You don’t need to be a Bruin or a Bear–or even a West-Coaster for that matter–to know that UCLA and UC Berkeley have been battling it out for the position of “Best Public School in the Nation” for the last few years. While the official college ranking pages can’t seem to make up their mind, switching between the two like a confused contestant on a reality dating show, I have a solid answer for you.
Here’s why UCLA claims the rightful victory hands down.
1. Safety First, Folks
While Berkeley unsurprisingly makes its abode in the little town with which it shares its name, UCLA is tucked away in the delightful Westwood, a neighborhood known for its delicious Diddy Riese Cookies and enchanting movie premiers. To every Bear who boasts about the lower rent in Berkeley, I would like to point out how much safety a neighborhood like Westwood offers. Yes, the latter might be one of the most expensive zip codes in the nation but hey, you can’t put a price tag on safety. With a crime rate 38% lower than the national average, Westwood proves itself as undoubtedly one of the best neighborhoods to live in for young adults fresh out of mama’s nest. Meanwhile, Berkeley has one of the highest crime rates across the country, at par with urban cities twice its size. “In Berkeley, there are alerts for armed robberies, theft and aggravated assault on a weekly, if not biweekly basis,” UC Berkeley sophomore Rishi Chandran said. “And those are just the cases reported. Now I don’t even blink when I see an alert.” So, keep the fifty you save on next month’s rent close and the pepper spray closer when you attend Berkeley. And don’t even think about going on that solo midnight cookie run.
2. Food, Glorious Food
One thing even the harshest of critics can’t help but agree on includes the deliciousness of UCLA’s on-campus dining. Home to the first health-themed dining hall in the country, UCLA consistently takes the cake as no. 1 in the country for food on every major college ranking site and kindly offers you a guilt-free slice too. And Berkeley? Well, Berkeley doesn’t quite make it to the top 10. Yes, both campuses have four main dining halls, but I guess the number of options can’t quite mask the quality of the food itself. The UC Berkeley dining halls get more hate than love on the internet, from those who have tried and tasted (and cringed at) the food. On the other hand, most UCLA diners cannot stop gushing about the creative flatbreads at B-Plate and the mouth-watering pizza at Covel. Whether you consider yourself a curry-enthusiast or a taco-lover, UCLA has you covered. “B-Plate has truly been a lifesaver for me!” UCLA sophomore Shreesh Agrawal said. “Not only does it have the most fresh, healthy and innovative dishes, but the food is surprisingly delicious despite being so nutritious. I like that it has something for everyone–whether it be the greenest of salads or the tastiest of desserts to satisfy your midweek cravings.” Surprise your mom with your newfound love for greens at Thanksgiving after the brussel sprout quesadilla at B-Plate makes you a convert. Tell me Bears, do any of your dining halls have its very own signature cookbook?
3. Dorm Dreamin’ and California Livin’
Living in the dorms definitively forms a massive part of the college experience. You want to make sure that you actually like your dorm because that’s where you’re going to spend the majority of your time, no matter how much of a social butterfly you call yourself. UCLA guarantees every incoming student three whole years of on-campus housing, which proves as a huge blessing considering how expensive apartments in Westwood can get. On the other hand, because of its notorious housing crisis, Berkeley doesn’t guarantee housing for anyone, not even freshmen. Who wants to deal with the additional pains of apartment hunting whilst making the big jump from high school to university? Besides, living in the dorms provides you with the perfect opportunity to meet people and make friends. I met my future roommate and some of my best friends within the first week of living on campus–and I am sure plenty of Bruins can agree. All of UCLA’s on-campus housing snuggle together to make what we call ‘The Hill,” but Berkeley chose to weirdly split and distribute its housing options around the main campus like a cruel Shakespearean king. Considering how shady the neighborhood seems, this odd segregation only serves to deter Bears from hanging out in their friends’ dorms too late. It’s kind of sad that your mom might have set you a more generous curfew than your college will. Way uncool, Berkeley, way uncool.
