Help with college choice

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midlemom
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Help with college choice

Post by midlemom »

Hello Bogleheads,

I am avid reader of this forum and value the advice given by the forum members.
I wanted to get your opinion on college choices for our kid ( 1st one of 2)
We are classic middle class 2 income family, but not much assets and classified as full pay at colleges.

He attended a competitive STEM high school, and did very well with the opportunities provided, CS research, participated in national level competitions etc, straight A student taking college level math and science classes.
He got admitted to UPenn, Cornell, Vanderbilt, UCBerkley EECS program, Georgia Tech etc.
He is deciding between UPenn (full pay), Cornell (5k Pres. research grant) and Vanderbilt (full tuition scholarship).
Major is Computer science but he may add a major/minor in Economics or business.
We have told him Berkeley is pretty much off the table due to OOS costs of 60K+ and overcrowding.

Is it foolish to give up full tuition offer at Vandy for UPenn full-pay( we have about 1 yr saved in 529 and another yr in savings and would have to cash flow the rest or take loans in case of job loss)
He loved UPenn but yet to visit Vandy.
Not sure if it is too southern for my Asian kid.
Last edited by midlemom on Wed Apr 05, 2017 10:54 am, edited 2 times in total.
student
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Re: Help with college chioces

Post by student »

midlemom wrote:Hello Bogleheads,

I am avid reader of this forum and value the advice given by the forum members.
I wanted to get your opinion on college choices for our kid ( 1st one of 2)
We are classic middle class 2 income family, but not much assets and classified as full pay at colleges.

He attended a competitive STEM high school, and did very well with the opportunities provided, CS research, participated in national level competitions etc, straight A student taking college level math and science classes.
He got admitted to UPenn, Cornell, Vanderbilt, UCBerkley EECS program, Georgia Tech etc.
He is deciding between UPenn (full pay), Cornell (5k Pres. research grant) and Vanderbilt (full tuition scholarship).
Major is Computer science but he may add a major/minor in Economics or business.
We have told him Berkeley is pretty much off the table due to their budget cuts and overcrowding.

Is it foolish to give up full tuition offer at Vandy for UPenn full-pay( we have about 1 yr saved in 529 and another yr in savings and would have to cash flow the rest or take loans in case of job loss)
He loved UPenn but yet to visit Vandy.
Not sure if it is too southern for my Asian kid.
Here is my ranking: Berkley is better than Georgia Tech and Cornell, which in turn are slightly better than UPenn. All are much better than Vanderbilt. To me the choices are either Cornell or Vanderbilt. Does he want to go to graduate school? If so and you want to save money, Vanderbilt is good enough for now. He can go to a better graduate school.

Edit: I misread the OP so I updated my response.
Last edited by student on Tue Apr 04, 2017 5:43 pm, edited 2 times in total.
GrayS26
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Re: Help with college chioces

Post by GrayS26 »

Idk they all seem fine I mean I went to a party college and yes I partied a lot but I turned out ok. I know people who went to the best schools and nobody really turned out that successful IMO but then again it depends on what you define as "successful"
Topic Author
midlemom
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Re: Help with college chioces

Post by midlemom »

UPenn would be full-pay without financial aid, approx 70k per year, with Cornell slightly less.
Vandy would be 18k R&B only, with tuition paid for with Cornelius scholarship.
Our top instate schools are 25k per year.
livesoft
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Re: Help with college chioces

Post by livesoft »

Search for boglehead "ram" and "Vanderbilt" to read about what his son did.
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blues008
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Re: Help with college chioces

Post by blues008 »

What does your son want to do following graduation? I would absolutely visit Vanderbilt and give it serious thought especially compared to paying >$60K per year for Penn. Don't get too caught up in name brands for schools. I'm sure he will easily be able to get multiple interviews having received a full scholarship provided he does well in his courses and gets access to professors/research. Starting a career without worrying about student loan debt would also give your son a lot of freedom to pick the career he's passionate about. Finally, would your son receive the California tuition for Berkeley? Even with out-of-state tuition I wouldn't count it out as it's one of the best universities in the country for EECS.
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celia
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Re: Help with college chioces

Post by celia »

The Berkley EECS program is very hard to get into. If you live in California, that is the way to go even if it takes 5 years. The disadvantage, IMO, is the huge size of the school and only one year of student housing is guaranteed. (If Berkley was "off the table" to begin with, why did he apply?)

