Nonfinancial value of state university vs private college (USC)?

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Cardio
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Nonfinancial value of state university vs private college (USC)?

Post by Cardio » Tue Apr 23, 2019 5:49 pm

My son, a high school senior, is deciding between attending college at Univ of Maryland, which is our state school, vs USC. (Yes, he got in fair and square, please no comments that will derail the thread.) :happy

He is interested in biochemistry, most likely PhD research, possibly health care.

The annual cost difference between the schools is a little over $40K/yr. We can afford the difference, but obviously we don't want to spend it if there's no benefit.

I am thinking:

1. USC, a private school, is not worth it from a financial perspective, especially for someone planning to attend grad school.
2. However, U Md. is a very large state school with many students who are extremely strong academically (eg, 4.0 GPA unweighted, 9+ AP tests scored 5, etc.), but didn't have the other traits needed to go to elite colleges. U Md has many large intro/weed-out classes. Our son is quite introverted and less likely to flourish in such a situation.
3. While I think he will do better in the environment at USC than at Md., it is hard to pay that much extra $ for that level name. If he had gotten into an Ivy or Ivy-like school, it'd be easier to write the check. Yes, I guess I'm drinking the Kool-Aid of perceived prestige.

Prior threads typically say go to the state school and save the money. I am leaning in that direction, but would like to hear from those who attended or sent their kids to a less than elite private college like USC. Why did you pay the extra $? What benefits, financial or nonfinancial, did you gain?

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Re: Nonfinancial value of state university vs private college (USC)?

Post by megabad » Tue Apr 23, 2019 5:55 pm

What does son think?

If it were me, I would let my son pick, but I would need to know his logic as to why. If he thinks he would be happier at USC and the money was not a hardship for me, I would likely agree. Obviously, this is not a necessarily boglehead-like opinion.

Additionally, if a degree "maybe in healthcare" means doctor, than I would think maryland may help a little geographically if for nothing other than familiarity/proximity to good teaching schools/hospitals, but not sure if you meant this.

student
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Re: Nonfinancial value of state university vs private college (USC)?

Post by student » Tue Apr 23, 2019 6:00 pm

Maryland is an excellent school. I do not think it will be disadvantageous when applying for graduate school with a degree from Maryland. $40k/year for 4 years is more than the value of my al cheapo condo.

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Re: Nonfinancial value of state university vs private college (USC)?

Post by livesoft » Tue Apr 23, 2019 6:14 pm

I wouldn't bother with USC. Univ Maryland has many many connections to biotech in the area and NIH.

I wouldn't worry about introvert stuff. I have often seen parents project themselves onto their children. And as for the other students, competition is good in college because there is competition in real-life, too.

You don't know me from Adam, but I have put 2 kids through college, have a PhD in biochemistry, had a career in science, teach at med schools, and have written many letters of recommendation for young adults like your young adult.
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Re: Nonfinancial value of state university vs private college (USC)?

Post by GmanJeff » Tue Apr 23, 2019 6:16 pm

USC is more prestigious, but is still not in the same tier as a Ivy. If your son plans to go to grad school, where he goes for that will be more important in terms of post-doctoral work and subsequent employment than where he went for his undergraduate education.

On the other hand, if your son truly would do poorly in large classes for some reason, and will only have those to pick from at Md, and won't have them at USC, that's a pretty compelling argument against Md.

Perhaps not an option for your son at this point, but an intermediate solution could be paying out-of-state tuition at a highly ranked in-state school which is still within a reasonable driving distance and which offers a more intimate undergraduate experience than either Md or USC, e.g., William and Mary, or UNC Chapel Hill. Ideally, if large undergraduate introductory classes were a known show-stopper for your son, he will have applied to more schools than just USC which offer the kind of class sizes he seeks.

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Re: Nonfinancial value of state university vs private college (USC)?

Post by livesoft » Tue Apr 23, 2019 6:25 pm

I'll state something more directly: If large intro courses are a show stopper, then the person doesn't belong in college.
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Re: Nonfinancial value of state university vs private college (USC)?

Post by Big Dog » Tue Apr 23, 2019 6:59 pm

Son will have plenty of large classes at either school first couple of years. While 'SC is ranked slightly higher than UMd for biochem, its not significant. The only value would be to joint the Trojan Family and a chance to meet Aunt Becky. :oops:

Seriously tho, not worth the cost.

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Re: Nonfinancial value of state university vs private college (USC)?

