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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?

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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

Hi Seneca, Congratulation on getting into UCLA!! That is a great school to attend if you have the opportunity to go! If your first choice is UCLA, I would encourage you to go disregard of the financial burden. From my point of view, you can always pay it off in the future with student loan and other financial help. Opportunity is important. If you missed it once, you would never be able to redo it again. Since this school ranking is pretty high, you would be able to receive a high level of education than the other affordable schools. Your future job also depends on your college and how much you get out of it. This is solely a suggestion from a high school junior. If I got a chance to go, I would not miss it. Hope you can make a good choice that you would not regret. Joy Joy Z.
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Chau’s Answer

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Hi Seneca,


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!

Chau

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