If he is fairly certain he will work in CS, he should know that Berkley, Stanford, MIT, and CMU are the 4 top rated CS schools. If he goes to grad school, he should apply to all of these. Congrats!

I know someone who graduated from 2 of these schools (BS, then MS). He said the CS recruiters had to pay $40,000 a year for the privilege of recruiting on-campus. Those students will have many job offers waiting for them.

As far as "full rides", a top student like your son often gets them from lower-level schools who want to be able to attract top talent. The top schools don't need to do that as the top students will tend to gravitate there anyway. I even know National Merit Finalists who get "full ride" offers in the mail from schools they didn't even apply to. They tend to be schools you've never heard of.
Last edited by celia on Tue Apr 04, 2017 6:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
bloom2708
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Re: Help with college chioces

Post by bloom2708 »

$18k for Vanderbilt or $70k for xyz. Both will give you a piece of paper that may or may not qualify you for a career/job.

I wish all decisions were so easy. Vanderbilt. (or a local state school that is under the $18k all up).

The pastor of our church a few years back had a daughter. Full ride to a smaller private school or pay full price for the U of M in Minneapolis. Probably 80k spread between the two per year.

She chose the U of M, full pay. Interesting decision for a Pastor on a budget. I hope I can help steer our kids in the right direction.

If I had $10 million in investments and made $500k per year, and had $500k in the kids 529, then I'd have a decision to make.
Last edited by bloom2708 on Tue Apr 04, 2017 8:16 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Sandtrap
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Re: Help with college chioces

Post by Sandtrap »

IMHO, AFAIK, it matters not what university on a job application. What matters is performance at that university, though not even by that much. A full tuition scholarship would free up funds or even perhaps have a greater chance for additional scholarship for grad work. Others may differ as far as school choices but IMHO (not an expert), a B.S from a top university vs a M.S. or PhD. from a non top university is an even bigger difference as far as the job market. OTOH is the student likes one school over another, they will do well and have great experiences and memories, and that is what counts in the long run. Of course everyone is different and will consider options differently based on their own criteria.
Hope this viewpoint helps a little.
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Big Dog
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Re: Help with college chioces

Post by Big Dog »

EECS at Cal is already a double major, and will not allow you any room for an Econ/Business minor. Plus, Cal's b-school is Haas, and requires a separate application for Junior year. Is Berkeley in state? EECS is a very prestigious program, but at OOS prices is a stretch. In comparison, Vandy for the cost of R&B is almost a no-brainer.
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midlemom
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Re: Help with college chioces

Post by midlemom »

celia wrote:The Berkley EECS program is very hard to get into. If you live in California, that is the way to go even if it takes 5 years. The disadvantage, IMO, is their size and only one year of student housing is guaranteed. If Berkley was "off the table" to begin with, why did he apply?

If he is fairly certain he will work in CS, he should know that Berkley, Stanford, MIT, and CMU are the 4 top rated CS schools. If he goes to grad school, he should apply to all of these. Congrats!
We are OOs for Berkeley, and he interviewed for Regents which would have brought it down to in-state fee. He loved the vibe at Berkeley but we worry if he might get lost in the crowd, and is it worth it to atten OOS, when many California kids are going East to private schools.
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dodecahedron
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your dream school vs your finances

Post by dodecahedron »

Here's an awesome testimonial from a young man who had had his heart set on Yale for months and months. He got into his dream school Yale with no financial aid but had a great scholarship at Vanderbilt. He agonized for a month on the College Confidential forums. Ultimately and with great reluctance, he chose Vandy.

Here's what he posted four years later after graduating from Vanderbilt:

http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/par ... ances.html
delamer
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Re: Help with college chioces

Post by delamer »

I think your perspective is a little off.

No one can cashflow a $70K year of college if they are a "classic middle class" family. There are two possibilities: Either 1) you have an upper-middle class income and have not been able to save very much or 2) you really do have a middle class income and it is not realistic to cashflow $70K a year.

(If your income has increased a lot recently, then that could explain the relatively low savings on a high income.)

I say all this not to be critical but, as I noted above, something seems off.

