College financial advice for undecided rising high school senior

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riskaverse2
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College financial advice for undecided rising high school senior

Post by riskaverse2 »

Dear Bogleheads, As passive lurkers, my spouse and I have gained a lot from your wisdom and insights. Spending time on this forum has helped shape and refine our investment philosophy. I am posting here today to get some advice regarding our daughter, who is a rising senior at a high-performing school district in Upstate NY. Until last year, she was seriously considering a career in medicine, but is now not as sure and is looking to double major in CS and Econ. I would like to emphasize that she has not completely shelved the idea of medicine-this is important since this has implications for the cost of college.

My spouse and I are both physicians, and we expect our EFC for college to be 100%. Since she is going in undecided regarding grad school vs no grad school, the financial planning is harder. At this point, she is considering applying ED to Cornell based on her school counselor's recommendations. We are reluctant for ED because should she get in, we will be locked into it financially and there is a possibility of online classes well into freshman year depending on how COVID unfolds. Also, CS in Cornell is through the college of arts and sciences (so, no state tuition advantage). However, her chances of getting in will be substantially higher with ED.

Other options:

Our local university (T30 school), where she will be eligible for a substantial tuition waiver based on our being faculty there, SUNY Binghamton, U of Buffalo. The only issue is that none of these institutions are as well ranked for CS; not sure how important the ranking is. Should she look into U Mich, Georgia Tech, UIUC, others?? Again, each of these will be quite expensive for out-of-state.

I am posting her stats for reference.

Demographics: Indian Female from Upstate NY, high performing public school w/ graduating class size of approximately 250
Major: CS/Econ
ACT: 35 (34S, 34M, 36E, 36R)
PSAT: 1400
GPA: 4.0 UW, 94.89/100
Rank: School doesn’t do class ranks
APs: WHAP (5), AP Stat (5), APUSH (5), AP Lang (4), APCSP (4), AP Chem (3)
Next year APs (depending on COVID-19 situation): AP Econ (macro/micro), AP Bio, AP Calc BC

Awards:
-Honor Roll consecutive semesters
-AP scholar
-DECA regional competition winner

ECs:
1. Rowed Varsity Crew all 4 years of high school and won medals at various regattas. 20-25+ hours a week time commitment, also volunteered extensively in her club with over 50+ volunteer hours each summer
2. DECA participant, won regional competition, will be president of DECA coming fall
3. President of Mock Trial Club at school
4. Math Club participant (scored high at the meets)
5. LINK Crew member
6. Secretary (this is an officer role) for school Reality Check club to combat teenage vaping and smoking, organized various social media campaigns for club
7. Tutored young kids in elementary school after school in reading and math
8. Member of Pre-Med club and One-Step Forward Research club, played an active role in organizing projects and events
9. Member of STEM club, coordinated a variety of projects for annual STEM day
10. Member of Interact Club at school which led to a variety of volunteer opportunities in the school community
11. Part-time job at Kumon (dedicated approx. 10 hours a week; will receive school co-op credit)
12. JV Track and Field (secondary sport)
13. Extensive volunteering and job shadowing in medicine with over 100+ volunteer hours in total
14. Summer Internship 2020 was revamped due to COVID-19; currently doing two- one in medicine and the other is CS related with coding in python and is through the office of a PhD Physics Professor at the local university; time commitment is 15+ hours a week

While reasonably well-off and debt free currently, our income has increased relatively recently. Net worth wise, we are halfway to our retirement target.

We are committed to paying in full for both undergrad and grad school, for both our children, assuming no major upheavals in our financial situation. She is a very bright and reasonable teenager who understands the financial implications of going to an expensive college and is very open to making the best choice financially.

To summarize:

1. ED or no ED?
2. Which colleges to apply to in order to get the best ROI?
3. Since medicine is not completely off the table, should we even be looking at top-tier schools for undergrad?

Any advice is welcome!!
daheld
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Re: College financial advice for undecided rising high school senior

Post by daheld »

I mean this completely respectfully and not at all in jest: considering the characteristics of your daughter that you've just laid out, I would say that, to a large extent, the details aren't that important. She is obviously very smart, self-motivated and of high character. That will take her very far in life, both academically and personally. That's a testament to her parents.
adamthesmythe
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Re: College financial advice for undecided rising high school senior

Post by adamthesmythe »

Pretty much all the faculty I knew had high ambitions for their kids and wanted them to go to highly rated institutions if possible. Are you different?

