Obviously you need to verify this with both schools. But I seriously doubt that either school means "full frame digital only" when they say "35mm camera." They might actually mean a 35mm film SLR. I've seen that requirement before for the beginning of a program. But they probably mean any small format, interchangeable lens, SLR or DSLR. I have yet to see a school or program that required or allowed digital and wouldn't accept FX, DX, and even 4/3rds, as long as the body takes different lenses and offers full manual modes.
That is a very, very good point.
Unless you really have to upgrade in a year, stick with the 7D and put the money saved towards glass and lighting. The differences between Canon's 18 MP APS-C and 21 MP 35mm sensors are nothing compared to the differences you will see with more/better glass, and better lighting (flashes). For some reason "full frame" has an almost cult like following. But at this point in sensor evolution it's really only necessary for certain specific niche uses. And APS-C is not only cheaper when you buy the body, it's cheaper for certain fields of view (lenses) as well.
Of course full frame is not bad if you can afford it. But my definition of afford is buying with cash and not sacrificing glass or light just to get the body.
Either way I'll get the same basic things with the camera (no more, no less) but will gather more in a few months. If I get the 7D I could stick to EF lenses and gather them until I know for sure about full frame.
Given properly processed, low to mid ISO images, you cannot tell prints from these two bodies apart even at large print sizes (i.e. 24"-30"). Before someone asks, yes I have tested both, and yes I do make large prints of challenging landscapes with lots of fine detail. No one who argues with me in person can tell me which print came from which camera. Granted, I put a little more effort into 7D files. A bit more sharpening and sometimes a bit more NR and local contrast enhancement. But the end result is the same.
The 5D mkII becomes clearly better at around ISO 1600 and above, but only for larger prints. At 8x10 and 11x14 it's a wash even at 1600 and 3200. That said, the 5D mkII does give you about a stop more DR, and it is more forgiving of exposure error.
The difference is noticeable rain. I live in Seattle and there are a lot of dark/overcast days. I also like to shoot at dusk. I'm not sure about how much of a difference it is on a DSLR than a compact, but on my Panasonic I'm at max ISO (1600) all the time when I do my evening shoots. You bring up some excellent points though, and the 7D may be the way to go for now despite the noise. Do you think the overcast days and dusk shoots will take a hit from choosing the 7D?
Again, verify with each school first. But if they mean any small format SLR and will accept the 7D, really think about where your money is going. Contrary to popular belief there's little IQ difference between these two sensors.
All I have to do is wait until they get back to me. My emails went out yesterday morning.