Cornell vs UCLA: Which University Is Right for You?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Two women talking while looking at a piece of paper.

When it comes to choosing a university, there are many factors to consider, including academic programs, campus life, location and weather, cost of attendance, acceptance rates, faculty quality, student support services, and future career prospects. In this article, we will compare Cornell vs UCLA and help you determine which institution is the best fit for you.

A woman talking to a student in a library.

Introduction to Cornell and UCLA

Cornell University, located in Ithaca, New York, is a private Ivy League institution. The university was founded in 1865 and is renowned for its exceptional academic programs, world-class faculty, and beautiful campus. UCLA, located in Los Angeles, California, is a public research university that was established in 1919. UCLA is known for its diverse student body, strong academics, and sunny campus.

Both Cornell and UCLA offer a wide range of academic programs and opportunities for students. Cornell has seven undergraduate colleges, including the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the School of Hotel Administration. UCLA offers over 125 majors across five undergraduate colleges, including the College of Letters and Science, the School of the Arts and Architecture, and the School of Nursing.

Academic programs at Cornell vs UCLA

Cornell and UCLA offer a wide range of academic programs across various disciplines. Cornell has seven undergraduate colleges, offering majors in fields such as engineering, business, agriculture and life sciences, arts and sciences, hotel administration, human ecology, and architecture, art, and planning. UCLA offers undergraduate degrees in fields such as business administration, engineering, humanities, life sciences, social sciences, and physical sciences. In terms of graduate programs, Cornell offers more than 100 fields of study, while UCLA offers over 120 graduate programs.

Both Cornell and UCLA have a strong focus on research and innovation. Cornell is home to numerous research centers and institutes, including the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the Cornell Center for Materials Research, and the Cornell Center for Astrophysics and Planetary Science. UCLA is also known for its research excellence, with research centers such as the UCLA Brain Research Institute, the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, and the UCLA Institute for Society and Genetics.

Additionally, both universities offer a variety of study abroad programs for students who want to gain international experience. Cornell has partnerships with universities in over 50 countries, and offers programs ranging from semester-long exchanges to short-term study tours. UCLA also has partnerships with universities around the world, and offers programs in locations such as Europe, Asia, and South America.

Campus life and student culture at Cornell vs UCLA

Cornell and UCLA both offer vibrant campus communities with a range of clubs, organizations, and events. Cornell has over 1,000 student organizations and a thriving Greek life scene, while UCLA has over 1,000 clubs and several fraternities and sororities. Both universities offer a range of athletic programs, including varsity and intramural sports. Cornell is known for its beautiful natural surroundings, including gorges and waterfalls, while UCLA is well-loved for its sunny Southern California location.

Students playing music in the school grounds.

Additionally, Cornell and UCLA both prioritize diversity and inclusion on their campuses. Cornell has a strong commitment to promoting diversity and has several programs and initiatives aimed at creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for all students. UCLA also has a diverse student body and offers resources and support for underrepresented groups. Both universities also have active student-led diversity organizations that work to promote understanding and acceptance among students from different backgrounds.

Location and weather comparison between Cornell and UCLA

One of the biggest differences between Cornell and UCLA is their location and weather. Cornell is located in upstate New York, which means that it experiences cold winters with heavy snowfall. In contrast, UCLA enjoys a warm Mediterranean climate with sunshine year-round. Both locations have their own unique appeal, but it’s important to consider your preferences for weather and outdoor activities when choosing between the two.

Another factor to consider when comparing the location and weather of Cornell and UCLA is the surrounding environment. Cornell is situated in a rural area, surrounded by forests and farmland, while UCLA is located in the heart of Los Angeles, a bustling city with a diverse range of cultural and entertainment options. Depending on your interests and lifestyle, one location may be more appealing than the other. Additionally, the natural surroundings of each location offer different opportunities for outdoor activities, such as hiking in the mountains near UCLA or skiing in the nearby Adirondacks if you attend Cornell.