Post by jrbdmb » Tue Apr 23, 2019 7:18 pm

Based on recent evidence, the value of USC vs. a good state school is about $500,000. :oops:

Seriously though, if your son is introverted, I would be more concerned sending him to a school on the other side of the country than in sending him to the local State U. In addition, I suspect there could be a significant culture shock going from the east coast to Southern California.

(Edit - deleted paragraph about other local schools, as it is a bit late for that now.)

One thing, after checking some stats - wondering if USC (20K undergrads) is really that much different from Maryland (29K undergrads)?
Last edited by jrbdmb on Tue Apr 23, 2019 7:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

livesoft
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Re: Nonfinancial value of state university vs private college (USC)?

Post by livesoft » Tue Apr 23, 2019 7:24 pm

OTOH, culture shock might be the right prescription.
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Re: Nonfinancial value of state university vs private college (USC)?

Post by Watty » Tue Apr 23, 2019 8:01 pm

Cardio wrote:
Tue Apr 23, 2019 5:49 pm
He is interested in biochemistry, most likely PhD research, possibly health care.

....

Yes, I guess I'm drinking the Kool-Aid of perceived prestige.
If he gets a graduate degree then any prestige from the undergraduate school will likely not make much difference except for being admitted to grad school.

The extra $40K a year might be better spent paying for graduate school especially if he goes to medical school.

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Re: Nonfinancial value of state university vs private college (USC)?

Post by quantAndHold » Tue Apr 23, 2019 8:24 pm

USC and Maryland are roughly the same size. If large intro classes are going to be a problem, USC isn’t going to fix that.

Did son apply to any smaller schools? My kids all avoided those big auditorium sized lecture classes by going to smaller schools.

If USC and Maryland are the only two choices, I would push him towards Maryland. Maryland is a good school, and USC isn’t really all that special. If he’s planning on going to grad school, keeping costs down for undergrad is probably more important.

There are lots of introverted kids at college. Just like every parent thinks their five year old is above average, every parent seems to think their college freshman isn’t going to be able to cope in the big world without mom and dad. Most do just fine.

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Re: Nonfinancial value of state university vs private college (USC)?

Post by TexasPE » Tue Apr 23, 2019 8:40 pm

Our son is quite introverted and less likely to flourish in such a situation.
Encourage your son to give Toastmasters a try.

https://www.toastmasters.org/

There are clubs on most campus', and probably one or more in your community. It's a great place to meet like-minded people who want to improve their communication and leadership skills in a safe environment.
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Re: Nonfinancial value of state university vs private college (USC)?

Post by Jags4186 » Tue Apr 23, 2019 8:51 pm

Cardio wrote:
Tue Apr 23, 2019 5:49 pm
My son, a high school senior, is deciding between attending college at Univ of Maryland, which is our state school, vs USC. (Yes, he got in fair and square, please no comments that will derail the thread.) :happy

He is interested in biochemistry, most likely PhD research, possibly health care.

The annual cost difference between the schools is a little over $40K/yr. We can afford the difference, but obviously we don't want to spend it if there's no benefit.

I am thinking:

1. USC, a private school, is not worth it from a financial perspective, especially for someone planning to attend grad school.
2. However, U Md. is a very large state school with many students who are extremely strong academically (eg, 4.0 GPA unweighted, 9+ AP tests scored 5, etc.), but didn't have the other traits needed to go to elite colleges. U Md has many large intro/weed-out classes. Our son is quite introverted and less likely to flourish in such a situation.
3. While I think he will do better in the environment at USC than at Md., it is hard to pay that much extra $ for that level name. If he had gotten into an Ivy or Ivy-like school, it'd be easier to write the check. Yes, I guess I'm drinking the Kool-Aid of perceived prestige.

Prior threads typically say go to the state school and save the money. I am leaning in that direction, but would like to hear from those who attended or sent their kids to a less than elite private college like USC. Why did you pay the extra $? What benefits, financial or nonfinancial, did you gain?
Don’t think public vs private. There are elite public schools, more elite than USC. There are poor private schools, far less reputable than UMD. Think what will work best for your child. If money was no issue, I’d send kid to USC, but if the cost will strain you or saddle your child with debt, UMD will do just fine.

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Re: Nonfinancial value of state university vs private college (USC)?

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Tue Apr 23, 2019 8:55 pm

livesoft wrote:
Tue Apr 23, 2019 6:25 pm
I'll state something more directly: If large intro courses are a show stopper, then the person doesn't belong in college.
Or, maybe just go to a small school, smaller population, smaller intro courses.
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Re: Nonfinancial value of state university vs private college (USC)?

