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!