Cost of attendance and financial aid options at Cornell and UCLA

Attending a prestigious university like Cornell or UCLA can be costly, and it’s important to understand the financial implications before choosing a school. The cost of attendance at Cornell and UCLA varies depending on factors such as in-state vs. out-of-state residency and financial aid eligibility. Cornell’s tuition for the 2021-22 academic year is $60,286, while UCLA’s tuition is $13,239 for in-state students and $42,993 for out-of-state students. Both universities offer financial aid programs, including grants, scholarships, loans, and work-study programs, to help offset the costs of attendance.

It’s worth noting that the financial aid options at Cornell and UCLA differ in some ways. For example, Cornell offers need-blind admissions, meaning that a student’s financial need is not taken into account during the admissions process. This can be beneficial for students who may not qualify for financial aid but still need assistance with the cost of attendance. UCLA, on the other hand, offers a Middle-Class Scholarship program for students whose families make between $80,000 and $184,000 per year. This program can provide significant financial assistance to students who may not qualify for other forms of aid. It’s important to research and understand the specific financial aid options available at each university before making a decision.

Admissions requirements and acceptance rates for Cornell and UCLA

Admissions to Cornell and UCLA are competitive, and it’s important to meet the required criteria before applying. Cornell’s acceptance rate for the class of 2025 was 11%, while UCLA’s acceptance rate was 14.3%. Both universities require strong academic records, including high school transcripts, standardized test scores, and essays. Cornell’s average SAT score for admitted students is 1503, while UCLA’s average SAT score is 1405.

a male student speaking with someone through a headset

In addition to academic records, both Cornell and UCLA also consider extracurricular activities, leadership experience, and community involvement in their admissions decisions. Cornell values demonstrated interest in the university, such as attending information sessions or visiting campus. UCLA considers personal achievements and challenges that students have overcome, as well as their potential to contribute to the campus community.

It’s important to note that meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee admission to either university. Both Cornell and UCLA have holistic admissions processes, meaning they consider the whole applicant and not just their academic achievements. It’s important for applicants to showcase their unique qualities and experiences in their application materials to stand out among the thousands of other applicants.

Faculty quality and research opportunities at Cornell and UCLA

Both Cornell and UCLA boast world-class faculty in a range of disciplines. Cornell faculty members have won numerous awards, including Nobel Prizes, MacArthur Fellowships, and Pulitzer Prizes. UCLA faculty members have also received numerous awards, including Nobel Prizes, MacArthur Fellowships, and Academy Awards. Both universities offer excellent research opportunities for students, including funded projects, internships, and collaborations with faculty members.

Additionally, Cornell and UCLA have state-of-the-art research facilities and resources that allow students to conduct cutting-edge research in their respective fields. Cornell has several research centers, including the Cornell Center for Materials Research and the Cornell Center for Astrophysics and Planetary Science. UCLA has research centers such as the UCLA Brain Research Institute and the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. These centers provide students with access to advanced equipment and technology, as well as opportunities to work alongside leading researchers in their fields.

Student support services available at Cornell and UCLA

Both Cornell and UCLA offer a range of support services for their students. Cornell provides academic advising, career services, counseling and psychological services, disability services, and health services. UCLA offers similar support services, including academic counseling, a career center, counseling and psychological services, disability services, and student health services. It’s important to consider these resources when evaluating a university’s overall support for its students.

In addition to the support services mentioned above, Cornell also offers a variety of extracurricular activities and clubs for students to get involved in. These range from academic clubs, such as the Cornell Debate Society, to cultural organizations, such as the Asian Pacific Americans for Action. These clubs provide students with opportunities to explore their interests, meet new people, and develop leadership skills.

Similarly, UCLA has a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion and offers a number of resources to support underrepresented students. These include the Bruin Resource Center, which provides academic and personal support to first-generation, low-income, and undocumented students, and the LGBT Campus Resource Center, which offers programming and support for LGBTQ+ students. UCLA also has a thriving arts and culture scene, with numerous museums, galleries, and performance spaces on campus.