Post by dodecahedron » Tue Apr 23, 2019 9:04 pm

GmanJeff wrote:
Tue Apr 23, 2019 6:16 pm

On the other hand, if your son truly would do poorly in large classes for some reason, and will only have those to pick from at Md, and won't have them at USC, that's a pretty compelling argument against Md.

Perhaps not an option for your son at this point, but an intermediate solution could be paying out-of-state tuition at a highly ranked in-state school which is still within a reasonable driving distance and which offers a more intimate undergraduate experience than either Md or USC, e.g., William and Mary, or UNC Chapel Hill. Ideally, if large undergraduate introductory classes were a known show-stopper for your son, he will have applied to more schools than just USC which offer the kind of class sizes he seeks.
No need to go out of state (and pay out of state tuition) for an excellent small liberal arts education. Maryland has its own ¨public ivy¨ liberal arts college, St. Mary´s.

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Re: Nonfinancial value of state university vs private college (USC)?

Post by Tdubs » Tue Apr 23, 2019 9:17 pm

I can't tell you about the specific rep of their biochemistry programs, but in general UMd > USC for someone applying to grad school.

I understand your concern about your son's personality. Those who flourish at large state schools like UMd, Michigan, Berkeley are extroverts who get to know their professors. It is kind of amazing how many students get through four years and don't know a single professor well enough to ask for a letter of rec. That is going to matter for someone bound for grad school.
Last edited by Tdubs on Tue Apr 23, 2019 9:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Nonfinancial value of state university vs private college (USC)?

Post by Wenonah » Tue Apr 23, 2019 9:27 pm

Honestly, my son would have done better at a community college and we would have saved thousands. I don't think it even matters that your son goes to a four year school, especially if he is shy. The whole party scene and "college life" is pretty unhealthy-for so many reasons. (Former teacher here with lots of conversations about kids college picks with parents of students and friends, observing the drama of undergraduate living situations, etc.) My daughter went to a private college and for whatever reason, they got her tuition down to in-state college prices. She thrived and liked the small classes, but clearly her frontal lobe was more developed than her brothers! Both graduated with 5-10,000.00 in student loans. My friend works at a community college and they have great classes and strong professors. Your son can walk away with an AA degree and transfer anywhere and dive right into his major without worrying about General Requirements. Community colleges in our area are getting better and better. Some food for thought--hope it helps.

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Re: Nonfinancial value of state university vs private college (USC)?

Post by JPM » Tue Apr 23, 2019 9:34 pm

Sent 2 kids to U of Chicago. The banker benefited greatly because the big banks recruit there for their trading desks but not at state schools. So he got recruited at least in part because he went there. The attorney not so much. It's where he went to law school that made the difference for him. He probably would have been happier at a state undergrad school. And I would be a little richer.

If your son is aiming at med school, a prestige undergrad school doesn't mean much and neither does a prestige med school. as long as it's an MD school rather than a DO school. What you do in MD school in terms of performance and research experience determines your opportunities for post MD training. In medicine it's where you do your post MD training and how you perform there that opens doors. Or doesn't.

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Re: Nonfinancial value of state university vs private college (USC)?

Post by pastel » Tue Apr 23, 2019 9:42 pm

Have you all visited each school? I've found that East and West coast schools have different vibes, and that could be a big factor, and something you can only tell by visiting.

I also wouldn't give much weight to introverted-ness. Both schools are big and diverse, so you can find your place in both.

I'm seeing a lot of talk about both schools as if they were investments (this is an investment forum after all). I don't think using class size, location, or future prospects is the right approach to picking a school. Ultimately college is an experience - a character building exercise. The relationships you build and what is going on around you are more important than anything that can be found on a fact sheet. I think the real questions for your son are what type of people he wants to attend class with, what type of campus culture he's looking for, and what kind of town/city he likes being in.

Side note - Ironically, Ivy schools are often cheaper than good private schools because they have huge endowments and give generous aid to almost everyone.

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Re: Nonfinancial value of state university vs private college (USC)?

Post by Minty » Tue Apr 23, 2019 10:13 pm

Congratulations on great choices. According to U.S. News, USC has an 8 to 1 student-faculty ratio; U Maryland's is 18 to 1. USC has a 77% 4 year graduation rate compared to 67% for Maryland. What the adults in our family did in a similar situation was give the child the choice, with the understanding that student loans would be required to attend the more expensive school. But in this case (and in our case) I think you get something for the more expensive school; there will be more opportunity for small classes and for work with faculty at USC.
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Re: Nonfinancial value of state university vs private college (USC)?