Now does it make a difference? It all depends. If you ask what background you need to get to be faculty at universities: more highly rated really matters, undergrad or grad, because undergrad record gets you into grad school, and better grad school gets you in the running for faculty positions.
Jack FFR1846
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Re: College financial advice for undecided rising high school senior

Post by Jack FFR1846 »

What is "ED"? Doctor of Education? If it is, it certainly doesn't sound anything like what she's interested in.

One can go to medical school without a biology kind of background. A friend of the family just started at USC med school with an engineering degree from U of Rochester.

Also....grad school does not need to be in the same school as undergrad. I went to one of the top undergrad schools for my interests and then carefully chose THE top college for the specialty for grad school. My son just graduated from my alma mater and indeed his specialty (structural engineering) is an "also ran" there. This is not unusual. Colleges regularly have to focus grad work to become top tier. They often will shift from one sub specialty to another. I saw this while applying to grad schools where Duke was obviously shifting away from power electronics to VLSI, for an example.
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livesoft
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Re: College financial advice for undecided rising high school senior

Post by livesoft »

I think you are overthinking this. Cornell is a fine school and you can probably just cash-flow any college expenses.

Unless she wants to go far away from her parents (which I would recommend myself), then I would suggest doing Cornell early decision. She can work to help pay for it, too.

You will never get the best ROI, so forget about thinking that way.

Full disclosure: We have 2 children who have finished college in the past 5 years and are now out and working. We basically just cash-flowed expenses for the most part with higher expenses and lower income than you have or will have.

And welcome to this forum where all the kids go to Ivy League or better and even the wealthy parents get financial aid ... or so it is often stated here. Not.
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sailaway
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Re: College financial advice for undecided rising high school senior

Post by sailaway »

There is always the option to go local tuition free for a year or two and then transfer as the student becomes more confident in their choices for the future.
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BolderBoy
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Re: College financial advice for undecided rising high school senior

Post by BolderBoy »

Jack FFR1846 wrote: Wed Sep 02, 2020 2:04 pmWhat is "ED"? Doctor of Education? If it is, it certainly doesn't sound anything like what she's interested in.
ED = Early Decision, my best guess - seems to fit.

A question I have for the OP, if medicine is shunned, what is DD's ultimate plan with a CS/Econ undergrad education? I'm very inclined to say that she should seriously consider attending the U at which OP/Spouse currently teach. I can't really see a downside to doing that.
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riskaverse2
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Re: College financial advice for undecided rising high school senior

Post by riskaverse2 »

ED=Early decision
Thanks for everyone's responses so far. Much appreciated!
If she decides a shot at medical school is not for her, she hopes to get a job with her CS/Econ background. Interestingly enough, her interest in CS started as she spent time helping out with some AI projects in Radiology during a hospital internship last year. At this point, she is further exploring this interest through a CS/Physics related internship. In short, CS is a relatively recent interest for her. I hope she will figure out a path that best aligns with her interests while in college. Our own University, while overall great and well ranked for med, is not very highly regarded for CS, hence the confusion. I do appreciate everyone who has taken the time to respond.
hoffse
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Re: College financial advice for undecided rising high school senior

Post by hoffse »

I suggest looking at schools where she will thrive in the academic environment. Would she love a huge state school or will she get lost? Does she like large cities (GA Tech is located just off an interstate near downtown Atlanta with like 8 lanes of traffic that go right by it) or does she prefer small college towns? Does she do well sitting in the back of a 250 person lecture hall or does she need small class sizes to thrive?

Once you have narrowed that down, pick some place where she is going to get a well-rounded education that you can afford. If you can’t afford Cornell, then don’t go early decision there. If you can afford it, and it’s her top pick, then sure - juice the application by going early decision. Cornell is a fantastic school, and she will get a great education there, regardless of what she wants to study.

College is all about exploration and learning and maturing into adulthood. She might surprise you and herself about what she ultimately decides to study. I’m speaking as somebody who added art history as my third major when I was a junior in college. I fell in love with it, but discovered it rather late. I’m just grateful I went to a school that had a wonderful art history department (among others), because it really captured my attention once I took my first class. I chose a mid-sized tier 1 liberal arts school. It was the perfect choice for me and gave me exposure to academic fields I had never really encountered in high school.