4.“We are the Champions, No Time for Losers…”
Did you know that when Freddie Mercury wrote “We are the Champions” he was talking about UCLA’s athletics department? No, not really, but he may as well have been. With a whopping 118 NCAA team titles to its name, UCLA claims the title as the college campus with the most national Division 1 victories, second only to Stanford. And let’s not forget that Stanford had a forty-year head-start on us. Meanwhile, Berkeley once again trails behind at 10th place. And let’s face it, even the most loyal of Bears will find the Berkeley-UCLA football rivalry kind of hard to take seriously once they realize Bruins have won 54 of the 90 head-to-head matches. Yes, Berkeley may have won the last face-off, but I think the numbers speak for themselves. Oh, and did I mention UCLA’s men’s basketball team is ranked second to Berkeley’s tenth is the 2019-2020 season of the Pac-12 conference? Limited to not just the men’s teams, the women’s teams tell a similar story: The UCLA women’s gymnastics team finished this season at third position, while the Bears came in at eighth. Whether you consider yourself a natural-born athlete or simply a college sports fan, ditch the dark blue for UCLA’s lighter hues and start practicing the 8-clap because you’ll be needing it at the next game.
5. Sweater Weather? No, Better Weather
Los Angeles evokes images of blue, sunny skies and picture-perfect palm tree-lined streets, while Berkeley makes one think of…protests? When looking to soak up some of that trademarked California sunshine and work up a Hollywood-worthy au naturel tan, UCLA is the place to be. A 20-minute drive from the famous Santa Monica beach, you’re always just a $1.50 bus ride away from sea-breeze kisses and sandcastles. Oh, and don’t forget the fresh churros. More so, it doesn’t take a geography genius to know that Berkeley sits nowhere as close to a beach as UCLA and hence the students have to find other ways to bide their time when Spring hits. Basically, if you had to bottle up the two campuses into signature scents, UCLA’s would be liquid sunshine and Berkeley’s would be, well, weed. “I will always pick the warm and sunny LA days over the yearlong cloudy gloom at Berkeley,” UCLA sophomore Deanna Cunningham said. “Students are always around the UCLA campus, taking full advantage of the beautiful LA weather–campus is always buzzing with activity and life. Plus, the nearby beaches offer the perfect refuge from classes!” The fact that Cunningham does not regret her decision to reject an offer from Berkeley rings clear. Yes, sure, Berkeley probably receives a more generous display of fall, but who moves to California to experience the seasons? There are 49 other states for that. Well 48–I don’t think Florida counts.
6. Put the Piggy-Bank Away, UCLA’s Gentler on the Pocket
Approximately 48% of new students at UC Berkeley receive financial aid in some form. Impressive right? Sure, but compare that to UCLA which offers 55% of its student body financial aid. Considering that the latter has over a thousand more students than the former, that’s pretty neat. On top of that, Berkeley also has consistently higher tuition for both in-state and out-of-state undergraduates, making it one of the most expensive UCs to attend. With a student-to-faculty ratio of 20-to-1 to UCLA’s 18-to-1, one can’t help but wonder where all the extra dollars are going. If you go to UCLA, you can save some of the tuition money for decadent dinners, trips to Santa Monica or to splurge on a nicer apartment to cozy up into a home away from home.
7. All Work and No Play Makes Oski a Dull Bear
Given that UCLA and Berkeley are both highly selective universities, with an acceptance rate of 12% and 16.8% last year respectively, both campuses undoubtedly educate some of the brightest in the nation. But come on, even overachievers need to take a break. Remember, Newton found himself chilling under a tree when he discovered gravity. Coming in at number two for best student life, Bruins embody living proof that smarty-pants needn’t double as total bores. In fact, UCLA students have a reputation of embodying a ‘work hard, play hard’ attitude, expertly balancing their schoolwork with downtime. Part of this has been attributed to the school running on the quarter system, which can make any Bear on the semester system shudder. Although the shorter quarters mean no clear distinction between midterm and final season, they really help normalize exams as an everyday activity, reducing the kind of end-of-semester paranoia that hits Berkeley kids when they realize finals are inching closer. “I think that both schools are competitive by nature, but in different ways; UCLA’s is driven by the quarter system, not by peers,” UCLA sophomore Mansa Krishna said. “Since UCLA’s not on the semester system like Berkeley, Bruins wring every single drop out of their time at college–which in turn motivates us to work hard and play harder. I think this work hard/play hard culture is great because it teaches us to deal with time pressure in a healthy manner –UCLA is proof that you don’t need to compromise on having fun to maintain a good GPA!”
