debt.
- Finally, one alternative is to forgo the fall admission, and take your general education at a community college for two years. Then transfer into UCLA. My good friend did this -- she saved a ton of money at community college, got great grades, and then transferred as a 3rd year student. She ended up being joining some of the same clubs as me, and had a great time at UCLA. She missed out on the dorm experience (which for me was amazing) but did get the same prestigious UCLA degree at the end of the 4 years.
Hope that helps inform some of your decision-making. Best of luck!
From a financial standpoint, one area of change over recent decades has been the rise or specialization and graduate degrees in various lines of work. If you do happen to already know what general area of study you want to focus on, it could be wise to develop a longer-term view of you potential career.
In some case, if you already know that you are going to pursue additional Graduate Degrees it may be better to attend smaller or more specialized schools for Undergrad studies. This was the approach that I took.
Quite often, you can graduate with a 4 year degree, go to work for a good firm and then get them to sponsor through a Masters degree at a top College or University. Most companies have continuing education programs and offer some time off and partial tuition reimbursements as well.
I still would not pass up an opportunity at a great school like UCLA unless I knew specifically that was planning additional graduate studies as well. Even in that case, it still would be tough to pass on.
Thanks and good luck.