Post by 123 » Tue Apr 23, 2019 10:20 pm

Will either school permit him to defer admission for a year (while he tries the other one out)?

I don't know about the "neighborhood" of the Maryland school but USC is located in an unfavorable neighborhood. If a student lives on campus then the neighborhood is less of an issue since the campus has security.
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Re: Nonfinancial value of state university vs private college (USC)?

Post by srt7 » Tue Apr 23, 2019 10:45 pm

I'd pick a flagship state school like Univ. of Maryland any day over USC. Don't forget all the cross country trips you'd have to make (and he'd have to make) to meet up.

Also, as someone already pointed there are a lot of good schools (Johns Hopkins etc.) that are known for their science/medicine programs in your area.
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Re: Nonfinancial value of state university vs private college (USC)?

Post by runner540 » Tue Apr 23, 2019 10:48 pm

If you can't clearly articulate what at USC is worth$160k more (plus flights back and forth), then don't do it.

Both are huge schools, where he'll have to learn to navigate the bureaucracy and make connections. Both schools have massive athletic programs that influence campus culture.

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Re: Nonfinancial value of state university vs private college (USC)?

Post by Valuethinker » Wed Apr 24, 2019 3:48 am

Cardio wrote:
Tue Apr 23, 2019 5:49 pm
My son, a high school senior, is deciding between attending college at Univ of Maryland, which is our state school, vs USC. (Yes, he got in fair and square, please no comments that will derail the thread.) :happy

He is interested in biochemistry, most likely PhD research, possibly health care.

The annual cost difference between the schools is a little over $40K/yr. We can afford the difference, but obviously we don't want to spend it if there's no benefit.

I am thinking:

1. USC, a private school, is not worth it from a financial perspective, especially for someone planning to attend grad school.
2. However, U Md. is a very large state school with many students who are extremely strong academically (eg, 4.0 GPA unweighted, 9+ AP tests scored 5, etc.), but didn't have the other traits needed to go to elite colleges. U Md has many large intro/weed-out classes. Our son is quite introverted and less likely to flourish in such a situation.
3. While I think he will do better in the environment at USC than at Md., it is hard to pay that much extra $ for that level name. If he had gotten into an Ivy or Ivy-like school, it'd be easier to write the check. Yes, I guess I'm drinking the Kool-Aid of perceived prestige.

Prior threads typically say go to the state school and save the money. I am leaning in that direction, but would like to hear from those who attended or sent their kids to a less than elite private college like USC. Why did you pay the extra $? What benefits, financial or nonfinancial, did you gain?
I attended a large North American public university (in computer science).

There are merits in the teaching approach of US 4 year liberal arts colleges - I have friends for whom I think it made a big difference in their maturation and development. After big classes in years 1 & 2, smaller seminar type classes, also the encouragement to take courses which are out of major and provide insights that will last for the rest of your life*.

However USC seems a big school? It has prestige and alumni loyalty which seem to apply particularly in S. California.

A good state school would offer similar opportunities vis a vis grad school - it will be about the grades and possibly about doing lab work in the summers. (I am guessing that Johns Hopkins is not a possibility?) For professional schools (such as medicine) I am guessing it will be about grades.

Career success after that will be about what grad school you attended and who you published with - not about your undergrad credentials.

I think it's really whichever one your son would be happier at.

* I have seen that with courses in Linguistics. Philosophy. Psychology. Foreign languages. Etc.
Last edited by Valuethinker on Wed Apr 24, 2019 3:53 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Nonfinancial value of state university vs private college (USC)?

Post by Valuethinker » Wed Apr 24, 2019 3:52 am

pastel wrote:
Tue Apr 23, 2019 9:42 pm
Have you all visited each school? I've found that East and West coast schools have different vibes, and that could be a big factor, and something you can only tell by visiting.

I also wouldn't give much weight to introverted-ness. Both schools are big and diverse, so you can find your place in both.

I'm seeing a lot of talk about both schools as if they were investments (this is an investment forum after all). I don't think using class size, location, or future prospects is the right approach to picking a school. Ultimately college is an experience - a character building exercise. The relationships you build and what is going on around you are more important than anything that can be found on a fact sheet. I think the real questions for your son are what type of people he wants to attend class with, what type of campus culture he's looking for, and what kind of town/city he likes being in.

Side note - Ironically, Ivy schools are often cheaper than good private schools because they have huge endowments and give generous aid to almost everyone.
+1 on the underlined.

