Are private elite universities worth it?

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daryll40
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Are private elite universities worth it?

Post by daryll40 »

My daughter is in 11th grade and is looking at some expensive private Universities...Emory, Northwestern, Barnard. She's very very bright with great scores but not good enough to get into a "real" Ivy.

So the question is this: Are these 2nd tier $250,000 schools (that's right...four years @ $50,000 plus beer and Cancun money) worth it versus, say, Penn State Honors program at a "mere" $85,000?

I am not filthy rich, but compared to most probably very well off. In other words, I'm payin' no matter what happens. Aid ain't gonna happen and scholarships will only happen (to a small degree) if she accepts a much lesser school, which she won't do. The "reward" for being so smart is merely the right to be admitted to the schools named. Oh, U of Michigan is on the list too and is a bargain at a "paltry" $37,000/year.

I know that people will say that kids do just as well at state schools, blah blah blah. Yet they're bangin' down the door to get into the "better" schools.

There was another conversation here about college costs so I thought I'd post this. If she agrees to go to Penn State, I'll let her have the balance of the $250,000 for grad school or to start a business or as a down payment for a house.

I tell my kids all the time:
Just because one HAS money doesn't mean it should be pyzzed away! :lol: This is not a "need" question but rather a VALUE question.
chaz
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Post by chaz »

Maybe it all comes down to where her friends go. She can get an excellent education at either Penn State or U Michigan. Or at a higher cost university.
Chaz | | “Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons." Woody Allen | | http://www.bogleheads.org/wiki/index.php/Main_Page
Bob
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Post by Bob »

I think a lot of parents deal with this issue, and there is probably no right answer. Part of the problem, IMHO, is that it can depend on so many things, such as what the child likes, what she needs to grow, etc.

However, one way to think of the issue is from looking at how much "opportunity" does the graduate from each college have when they Graduate? If they are to get a job after graduation, which colleges offer the longest and best list of companies that recruit at that school. This is often quite "what major you chose" dependent, but my own experience is that the general reputation of a school and which/how many desirable companies recuit there is not always what you would think or well correlated. Same thing for getting into Grad school, which schools accepted the undergrads, and how many over a couple of years, if Grad school is the goal.

And of course, the other metric is looking at the pay levels that the grads going into the workforce get.

Takes some digging to get this data, I found. so focusing on fewer schools to compare helps.
donocash
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Post by donocash »

Forget the money. Forget the name.

What does she want to study? What school offers her what she wants?

It's worth the money if she gets an education. It's not worth the money if she only gets to say I'm a graduate of X.

I can't think of a single person I respect who would tell me where they went to school, as opposed to what they aspired to.
nycboy212
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Post by nycboy212 »

We are at an age where co-workers are sending their kids off to school or contemplating what to do...

One mistake that we've seen over and over is relating to the course of study vs. the institution. For example, going to Rutgers in NJ to target a degree to teach is a viable option for parents, yet we see many sending their kids to Penn State, U of Maryland, U of West Virginia or gasp, a private school like Villanova or Temple to accomplish the same thing. Even schools that the student can "get into" like Towson State, they will pay the out of state tuition to satisfy some "need" instead of being realistic.

It of course is different for something that is very specialized, like engineering > where a Lafayette or a Lehigh would make a huge difference when graduating. Same is true for NYU, Northwestern or Stanford for a business education. There are plenty of great colleges.

Sounds like you are in PA > Penn State is an obvious one as is Pitt. Like NJ, there is a large state university and many small colleges - many that specialize in education studies, nursing, accounting, etc. They all serve a purpose and can be highly ranked (Montclair State, The College of NJ).

I'm sure you'll go check them out...and see where she best feels that she will continue to excel. Best of luck!
wingnutty
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Post by wingnutty »

It does depend on what she wants to study, but yes, going to a state school can and does provide an equal education as most other private schools under most circumstances.

I have a lot of friends who went to expensive private schools and a bunch (including me and my wife) who went to state schools. I don't think that any of the expensive private schools provided any better opportunities or education than the state schools. I've got 4 friends in med school, all went to state schools, I have no friends in med school who went to private schools, lots of us went on to get masters degrees and again, it didn't seem that my private schooled friends faired any better than the rest of us in getting into the grad schools we wanted.

Its all about what you put into it. Both schools use the same books, ect. Lots of the state schools have much better research depts. that can provide very good opportunities for internships, jobs, ect.

