Is it even worth it to go to an expensive college?

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nyeguy
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Is it even worth it to go to an expensive college?

Postby nyeguy » Fri May 22, 2009 1:13 am UTC

I have been trying to get a list of colleges put together for campus visits, this summer, and have been starting to wonder if its really even worth it. I mean, sure, you will probably get a bit higher quality education, but is the cost really worth it? We are looking at private universities that often costs four times what a state school will cost. I could attend Colorado School of Mines for $11k a year a get a quality education. Even if I could afford the "prestigious" schools, is there really a reason to attend them?
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Re: Is it even worth it to go to an expensive college?

Postby mdyrud » Fri May 22, 2009 2:02 am UTC

I don't know if it's worth it or not, but you should make sure you look at more than just the base price of tuition. My sister is currently attending Concordia University, where the tuition is $20,000 year, but with all the financial aid offered, it is costing only around $12,500 a year. Concordia will be raising tuition to $34,000 next year, but that is just for looks. The aid that the school itself offers is increasing at a proportional rate so the cost to the student is nearly the same as it was before. The reasoning behind the increase is that it will make an education from there seem more impressive.

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Re: Is it even worth it to go to an expensive college?

Postby achan1058 » Fri May 22, 2009 2:18 am UTC

A school can also be expensive because their research don't generate them enough funding. Keep that in mind.

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Re: Is it even worth it to go to an expensive college?

Postby Masily box » Fri May 22, 2009 3:27 am UTC

I don't know about expensive schools, but I do know that prestigious schools are worth considering. They're prestigious for a reason.

They tend to have well developed alumni networks, career advising offices, fellowship/grant offices, and so on that can make a huge difference for you outside of the regular academic year. More importantly, though, they tend to draw other intelligent/interesting students, and your relationships with your peers will be one of the defining aspects of your time at college. Comparing my experience to that of my friends who stayed at state schools, the thing that I've enjoyed so much more than they have has been the chance to have genuinely interesting intellectual conversations with my friends whenever I want.

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Re: Is it even worth it to go to an expensive college?

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri May 22, 2009 4:02 am UTC

For what it's worth, one of the rotating physics grad students graduated from the CSM. Very smart guy, and got into a very good program (UChicago's physics program ranks like 8th I think?). You CAN do great things with a lot of 'cheaper' schools.
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Re: Is it even worth it to go to an expensive college?

Postby The Loofah Tree » Fri May 22, 2009 4:07 am UTC

Well, one reason to attend a prestigious college, is for the prestige associated with it. Another reason would be to get a better education.
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nyeguy
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Re: Is it even worth it to go to an expensive college?

Postby nyeguy » Fri May 22, 2009 4:32 am UTC

I guess I see what you guys are saying, but I was just thinking is the prestige and better education worth tuition that is four times more than a school like Mines? My college account has enough to pay for almost all four years at Mines, but going to one of the more prestigious schools would mean a big chunk of debt. I plan to apply to many schools and see what kind of aid I can get (probably not much, seeing as I'm an upper-middle class white male), but if it turns out that I am still paying a large sum of money, I don't know whether to bother.
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Re: Is it even worth it to go to an expensive college?

Postby Vaniver » Fri May 22, 2009 4:36 am UTC

The single most important input for the quality of your education is you. How much effort you put into it, where you put that effort, how much payoff you get per unit of effort.

What school you go to is still important, but it's far less important. So, if you're going to work to make that extra $29k worth it, then an expensive school can be worth it. But if you're going to work that hard anyway, you can do well at a cheaper school.

What you should make sure, though, is that the opportunities you'll need are there. The school I'm going to would have cost me around $12k a year (which scholarships are paying for), and I chose to go to it over a $40k a year (would have been around $20k after scholarships) school- both because I could think of better uses for that $80k, and because the cheaper school had everything I needed. If you're planning on going to grad school in the sciences, getting research experience as an undergrad is critical. So it's worth looking into what opportunities you'll have as an undergraduate to get into labs- talk with professors whose work is interesting now, before you apply. If you're going into another field, I don't have as good an idea what's important, but make sure you'll be able to do things that give you an education, not just a GPA.
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Re: Is it even worth it to go to an expensive college?

