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    • Thread Starter

    This is cross posted from CollegeConfidential – curious about opinions on the other side of the Atlantic.

    I just want some input regarding my choices for matriculation. I've been accepted into the Arts & Sciences program at UCL, the Network & Social Systems Engineering at UPenn, and wait-listed at Brown.

    The good thing is, whatever I do I can't go wrong. I've been blessed with two amazing choices, and want to make the most of that.

    I plan on relinquishing my spot on the wait-list. I neither have the patience to wait till May, nor do I think that a normal major at Brown will outdo the quite unique programs at either institution.

    I would also appreciate the input of people who are very familiar with education and reputation not just in America but abroad. This decision would come easy but, without financial aid, the delta in cost is quite significant if I pursue the 3-yr option at UCL– and I want to be sure if I make the (significantly) more expensive choice, it is justified: both in my experience and future options thereof.

    NETS is a fairly new program but fits my interests brilliantly. Through high school I've always been deeply interested in computer science, economics, and complexity/emergence. I haven't seen a similar program anywhere else and am confident it's one of the best options available for someone like me (and my interest in applying agent-based modeling to economic phenomenon etc.)

    BASc is a degree option launched last year that is unlike any other program in the UK. That is, I wouldn't be confined to one, narrow subject but would have the opportunity to pursue one of four "pathways" as a major, and another as a minor. As it stands, I've chosen the "Science and Engineering" pathway (which includes real economics, if I recall) as a major, and am debating between "Cultures", "Societies", or "Health and Environment" (everything else) as a minor. I'm leaning towards Cultures because it provides the most contrast to the Science pathway (Societies and Health both seem to have the emphasis on empirics of harder science).

    I'm really attracted to the "Core" at UCL as well, and definitely feel it would ground me well for both grad school in the United States or whichever career path I choose.

    Here are thoughts floating around in my head, for which I want some guidance.
    • To what extent do international rankings really convey the overall reputation of either school. Reason I ask is US News, on its world ranking, places UCL @ 4th place, ahead of Stanford and Princeton – both colleges I would have considered significantly more "reputable" (whether this is important or not is another question) than UCL. QS also puts it at 4, behind only MIT, Cambridge, and Harvard. And I was always under the impression that Oxford had a decidedly better reputation in both Europe and abroad.
    • The two countries I'm most interested in are India and the USA. Wharton has a huge rep in India, which definitely helps Penn as a whole. More so than the US, I also get the sense names matter more there, so this is a question mark.
    • I really like the idea of college in the US. It seems like a much more "whole" experience. Friends tell me in the UK college ends with the academics, with a lot of the social and extra-curricilar activities taking place independent of the institution (though, in London, how hard can it be to find things to do...?)
    • Other things equal, I'd definitely rather graduate in three years (UCL). Other things are never equal, so some guidance on the big differences insofar as future employment would be fantastic.
    • I like the US more.. but am I underestimating the opportunities London provides?

    UCL also has an option of a 4-yr study abroad which sounds very, very appealing. This would make them both approximately equal in cost. For BASc UCL also works with several top firms to guarantee an internship before the final year. This seems promising, though Penn also does the same.

    At this point I feel like I've rambled enough... the decision I make will be my own, but I want some immediate, gut, reactions if there are any.. thank you!
    • Thread Starter


    Hi LegoTheDuck,
    I am an English student who will be attending the BASc in September. I am majoring in Societies (focusing on economics) with a minor in Science and Engineering.
    I had a similar dilemma to you as I have spent most of my high school career in Canada and North Carolina, only coming back to the UK to do my A-levels. Thus, I didn't know whether or not to go back to the USA for uni.
    Firstly, your offers are great (congrats!).
    In terms of reputation, UCL is a fantastic university. However, I would consider Oxford above it, so I'm not sure the rating you have found is particularly reliable. On the other hand, the education at UCL will be as good as UPenn.
    With reference to the extracurricular/ social life, Uni DOES NOT end at academics here. If anything, the Brits know how to party better than anyone else There will not be fraternities or sororities but there are hundreds of clubs and societies at UCL and the nightlife in London is fantastic. (I have friends at Imperial, another University of London college) If you want more information visit UCLU (the student union). They organise a lot of events through the year. UCL is a city university though, so I imagine there is less of a campus life than is seen in the USA. But, in my opinion, this is compensated by the city of London, where, as you mentioned, there is never a shortage of things to do!
    I do like the USA, but London is an amazing city with amazing opportunities. UCL, being London's 'global university' also provides links to many other countries and don't forget Europe is on your doorstep. But it does depend on what you like! London is a fast-paced city that never really sleeps so you may not like the atmosphere here. (Although its quite easy to escape to Wales or Brighton or even hop on a train to France... anywhere relaxing really).
    I think the internship in London also provides more scope than Penn, as London is a global hub. London has no shortage on jobs at the moment but you would be hard pressed anywhere else in the UK. (Personally, one of the reasons I chose UCL over the USA is the opportunities that are available to students in London, but of course I am a little biased haha)
    I hope this helps with your decision making and feel free to ask me if you have any questions on life in the UK vs. USA or just anything else in general! Good luck with your decision and maybe I'll see you in September!
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