One other thing to remember, often the reputations of the private schools are location specific! Most people in the west have never heard of most the private schools in the east or midwest and visa versa (except for maybe if they played in March Madness :lol: ). So you can say, I want to 'such and such' school, but in the end, unless you are in the same region that reputation doesn't mean squat to most people. For example, I have never really heard anything about Barnard or Emory, but I do know that Whitman, Gonzaga, Univeristy of Puget Sound, ect, ect, are good schools (I bet the only one you've heard of is Gonzaga, right..gain, march madness :lol: )

I do think private schools have their benifits, smaller campuses, ect, but I don't think that they are often worth the price paid. But again, it depends on the student.

Best of luck :D
Last edited by wingnutty on Mon Apr 16, 2007 6:00 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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nick22
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Fun

Post by nick22 »

You get to discuss concepts of fiscal responsibility, rationality, and "branding" with an adolescent who probably just wants to be able to go the the highest ranking school in U.S. News and World Report (believe me that was me when I was 17). I think imparting the notion of shared financial responsibility and passing along some of the cost of the more pricy schools in the form of student loans that she will be responsible for is essential. If you foot the whole bill no matter what, then there will be no teaching points here.

Most higher priced Universities offer no specific later life advantage or an increase in income over state schools, her brains and ambition will determine her trajectory. If her dream is to go to Michigan, she will gladly accept 10,000/year in low interest student loans as part of the freight. If she is outraged at that idea, well then her resolve to go to Michigan wasn't too strong. I also agree that if she has a very narrow career goal (ie foreign diplomat) then obviously a specific school would make more sense.
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edge
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Personal perspective

Post by edge »

Ok, if she is only planning to get an undergraduate degree - then it matters where she goes for undergrad.

If she wants to get a graduate degree - which most high paying jobs require - it really really matters where she gets that from. In this case, if you have a good state school - Berkley or UVA, for example - she can go there. If she does well there - you can spend the big bucks on the graduate school.

This was the strategy I used and it really worked out - saved tons of money and did not lose any of the (admittedly) lame prestige.

As far as education goes - its really up to the individual in my opinion. You can do well anywhere as long as you have the time and available resources. College/graduate school is more about a brand name than learning (IMO) - learning can be done just about anywhere. I have a lot of experience with this - I have 3 different degrees from 3 different schools.

Don't go to an expensive Ivy undergrad and then not have the money to go the the graduate level. Its the last (most advanced) degree you have that matters the most. No one cares if you went to Duke undergrad if your law degree is from community college. And vice versa, if you got into UVA law - no one cares about your community college undergrad.
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LH
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Post by LH »

I was wondering this issue myself today, as I had just read the figures on how much more an individual makes if one doesnt finish high school, versus high school grad, versus college grad.

The money benefit is undeniably there.

Which brought to mind the question: Do "ivy"(include standford, duke, whatever) league school graduates make more money than non ivy league school grads?

Or maybe even a better way to look at it, is there any correlation between total money paid in tuition and later earnings?

I have never read any study or figures on this, links would be much appreciated if data exist.

thanks,

LH
wingnutty
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Post by wingnutty »

Edge's post is very true and I couldn't agree more!

I definately wouldn't drop a bunch of coin on an expensive private school when I knew I was gonna go to grad school. Just go to an undergrad school, get a good gpa and then get into the grad school you want!
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Post by livesoft »

Grad school in the sciences: Chemistry, Physics, Molecular Biology should all be paid for by the school and nothing by the student. If the student has to pay for grad school in these subjects, then something is wrong.

I think who you meet and interact with at a university is more important than the name of the university. But who you meet and interact with will likely depend on the name of the university.
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mlebuf
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Post by mlebuf »

LH,

To answer your questions about college choice and success, yes such a study was done. The findings are summarized in this 1999 "Newsweek"
column:
http://www.csis.gvsu.edu/~mcguire/worth ... agues.html

Best wishes,
Michael
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White Coat Investor
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Post by White Coat Investor »

When I applied to colleges, I was accepted everywhere I applied, including a "top 10" school and a "top 20" school. I ended up choosing the least expensive option available to me (a "top 70" school), which incidentally gave me a full tuition scholarship. I felt I received an excellent education which kept all doors open to me when it came time to apply to medical schools. Again, expense was a major factor in the school I chose, but after studying hard for four years, once more I had my choice in residencies I applied to. My performance on standardized tests all the way through the process has been in the 97-99%tile. I never felt my choice of schools impeded my academic progress in any way.

Of course, my parents didn't have $250,000 available to help me go to school. When I was applying to college they didn't have $250,000 available for them to retire on. So our situations are totally different. But considering Northwestern costs $33,000/year, and my alma mater costs <$4000/year, I have a hard time believing a "Northwestern Education" is worth 8 times as much as the one I received. But I can think of worse ways to blow a quarter mil! :)

P.S. I don't know why she would be willing to go to a "much lesser school" when you're "payin' no matter what happens." You might consider making her responsible for a fraction (even 5-10%) of the cost and see how it affects her decision-making.

