University of California, Davis

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Archived Q&A and Reviews


Berkeley vs. Davis for freshman in biology/pre-med

April 2010

My teen got accepted at both UCB (molecular biology)and UCD (pre-med). Does anyone have a basis for freshman experience comparison of the two? My teen can live at home for UCB or the dorm at UCD; plans to become Pediatrician. HELP! cj

I have observed and participated in the frosh experience at UCB two times. Does your kid thrive in huge classes and mindless, all out competition? (some do) Is she good at forming study groups, learning all kinds of tricks to do better, and lots of memorization? UCB is the place for her! I'm afraid that otherwise she will get discouraged by the giant classes that are not only hard to get into but really hard once you get into them. For some kids, seriously, it is great, but think about it and maybe discuss it with her. Living at home is much cheaper, but healthy? Also depends on the kid.

UCD is also going to be competitive in the pre-med ranks, but she has a better chance of getting through it, in my opinion.

Most pre-med students entering Berkeley (about 70% of those in the sciences, and that is a lot of people) change their minds, maybe for the best, but I think that there are many who would be doctors if they had done their lower division years someplace else--even a community college (and saved money!), because they would not have been subject to the absurd competition here. And I do not believe it is competition where the best potential doctors, graduate students, or people necessarily prevail. Some students do get through and have a wonderful experience in the end of course. You should try to fit your kid to the school. signed, been through it. UCB mom and faculty

Our daughter was in a similar position, having to decide between biology at either Berkeley or UC Davis. She chose Berkeley, is living on campus and loves it. She keeps saying that Berkeley is so great because everyone there wants to learn. If your daughter chooses Berkeley, I strongly suggest that she live on campus. Eventhough she is only a short distance away from home, she is still at college and can be as independent as she wants. Some of my daughter's friends that are from the Bay Area go home every weekend, and many are like my daughter, who gives us a call when she wants to come home for some home cooking or to do laundry. Davis is also a great school, so you really can't go wrong. Dad in Oakland

It's like matchmaking, depends on what your kid wants. I attended UCD and loved the small-town atmosphere, biking everywhere, proximity to the Sierra and the Bay Area. A lovely campus with a college town feel. I loved it. The school of medicine is now in Sacramento, but still close enough. Cal Aggie