Generally universities seem to use the same common materials for core courses. I have looked at the syllabi for courses similar to the ones I took at other universities, and they are very similar. Maybe by 3-4th year one has a chance for 1 on 1 work with professors, etc, but the syllabi are very similar.

Which is the right school, in feel, for the OP's son?

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Re: Nonfinancial value of state university vs private college (USC)?

Post by RickBoglehead » Wed Apr 24, 2019 5:17 am

For me, Maryland gets a black mark for how it handled the football scandal, especially reinstating Durkin, then firing him a day later. President goes, ... Concerned about values, leadership.
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Re: Nonfinancial value of state university vs private college (USC)?

Post by Valuethinker » Wed Apr 24, 2019 5:20 am

RickBoglehead wrote:
Wed Apr 24, 2019 5:17 am
For me, Maryland gets a black mark for how it handled the football scandal, especially reinstating Durkin, then firing him a day later. President goes, ... Concerned about values, leadership.
I suspect this is a tip of the iceberg thing.

The extent that many American universities' decisions are shaped by the importance of the athletics programs...

So Maryland might be an extreme case but it's not a singular one.

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Re: Nonfinancial value of state university vs private college (USC)?

Post by RickBoglehead » Wed Apr 24, 2019 5:25 am

Valuethinker wrote:
Wed Apr 24, 2019 5:20 am
RickBoglehead wrote:
Wed Apr 24, 2019 5:17 am
For me, Maryland gets a black mark for how it handled the football scandal, especially reinstating Durkin, then firing him a day later. President goes, ... Concerned about values, leadership.
I suspect this is a tip of the iceberg thing.

The extent that many American universities' decisions are shaped by the importance of the athletics programs...

So Maryland might be an extreme case but it's not a singular one.
Not the issue of the program, the poor decisions they made in handling it including having no clue as to the public reaction to reinstating Durkin by the Regents, the President firing him without protecting the $5.5 million (Durkin getting another job doesn't stop payment), etc.
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Re: Nonfinancial value of state university vs private college (USC)?

Post by Bacchus01 » Wed Apr 24, 2019 5:39 am

Where does he want to go?

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Re: Nonfinancial value of state university vs private college (USC)?

Post by growingup » Wed Apr 24, 2019 5:49 am

On a medical school admission committee, USC and UMD are equivalent. USC has no prestige advantage.

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Re: Nonfinancial value of state university vs private college (USC)?

Post by beyou » Wed Apr 24, 2019 6:00 am

As an east coaster myself, people are more “impressed” or better recognize the UMD “brand” if anything. College prestige can be regional for all but the really big names (HYPSM).

More practically and anecdotal, I have a close relative who is now a PhD scientist at a major national lab, and in demand at other labs. She went to UMD undergrad, did very well there, and got offers for two major name brand university PhD programs in her chosen field (one of the HYPSM and another of similar caliber). I know of another bright young man who turned down Johns Hopkins and Ga Tech for UMD full scholarship. Got a great internship summer after fresh year (not easy for freshmen).

I would not even consider USC over UMD given the cost difference. The personal social factors could change that, if one location would make him grow into a confident adult more than the other. Being somehwat close to home but not living at home I think is ideal for an 18 year old. Grow up but with a feeling of not being alone in the world, no more than a few hours drive away, close enough to come home Thanksgiving is nice.

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Re: Nonfinancial value of state university vs private college (USC)?

Post by TheOscarGuy » Wed Apr 24, 2019 6:30 am

Cardio wrote:
Tue Apr 23, 2019 5:49 pm
My son, a high school senior, is deciding between attending college at Univ of Maryland, which is our state school, vs USC. (Yes, he got in fair and square, please no comments that will derail the thread.) :happy

He is interested in biochemistry, most likely PhD research, possibly health care.

The annual cost difference between the schools is a little over $40K/yr. We can afford the difference, but obviously we don't want to spend it if there's no benefit.

I am thinking:

1. USC, a private school, is not worth it from a financial perspective, especially for someone planning to attend grad school.
2. However, U Md. is a very large state school with many students who are extremely strong academically (eg, 4.0 GPA unweighted, 9+ AP tests scored 5, etc.), but didn't have the other traits needed to go to elite colleges. U Md has many large intro/weed-out classes. Our son is quite introverted and less likely to flourish in such a situation.
3. While I think he will do better in the environment at USC than at Md., it is hard to pay that much extra $ for that level name. If he had gotten into an Ivy or Ivy-like school, it'd be easier to write the check. Yes, I guess I'm drinking the Kool-Aid of perceived prestige.

