Expensive Colleges

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Are Prestigious Colleges worth the Cost?

Yes, Always
5
11%
No, not if there's a full ride to a decent school
31
70%
No, Never
8
18%
 
Total votes: 44

alexh123456789
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Expensive Colleges

Postby alexh123456789 » Wed Mar 11, 2009 9:44 pm UTC

Like many high school seniors, I'm looking at colleges to attend next year. I've been offered full rides at The University of Oklahoma (our large state school with a smaller honors college, top 100 I think) and Tulsa University (a small top 50 private school) for the national merit scholarship. Also, I'm considering going to Colleges like Harvard, Yale, Duke, and Emory, which are more prestigious but also would cost a lot of money. I'm going to major in some field of science (likely biology or physics), and debt is not a problem because my parents are generously paying. My big question is whether the gap in educational quality is great enough to justify spending a couple hundred thousand dollars on when they basically teach the same things.

Opinions?

Klotz
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Re: Expensive Colleges

Postby Klotz » Wed Mar 11, 2009 9:51 pm UTC

Depends on your goals. If research and professorship are your goals, you might want to splurge on the Iveys. If you want to get a job after, take the full ride.

Or get the best of both worlds and come to Canada.

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The Boz
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Re: Expensive Colleges

Postby The Boz » Wed Mar 11, 2009 10:01 pm UTC

What matters is what interests you, how much it interests you and how much resources are available to you.
Thankfully, we live in the very awesome age of computers and the internet, and a whole big lot is available to us.
This is why I vote for the third option. The only thing an expensive college is going to pay for itself is by having direct access to cutting edge technology.
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Re: Expensive Colleges

Postby doogly » Wed Mar 11, 2009 10:27 pm UTC

If they can afford to pay for you to, perhaps you could impose upon their generosity to pay for you to visit. Stay overnight with a student, visit some classes, chat with some profs in the departments you are interested in, and maybe if you have extra time see what the admissions department has to say.
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Re: Expensive Colleges

Postby sgt york » Wed Mar 11, 2009 11:38 pm UTC

Depends on your plan. If you plan to stop at a BS, then take the top-notch. If you plan to get a grad degree, go for a decent but not top notch school. Then kick ass on the grades and get into a top-notch grad school. If you're going advanced degree, it doesn't matter what undergrad you went to. You'll learn more things relevant to your career in a mid-level PhD program then you ever could in an ivy league BS program.

Once you're out and have your PhD, nobody cares what undergrad school you went to. After your postdoc, people generally don't care where you went to grad school. Say Dr Smith went to Utah State for grad school and was in a good, productive lab for his postdoc. He cranked out 3-4 papers and got a nice startup grant in his 3rd year. Dr Jones went to MIT/Harvard/CalTech for grad school, got into a decent lab for his postdoc where he wrote one paper. He wrote three grants that got rejected.

Do you want to hire Dr Jones of Dr Smith?

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Re: Expensive Colleges

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Thu Mar 12, 2009 12:00 am UTC

You sound like me, except displaced in time a year--I'm an Oklahoma resident who will likely have those options. However, it seems more and more likely that there's just no viable way for me to financially go out of state for undergrad. Ah well, I do plan to go past BS. (Physics)
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Re: Expensive Colleges

Postby tantalum » Thu Mar 12, 2009 1:15 am UTC

If you like being in a top-notch environment and meeting awesome people, you should definitely pick the expensive college. I'm at MIT, and there are interesting seminars by famous people all the time, as well as unique events that you simply don't get at state colleges. Also, being in a fishbowl with huge fish makes you more motivated to work and you'll work harder than if you went to a state school. (this assumes you're motivated by seeing geniuses do their stuff - if you think you're going to just be demotivated, go to your state school). Also, if you're just looking for a piece of paper so that you can get onto the next stage in your life, then go to your state school.

Edit: As I'm from an expensive college, I'm obviously going to be biased towards expensive colleges, and I can tell that Sgt York went to a cheap college. You'll probably settle into a post-decision "Yep, made the right decision" state of mind no matter which you picked. That being said, your personality will probably lean one way or the other. Use the above as a guide.

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Re: Expensive Colleges

Postby doogly » Thu Mar 12, 2009 3:15 am UTC

Clearly the best answer is to go to an expensive college and get shit tons of financial aid. They are often actually pretty good about it. If financial issues are a concern for you, you shouldn't let this dissuade you from applying. Often they will waive application fees without many hoops to jump through, and then you may be surprised at what offers they can make.
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Re: Expensive Colleges

Postby Tass » Thu Mar 12, 2009 6:47 am UTC

Well in Denmark they are all free and I saw no reason to pay a fortune to go abroad. I guess that corresponds to the middle option.