P.P.S. If I were her I'd go to Penn State and take the balance of that $250K deal you're offering her.
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Post by buffalo »

livesoft wrote: I think who you meet and interact with at a university is more important than the name of the university. But who you meet and interact with will likely depend on the name of the university.
Choosing to attend Stanford University was the worst decision of my life. Their marketing materials give the illusion that students work with wonderful professors at the top of their fields. The reality is, many of my courses were "taught" by TAs or professors who gave lectures to audiences of 100 or more. I would have learned exactly as much by reading textbooks. During my four years, I had exactly four professors who even knew my name. Essentially, my parents paid a great deal of money for me to teach myself things I could have learned just as easily in a local library.

The scariest thing of all is that I decided to pursue a Master in Teaching degree after graduation. The state of Washington required that I take additional courses before issuing a certificate, which I took at a Community College. No kidding, the quality of teachers at Shoreline Community College was far beyond that of Stanford University. Class sizes of 15-20, equally challenging material, instructors who actually knew my name. I won't pretend that my Stanford diploma doesn't open doors, but it doesn't indicate a quality education.

So, as your daugter thinks about where she'd like to apply: choose a campus where instruction, not research, is the focus. Choose a place that feels comfortable, where students seem happy and outgoing. Choose somewhere that's exciting and fun and new. Every college offers physics, history, English, engineering. Choose the one that's going to change who you are, not what you know.
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nick22
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Good Points

Post by nick22 »

I agree with EmergDoc and Buffalo. I spent some time at an expensive university and then changed to UT-Austin, which cost me only 1,000/year in tuition. It was just a better fit personally, and was a great learning environment. With a good GPA and good MCAT scores, it was no problem getting into an excellent medical school, etc. So I would second the points that the most recent degree is the most important and you can learn anywhere. You will mostly be paying for environment and branding. No one cares where I went to undergrad now and no one asks, since an MD is and MD. I have plenty of colleagues who went to Stanford or Harvard, but no one really cares about that either, since an MD is an MD.
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rokid
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Post by rokid »

It may depend on where you live. I live in Virginia and I'd find it hard to believe that a private university could offer a better education than UVA or William and Mary. I grew up in Michigan and UofM is hard to beat. University of North Carolina offers a very cost effective education for both in-state and out of state students.
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Post by Wagnerjb »

I agree with Edge and Rokid that the "state undergrad, private grad" is a fine option if you want an advanced degree (or think you will want one).

I grew up in Virginia, and as Rokid indicated - University of Virginia or William & Mary are top notch and very affordable. I am now in Texas, and the University of Texas seems to me to be a similar good state school.

One of the benefits of a state school is the social aspects. You get to do what "normal" kids do in college - go to football games and enjoy yourself while you are studying. You might join a fraternity or sorority. I went to an elite grad school and none of this was offered. Yes, the kids had fun but I think they missed the experience of a big state school. I worked for 2 years before Grad school and treated it more like "work", while undergrad was a great time growing up.

As Rokid indicated, nobody cares where you did your undergrad when you are in Grad School. Spend the big bucks on Grad School, this is where it counts.

Best wishes.
Andy
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rickster52fl
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Post by rickster52fl »

I agree with the above! I've been teaching at a public college for over 30 years and many of our students use this as a base from which they move on as they continue their graduate studies at a more 'elite' school. I myself went to a state school and then on to Northwestern University for my Ph.D. and have absolutely no regrets...wouldn't change a thing! When it comes to grad school, business school, or professional training, go for the best education or training you can get.
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Rick
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Post by Rick »

I think that only the very top schools are worth the big bucks. I went to a State school, got a great job with a fortune 10 company and have been there 28 yrs.

It also depends on what one can afford.

Rick
livesoft
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Post by livesoft »

buffalo wrote:Their marketing materials give the illusion that students work with wonderful professors at the top of their fields. The reality is, many of my courses were "taught" by TAs or professors who gave lectures to audiences of 100 or more.
...
So, as your daugter thinks about where she'd like to apply: choose a campus where instruction, not research, is the focus. Choose a place that feels comfortable, where students seem happy and outgoing. Choose somewhere that's exciting and fun and new. Every college offers physics, history, English, engineering. Choose the one that's going to change who you are, not what you know.
I wish to completely agree with you, but from a different perspective. I went to a school where I knew many professors because I started research as a sophomore. Since that was my desire and my profession, I was glad that research was the focus. I also knew many professors from non-course work and the extracurricular activities and jobs that I did.