Ask yourself if you can really afford to spend cashflow two years for kid #1 at $70K? What are the consequences for his younger sibling if you spend $300K for #1's education? And what if there is a job loss -- would you take out $140K worth of loans for one kid with another's education to pay for?
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Re: Help with college chioces

Post by bloom2708 »

You know your son. Financials are a big factor. Not the only factor.

Is he a "be 1,500 miles from home" kid? Does he want to go far away and visit 1-2 times per year?

The "all the kids from the west coast are going to east coast schools.." line worries me a bit. Keeping up with the Jonses stinks.

If you had $10 million in investments, $500k in salaries and $500k in the 529, then you could try to keep up with the Jonses. Even then I wouldn't.
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midlemom
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Re: Help with college chioces

Post by midlemom »

delamer wrote:I think your perspective is a little off.

No one can cashflow a $70K year of college if they are a "classic middle class" family. There are two possibilities: Either 1) you have an upper-middle class income and have not been able to save very much or 2) you really do have a middle class income and it is not realistic to cashflow $70K a year.

(If your income has increased a lot recently, then that could explain the relatively low savings on a high income.)

I say all this not to be critical but, as I noted above, something seems off.

Ask yourself if you can really afford to spend cashflow two years for kid #1 at $70K? What are the consequences for his younger sibling if you spend $300K for #1's education? And what if there is a job loss -- would you take out $140K worth of loans for one kid with another's education to pay for?
Yes, our income level is more recent, and our 401k had a healthy growth in the recent bull market.
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midlemom
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Re: your dream school vs your finances

Post by midlemom »

dodecahedron wrote:Here's an awesome testimonial from a young man who had had his heart set on Yale for months and months. He got into his dream school Yale with no financial aid but had a great scholarship at Vanderbilt. He agonized for a month on the College Confidential forums. Ultimately and with great reluctance, he chose Vandy.

Here's what he posted four years later after graduating from Vanderbilt:

http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/par ... ances.html
Thanks for posting.
I will ask my son to read this.
delamer
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Re: Help with college chioces

Post by delamer »

midlemom wrote:
delamer wrote:I think your perspective is a little off.

No one can cashflow a $70K year of college if they are a "classic middle class" family. There are two possibilities: Either 1) you have an upper-middle class income and have not been able to save very much or 2) you really do have a middle class income and it is not realistic to cashflow $70K a year.

(If your income has increased a lot recently, then that could explain the relatively low savings on a high income.)

I say all this not to be critical but, as I noted above, something seems off.

Ask yourself if you can really afford to spend cashflow two years for kid #1 at $70K? What are the consequences for his younger sibling if you spend $300K for #1's education? And what if there is a job loss -- would you take out $140K worth of loans for one kid with another's education to pay for?
Yes, our income level is more recent, and our 401k had a healthy growth in the recent bull market.
I assume that the 401(k) is not going to be used for college, so I am not sure of the relevance.

Think long and hard about whether you can really afford to cashflow $70K. That probably means about $100K of pretax income (to net $70K). And what about kid#2?
NotWhoYouThink
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Re: Help with college chioces

Post by NotWhoYouThink »

You have 2 kids, and just over a year of college expenses saved, and your income is high but recent, you are in a high turnover industry, and you are pushing 50, if this post from 2013 is correct. I assume you have added to these accounts in 4 years, but probably have a high cost of living.
So here is our story:
Ages: 47 and 44
Income: 220K (hi tech, so not that stable)
Retirement: 360K
Mortgage: 417 (30yr @3.375)
Current HELOC 120K to be converted to a fixed rate HEL with Penfed @ 3.99/15 yrs (discovered Penfed thanks to this forum)
HELOC was taken with the intent to pay off atleast 1/2 with old home sale proceeds, but did not get as much as expected.
Taxable brokerage: 35K
Liquid: 40K
Kids: 15 yr old has 12K(529) + 10K(UGMA) and 11yr old has 9k(529)
I have been saving the Max 401k for the last 5 yrs (SAHM for prev 5 yrs), and Husband is a reluctant saver, but saving little less than Max.
The best gift you can give your kids is being financially responsible enough to save for your own retirement and not expect them to be your pension. That starts with not overspending for college. Vanderbilt is a great school. So is GaTech, for that matter - cheaper than Penn or Cornell, too. Maybe not cheap enough, though, did he get any aid there? Ga Tech also has a pretty robust co-op program, which could help him pay a lot of his costs.
You have one affordable choice (barely) with Vandy, and a maybe with Tech. The others are too expensive for you, forget them.