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Re: Expensive Colleges

Postby jazznaz » Thu Mar 12, 2009 12:36 pm UTC

In the UK, international fees are about £10K a year, a mere $13K due to the financial troubles over here... We get quite a few foreign students come to study over here at Oxford and Cambridge because it turns out to be so much cheaper than studying in the US. I don't like spending the £3K per year on my fees heh... :lol:

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Re: Expensive Colleges

Postby achan1058 » Thu Mar 12, 2009 3:17 pm UTC

doogly wrote:Often they will waive application fees without many hoops to jump through, and then you may be surprised at what offers they can make.
That depends on your grades, and other things...... Sure, they will pay everything if you are practically a genius, but otherwise I don't know.

On the fishbowl analogy: As a student who has gone to a much stronger school for graduate studies, I can tell you that it is at time quite scary and demotivating when you are swimming with sharks around you. But if you can accept and survive that, you will become much better (or so I hope, anyways).
Last edited by achan1058 on Thu Mar 12, 2009 3:28 pm UTC, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Expensive Colleges

Postby doogly » Thu Mar 12, 2009 3:22 pm UTC

achan1058 wrote:
doogly wrote:Often they will waive application fees without many hoops to jump through, and then you may be surprised at what offers they can make.
That depends on your grades, and other things...... Sure, they will pay everything if you are practically a genius, but otherwise I don't know.


At most of the top ones (like Ivy league, which I am the most familiar with) it is purely need based. You may need to be practically a genius to get in, but to get the financial aid you just need to be poor.
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Re: Expensive Colleges

Postby Spuddly » Thu Mar 12, 2009 3:24 pm UTC

I passed up a freeride at a decent college for paying full tuition at a prestigious college. It has been the worst decision of my short life.
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Re: Expensive Colleges

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Thu Mar 12, 2009 3:31 pm UTC

doogly wrote:
achan1058 wrote:
doogly wrote:Often they will waive application fees without many hoops to jump through, and then you may be surprised at what offers they can make.
That depends on your grades, and other things...... Sure, they will pay everything if you are practically a genius, but otherwise I don't know.


At most of the top ones (like Ivy league, which I am the most familiar with) it is purely need based. You may need to be practically a genius to get in, but to get the financial aid you just need to be poor.


I'm just middle class enough not to get that sort of financial aid. (Although, my stepdad was just laid off. Perhaps I can twist this to an advantage, somehow.)
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Re: Expensive Colleges

Postby achan1058 » Thu Mar 12, 2009 3:41 pm UTC

doogly wrote:
achan1058 wrote:
doogly wrote:Often they will waive application fees without many hoops to jump through, and then you may be surprised at what offers they can make.
That depends on your grades, and other things...... Sure, they will pay everything if you are practically a genius, but otherwise I don't know.


At most of the top ones (like Ivy league, which I am the most familiar with) it is purely need based. You may need to be practically a genius to get in, but to get the financial aid you just need to be poor.
In Canada, a lot of financial aid are being given out by the government, and it does not depend on which school you are going in, so...... I guess it is also difficult for me to imagine your situation, as most schools here are funded at least partially by the government, so tuition is cheaper (unless you are an international).

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Re: Expensive Colleges

Postby Darkly » Thu Mar 12, 2009 4:41 pm UTC

Yale and Harvard recently began giving extraordinarily generous need-based financial aid packages. Other schools with similarly enormous endowments are following suit. Unless you don't qualify for need-based aid at all, its almost guaranteed that you'll pay much less to go to an Ivy league school than you would for other private colleges.

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Re: Expensive Colleges

Postby doogly » Thu Mar 12, 2009 5:47 pm UTC

Sir_Elderberry wrote:
doogly wrote:
achan1058 wrote:
doogly wrote:Often they will waive application fees without many hoops to jump through, and then you may be surprised at what offers they can make.
That depends on your grades, and other things...... Sure, they will pay everything if you are practically a genius, but otherwise I don't know.


At most of the top ones (like Ivy league, which I am the most familiar with) it is purely need based. You may need to be practically a genius to get in, but to get the financial aid you just need to be poor.


I'm just middle class enough not to get that sort of financial aid. (Although, my stepdad was just laid off. Perhaps I can twist this to an advantage, somehow.)


At Dartmouth, it is a totally free ride if your parents make <75,000. If they make >, that is an awful lot more than what the middle segment of the population makes. So, I should not have said that you need to be poor - the middle class gets quite generous treatment also. I am less sure what the number is for other colleges, since I don't read anyone else's alumni newsletter, but we are not the only ones. And being laid off definitely matters to them. This all comes out of endowment, not government loans.

Any financial aid department will want to look at the specifics of your scenario though. It is best to apply all over the place, visit and see who you would most like to attend, and then worry about the finances. They can do surprisingly good things for you, so you shouldn't let finances limit where you consider. The final decision, sure, but I wouldn't pre-exclude schools with a high sticker price.
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Re: Expensive Colleges

Postby Velifer » Thu Mar 12, 2009 8:44 pm UTC

When you're 40 and still sending off $350 a month in student loan payments, you'll wish you chose the cheaper option.
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Re: Expensive Colleges

Postby Tass » Fri Mar 13, 2009 10:58 am UTC

doogly wrote:
Sir_Elderberry wrote:
doogly wrote:
achan1058 wrote:
doogly wrote:Often they will waive application fees without many hoops to jump through, and then you may be surprised at what offers they can make.
That depends on your grades, and other things...... Sure, they will pay everything if you are practically a genius, but otherwise I don't know.