I don’t have a job in art history today (I’m a lawyer), but it’s still something I enjoy as a hobby, and it comes up now and then in surprising ways. For example, I am on my firm’s art committee, so I get to help manage the firm’s collection (and it’s a pretty amazing collection!).

The poster who said that she is clearly smart and motivated and will do well in life regardless of what she does is spot on. There isn’t a wrong choice here, unless something would financially strain you.
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riskaverse2
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Re: College financial advice for undecided rising high school senior

Post by riskaverse2 »

daheld wrote: Wed Sep 02, 2020 1:51 pm I mean this completely respectfully and not at all in jest: considering the characteristics of your daughter that you've just laid out, I would say that, to a large extent, the details aren't that important. She is obviously very smart, self-motivated and of high character. That will take her very far in life, both academically and personally. That's a testament to her parents.
Very grateful for your kind words!
hayesfj
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Re: College financial advice for undecided rising high school senior

Post by hayesfj »

Your daughter's resume is very impressive and clearly she has a great deal of support from her parents. A couple of other things to consider:

- The first two years are mostly general education classes. It won't be until Junior and Senior year that specialization kicks in. A large percentage of kids change their major anyway.

- My two kids graduated from the Honors college at Penn State. The thing that impressed me the most was the Summer Internships they had. My son ( CS Major) did two summers in San Francisco working for Cisco and a start up Networking company. My daughter (MIS/Statistics double) did two summers with Humana in an actuarial support role. Those internships were much more important than the school ranking. PSU is very active in providing internship opportunities.

- The limiting factor in an education is the student's ability/capacity/motivation to learn, not the schools capability to teach.

- Take a look at what Malcolm Gladwell wrote about being highly successful at a middling school vs being middling successful at an elite school does for long term careers.

Doing the first year or two at SUNY and then transferring is not that bad an option. And you ought to give RIT a look since it is so close.

Best of luck.
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riskaverse2
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Re: College financial advice for undecided rising high school senior

Post by riskaverse2 »

RIT will be a good idea as well! We will suggest she adds it to her list.

Thanks for all your other thoughts too-you make some great points!
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riskaverse2
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Re: College financial advice for undecided rising high school senior

Post by riskaverse2 »

hoffse wrote: Wed Sep 02, 2020 2:40 pm I suggest looking at schools where she will thrive in the academic environment. Would she love a huge state school or will she get lost? Does she like large cities (GA Tech is located just off an interstate near downtown Atlanta with like 8 lanes of traffic that go right by it) or does she prefer small college towns? Does she do well sitting in the back of a 250 person lecture hall or does she need small class sizes to thrive?

Once you have narrowed that down, pick some place where she is going to get a well-rounded education that you can afford. If you can’t afford Cornell, then don’t go early decision there. If you can afford it, and it’s her top pick, then sure - juice the application by going early decision. Cornell is a fantastic school, and she will get a great education there, regardless of what she wants to study.

College is all about exploration and learning and maturing into adulthood. She might surprise you and herself about what she ultimately decides to study. I’m speaking as somebody who added art history as my third major when I was a junior in college. I fell in love with it, but discovered it rather late. I’m just grateful I went to a school that had a wonderful art history department (among others), because it really captured my attention once I took my first class. I chose a mid-sized tier 1 liberal arts school. It was the perfect choice for me and gave me exposure to academic fields I had never really encountered in high school.

I don’t have a job in art history today (I’m a lawyer), but it’s still something I enjoy as a hobby, and it comes up now and then in surprising ways. For example, I am on my firm’s art committee, so I get to help manage the firm’s collection (and it’s a pretty amazing collection!).

The poster who said that she is clearly smart and motivated and will do well in life regardless of what she does is spot on. There isn’t a wrong choice here, unless something would financially strain you.
Thanks for sharing your very interesting journey! She likes big schools in rural surrounds, and Cornell fits the bill, assuming she gets in. And yes, in theory we can afford it, but it does add up to quite a bit when you add grad school and another child's education into the mix. I do realize we are overthinking this. Early decision deadlines are a month away, hence the jitters.
ronno2018
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Re: College financial advice for undecided rising high school senior

Post by ronno2018 »

Your family has done an awesome job. I think she will get in nearly anywhere and she should tour various campuses. Did you do the net price calculator for various schools -- https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/pay- ... alculators# ? If you have more than one child you might be surprised at the net price for some schools even at your household income level especially if your investments are in tax advantaged accounts.