And since the Ivies don't give merit aid, don't let your second child apply. They cost too much, and you do not qualify for financial aid. Forget them and make realistic plans.
s
Last edited by NotWhoYouThink on Tue Apr 04, 2017 7:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
student
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Re: Help with college chioces

Post by student »

I replied earlier. After reading your earlier thread from a few years ago, I would advocate my earlier response: Your son goes to Vanderbilt to take advantage of the full ride; then go to a "better" school for graduate work. After 20 years of teaching, my belief is that the most cost effective way is the following: Find a school that is slightly below the top schools (in CS, it will be MIT, Stanford, Berkeley, CMU etc) that is economical to go to, then apply to top graduate programs. No good students pay for graduate school in CS. They pay the students. A full ride at Vanderbilt fits the bill.
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Re: Help with college chioces

Post by Grt2bOutdoors »

I see not much has changed with Penn, my sibling was admitted theremore than 25 years ago, my parents made next to nothing, had little in way of assets, they wanted their savings account because it was liquid and cash. Sibling passed on it.

OP, reputation of Penn or not, not worth for child or parent to go into hock to tune of 140k, save your money for grad school or go to less costlier choice.
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NotWhoYouThink
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Re: Help with college chioces

Post by NotWhoYouThink »

Wait, just saw the "etc." after the list of colleges in the first post. Does he have other affordable options?
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Re: Help with college chioces

Post by Grt2bOutdoors »

student wrote:I replied earlier. After reading your earlier thread from a few years ago, I would advocate my earlier response: Your son goes to Vanderbilt to take advantage of the full ride; then go to a "better" school for graduate work. After 20 years of teaching, my belief is that the most cost effective way is the following: Find a school that is slightly below the top schools (in CS, it will be MIT, Stanford, Berkeley, CMU etc) that is economical to go to, then apply to top graduate programs. No good students pay for graduate school in CS. They pay the students. A full ride at Vanderbilt fits the bill.

That is what a good friend of mine did, went to state school undergrad and grad, they paid him for grad, he morphed that into consulting for - zero travel, into job with well known tech company, did really well for himself. I agree, not a tech major, but the offer is compelling. Save money for grad school.
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midlemom
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Re: Help with college chioces

Post by midlemom »

student wrote:I replied earlier. After reading your earlier thread from a few years ago, I would advocate my earlier response: Your son goes to Vanderbilt to take advantage of the full ride; then go to a "better" school for graduate work. After 20 years of teaching, my belief is that the most cost effective way is the following: Find a school that is slightly below the top schools (in CS, it will be MIT, Stanford, Berkeley, CMU etc) that is economical to go to, then apply to top graduate programs. No good students pay for graduate school in CS. They pay the students. A full ride at Vanderbilt fits the bill.
Thanks for your input, it's good to hear this from an academic.
Grad school maybe in his future as he liked research.
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midlemom
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Re: Help with college chioces

Post by midlemom »

NotWhoYouThink wrote:Wait, just saw the "etc." after the list of colleges in the first post. Does he have other affordable options?
The most economical choice is Vandy at 18k per year, and most expensive is UPenn.
Our instates have different criteria for merit scholarships, so it would be full 25k.
RedClay
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Re: Help with college chioces

Post by RedClay »

student wrote:Your son goes to Vanderbilt to take advantage of the full ride; then go to a "better" school for graduate work. After 20 years of teaching, my belief is that the most cost effective way is the following: Find a school that is slightly below the top schools (in CS, it will be MIT, Stanford, Berkeley, CMU etc) that is economical to go to, then apply to top graduate programs. No good students pay for graduate school in CS. They pay the students. A full ride at Vanderbilt fits the bill.
+1. I fully agree with the other posters advocating for Vandy. I faced a similar decision several years ago. I took the full-ride at my local state school over the $200K bill for four years at a more prestigious private college. Luckily, my parents had saved a good chunk of money for college, so I was able to use this money for a better-ranked grad school. If I had attended the $200k private undergrad, my options for grad school would have been severely limited. If your son is considering grad school, the reputation of your grad school generally matters much more than that of your undergrad.