My life has changed because of the people I met 30 years ago. I am still friends with many of them today. I guess I had a differnet "interaction" than you did. So you can easily guess that I did not go to Stanford.
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preserve
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goals

Post by preserve »

goal setting seems to be the most important criteria here. Not all public schools, and private schools are the same.

If your daughter has good scores, she'll probably end up in a good grad school no matter where she goes. Her happiness and individual development is probably the most important.

Does she enjoy asking a lot of questions? or does she want to go to football games, and be involved in the greek culture.

The decision will not be informed till you both start visiting campus's on open house and meet other parents/incoming freshman to see if there is a match. The true demographics can be quite surprising.
yobria
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Post by yobria »

I went to a "real" Ivy. Got no better education than I would have at a state school. The reason? Class and school size. IMO there are only two types of colleges to consider: cheap and small. Big (over say 2000 students) and expensive is a poor value.

Nick
wingnutty
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Post by wingnutty »

Buffalo, your post was excellent and quite thought-provoking.

I know a lot of my friends who went to private or out-of-state schools are now regretting their decision due to their large college loans they are now paying. Many of them have mentioned to me that they should have just gone to an in-state school and then went to a good grad school, or just gone into the workforce.
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Rick
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Post by Rick »

US Naval Academy
USCG Academy
USAF Academy
US Military Academy
US Merchant Marine Academy

Great schools all free $ but of course theres the disclipline, leadership training, rules, regiment, honor, duty, country. Its not for everyone-but it worked for many.


Rick
Last edited by Rick on Wed Apr 18, 2007 5:35 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Murray Boyd
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finding mentors

Post by Murray Boyd »

I guess nowadays the ivies are cutting some middle-class people some slack. I've read that even though the colleges deny it, you can haggle on tuition ("Amy would prefer to go to your school, but Cornell is giving her a $10,000 scholarship..."). I don't know if I could stand knowing half my classmates where undeserving legacy admissions.

I went to a big state school and had an unhappy time of it. Most professors had a "don't talk to me because I hate you" attitude. I had friends that managed to get research assistant type positions and got a lot out of it though. However, it's a lot easier to find mentors in a small school.

You really get out of college what you put into it. If you go to a top-notch regional state college, and are hard-working and bright, professors will shower you with attention.

What's your kid likely to study?
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AzRunner
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Post by AzRunner »

Here are my thoughts: I attended the U of Michigan as an out-of-state student in the Engineering college. I had a great experience but I agree that for the first couple of years I had a lot of TAs (some of which were excellent). Overall I had some excellent professors and some miserable ones.

I have an MBA from the U of Chicago. I had an excellent experience there and had some world class, Nobel prize winning professors (Merton Miller, Myron Scholes). I would definitely say for an MBA, it is only worth paying a premium price if you are attending one of the top twenty programs. Otherwise, get your employer to pay for it.

Our son is a Northwestern graduate. At the time I was also concerned about the cost and whether it would be worth it. What I will say is that he found a program at Northwestern (Mathematical Methods in the Social Sciences) that fit his interests extremely well. This was an honors program and seems to be unique to Northwestern. The fact that he was extremely motivated to attend there for this specific program was a big selling point.

The other advantage of an elite school are the companies that interview there and other linkages that the school has. As an internship our son was able to work for Goldman Sachs for a quarter. After graduating he obtained a position with ABN Amro in Chicago where he still works in Project Finance.

Bottom line: the key is the fit between your daughter and the program at the school in question. If your daughter finds a great program that fits what she is looking for at Penn State, so much the better.

Norm
sterjs
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Post by sterjs »

Check out the book "Looking Beyond the Ivy Leagues."

I think there are three factors to look for:

1. Student/Faculty relationship. Small schools with low student/faculty ratios and an emphasis on teaching instead of research.

2. Cost. Public schools in your state or schools that offer substantial financial aid.

3. Reputation. Really only worth chasing this factor if its one of the biggest names like Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, etc...

The rest is just noise... don't pick a school just because it has a good reputation in a given major. I switched majors in college(physics->math->physics again) and a lot of people switch even more often.

Does Penn St. Honors program gaurantee low class sizes? The book I mentioned earlier has good things to say about some state honors programs--it might be an opportunity to maximize factors 1 and 2.
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springwater
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Post by springwater »

I went to a very large state university and did all right. I don't have a penny of debt to my name as I got a full tuition scholarship and with me working part-time during school and my parents paying for living expenses, I came out with zero debt.

