T Nation

Opinions on Universities wanted

I’m currently doing research on a number of
universities, and I’m looking for feedback
from anyone who’s actually attended one of
the below universities. My areas of interest
are primarily in graduate level business
programs (specifically finance), and both
undergrad and grad levels in biomed/life
sciences (eg. biology, chem, biochem,
physiology, maybe pharmacology or pre-med
programs etc. Though I’m not planning for
med or pharmacy school.)

I'm currently looking at about 8 different schools in the southwest. But the ones I'm looking for feedback on are:
USC (yes I know it's fucking expensive)
UCSD (yes I know UCSD has no biz/finance)

If you have specific experience with the departments I mention that would be great, but even if you don't, I would still be interested in your general opinions and first hand experiences at those schools. I'm primarily interested in the academic side, but if you want to offer up insights into the campus/social life (or lack thereof in the case of UCSD), that's cool too. Thanks!

thats cool most of these schools are down where i live. SDSU isnt really prestigous but ive talked to some guys that went there for bussiness and it does have a good bussines school and good campus life. 2 cousins goto UCSD and they would concur about no social life… thats all i got

I graduated from UCSD in 1998 with a B.S. in management science, a B.A. in history, and a POC in chemistry. What exactly do you want to know?

Thanks for the info guys.

3-L T-Man: How would you rate the academic quality and difficulty level, in your case particularly of the chem program? (I'm not really interested in history or management sci). Also, what was your opinion of the general campus quality and life? It's easy to read about these things, but nothing beats getting first hand experience reports.

I might also look at UC Santa Barbara (yes I know this is a party school), or UC Irvine (yes I know this is *not* a party school).

Anyone else?

I’d be happy to give you precise info when you specify exactly what you want to know, but I didn’t feel like writing a dissertation on the various departments. Do you want to know anything specific about either the econ or chemistry departments, or about the social life (which isn’t non-existent, but is a tad bit harder to find than at a some other schools)?

Yes. Regarding the chemistry dept, on a scale
of 1-5 how would you rate the difficulty level, how would you rate the quality of the
professors, and how would you rate the overall
quality of the dept? Thanks.

Sorry – I somehow missed the specific question you put up before. The social life at UCSD is not as barren as some would have you think – it won’t come out and grab you, but if you get involved in a subset on campus, such as a fraternity or a sport, there are lots of parties and lots of things going on. There’s also a really decent gym and weightlifting facility (RIMAC) on campus that’s free for students. I will say that although the average chick at UCSD is NOT a hottie, there are definitely attractive women around (unfortunately, most of them have attitude because of the relative quality of the rest of the choices).

Unfortunately, while the attractiveness situation improves off campus and in bars, the sheer number of military males in San Diego makes it so you almost always have a fuc*ed up ratio of males to females when you go out on the town. I’m not certain how old you are, but Tijuana is fun for awhile, but drinking in a dirty Mexican border town that’s a 35 min. drive from campus can get old pretty quickly.

I’m not sure if you know this, but management science is basically the UCSD degree that mixes econ and financial theory. The econ department is highly regarded, but it is more academic and less practically oriented than a business program. However, if you want to go into finance or management consulting, it’s not a bad degree at all.

As for the chemistry department, I would say it’s generally a very high quality program. The only annoying thing is having to deal with all of the pre-meds in the intro sequences (the annoying thing about UCSD in general is all the pre-meds, who at least on that campus are extremely anal about grades, love to kiss the professors’ asses, and generally know how to memorize but not how to think). I actually dropped biochem as a major because of the o-chem sequence, which they taught to pre-med preferences, meaning all memorization and no figuring things out or derivation.

Overall, I’d give the department probably a 4 our of 5, with the only complaints coming about big intro classes, and the classic complaints about bureaucratic red tape endemic to any large state school. You can get many good degrees, including chem, biochem (chem emphasis), and chemical engineering at UCSD, and my friends in those majors generally didn’t have problems getting jobs after graduation (although in my opinion if you want a good job with advancement opportunities you need at least a masters).

I also know something of UCLA, UCI, and UCSB generally – UCLA probably has the best rep in general, but in my opinion (biased though it may be) UCSD is better in the hard sciences. UCSB is definitely a party school (lots of hot chicks there too), but they have a good bio department and a really good marine bio department – not certain about chem or business. UCI is a step below, but not bad if you want to stay in Orange County. Stay away from SDSU (unless all you want are dumb hot chicks – lots to be said for them, but your degree won’t be worth a lot – actually, undergrad business degrees aren’t worth a whole lot generally, but are normally just kind of a step toward an MBA and a better job).

If you have any other questions or want something clarified I would be happy to assist you.

I ‘m now attending UCLA just transferred from ASU. Pursuing graduate degrees in Exercise Physiology and Chemistry. I also teach an undergraduate chemistry class. UCLA has a beautiful rich campus, wild party life if that’s your thing, beaches only a few miles away, and not to far from Gold Gym in Venice. Let’s not forget to mention all the fit babes. The Library is magnificent. (Old stomping grounds of the late Dan Duchaine) A huge variety of restaurants everything from Chinese to French. Beverly Hills, Hollywood, Belair, Santa Monica, Venice, Ventura just to name a few cities close by. Last but certainly not least very smart and modern professes.

Thanks for the info and assistance.

I guess I should probably explain where I'm coming from. I'm not approaching this from the perspective of going (back) to school to get a good job. I'm currently an executive at a software company, and I expect to be able to "retire" from that position within a year. My interest in finance is not to get a job in management consulting, but mainly to focus on advanced finance *practice* - as in finance and investment of my own money derived from the sale of my equity in the company I work for. I already have a business/management/marketing background. My interest in the biomed/life sciences is partly due to my own curiosity, and partly that if/when I choose to engage in another career, it will probably be in something biomed related - maybe a biotech or research firm. I dropped out of undergrad several years ago, so going back now I will be a good bit older than most students. (That does not bother me at all.) I expect I'll probably have to do 1 yr to finish undergrad, and then I plan for grad school. So my criteria are weighted in favor of academics, cost, and social life, respectively. Although the social component really isn't super important as I'll probably find socializing with all the immature undergrads more annoying than enjoyable. I chose SoCal or AZ for the warm weather (I find cold weather increasingly painful) and close proximity to the border (not to drink in dirty mexican border towns, but to buy medicinal drugs more easily, w/o fascist doctors prescriptions, and at a fraction of the cost).

Regarding the specifics, your comments were quite useful - particularly the part about the undergrad biochem situation at UCSD. I've heard bad things about the SDSU academics, so I will likely avoid there.

Ultimately, I'm going to have to visit all these campuses before I make a final decision. (I just don't have the time to do that right now.)

The other nice thing about a chem/biochem degree from UCSD is that biotech is big in SD, particularly right around UCSD – probably due to all the profs and grad students going out and starting companies. Therefore, the people hiring at the companies out there appreciate the quality of a UCSD chem degree. Or, if you want to start your own company, you could probably find some kindred spirits with some good ideas and give it a go. San Diego wouldn’t be a bad place to work after all.

Even though it’s not in the southwest, I’d suggest UND in Grand Forks North Dakota. It’s one of the top 50 universities in the U.S. About 13,000 students are enrolled there and tuition isn’t that expensive either. Wherever you decide to go, good luck.