In my experience, each student makes his or her own path in school. I had many brilliant, hardworking classmates at my public undergrad and many "less than brilliant" classmates in grad school. Good luck on his decision!
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Re: Help with college chioces

Post by itstoomuch »

I concur with, student.
Also add, You either go to the TT and pay, or a level below and pay virtually nothing.
Suggest you look at the faculty at the target schools to see instructors pedigree. And the outcomes of graduating seniors.

Our's did CMU(2002-2006), unable to get into CS but a work around and double majored. We were full-payers and still have a few $10Ks in loans. The Only got a scholarship for the MS-CS.
YMMV and GL
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Re: Help with college chioces

Post by livesoft »

RedClay wrote:If I had attended the $200k private undergrad, my options for grad school would have been severely limited. If your son is considering grad school, the reputation of your grad school generally matters much more than that of your undergrad.
May I ask for an explanation of the above statements? Are you saying that you would have been a different person by going to the expensive undergrad school and would not have qualified to get into grad school(s)? What does "severely limited" mean in your sentence?

Yes, rep of school of terminal degree can matter more than earlier degrees as long as one's career makes use of the terminal degree.
Last edited by livesoft on Tue Apr 04, 2017 7:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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midlemom
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Re: Help with college chioces

Post by midlemom »

itstoomuch wrote:I concur with, student.
Also add, You either go to the TT and pay, or a level below and pay virtually nothing.
Suggest you look at the faculty at the target schools to see instructors pedigree. And the outcomes of graduating seniors.

Our's did CMU(2002-2006), unable to get into CS but a work around and double majored. We were full-payers and still have a few $10Ks in loans. The Only got a scholarship for the MS-CS.
YMMV and GL
He was wailisted CMU SCS.
mckaydw
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Re: Help with college chioces

Post by mckaydw »

I'm currently working on a PhD in engineering and I've attended 3 different schools. A state university (BS), a military university (MS), and a private university (PhD).

From a broad perspective of what is most important for a future successful career, I'd list the following in order of importance:

1) Select a major that has great job prospects.

2) Do well in school.

3) Attend a top university.

I listened to a great podcast a few months ago about how college students are more likely to ultimately be successful if they attend a college where they are a top incoming student, rather than attending the best school they are admitted to, where they are a bottom incoming student.

+1 to all those saying to keep costs low for BS. Unless you have unlimited money, its just not worth the price-tag to attend these fancy universities that are (in my opinion) taking advantage of students and parents. There are ways to get a great education for far less.
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Re: Help with college choice

Post by itstoomuch »

Caveat:
A MS-CS, May cost student. Some schools will charge for the MS and offer promising students a PHD program.
A ms in cs is only marginally better than a cs from renown schools. A CS- MS, is equivalent to BS with 2-3year's experience. A PHD in CS is equalize to BS with ~6 yrs experience showing continued advancement. All approximate. See glassdoor.
YMMV
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camden
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Re: Help with college choice

Post by camden »

I would choose Vanderbilt and its full tuition scholarship in a heartbeat.
chmcnm
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Re: Help with college choice

Post by chmcnm »

I just looked at the latest college rankings. Vandy is 15th which is tied with Cornell, Rice, and Notre Dame. Do well there and graduate with no debt sounds pretty good.

Is it too late to try to negotiate some more financial aid? For CS I would think GT would be higher on the list.
Last edited by chmcnm on Tue Apr 04, 2017 8:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
bigred77
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Re: Help with college choice

Post by bigred77 »

You need more information to make the best choice. What are the career goals of the student post graduation? Where do they think they'll want to live post graduation? Will the student benefit from smaller class sizes or are large lecture halls just fine? Any interest in Greek life/ extra curriculars/ unique social clubs?

If you want to work for a top tech company, where do they recruit from?

If you want to work in finance or consulting (and CS is an attractive major for a lot of those jobs) then Ivy League may be a better choice (you'll have to look at where they recruit from as well).

If you want to live in California post graduation maybe Berkeley should get a second look.
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Re: Help with college choice

Post by CppCoder »

Why have you or your kid summarily rejected Georgia Tech from your list? You do realize that it's the second best school on your list for STEM subjects (behind Berkeley).