I think the education in a very large school is what you make of it. Most of my classes were large lectures, of 50, 100, or 200 or more students. Many were so big they were broadcast on TV or over the internet and you took 3 multiple choice exams during the course of your semester and that was your grade.

I would say many people didn't get much out of the very very large classes. They drank, partied, never attended the large lectures, bought the notes from the note businesses. But if you took the time to talk to professors or TA's in office hours, you certainly could have gotten a good education.

Most college kids aren't that motivated, sadly that I saw. They were more interested in the party atmosphere of the school.

But I have no regrets. I have a decent job. I don't have a penny of debt to my name. I certainly rather be here than going to some name-brand private school but with $120,000 worth of debt to show for it.
thedude
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From a guy who went to a smaller school, then MIT Ph.D.

Post by thedude »

Folks, maybe my story will be of some use here.

I went to a smaller, top-50 school for undergrad & hated it - too small, too suburban (I'm a city kid), too homogeneous. But, I got a good education in my field, which is really what matters, I think. And I became friends with the professors who took me into their labs to do research and wrote my grad school recommendations. I got into almost every grad school I applied to.

I spent 4 really unpleasant years at MIT, working for a professor who was dumb as rocks, and dishonest. I am lucky that I have my current job, given that I had to sever my relationship with my graduate advisor.

Don't get me wrong, MIT was a lot of fun and was good to me in many ways, but i didn't form the crucial relationships I needed to move on in life. I fought tooth and nail to get to where I am, and it was an emotional roller coaster.

If it were my kid, going only to undergrad with no plans for further education, I'd say go to Harvard, Yale, MIT, Princeton, Stanford, maybe Columbia, maybe Caltech... the places with HUGE name recognition, because it can help in launching your career. If you're dead set on grad or professional school, then there's no need for one of the big names first.

Then again, what you get out is proportional to what you put in, no matter where you are.

And about this whole higher degree correlating with salary thing, surely you're not talking about PhDs, right? I mean, its a huge financial burden and risk, and for many people, it's a horrible choice.
runchman
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Post by runchman »

I may just be cynical and pragmatic, but I think it depends highly on the individual, the career path, and the degree desired.

If you are going into engineering, as I did, all I ever cared about was getting my degree. I knew that just getting in the employer door was all that was required - once you are in and working, 99.5% of what you learned in college isn't needed or used.

I also knew I had no aspirations, nor the right personality to rise to the upper echelons of management. So making 'connections' with the right people in school wasn't of importance.

So for all of the above, a state school was just fine.

Now if I were going into business, and really believed in my heart that I had the skills to take me very high into management (and I think you either have it for that or you don't), then maybe the big-name school would be worth it so you could schmooze with other future movers-and-shakers.

But for becoming an engineer, teacher, or a lot of other run-of-the-mill careers? A year after getting a job no one will care one hoot where you went to school.

My 2 cents,

John
penumbra
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Another take on this....

Post by penumbra »

Lots of different points of view here.

Speaking for myself, I went to a top Ivy school, did fairly well. Made it a snap to get into medical school, with a full scholarship at UCLA. I think the top Ivy's are definitely worth it, whether you go on or not. My sense of the quality of the education is that it was far superior to those who came out the California system. And most others I've had experience with. Immeasurably better. Otherwise, go to the most bang for your buck place, and try to do well.

I do believe that where you go to school only matters in the world at large in getting your first job. After that, it's just a footnote. It may matter to you, but my sense is that no one else cares after that. If you've been out more than a few years, when was the last time someone asked you about it?

But beyond that, remember the old joke:

What do they call the guy who finished last in his class in medical school?

Answer: Doctor.
runchman
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Post by runchman »

Or the one:

The business major asks,
"What will it cost to build it?"

The engineer major asks,
"How will we build it?"

The liberal arts major asks,
"Do you want fries with that?"
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JMacDonald
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Post by JMacDonald »

Hi,
I went to the local community college for my AA, then on to my BA from the local state university on the GI Bill. I put myself through college. I enjoyed both schools and had small classes and great instructors at both schools.

The only time that I know what school anyone went to is when the two cross-town universities play each other in the big football game each year. It is more fun than any pro game could be. Best Wishes.

Joe
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Dale_G
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Post by Dale_G »

As an ex-boss:

Before I retired I ran a number of R&D operations, primarily in the physical sciences. I probably hired several hundred Physicists and Engineers from PhDs on down the line.

In the end, the schools attended didn't seem to matter much. The guys and gals from MIT and Caltech seemed a little brighter, but what really counted in terms of performance (and eventual pay) was individual drive, curiousity and aspiration. In the end, my hiring decisions ignored any points for the school attended.