At most of the top ones (like Ivy league, which I am the most familiar with) it is purely need based. You may need to be practically a genius to get in, but to get the financial aid you just need to be poor.


I'm just middle class enough not to get that sort of financial aid. (Although, my stepdad was just laid off. Perhaps I can twist this to an advantage, somehow.)


At Dartmouth, it is a totally free ride if your parents make <75,000. If they make >, that is an awful lot more than what the middle segment of the population makes. So, I should not have said that you need to be poor - the middle class gets quite generous treatment also. I am less sure what the number is for other colleges, since I don't read anyone else's alumni newsletter, but we are not the only ones. And being laid off definitely matters to them. This all comes out of endowment, not government loans.

Any financial aid department will want to look at the specifics of your scenario though. It is best to apply all over the place, visit and see who you would most like to attend, and then worry about the finances. They can do surprisingly good things for you, so you shouldn't let finances limit where you consider. The final decision, sure, but I wouldn't pre-exclude schools with a high sticker price.


In Denmark it is all free, we even get about 5000DKK (~1000USD) a month to live for. I think it is great that every one here who wants too can get an education.

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Re: Expensive Colleges

Postby achan1058 » Fri Mar 13, 2009 6:44 pm UTC

Velifer wrote:When you're 40 and still sending off $350 a month in student loan payments, you'll wish you chose the cheaper option.
The "more expensive" college might get you a better job. If the difference is big enough, you will gain money in the end. Of course, this depends on what major are you studying as well......

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Re: Expensive Colleges

Postby danpilon54 » Fri Mar 13, 2009 7:34 pm UTC

I tend to prefer going for the cheaper alternative as long as it is still a good school. I chose going to Boston University over an ivy league school because I got a scholarship. I found it to be a great school that is easily competitive with the so called "better" schools. As long as you are at a quality institution and work hard, you will not be put at a huge disadvantage.
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Re: Expensive Colleges

Postby Solt » Fri Mar 13, 2009 8:23 pm UTC

I think it depends on the major and your career goals. Usually there is a reason schools have prestige.

For example, Yale law will pack a lot more punch than your local state school law program. A Yale law graduate will be handed a job, any job he wants, and will probably deserve it- not so with the less prestigious school. An engineer with a BS from Caltech will probably be smarter than one from a state school- but of course that probably has more to do with Caltech's selectivity than their education. Still, having a degree from Caltech isn't a bad way to start off your career.

That said, for science, it won't make a huge difference, education wise, where you go to undergrad. It's all the same boring crap- lectures from textbooks, pointless material added to fill out the semester, etc. In the end science is science and it's pretty uniform across the board. What will be different is the research opportunities for undergraduates, the quality of the labs you can get into, and basically the star power of the professors you will learn from in those settings.

So if you intend to do research, I'd say it makes a *huge* difference, and that the more prestigious schools will generally give you a much better experience.

And from what I've heard, the key to getting into good grad schools for science is the kind of research you do as an undergrad and the weight of the recommendations you get.
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Re: Expensive Colleges

Postby qinwamascot » Wed Mar 18, 2009 3:43 am UTC

I chose a full ride to OU over going to one of the ivys or another equally good school. It's turned out great. I'm able to excel and still have time for a social life (I'm in 21 hours, doing 2 majors and 2 minors, and plan to be out in 3-3.5 years). It's not boring either. It was definitely a great decision, and even if I was offered a spot at Harvard, I wouldn't want it. It's great knowing you'll get out of college, or into grad school, without any debt. And once you're out, no one cares where you went to college as an undergrad after 2 years.

Also, I heard that the ivys have to roll back on financial aid this year because of the recession. Harvard lost 60% or so of their endowment. So they may not be as generous as the past 2 years.

Regarding research opportunities, there are plenty wherever you go. If two candidates have equal grades, but one produced something important or meaningful that shows ability, while the other went to a good school but didn't, the first will almost always be favored. I'd hesitate to say that such opportunities are much better at a prestigious school than anywhere else.
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Re: Expensive Colleges

Postby alexh123456789 » Wed Mar 18, 2009 3:49 am UTC

How is the honors college at OU? I've heard a lot about it from admissions people but haven't heard the honest opinion of a current student.

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Re: Expensive Colleges

Postby doogly » Wed Mar 18, 2009 4:07 am UTC

qinwamascot wrote:Also, I heard that the ivys have to roll back on financial aid this year because of the recession. Harvard lost 60% or so of their endowment. So they may not be as generous as the past 2 years.


Harvard's is down 22%, Dartmouth's down 13.5%. The financial aid portion of our budget is completely unaffected; the majority of the cuts are in construction, though all other areas feel something.
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