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri May 22, 2009 1:00 pm UTC

Networking IS important, but don't immediately associate top tier school with top positioned faculty; e.g., the worlds leading expert on spider silk mechanics is at University of Nebraska or some podunk place. Many distinguished scientists spend periods of time at rather unknown schools. And, again, it depends on what you want. If you are interested in geology, I imagine CSM is actually a pretty good place. Better, then say, many top tier schools.
(Isn't CSM one of, like, 3, schools worldwide to offer a certification in underwater welding? Those dudes make like 175k a year)

Also, don't be afraid to accrue debt to pay for school. Given what you stand to earn out of college, getting the degree you want with the connections you need is absolutely worth it.
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Re: Is it even worth it to go to an expensive college?

Postby philsov » Fri May 22, 2009 4:34 pm UTC

if it'll land you onto a vastly superior job track, then yes.

Otherwise, spending $80k for a degree that'll net you $5k more per year means you'll actually see a profit when you're 40 or so (relative to just investing that much early on), and less immediate funds for things like weddings/house/savings/etc.
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Re: Is it even worth it to go to an expensive college?

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri May 22, 2009 4:40 pm UTC

We had this argument already. Degree holders make more on avg. then non-degree holders. It IS an investment, and statistically it pays off.
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Re: Is it even worth it to go to an expensive college?

Postby philsov » Fri May 22, 2009 5:11 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:We had this argument already. Degree holders make more on avg. then non-degree holders. It IS an investment, and statistically it pays off.


Nono, I'm comparing prestegious private degree v. acceptable public degree.
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Re: Is it even worth it to go to an expensive college?

Postby seridos » Fri May 22, 2009 6:55 pm UTC

I'm glad I'm not in the American system :/ I can get a great degree for 12 k/year total (thats ALL expenses, tuition, books, beer, etc)

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Re: Is it even worth it to go to an expensive college?

Postby Ixtellor » Fri May 22, 2009 7:15 pm UTC

I have said this in a few other theads and it holds true.

"It doesn't matter where you go, its what you do while your there that matters."

If a private school is cost prohibitive, don't go there. Just make sure you do go to college and apply yourself.


Ixtellor

P.S. As was mentioned, most private schools have really generous fincancial aid available.
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Re: Is it even worth it to go to an expensive college?

Postby Minchandre » Fri May 22, 2009 8:07 pm UTC

nyeguy wrote:I have been trying to get a list of colleges put together for campus visits, this summer, and have been starting to wonder if its really even worth it. I mean, sure, you will probably get a bit higher quality education, but is the cost really worth it? We are looking at private universities that often costs four times what a state school will cost. I could attend Colorado School of Mines for $11k a year a get a quality education. Even if I could afford the "prestigious" schools, is there really a reason to attend them?



Don't go to Mines! Well, you could, but I'd recommend CU Boulder instead. It's slightly less expensive, and just about as good in engineering (some departments better, some worse). Plus, you get the advantage of being able to take a non-engineering course if you want. This doesn't need to be a time waster - a friend of mine transferred from Mines to CU this year because he said Mines has shit for biology.

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Re: Is it even worth it to go to an expensive college?

Postby Velict » Fri May 22, 2009 10:11 pm UTC

Minchandre wrote:
nyeguy wrote:I have been trying to get a list of colleges put together for campus visits, this summer, and have been starting to wonder if its really even worth it. I mean, sure, you will probably get a bit higher quality education, but is the cost really worth it? We are looking at private universities that often costs four times what a state school will cost. I could attend Colorado School of Mines for $11k a year a get a quality education. Even if I could afford the "prestigious" schools, is there really a reason to attend them?



Don't go to Mines! Well, you could, but I'd recommend CU Boulder instead. It's slightly less expensive, and just about as good in engineering (some departments better, some worse). Plus, you get the advantage of being able to take a non-engineering course if you want. This doesn't need to be a time waster - a friend of mine transferred from Mines to CU this year because he said Mines has shit for biology.


Mines is better than CU for engineering specifically, I believe - those friends of mine who are interested in engineering seem to think so, at least. It also doesn't have the whole "party, not study" reputation CU has acquired.

P.S. There are a lot of Colorado people here!

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Re: Is it even worth it to go to an expensive college?

Postby mrcheesypants » Fri May 22, 2009 11:58 pm UTC

Coming from a student attending a state school costing $5k, I have to say probably not unless you're going for a graduate degree or if you can participate in some sort of undergraduate research program.