Going to a fancy school probably doesn't hurt, but it may not help much either.

Dale
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prentis
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Employment issues

Post by prentis »

I was responsible for hiring engineering students in the electronic field. There were a few schools that specialized in the area like Georgia Tec, MIT, and the University of Michigan for example. Degrees from these schools held special interest to the recruiter. There are certain specialties in other fields that specific schools excell in that could make a difference on the employment end of the college experience. It would at least get the graduate in the door. But for non-vocational careers from the employer’s viewpoint I don’t think the name of the school itself means much. Grades do.
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Post by Gigante »

buffalo wrote:
livesoft wrote: I think who you meet and interact with at a university is more important than the name of the university. But who you meet and interact with will likely depend on the name of the university.
Choosing to attend Stanford University was the worst decision of my life. Their marketing materials give the illusion that students work with wonderful professors at the top of their fields. The reality is, many of my courses were "taught" by TAs or professors who gave lectures to audiences of 100 or more. I would have learned exactly as much by reading textbooks. During my four years, I had exactly four professors who even knew my name. Essentially, my parents paid a great deal of money for me to teach myself things I could have learned just as easily in a local library.

The scariest thing of all is that I decided to pursue a Master in Teaching degree after graduation. The state of Washington required that I take additional courses before issuing a certificate, which I took at a Community College. No kidding, the quality of teachers at Shoreline Community College was far beyond that of Stanford University. Class sizes of 15-20, equally challenging material, instructors who actually knew my name. I won't pretend that my Stanford diploma doesn't open doors, but it doesn't indicate a quality education.

So, as your daugter thinks about where she'd like to apply: choose a campus where instruction, not research, is the focus. Choose a place that feels comfortable, where students seem happy and outgoing. Choose somewhere that's exciting and fun and new. Every college offers physics, history, English, engineering. Choose the one that's going to change who you are, not what you know.
This is your personal experience and I don't in any way think this is the norm. You get out of your edu what you put into it. I am attending Berkeley now, which is definitely a research institution, and my smallest class is 300 students, and most classes are 700. These are all general education. As you can see, my classes are huge, yet my professors know me because I make myself known. If you want to sit in the background and get the minimum out of an education than you can be like buffalo.

I think your daughter should visit all of her schools she got accepted to and try to stay overnight with someone if she can to get a good feel. Then go sit in on a general edu class and a major-specific class if possible. She should get a good feel for the schools.

Also, if she has any idea of a possible major, look into each school's particular program.
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Re: Are private elite universities worth it?

Post by mudfud »

daryll40 wrote:My daughter is in 11th grade and is looking at some expensive private Universities...Emory, Northwestern, Barnard. She's very very bright with great scores but not good enough to get into a "real" Ivy.

Just because one HAS money doesn't mean it should be pyzzed away! :lol: This is not a "need" question but rather a VALUE question.
Northwestern, 2nd tier?? :evil: :roll:

Seriously, I don't think the quality of education is significantly different in Ivy league type schools versus the rest. However, I think name-recognition does count, but not as much as one would expect. And it is field-specific as many have alluded. To answer your "value" question, I don't think this slight edge is worth the money.
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Post by goggles »

I work in higher education. Caveat emptor.

1. Northwestern is on a different echelon than Barnard and Emory. NW is as good as an ivy. Emory is very good. Barnard students are often treated as second-class citizens at Columbia; their education is good, but the students can be looked down upon. All will predispose your kid to stay in a region: NW in Chicago, Emory in Atlanta, Barnard in NY.

2. Contrary to what some people have been saying, I think if your kid wants to be a liberal arts major, she NEEDS to go to NW or absolutely the best school she can get into. Otherwise, it will be quite hard for her to get a job. There are a lot of liberal arts grads, and any advantage would help.

3. I went to expensive, big reputation private schools for undergrad and grad school. As an undergrad, I had fantastic opportunities to work with professors and take small classes. I doubt this would have been possible at a 35,000 undergrad school. I studied like crazy and also worked jobs 15 or 20 hours a week. I learned a lot and it really helped me get into an excellent grad school. (I was paid to be a grad student, which is typical in Ph.D. programs at top schools, humanities and sciences alike.)

4. I think having some college debt is a good thing. It keeps you honest. I really learned about how to deal with money when I finished college, got a job, had to start paying my loans and rent. That's when I started saving money, too. I know you may want to provide your kids with all of the advantages, but sometimes it's good to let them take on more responsibility, like paying for some or all of their education.