8. Everybody Loves Raymond UCLA
UCLA has consistently been the most applied to university. No, not just in the United States, but in the whole world. Yes, you read that right–UCLA receives over 100,000 applications each year, about 20,000 more than any other university. This goes to show that students from all around the globe recognize UCLA’s potential and display a willingness to churn out the big bucks (i.e. international fees) to become a Bruin. Not only does UCLA get a lot of love, but it also loves its applicants right back. Along with its diverse student body, UCLA enrolls more transfer students than any of its sister UCs. Additionally, about a full third of the Bruin family consists of first-generation college students, whereas only about 26% of Bears identify as first-gen. “I chose UCLA firstly due to my major. Berkeley doesn’t offer a major in Communication, just Media Studies,” UCLA junior and international student Kar Mun Lok said. “On top of that, after visiting UCLA for the very first time prior to transferring, I found that there was something about the school that really spoke to me–I loved the lively, sunny, and positive environment, not to mention the beautiful architecture! Despite already living in LA for 2 years before this (for community college), I fell in love with the city all over again thanks to UCLA.” I mean, if 20,000 students each year dream of graduating in light blue over dark, you can’t just dismiss it as a favorite-color thing.
9. Swap Out the Berkeley Goggles for Designer Shades
The food’s not the only thing at UCLA that’ll make you drool. Be ready to shed those ‘Berkeley goggles’ when you move south because UCLA has all kinds of eye candy. Perhaps the year-round sunshine or the proximity to Beverly Hills claims responsibility for this, but the student-body here have unusually attractive looks. Look, I know your grandma assured you that beauty’s in the eye of the beholder back in middle school when you got bullied by the popular kids for having a lazy-eye, buck-teeth and multi-colored braces, but let’s be real: Some people just look undeniably modelesque. Los Angeles’ fitness culture and unparalleled love for green juice, when paired with the city’s fantastic fashion-forwardness, really keeps students serving their A-game at all times. Plus, running up and down the endless flights of stairs on campus may hurt your ankles a bit at first, but will keep them looking top-notch. By no means am I saying that Berkeley lacks a supply of heartthrobs, nor dismissing the entire student body as being a bunch of troll-goblins, because that would not only be cruel but also heavily inaccurate. I just can’t help but emphasize that they call it Berkeley goggles and not ‘UCLA goggles’ for a reason-riiiight?
10. G(OLD)en Bears?
Let’s not forget that UCLA has only been around since 1919. Yes, that’s right–a good 52 years younger than Berkeley and already giving it a run for its money. What’s up with that, you ask? Well, Berkeley did try its level best to stick out a leg and trip us over when we began to take our first steps. UCLA’s founder Ernest Moore spoke candidly about how the hostility from the original University of California made him feel helpless and alone whilst struggling to build up a university essential from scratch. Yet, with virtually no support from its parent university and limited funding from the state government, UCLA flourished and has now become a true household name. UCLA’s success story should be a lesson for every arrogant older sibling out there who torments their little brother because one day little Joey might turn out to be rich and famous, and then promptly refuse to share his wealth with you because you acted nothing short of cruel to him growing up. Berkley shows us that “older doesn’t always equal wiser.” And no, don’t try using that one on your dad. Remember that only old people wanting to feel better about their grey hairs and wrinkles turn to the phrase “age is just a number” for comfort. Berkeley, with all due respect, I think you look a little wrinkly; it’s time to accept that your glory days have ended.