Prior threads typically say go to the state school and save the money. I am leaning in that direction, but would like to hear from those who attended or sent their kids to a less than elite private college like USC. Why did you pay the extra $? What benefits, financial or nonfinancial, did you gain?
I have *never* considered USC. I think it is relatively easy to get in if you are ready to pay full price. In my field I would consider umcp and USC to be equal, possibly umcp higher depending on the area of research.
For a $40K difference I would definitely not go to USC, just for the perceived brand name. I literally laughed when they said rich parents trying to get their kids in elite schools like '....and USC.' :D

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Re: Nonfinancial value of state university vs private college (USC)?

Post by fru-gal » Wed Apr 24, 2019 6:58 am

Wenonah wrote:
Tue Apr 23, 2019 9:27 pm
My friend works at a community college and they have great classes and strong professors. Your son can walk away with an AA degree and transfer anywhere and dive right into his major without worrying about General Requirements..
Well, no. The student may or may not get into a better college after two years at a community college, but he or she will likely start as a sophomore.

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Re: Nonfinancial value of state university vs private college (USC)?

Post by fru-gal » Wed Apr 24, 2019 7:05 am

TheOscarGuy wrote:
Wed Apr 24, 2019 6:30 am

For a $40K difference I would definitely not go to USC, just for the perceived brand name. I literally laughed when they said rich parents trying to get their kids in elite schools like '....and USC.' :D
Yeah, really.

A sad fact about the college admissions scandal is if the parents had just made a half mil donation, their kid would likely be admitted, they'd have a legitimate Schedule A item, and no criminal charges would be pending. Heck, they probably could have gotten into Harvard.

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Re: Nonfinancial value of state university vs private college (USC)?

Post by Marylander1 » Wed Apr 24, 2019 7:11 am

Minty wrote:
Tue Apr 23, 2019 10:13 pm
USC has a 77% 4 year graduation rate compared to 67% for Maryland.
I expect this is heavily correlated with tuition. Back when state schools were affordable without loans, it cost me very little to stay a fifth year and get two B.S. degrees with four minors. I've been employed in the field of one of those minors ever since.

If I'd faced the debt inherent to private school, I wouldn't have stayed a fifth year, and been on a very different path. Five years undergrad was great for me.

Marylander1

Bacchus01
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Re: Nonfinancial value of state university vs private college (USC)?

Post by Bacchus01 » Wed Apr 24, 2019 7:12 am

USC is prestigious? Really?

fwellimort
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Re: Nonfinancial value of state university vs private college (USC)?

Post by fwellimort » Wed Apr 24, 2019 7:25 am

TL;DR Your state flagship is a great school and the private college isn't worth the cost. It's an undergrad degree.
I rather have extra cash in my pockets than not. The ROI is better and your child will probably have a better experience in the state flagship.

Attended a USNews undergrad "top 3" school.

Many of my friends and I agreed it was not worth the price (and the experience was honestly something I would not want my own child to undergo).
Maybe it was because my friends and I majored in something more techy (computer science / math / applied math / physics) but I honestly felt our job search was much more difficult than those who job searched from their state flagships.

I felt it was harder to stand out in a private (despite all the media claiming otherwise).
I felt the quality of teaching was inferior (there are many professors who don't speak proper English in the university just because they are leading researchers).

And currently, I get this all the time from my managers [and other new hires].
"Why are you working here. Shouldn't you be working at Google/hedge fund?"
Pisses you off a certain point and it's degrading. It's like if you graduate from a certain school you MUST work for a certain firm. Where's the freedom of choice? And realistically, not everyone is going to be working at Google after graduating (nor do I have any thoughts to?).

If I could repeat college, I would opt my in-state flagship [heck, 2 year community college transition to state flagship sounds like a steal if you don't plan on attending grad school. If you are planning grad school, I think you should opt state flagship right away cause you need to be a 'research assistant' from first year to stay competitive].
Nonfinancial value? Well, I got to see the scam of higher education in America. Great test takers. Nothing else. And that's all that matters since college courses are basically graded through two or three exams.
Your peers will be very bright and for once you don't feel out of place but that's it. Some of my friends finished Modern Algebra before college and wasn't even interested in majoring math!
And most companies screening you out before the interview because they believe you won't work for them anyways. And the ones that do look at you, you will be competing in the exact same pool as your college.