I was accepted to Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech for undergrad and chose Georgia Tech (engineering, not CS). For my PhD, I only applied to MIT, Caltech, Berkeley, and CMU, was accepted to all four, and went to MIT. I also visited all four, and you could not have paid me enough to attend Berkeley. Unlike your son, I really disliked the vibe there.

Of the three finalists, I would only even consider Penn if your son really wanted to go into finance. Otherwise, it's not worth the cost. If he'll definitely go to graduate school, go with Vandy. All are good enough to get into the next level. Honestly, though, of all the schools you listed, it would come down to Berkeley or Georgia Tech if it were me, even given my dislike of Berkeley after visiting there.
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leeks
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Re: Help with college choice

Post by leeks »

midlemom wrote: He loved UPenn but yet to visit Vandy.
Not sure if it is too southern for my Asian kid.
Vanderbilt seems to be the obvious choice but send him to visit before confirming.
RedClay
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Re: Help with college chioces

Post by RedClay »

livesoft wrote:
RedClay wrote:If I had attended the $200k private undergrad, my options for grad school would have been severely limited. If your son is considering grad school, the reputation of your grad school generally matters much more than that of your undergrad.
May I ask for an explanation of the above statements? Are you saying that you would have been a different person by going to the expensive undergrad school and would not have qualified to get into grad school(s)? What does "severely limited" mean in your sentence?

Yes, rep of school of terminal degree can matter more than earlier degrees as long as one's career makes use of the terminal degree.
Livesoft, I meant to say that my options for grad school would have been "severely limited" in a financial sense. My parents had set aside about $100k in a 529 plan for college expenses. Because I did not have to touch these assets for four years of college, they were available to pay for graduate school. Graduate school cost had an all-in cost of about $200k, so you can understand my reluctance to attend the expensive undergrad option. I likely would have had $100k in debt from undergrad, and $200k debt from grad school. In response to your first question, I certainly don't think that I'd be a "different person by going to the expensive undergrad." I'd just be a person with a lot more debt and fewer affordable options for grad school. :)
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Re: Help with college choice

Post by RandomFly »

I got my PhD from a top 5 EECS program. After the top 10-15 schools there is a rather quick drop off in terms of quality of both the professors and students. There are advantages to attending a school with a good graduate research program as the professors and their research does have an effect on how the classes are taught for undergrads and the opportunities you get. At the end of my PhD, I had an offer from the top 2 industrial research labs in the US at that time. On the other hand, EECS in a good school can be a tough program (especially if he takes more EE courses) unless your son is adequately prepared and is a quick self study. In the school I attended, there was always plenty of grant money - well paid internships, programming and lab assistant jobs were easy to get for junior or seniors. Of all the programs you listed, Berkeley EECS is probably the best. Cornell has also good professors in key areas. UPenn is not particularly known for CS, but is a decent school. I would pass on the others since your son is already admitted to these schools.
student
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Re: Help with college choice

Post by student »

chmcnm wrote:I just looked at the latest college rankings. Vandy is 15th which is tied with Cornell, Rice, and Notre Dame. Do well there and graduate with no debt sounds pretty good.

Is it too late to try to negotiate some more financial aid? For CS I would think GT would be higher on the list.
I assume you are looking at US News and World Report ranking. Although they do a subject ranking, IMHO a better source is one of the following:
1) QS https://www.topuniversities.com/univers ... on-systems
2) Times https://www.timeshighereducation.com/wo ... cols/stats
3) Shanghai http://www.shanghairanking.com/SubjectCS2015.html
livesoft
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Re: Help with college choice

Post by livesoft »

@RedClay, Thanks. When I think of grad school, I think of getting paid to go to school and not paying for a professional degree (MD, JD) nor business school (MBA). Of course, I don't know your degree nor what you studied.
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RandomFly
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Re: Help with college choice

Post by RandomFly »

chmcnm wrote:I just looked at the latest college rankings. Vandy is 15th which is tied with Cornell, Rice, and Notre Dame. Do well there and graduate with no debt sounds pretty good.