From what I understand employers care more that you have a degree than where you got it from. Only 25% of Americans have a bachelors degree and obtaining one is proof that you can stick with something for four+ years that greatly benefits you. Some people are going to debate me on this point and some will agree with me but the most important things you will learn are outside the classroom. There have been several intelligent people with 4.0s in high school to only dropout because of failure to attend class, depression issues, burnout, all around poor time management and other issues.

As for the higher quality education, this is the information age. Sure you MIGHT have a better chance to have a good professor at a more prestigious university, but if you're actually motivated enough to put the effort to pay 30k a year in student debt, then you could probably learn more by dropping a few thousand on an awesome library with books in your field. Not to mention online resources like MIT open courseware or free books/notes professors upload publicly on their websites as well as their assignments.

Intelligent people can also be found at any university. If I can have an intelligent conversation with someone in Val-fucking-dosta Georgia, a city so southern redneck that it's pronounced val-da-sta, you can probably find one at Boulder or Mines. Granted said intelligent people might be somewhat harder to find, but chances are these intelligent people are looking for someone to have an intelligent conversation with as well.

Looking back though I would say the number one thing you should look out for are internship programs. For undergrad price and internships should be the two things to look out for. Prestigious schools can have an advantage here, but large state schools (especially those near a city) will probably have a decent co-op program as well. Getting information for a school's internship program can be difficult so I suggest asking for as much information about co-op or internships as possible on a class visit. Best way would be to ask a student who attends the university what they think about it and how many jobs are generally available.

Also if you can earn a merit based scholarship or financial aid, be sure you can attend the university if you lose it. There is a good possibility that you'll lose it (keep in mind college/university is nothing like high school) and if you do, you might get screwed.

seridos wrote:I'm glad I'm not in the American system :/ I can get a great degree for 12 k/year total (thats ALL expenses, tuition, books, beer, etc)

HA! Got you beat by $2k. $7k if I still had my HOPE scholarship *grumble grumble*
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Re: Is it even worth it to go to an expensive college?

Postby LISStryfe » Sat May 23, 2009 10:44 am UTC

Personally, I think it's better to go for a more basic school for your undergraduate degree, then get your Masters from some place more prestigious. A state college BA will get you into most programs at most good grad schools as well as one you pay 3-4 times more for. I did this for my MLS - I went to a SUNY school for my BA in Special Ed, then went to Pratt (the oldest operating library school in the US) for my MLS. In the end, I've gotten two excellent experiences.

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Re: Is it even worth it to go to an expensive college?

Postby tgjensen » Sat May 23, 2009 8:03 pm UTC

mrcheesypants wrote:HA! Got you beat by $2k. $7k if I still had my HOPE scholarship *grumble grumble*


Pfft. Here in Denmark we get paid ~10k$/yr to attend university.

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Re: Is it even worth it to go to an expensive college?

Postby keeneal » Sat May 23, 2009 9:42 pm UTC

I'd say it depends on your field of study and and you're looking at as a career. If you're going for something like, oh I don't know... Italian and you want to work in travel, the prestige factor probably isn't too big of a deal, beyond the fact that you got in reflects highly on you. But if you're, say, pre-Med cum Biology, one of the Sciences, or maybe even Education, a more prestigious alma mater would be helpful. My advice, if you know what you're looking at doing, is to ask someone in that field what they think of that program at School X. If they're impressed by it, that's a sign that a potential employer would be as well; if they're underwhelmed, same thing applies. If it really doesn't matter, hopefully they'll say so.

Besides, you get what you pay for; the extra money goes somewhere, right? I, for example, chose a $40,000/year school over a $20,000/year school. The difference? My school has the top-ranked study abroad program in the country and it's cheap as anything. The obvious exception here is in-state public schools. Everyone who mentions "oh, well I went to a State school and did fine": take a look at the out-of-state tuition for your school. Most likely its comparable to mid-range private schools. Good public schools aren't cheap; you just don't have to foot the bill. This is why a place like Penn State can be considered "prestigious" even though it's cheap to attend.

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As a someone who works with prospective students at my school, I'd like to point out that the most important thing is how you fit in with the school. It doesn't matter how much it costs per year if you're going to wind up leaving after a year because you're miserable. My advice is to see if your top three or four schools have "day on campus" programs, where you spend a whole day (or in some cases a day and a half + a night) with a student, and to participate if they do. I'll say it again: The Most Important Thing TM is that you're happy at the school you choose. Find schools you'd be happy at, and then worry about financing your education.
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