Consider the top Liberal Arts colleges too -- https://washingtonmonthly.com/2020colle ... iberalarts

Good luck! It is so exciting to see a young person start off in life!
humblecoder
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Re: College financial advice for undecided rising high school senior

Post by humblecoder »

It sounds like the main conundrum is that if your daughter decides to go to med school, it probably makes sense to have her attend a good state school as an undergrad to economize and then spend the money on med school. On the other hand, if she goes the CS/econ route, it might be better to spend the money on the undergrad education.

I would suggest looking into the honors program at one of the state schools that you mentioned (for instance:https://www.binghamton.edu/admissions/a ... onors.html). I am not familiar with the specific honors program at SUNY Binghamton, but I know that many such programs can provide an "Ivy-like" experience at a state school price. This might make sense in your daughter's case.

I have a CS degree. My experience is that CS is very egalitarian with respect to education and degrees. There might be some niches where a degree at a top school gets your foot in the door, but generally speaking, it is more about demonstrating that you can do the job. Given your daughter's obvious intelligence and ambition, she'll do fine no matter what school is printed on the piece of paper. A CS degree from a school like Binghamton certainly is not going to hold her back if she goes that route, compared to the same degree from Cornell.
BestCoast123
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Re: College financial advice for undecided rising high school senior

Post by BestCoast123 »

IF she is going to go Econ /CS route and wants to go to Wall Street, Columbia would have opportunities that the state school won't. There aren't that many of those opportunities but there are some.

As a different poster said having productive summers before Junior Year are a huge boon. But if she can take classes or do research (which it sounds like she already has an in) for the freshman/sophomore summer. She doesn't need to be a CS but if she can be a very quanty Econ (who can code) there are plenty of jobs and opportunities.
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MissHavisham
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Re: College financial advice for undecided rising high school senior

Post by MissHavisham »

To get the best return on investment she should go to a SUNY school for 2 years and then transfer to whatever school she wants to graduate from with her Bachelor's. In my opinion, all of her introductory classes the first two years are going to be the same mumbo jumbo anywhere.

I went to a community college for my associates and then transferred to a 4 year school and no one is the wiser. That will give her plenty of time to sort out potential grad schools.

The real question is, are you willing to have your pride and joy go to a community college for 2 years? or to go to a SUNY school for 2 years? or are you putting too much pressure on "branding."

Best of luck!
Kookaburra
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Re: College financial advice for undecided rising high school senior

Post by Kookaburra »

I think ED already has a very specific meaning in the medical community. Might want to use a different acronym or none at all.
SimonJester
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Re: College financial advice for undecided rising high school senior

Post by SimonJester »

My vote, see what COVID is going to do next year. College is a mess right now, many schools in my area lured kids in with the promise of in person classes only to quickly switch to 100% online after the drop date. Some are even now sending kids home from their dorms and dorm refunds are up in the air. Online teaching was such a waste of money the spring semester my youngest didnt want to go back to it. I suspect many kids will bail on the Spring semester, which will leave fall 2021 in doubt for colleges and they will be going into full blown panic mode.

Start her off in community college, get the basics classes taken care of and then see what 2022 looks like...
"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin
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riskaverse2
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Re: College financial advice for undecided rising high school senior

Post by riskaverse2 »

All great advice! We are eagerly absorbing all the perspectives. I think it will help us arrive at a decision. Thank you to everyone who responded.
GreendaleCC
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Re: College financial advice for undecided rising high school senior

Post by GreendaleCC »

riskaverse2 wrote: Wed Sep 02, 2020 2:39 pm ED=Early decision
Thanks for everyone's responses so far. Much appreciated!
If she decides a shot at medical school is not for her, she hopes to get a job with her CS/Econ background. Interestingly enough, her interest in CS started as she spent time helping out with some AI projects in Radiology during a hospital internship last year. At this point, she is further exploring this interest through a CS/Physics related internship. In short, CS is a relatively recent interest for her. I hope she will figure out a path that best aligns with her interests while in college. Our own University, while overall great and well ranked for med, is not very highly regarded for CS, hence the confusion. I do appreciate everyone who has taken the time to respond.
Since it doesn't sound like she has her heart set on specifically becoming a software engineer, has she considered one or a combination of these majors in the Ag school?
If she starts talking with faculty early, I'm sure there's a chance she could leverage her interests and experiences in the latter two majors above into summer research assistantships with radiology research teams at Cornell Weill (or elsewhere).