5. Your kid may not have any idea what her major will be. Nor can she really know whether she will like the school. She probably has no clue what she'll be doing in five years, let alone ten. She's a teenager! Where she goes to college or what she studies won't determine all of her life. Don't worry about all of it too much.

Good luck with all of the big decisions!

Also, why not show this thread to your daughter? She sounds like a smart kid.
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Post by yobria »

goggles wrote:2. Contrary to what some people have been saying, I think if your kid wants to be a liberal arts major, she NEEDS to go to NW or absolutely the best school she can get into. Otherwise, it will be quite hard for her to get a job. There are a lot of liberal arts grads, and any advantage would help.
I think this might help in some cases, especially if our fresh grad doesn't know what she wants to do and wanders into a job a company may be recruiting on campus for.

But a student with a specific career goal can make it from any school. Get the appropriate major, do internships/volunteer work, make the contacts, and the career is yours.

Ultimately degrees don't add value to companies, the economy, or anything else. Only skills (90% learned on the job) do.

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Post by Gigante »

Also, You may have your daughter take out the maximum she can as a student (~$1250 I think). This will be small debt, but it does good to build her credit.
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Post by investorperson »

IMHO, there's a slight problem with trying to predict what she'd want to do after graduating from college and using this to figure out which undergraduate university to attend. So many college students (and, well, post-college students) change their minds and explore other things. I think that's part of the process - to explore things you never would have, to meet people you would never meet otherwise. Not many folks have things figured out at 21.

Of course, if she loves medicine and knows she wants to be a doctor, that's great and it should be taken into consideration. However, don't be surprised come Summer after her freshman year when she says, "I think I may want to switch majors!"

And, are you absolutely sure you'll have to pay 100% of tuition. I went to an expensive school, but 65% of students received some sort of financial assistance.
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Post by United »

I question some of the grounding for advice in this thread.

Here are my two cents:

I accepted a full ride to a second-tier state university instead of attending a top-tier school like Stanford or Caltech. I am not convinced that the education I am receiving at my current university is equal to the education that I would have received at top universities. I watch MIT's video lectures, and they move at a faster pace than my lectures seem to move. I think the exceptional nature of the student body allows students to cover material more in-depth. In addition, I sometimes feel alienated by the ignorance of my classmates. I often wonder if it's easier to make friends and be happy at a university that teaches at your intellectual level. Obviously, there are fools everywhere in the world, but I think it's a valid concern.
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Post by WiseNLucky »

EmergDoc wrote:P.S. I don't know why she would be willing to go to a "much lesser school" when you're "payin' no matter what happens." You might consider making her responsible for a fraction (even 5-10%) of the cost and see how it affects her decision-making.
I think this is a very important point.

I went to a small school and got a great education. I then went to a large school and got a great reputation. Both were pretty much meaningless after 3 years in the workforce and no one has looked at or even much asked about either one since.

I've started a fund for my young niece who lives in North Carolina. She will have the option when she graduates high scholl to go to UNC for four years or Duke for one. Her choice. She would get an excellent education from either source but would leave UNC with zero debt or Duke with $300,000 (if my estimates of future costs are correct). Her choice.

I know what my choice would be. We'll see what she chooses.
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Post by XtremeSki2001 »

For me personally, it was worth it. I went to a private University with one of the best Internship/Co-Op oriented programs in the country.

I would never pay a large sum of money for a school that won't help me build my resume. The school should not only appear strong on the resume (curb appeal), but the school should also help build your resume with internships and other work experiences.

I've been very successful with interviews at Microsoft, SAP, and some very prestigious consulting firms.

I paid ~$25K a year and while it's been a burden, I think my current career speaks volumes compared to friends that went to UPenn, UNC Chapel Hill, and Columbia who have nothing but a Uni name on their CV.

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United

Post by nick22 »

Well, United, you may have made the wrong personal choice. It is hard to imagine at a reputable university you cannot find any professors or peers that are on your intellectual level. I think statistically it is not possible, and you may have a distorted perception of your abilities relative to others. If you are unhappy, you are probably daydreaming about what you are "missing" at MIT or Caltech and maybe you should transfer. A university choice will not make you happy. And after a few years in the workforce or grad school, no one will care. You are too young to realize that, but I would encourage you to spend the money and transfer, because you should not spend your college years moping around.

I assume by now darryl40 is confused. But I think the best advice given is to make her partly financially responsible for whatever decision she makes. If she thinks her life would be nothing without going to Northwestern, then make her pay some of the freight. She will get to experience making an adult decision while still an adolescent. She will have responsibility and consequenses with a financial lesson to impart. This is your chance to teach her life lessons with this choice, and do not waste the opportunity to do so by just paying for everything no matter what she chooses. She will learn nothing and you will regret it later.
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I haven't read every post...