At least my parents get to brag to everyone. I'm basically just a trophy to them. I don't mind though because they poured so much money into the college ("financial aid" wasn't that great for some of my friends and I).
Oh, and I don't know about USC but the school I attended, many of my friends felt suicidal and depressed during college. And there's a lot of cheating going on in top privates. I think Stanford released an article in which over 80% of the CS undergrad body was cheating to get interviews with top tech firms. So ya, another part you get to realize about higher education. Your future professors in academia most likely cheated their ways (and you get to see that in a top private).
Last edited by fwellimort on Wed Apr 24, 2019 7:32 am, edited 1 time in total.

California88
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Re: Nonfinancial value of state university vs private college (USC)?

Post by California88 » Wed Apr 24, 2019 7:30 am

I'd be hesitant about sending my child to school at USC ... because of the terrible neighborhood that's it's in.

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Re: Nonfinancial value of state university vs private college (USC)?

Post by Valuethinker » Wed Apr 24, 2019 7:38 am

Bacchus01 wrote:
Wed Apr 24, 2019 7:12 am
USC is prestigious? Really?
1. apparently USC has moved up a *lot* in the rankings - the Dean made it a goal, and it was achieved (hence in part the reason for the admit scandals)

2. it's always had a status in Southern California, I understand. Partly due to professional schools. But alumni are fiercely proud of it. So if your career/ life is going to be in SoCal, that might be another argument in favour.

If I understand the sociology of this UCLA is basically composed of the top grads of the California high school system (who did not go to Berkeley) - all high schools. Based on my experience at University, a lot of them (?40%?) will be the first generation in their family to attend an American university (their mother's PhD could easily be from Tehran U). Mixed in will be foreign students. This is a place where students study hard - very hard. My undergrad university had that personality (if not quite so competitive, then).

USC is more the "establishment" school, to the extent Southern California has an establishment - families that have been there for generations. So your classmates will include legacy admits, athlete admits etc. It's been selected to have more of a balance, not just very high high school grades. If you are a fan of Philip Marlowe (Raymond Chandler) and Lew Archer (Ross McDonald) then this terrain has a degree of fascination.

Professional schools it will be some different ranking. UCLA once had a top business school (on world rankings) but I think it has somewhat receded in the rankings the last 25 years. Law school & medical school are, AFAIK, very much in the top handful in America.

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Re: Nonfinancial value of state university vs private college (USC)?

Post by Valuethinker » Wed Apr 24, 2019 7:41 am

California88 wrote:
Wed Apr 24, 2019 7:30 am
I'd be hesitant about sending my child to school at USC ... because of the terrible neighborhood that's it's in.
I don't know how Americans "price" (weight) this?

U Chicago is in a horrible part of Chicago by all accounts, but the Hyde Park neighbourhood is very nice? It's own insulated world. Johns Hopkins I have heard just terrible stories. Yet it's a fine fine university.

Presumably USC campus itself is not a danger zone. Presumably the students, with affluent parents, find somewhere to live that is not extremely dangerous?

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Re: Nonfinancial value of state university vs private college (USC)?

Post by FireProof » Wed Apr 24, 2019 7:50 am

Valuethinker wrote:
Wed Apr 24, 2019 7:41 am
California88 wrote:
Wed Apr 24, 2019 7:30 am
I'd be hesitant about sending my child to school at USC ... because of the terrible neighborhood that's it's in.
I don't know how Americans "price" (weight) this?

U Chicago is in a horrible part of Chicago by all accounts, but the Hyde Park neighbourhood is very nice? It's own insulated world. Johns Hopkins I have heard just terrible stories. Yet it's a fine fine university.

Presumably USC campus itself is not a danger zone. Presumably the students, with affluent parents, find somewhere to live that is not extremely dangerous?
In 2019, nowhere in LA is extremely dangerous (not that it ever was for an affluent college student). Besides hysteria, crime is a completely insignificant threat compared to, say, car accidents. It's possible he might get his bike stolen if he's careless, though.

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Re: Nonfinancial value of state university vs private college (USC)?

Post by ohai » Wed Apr 24, 2019 7:53 am

It sounds like Maryland is the overall better deal, unless the money means almost nothing to you. If son plans to go to graduate school (which I assume is a PhD program), the two universities are probably roughly equivalent. However, he should definitely attend some presentations in the specific departments he is interested in at both schools, since quality of specific departments does not always correlate with the school's overall ranking.

I'm assuming quality of life doesn't matter either. All else equal, I'd rather spend 4 years in southern California than Maryland (no offense intended).