(Depending on her interests, I would also explore whether there's more flexibility to incorporate med school prerequisites into the CALS degree requirements vs the A&S degree requirements.)
IngognitoUSA
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Re: College financial advice for undecided rising high school senior

Post by IngognitoUSA »

I would add CMU to the list for CS/Econ. As an Asian, the chances are diminished greatly at elite schools. I personally do not recommend community college.
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teen persuasion
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Re: College financial advice for undecided rising high school senior

Post by teen persuasion »

riskaverse2 wrote: Wed Sep 02, 2020 2:55 pm

Thanks for sharing your very interesting journey! She likes big schools in rural surrounds, and Cornell fits the bill, assuming she gets in. And yes, in theory we can afford it, but it does add up to quite a bit when you add grad school and another child's education into the mix. I do realize we are overthinking this. Early decision deadlines are a month away, hence the jitters.
Well, big schools in rural surrounds describes lots of SUNY schools, but not UB. The Med school is downtown Bflo in the medical corridor, South campus is in the city, and North campus is in the 'burbs.
fwellimort
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Re: College financial advice for undecided rising high school senior

Post by fwellimort »

Personally, I would look into the bottom of the top 20 privates in which some give a lot of merit aid. Also, while I didn't list, don't forget LACs too: I'm sure a lot of them would be willing to throw $$ at your child (so check those too).

These include schools like:
Washington University in St. Louis
Vanderbilt University
University of Southern California
Rice University
Emory University
University of Notre Dame (if your child is catholic/christian and is fine with all this religious/theology stuff)
and some other schools like Wake Forest University / Tulane / etc
e.g.: University of Southern California for instance gives about 300 students half/full tuition scholarships
https://admission.usc.edu/wp-content/up ... rships.pdf
And so on. With your child's test scores/GPA, I don't think it would be unexpected to see a half/full tuition and maybe even a full ride at some of these schools.
Just make sure you apply early as some schools have separate deadlines (quite early sometimes) for those in the merit scholarship basket pool
In fact, I'm sure there are many schools that will offer full tuition/ride with those stats. With 0% doubt. The challenge is to put the time to find them (go through all the universities and liberal art colleges and check their merit scholarship pages individually).

Other than that, if you are paying about the same as Cornell for privates, I would also personally recommend looking at other top schools like Princeton or Stanford or Harvard or Brown (known for the best grade inflation which is ideal for med school) and the like (the usual list) too. She does after all have the grades to have a shot at any schools in the US (given her essays are amazing). Though 'financially', I think attending a school like WuStL or Vanderbilt with aid is a much better deal. Plus, Cornell is kind of known for grade deflation and lots of studying (while a school like Brown has an average GPA of A- so a free ticket to med school).

Financially, as your daughter seems highly talented academically, I wouldn't be surprised if saving costs is probably ideal "financially" (on paper).
I don't know what's "right". Just do note that with those stats, you can definitely find good schools that will give substantial merit scholarships. After all, your child's stats are competitive to have shots at any of the top schools (including the Princeton/Harvard/Yale/MIT/CalTech/Columbia/UChicago/Stanford/etc type). Heck, even OOS publics like Georgia Tech for her will have good schlarships.

Just make sure to apply early. Merit scholarship people tend to have DIFFERENT deadlines (that are much earlier than regular deadlines).
gips
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Re: College financial advice for undecided rising high school senior

Post by gips »

i realize everyone who has replied is well-meaning but i think you’d be better off posting on college confidential. we went deep down the rabbit hole with our three kids, i’ll post some initial thoughts, pls feel free to reach out via pm if you have questions.

- we decided to send our kids to suny schools unless they gained admittance to a demonstrably better school which they all did.
- at that point, we decided since we were able to afford it, they could go to the school of their choice.
- my d went pre-med at cornell but wasnt completely sure thats what she wanted. she changed majors, so it will be nice to have the cornell brand rather than the suny brand when she graduates.
- its unlikely your d will get into top 10 schools but possible. our d had similar test scores, ecs, a higher gpa and after a lot of analysis, we concluded harvard, yale, princeton and mit were very unlikely.
- many (most) of the top schools wont “throw money” at your daughter since they dont offer merit $. she will definitely get $ at fine schools like university of rochester which may bring the cost of the school in line with a suny.
- our son attended u mich, one of the schools you mentioned. they have a top flight cs program and, should she decide on another major, will find top programs across the board. the college sports were incredible, the campus is lovely and fwiw, based on my sons experience and friends, they do live up to their promise of creating leaders.
- on your ed question, i crunched a lot of numbers (i have a cs degree) and came to the conclusion her probability of admittance was around 60 per cent ed but just 35 per cent rd.