Internship, job, and networking opportunities after graduation from Cornell or UCLA

Cornell and UCLA both have strong alumni networks that offer internship, job, and networking opportunities for their graduates. Cornell alumni are known for their success in business, government, and academia, and the university offers a range of career services for its graduates. UCLA alumni have achieved success in fields such as entertainment, politics, and technology, and the university has a strong alumni network that offers mentoring and networking opportunities for graduates.

Additionally, both Cornell and UCLA have partnerships with various companies and organizations that provide exclusive job and internship opportunities for their graduates. These partnerships range from Fortune 500 companies to startups, giving graduates a wide range of options to choose from. Furthermore, both universities have career fairs and events that bring together employers and graduates, providing a platform for networking and job opportunities.

Alumni network comparison between Cornell and UCLA

Cornell and UCLA both have strong alumni networks, but they differ in terms of their focus and geography. Cornell alumni are spread throughout the world and are prominent in fields such as business, law, and politics. UCLA alumni are primarily based in Southern California and are represented in fields such as entertainment, technology, and education. When considering a university, it’s important to look at the strength and diversity of its alumni network and how it can benefit your career goals.

Another factor to consider when comparing the alumni networks of Cornell and UCLA is the level of engagement and support provided to alumni. Cornell has a robust alumni association that offers a wide range of programs and services, including career development resources, networking events, and volunteer opportunities. UCLA also has an active alumni association, but its focus is more on social events and fundraising initiatives.

Furthermore, the size of the alumni network can also play a role in its effectiveness. Cornell has a smaller student body compared to UCLA, which means that its alumni network may be more tightly knit and easier to navigate. On the other hand, UCLA’s larger student body means that its alumni network is more extensive and diverse, providing a wider range of connections and opportunities.

Athletics programs offered at Cornell vs. UCLA

Athletics are an important part of campus life at both Cornell and UCLA. Cornell has a strong athletics program with 37 varsity sports teams, including football, hockey, and lacrosse. UCLA also has a strong athletics program, with 25 varsity sports teams, including basketball, football, and soccer. Both universities offer a range of intramural and club sports, as well as excellent facilities for training and competition.

Sports equipments placed side by side.

Despite the differences in the number of varsity sports teams offered, both Cornell and UCLA have a strong commitment to providing their student-athletes with the resources they need to succeed both on and off the field. Both universities have dedicated academic support programs for their athletes, ensuring that they are able to balance their athletic and academic responsibilities.

In addition to varsity, intramural, and club sports, both Cornell and UCLA also offer a variety of recreational activities for students who are interested in staying active but may not want to participate in organized sports. These activities include fitness classes, outdoor adventure programs, and access to state-of-the-art fitness centers.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives at Cornell vs. UCLA

Both Cornell and UCLA are committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and have implemented a range of initiatives to support these values. Cornell has a Diversity and Inclusion website that outlines its various programs and initiatives, including diversity fellowships, multicultural events, and bias reporting. UCLA also has a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion, and offers programs such as the BruinX Ambassadors program and the Student Diversity Program.

One of the unique initiatives at Cornell is the Intergroup Dialogue Project, which provides students with a structured and facilitated space to engage in meaningful conversations about social identity, power, and privilege. This program has been successful in promoting understanding and empathy among students from diverse backgrounds.

At UCLA, the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion has developed a comprehensive Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Strategic Plan, which outlines specific goals and actions to promote diversity and inclusion across the university. This plan includes initiatives such as increasing the diversity of faculty and staff, improving campus climate, and enhancing diversity in the curriculum.

Housing options available to students at Cornell vs. UCLA

Both Cornell and UCLA offer a range of housing options for their students, including dorms, apartments, and off-campus housing. Cornell’s on-campus housing system includes residential colleges and program houses, which offer a range of living and learning opportunities. UCLA’s on-campus housing options include residence halls, suites, and apartments, and the university also has a number of resources to help students with off-campus housing.

One major difference between the housing options at Cornell and UCLA is the availability of single rooms. At Cornell, single rooms are more difficult to come by and are often reserved for upperclassmen. However, at UCLA, single rooms are more readily available and can be requested by any student. This may be a deciding factor for students who prefer to have their own space.