Although I didn't attend USC, it seems that almost everyone I meet who went there met some kind of Kardashian rich friends. Maybe this is a positive for attending that school. Not sure if this matters, but I felt like mentioning it for some reason.

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Re: Nonfinancial value of state university vs private college (USC)?

Post by acegolfer » Wed Apr 24, 2019 7:55 am

Have your son become a BH and read this thread. Teenagers may think going to state school is a loser.

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HueyLD
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Re: Nonfinancial value of state university vs private college (USC)?

Post by HueyLD » Wed Apr 24, 2019 7:57 am

USC has a reputation for being a school for spoiled rich kids and helicopter parents.

However, it is a prestigious U in SoCal. It is SoCal's answer to Stanford in NorCal. :)

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Re: Nonfinancial value of state university vs private college (USC)?

Post by livesoft » Wed Apr 24, 2019 7:59 am

Grt2bOutdoors wrote:
Tue Apr 23, 2019 8:55 pm
Or, maybe just go to a small school, smaller population, smaller intro courses.
I think it is way easier for an introverted person to hide in a class of 100 or 300, than in a class of 10 or 30.

Also, in larger classes what happens is that friends sit together. Or students don't even go to lectures. Or they sit in the back and text the whole time.

FWIW, my high school had more students than my university.
Wiki This signature message sponsored by sscritic: Learn to fish.

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Re: Nonfinancial value of state university vs private college (USC)?

Post by Valuethinker » Wed Apr 24, 2019 8:05 am

HueyLD wrote:
Wed Apr 24, 2019 7:57 am
USC has a reputation for being a school for spoiled rich kids and helicopter parents.

However, it is a prestigious U in SoCal. It is SoCal's answer to Stanford in NorCal. :)
What I heard was that USC grads put that degree in a frame and stick it on their office walls. Fanatical alumni loyalty. That may be partly the professional schools - people who attend and go on to be doctors, lawyers, dentists in Southern California.

Stanford no doubt has a bit of that but it's also, in prestige, probably in the top 4 universities in America (Harvard Yale Princeton + Stanford; I would probably add MIT & Caltech if we were considering science universities). The ubiquity of Stanford grads in tech & venture capital has to be seen to be believed.

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Re: Nonfinancial value of state university vs private college (USC)?

Post by ahnathan » Wed Apr 24, 2019 8:29 am

I think a world in which people don’t prop up the perceived value of their undergraduate degree would be a better one.

USC is not a better school than Maryland, and “school rankings” are arbitrary piles of nothingness.

He should go somewhere he can get a good education at a good value. He still has plenty of school left in him after undergraduate. He can worry about prestige then.

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Re: Nonfinancial value of state university vs private college (USC)?

Post by FireProof » Wed Apr 24, 2019 8:34 am

A bit of a caricatured vision of USC in this thread. Maybe at some time it was like a Trinity College, a backstop for private school kids too dumb (and stingy) to get into a respected school, but it has certainly grown beyond that. It is a large urban university, approximating large public schools in many ways, with large classes, a focus on athletics and fraternities, and a wide range of students, from very mediocre to very smart. It has a greater proportion of Pell Grants (i.e. poor students) than the University of Maryland, and certainly far more ethnic and geographic diversity. It has strong name recognition and enthusiastic alumni, but it's definitely not an academic powerhouse. It's also not some tiny liberal arts college that will hold every shy freshman's hand.

In the end, that's a LOT of money to buy a fairly similar experience, with the obvious exception that one of them is in the middle of LA. For some people that's a big deal, of course, which is why NYU and USC are some of students' top dream schools.

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Re: Nonfinancial value of state university vs private college (USC)?

Post by Watty » Wed Apr 24, 2019 8:58 am

More of a detail to add to your checklist than a factor in the decision process.

One other thing to look into is how your medical insurance will work for him if he is in California. One problem people sometimes run into is that there are no in-network doctors near where a kid is going to college when they going to school out of state. The emergency room coverage is probably OK but other appointments could be an issue.

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Re: Nonfinancial value of state university vs private college (USC)?

Post by SC Anteater » Wed Apr 24, 2019 9:01 am

RickBoglehead wrote:
Wed Apr 24, 2019 5:17 am
For me, Maryland gets a black mark for how it handled the football scandal, especially reinstating Durkin, then firing him a day later. President goes, ... Concerned about values, leadership.
USC has plenty of black marks of its own (drug abusing med school dean, sexually abusing staff gynecologist, current fake athlete admission scandal).

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