Is it too late to try to negotiate some more financial aid? For CS I would think GT would be higher on the list.
You need to look at the ranking for the specific program -- Vanderbilt is ranked 56th for EECS.

https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-sc ... ity-221999
Floyd1000
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Re: Help with college choice

Post by Floyd1000 »

I went to Penn and it was a fantastic experience. If money were not limited, I would say tell your son to choose the school he likes best, and if that were Penn so be it. But money is an issue, and in that case I say choose Vandy. They are all good schools, and if he graduates with high grades and test scores he will have all of the same opportunities as he would have at any top notch school. Plus I have friends who have gone to Vandy and loved it.

I did go on to grad school, and many of my classmates in grad school went to state schools and places that don't have the name factor. We all have had similar success. In my profession it is pretty rare that anyone even asks where I went undergrad. If anything it only comes up at social gatherings.
CppCoder
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Re: Help with college choice

Post by CppCoder »

RandomFly wrote:
chmcnm wrote:I just looked at the latest college rankings. Vandy is 15th which is tied with Cornell, Rice, and Notre Dame. Do well there and graduate with no debt sounds pretty good.

Is it too late to try to negotiate some more financial aid? For CS I would think GT would be higher on the list.
You need to look at the ranking for the specific program -- Vanderbilt is ranked 56th for EECS.

https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-sc ... ity-221999
Many students end up in different majors than they anticipate as high school seniors. Sometimes its worth looking at the overall reputation of a school in addition to specific programs. It's different when considering graduate school.
bds3
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Re: Help with college choice

Post by bds3 »

Some background about me to put my answer in context: I was valedictorian of a large high school and a multi-sport all-state athlete. I was accepted into every school to which I applied, from state schools to ivy league. With academics + athletics, I had the numerous options for free college. Currently... my kids won't be applying to college for 14 years and god willing I will be able to afford wherever they want to go.

So, from a standpoint of when I was choosing a school, and of when my kids may choose a school... send your kid to whatever school he really wants to attend, that you can afford. If you can pay 70k a year and he wants to go to Penn, then do it. If you really can't afford it then send him to Vandy (I would have loved to live in Nashville). If you can afford somewhere in-between that he wants to go more than Vandy, then send him there.

This can't be a strictly financial decision. Pay as much as you reasonably can for your kid to go to the school he wants to go to; if he chooses a less expensive option than you can afford then I guess you can save a little extra.
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triceratop
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Re: Help with college choice

Post by triceratop »

CppCoder wrote:Why have you or your kid summarily rejected Georgia Tech from your list? You do realize that it's the second best school on your list for STEM subjects (behind Berkeley).

I was accepted to Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech for undergrad and chose Georgia Tech (engineering, not CS). For my PhD, I only applied to MIT, Caltech, Berkeley, and CMU, was accepted to all four, and went to MIT. I also visited all four, and you could not have paid me enough to attend Berkeley. Unlike your son, I really disliked the vibe there.

Of the three finalists, I would only even consider Penn if your son really wanted to go into finance. Otherwise, it's not worth the cost. If he'll definitely go to graduate school, go with Vandy. All are good enough to get into the next level. Honestly, though, of all the schools you listed, it would come down to Berkeley or Georgia Tech if it were me, even given my dislike of Berkeley after visiting there.
I second this; good post by CppCoder all around. GATech is an excellent school for EECS and has a reputation as such. If your son wants to go to grad school, I can tell you from being on the recruitment committee of my school this year that there were several accepted to the EECS PhD program at one of the schools quoted above (being vague here).

I would go to either GATech or Cal as well, having visited every campus above except Vanderbilt.
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CppCoder
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Re: Help with college choice

Post by CppCoder »

Floyd1000 wrote: In my profession it is pretty rare that anyone even asks where I went undergrad. If anything it only comes up at social gatherings.
This reminds me of a joke my friend (undergrad Notre Dame) likes to tell. Q: How can you tell which guy at a party went to Notre Dame? A: Oh, don't worry, he'll tell you! The joke works equally well inserting any number of prestigious universities.
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triceratop
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Re: Help with college choice

Post by triceratop »

^ But especially Harvard. Eventually they switch to "when I was in cambridge" and it isn't any better. :)
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chmcnm
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Re: Help with college choice

Post by chmcnm »

RandomFly wrote:
chmcnm wrote:I just looked at the latest college rankings. Vandy is 15th which is tied with Cornell, Rice, and Notre Dame. Do well there and graduate with no debt sounds pretty good.