Another difference is the cost of on-campus housing. At Cornell, on-campus housing can be quite expensive, with some residential colleges and program houses costing more than others. On the other hand, UCLA’s on-campus housing is generally more affordable, with a range of options to fit different budgets. This may be an important consideration for students who are trying to keep their expenses down.

Study abroad programs offered by Cornell vs. UCLA

Both Cornell and UCLA offer study abroad programs that allow students to earn credits while experiencing new cultures and languages. Cornell offers programs in countries such as Italy, Spain, and China, as well as exchange programs with universities in Europe, Asia, and Latin America. UCLA offers programs in over 100 countries, including popular destinations such as France, Germany, and Japan. Both universities also offer scholarships and financial aid for study abroad programs.

Two students talking in a room full of glass.

However, there are some differences between the study abroad programs offered by Cornell and UCLA. Cornell’s programs tend to be more focused on language and cultural immersion, with many programs requiring students to take language courses and live with host families. UCLA’s programs, on the other hand, offer a wider range of academic subjects and often include internships or research opportunities. Additionally, UCLA has a larger international student population, which can provide a more diverse cultural experience for students studying abroad.

Campus safety comparison between Cornell vs. UCLA

Campus safety is a crucial factor to consider when choosing a university. Cornell and UCLA both have robust safety programs, including campus police, emergency alerts, and safety escorts. Cornell has a low crime rate, with only 14 incidents reported in 2019, while UCLA had 360 reported incidents in the same year. It’s important to evaluate a university’s safety record and programs before making a decision.

Additionally, both Cornell and UCLA offer resources for students to learn about personal safety and self-defense. Cornell has a program called “Take Back the Night” which includes workshops on self-defense and bystander intervention. UCLA offers a “BruinSAFE” program which provides safety education and training for students, faculty, and staff. These resources can help students feel more empowered and prepared to handle potential safety concerns on campus.

Student organizations, clubs, and activities offered at Cornell vs. UCLA

Both Cornell and UCLA offer a wide range of student organizations, clubs, and activities to help students get involved and build their skills. Cornell has over 1,000 student organizations, including clubs for music, sports, social justice, and more. UCLA also has a range of student organizations, including clubs for community service, entrepreneurship, and culture. It’s important to consider the extracurricular opportunities available at a university, as they can help you build new skills and make connections.

One unique aspect of Cornell’s student organizations is the presence of Greek life. Cornell has a large Greek community, with over 60 fraternities and sororities on campus. These organizations offer opportunities for leadership, community service, and social events. UCLA, on the other hand, does not have a significant Greek presence on campus.

Group of students talking in a room.

In addition to student organizations, both Cornell and UCLA offer a variety of activities and events for students to participate in. Cornell hosts an annual Slope Day celebration, where students gather on the slope of the campus for a day of music and festivities. UCLA has a similar event called Bruin Bash, which features live music and entertainment. Both universities also offer opportunities for students to attend lectures, workshops, and cultural events throughout the year.

Campus resources for mental health support at both universities

Both Cornell and UCLA offer resources for mental health support to help students manage the stress of university life. Cornell provides counseling and psychological services, peer counseling, and a range of wellness programs. UCLA also offers counseling and psychological services, as well as workshops and support groups for mental health and well-being.

Future career prospects for graduates from both universities

Cornell and UCLA graduates have excellent career prospects, with access to a range of job and networking opportunities. Cornell graduates have gone on to successful careers in fields such as finance, consulting, and law, while UCLA graduates have worked in industries such as entertainment, technology, and healthcare. Both universities have strong alumni networks that can help graduates with job placements and career development.

Conclusion: Which university is the best fit for you?

Choosing between Cornell and UCLA can be a difficult decision, as both universities offer a range of exceptional academic programs, vibrant campus communities, and excellent career prospects. Ultimately, the best choice will depend on your personal preferences, goals, and values. Consider factors such as location, weather, cost, academic programs, and campus life, as well as factors such as diversity, equity, inclusion, and mental health support. By evaluating these factors carefully, you can choose the university that is the best fit for you and your future success.



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