Post by johnoutk »

I would say that the elite private colleges are NOT worth their cost. I did my undergraduate at the nearby state university and enjoyed myself tremendously. I did well and was accepted into medical school, (in-state as well), on the first try. IMHO, it is money down the drain to shell out for the cost of an 'elite' university. My patients don't ask me where I did undergraduate work, or which med school I went to.

She should decide what she wants to do with her life and find a reasonably priced university that has a good program in her field. If she is undecided, she definitely should not go to an elite university for required courses.
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Post by daryll40 »

I am the original poster, following up:

Thanks for the great thoughts. As a follow up, one thing that struck me is that many seem to think that making the kid take out student loans will change his decision. At age 17, borrowed student loan money is free money. It's a non-issue. Kids can't understand the truth until that first payment is due. So while I can understand your wanting the kid to have a financial stake in all of this, it's very difficult to impart by way of "free student loan money sloshing around". It only becomes "non-free" later.

Second. What also is being missed here is that we live in a very highly competitive affluent area with a strong public school. These kids are pushed and nudged all the way from kindergarten thru graduation to get into the best school possible. My daughter fairly asks this question:


"Dad, why did I bust my butt to get all A's in everything, including very tough AP courses, suffer thru SAT prep courses, do all sorts of activities only to be forced to go to Penn State".

In other words these kids are taught all along that getting into the best school possible is the goal. It seems like being cheated when the parent (especially when the kid knows the parents are well off) renigs on the deal (from the kid's perspective).

Finally, you Northwestern folk no offense, but Northwestern is just not a "real" Ivy. It's close, but no cigar. :roll:
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Post by yobria »

daryll40 wrote: My daughter fairly asks this question:

"Dad, why did I bust my butt to get all A's in everything, including very tough AP courses, suffer thru SAT prep courses, do all sorts of activities only to be forced to go to Penn State".
You might stress that the importance of learning for its own sake. The point of all those classes was to make her into an educated person, not (only) some future goal like a top college.

IMO 17 years olds are not going to make good decisions about college or anything else. It's up to the parent to provide guidance and exercise a lot of control over the decision, even if it doesn't make perfect sense to the child.

It's human nature to be hypotized by brand names, whether they involve cars, clothes, or colleges.

Nick
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Post by SoonerSunDevil »

daryll40 wrote:I am the original poster, following up:

Thanks for the great thoughts. As a follow up, one thing that struck me is that many seem to think that making the kid take out student loans will change his decision. At age 17, borrowed student loan money is free money. It's a non-issue. Kids can't understand the truth until that first payment is due. So while I can understand your wanting the kid to have a financial stake in all of this, it's very difficult to impart by way of "free student loan money sloshing around". It only becomes "non-free" later.

Second. What also is being missed here is that we live in a very highly competitive affluent area with a strong public school. These kids are pushed and nudged all the way from kindergarten thru graduation to get into the best school possible. My daughter fairly asks this question:


"Dad, why did I bust my butt to get all A's in everything, including very tough AP courses, suffer thru SAT prep courses, do all sorts of activities only to be forced to go to Penn State".

In other words these kids are taught all along that getting into the best school possible is the goal. It seems like being cheated when the parent (especially when the kid knows the parents are well off) renigs on the deal (from the kid's perspective).

Finally, you Northwestern folk no offense, but Northwestern is just not a "real" Ivy. It's close, but no cigar. :roll:
Northwestern is as good as some Ivy League schools. What's next, you'll be telling us that Stanford isn't a "real" Ivy either?

Daryl, it appears as though you're more interested in bragging rights at cocktail parties. Send your daughter to wherever she wants to go, pay the $200,000, and move on. Personally, I'd rather spend the money on a quality state school, and give your daughter that money for graduate school or as a gift for a first home purchase.

If this were medical school, law school, dental school, PhD program, etc. it might be different. How much different could the intro courses be at Harvard and Yale from State U? Accounting still involves debits, credits, and Financial Statements. The time value of money concept is the same, and intro to psych is still intro to psych.

John
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Post by daryll40 »

West Virginia University is also as good as some Ivys in some situations. That doesn't make it a "real" Ivy. :twisted:

It's NOT about bragging rights. It's about the best possible future and I am not sure what that is...hence this post. If so many kids are competing for these schools there must be SOMETHING to it. I am just trying to sort all of this out. I buy new cars every few years and fully know how to do that process. This is very new to me.
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