Is it too late to try to negotiate some more financial aid? For CS I would think GT would be higher on the list.
You need to look at the ranking for the specific program -- Vanderbilt is ranked 56th for EECS.

https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-sc ... ity-221999
Maybe. Is it $250K better? Especially since Berkeley is off the list.

Looking at the list of schools there seems to be quite a mix. When I think of STEM, I don't necessarily think UPenn, Vanderbilt, or Cornell (all great schools but not MIT, CalTech, CMU, etc). Of the two schools on your list I would think Berkeley and GT would be tops for STEM. Your son loves UPenn. Not trying to stir the pot but is there a difference between what you think he should study and what he wants to study?
WildBill
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Re: Help with college choice

Post by WildBill »

Howdy.

Our sons faced similar choices over the last two years. Both had done substantial advanced work in CS and mathematics in high school - including college level courses like your son. They chose to pass up the scholarships (Rice and UT) to attend other schools.

One consideration is the option of using AP and college level courses for advanced standing or transferring the credits to the university. That can make a difference, as students can often graduate early, or get a Masters degree in 4 years. In fact one of our sons was able to transfer over 3 semesters of credits to one of the most selective technical schools. See what the differences are among the schools. That may factor into your son's decision.

Berkley is a great school in his interest, as is Cornell, as is Georgia Tech. I am not sure why you are dismissive of Berkley, but you may know something I do not. Also, it is no bargain for an out of state kid.

In geneaI I am with several of the other posters. Vanderbilt is a fine school, the price is right, and a kid with his background and drive will hunt down opportunities and will be doing very interesting CS research by January of next year with an excellent professor. That is really the name of the game regardless of the university. All of these universities have superb teachers and scholars in their faculties. It is up to the students to find and pursue the opportunities, even at Harvard or MIT. Your Asian kid will be a big fish in his pond and will thrive there. :D

These are hard choices. Good luck

W B
"Through chances various, through all vicissitudes, we make our way." Virgil, The Aeneid
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midlemom
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Re: Help with college choice

Post by midlemom »

chmcnm wrote:
RandomFly wrote:
chmcnm wrote:I just looked at the latest college rankings. Vandy is 15th which is tied with Cornell, Rice, and Notre Dame. Do well there and graduate with no debt sounds pretty good.

Is it too late to try to negotiate some more financial aid? For CS I would think GT would be higher on the list.
You need to look at the ranking for the specific program -- Vanderbilt is ranked 56th for EECS.

https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-sc ... ity-221999
Maybe. Is it $250K better? Especially since Berkeley is off the list.

Looking at the list of schools there seems to be quite a mix. When I think of STEM, I don't necessarily think UPenn, Vanderbilt, or Cornell (all great schools but not MIT, CalTech, CMU, etc). Of the two schools on your list I would think Berkeley and GT would be tops for STEM. Your son loves UPenn. Not trying to stir the pot but is there a difference between what you think he should study and what he wants to study?
He applied to a wide range of schools because he doesn't have one specific interest, so in that sense, a well rounded education might help him. He does Math and Science as well as DECA and business related competitions. He was rejected from MIT and most likely he doesn't fit the mold. Ga Tech costs less than UPenn or Berkeley, but for some unfathomable reason he didn't quite see himself there during his visit, and it didn't help that his host had regretted his choice. He applied to UPenn for their reputed M&T program, but got admission to Engineering only.
CashConfessions
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Re: your dream school vs your finances

Post by CashConfessions »

dodecahedron wrote:Here's an awesome testimonial from a young man who had had his heart set on Yale for months and months. He got into his dream school Yale with no financial aid but had a great scholarship at Vanderbilt. He agonized for a month on the College Confidential forums. Ultimately and with great reluctance, he chose Vandy.

Here's what he posted four years later after graduating from Vanderbilt:

http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/par ... ances.html
I had a very similar experience 15-years ago and am glad I went with the full scholarship offer. It gave me so much more flexibility in my early career and a huge jump on building wealth rather than fearing student loan payments.

Also--Georgia Tech has quite the Asian/international population, although it's clearly not for everyone. Would a second visit for something of this magnitude be off the table (even if not overnight stay)?
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