i guess that’s it, hope it helps, good luck to you and your d!
gips
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Re: College financial advice for undecided rising high school senior

Post by gips »

fwellimort wrote: Thu Sep 03, 2020 12:31 am Personally, I would look into the bottom of the top 20 privates in which some give a lot of merit aid. Also, while I didn't list, don't forget LACs too: I'm sure a lot of them would be willing to throw $$ at your child (so check those too).

These include schools like:
Washington University in St. Louis
Vanderbilt University
University of Southern California
Rice University
Emory University
University of Notre Dame (if your child is catholic/christian and is fine with all this religious/theology stuff)
and some other schools like Wake Forest University / Tulane / etc
e.g.: University of Southern California for instance gives about 300 students half/full tuition scholarships
https://admission.usc.edu/wp-content/up ... rships.pdf
And so on. With your child's test scores/GPA, I don't think it would be unexpected to see a half/full tuition and maybe even a full ride at some of these schools.
Just make sure you apply early as some schools have separate deadlines (quite early sometimes) for those in the merit scholarship basket pool
In fact, I'm sure there are many schools that will offer full tuition/ride with those stats. With 0% doubt. The challenge is to put the time to find them (go through all the universities and liberal art colleges and check their merit scholarship pages individually).

Other than that, if you are paying about the same as Cornell for privates, I would also personally recommend looking at other top schools like Princeton or Stanford or Harvard or Brown (known for the best grade inflation which is ideal for med school) and the like (the usual list) too. She does after all have the grades to have a shot at any schools in the US (given her essays are amazing). Though 'financially', I think attending a school like WuStL or Vanderbilt with aid is a much better deal. Plus, Cornell is kind of known for grade deflation and lots of studying (while a school like Brown has an average GPA of A- so a free ticket to med school).

Financially, as your daughter seems highly talented academically, I wouldn't be surprised if saving costs is probably ideal "financially" (on paper).
I don't know what's "right". Just do note that with those stats, you can definitely find good schools that will give substantial merit scholarships. After all, your child's stats are competitive to have shots at any of the top schools (including the Princeton/Harvard/Yale/MIT/CalTech/Columbia/UChicago/Stanford/etc type). Heck, even OOS publics like Georgia Tech for her will have good schlarships.

Just make sure to apply early. Merit scholarship people tend to have DIFFERENT deadlines (that are much earlier than regular deadlines).
here, for example, is a well meaning post with a lot of misinformation. for example, georgia tech wont have any merit $ for her
fwellimort
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Re: College financial advice for undecided rising high school senior

Post by fwellimort »

gips wrote: Thu Sep 03, 2020 1:11 am here, for example, is a well meaning post with a lot of misinformation. for example, georgia tech wont have any merit $ for her
Presidential Scholarship is a thing at Georgia Tech and my peer during high school got it with a much lower test score (better extra-curricular though) (I assume sheer essay skill). But yes, Georgia Tech scholarships are hard to get unlike many privates.

And many publics tend to be more stingy than privates. Some schools are known to give lots of merit scholarships like USC: almost everyone that got into top 10 schools got at least a half ride at USC. That's why I would encourage OP to look at the privates if possible. Some privates give hundreds of accepted students like USC half/full ride. It's an actual thing and is on the front page (I even directly linked the pdf). While some publics/privates only hand out like to a handful of students (looks at schools like Wake Forest Univ and Rice and Georgia Tech and the like)

And I graduated from Columbia Univ [entered with lower unweighted-GPA (but better extra-curriculars [notable math/engineering competition awards])] [and applied from an International school (much more difficult to get in) as an asian male]. And I know many peers at Columbia have worse stats than OP's daughter (and many higher). After a certain point, recommendations/essays matter far more + a lot of luck.
Also, of course the top 10 schools are crap shots for almost everyone (don't even think the schools are worth the sticker price anyways): I thought everyone knew that (oh and to OP. Ivy League schools don't practice merit aid. This might be why gips isn't aware that some schools like USC are known for merit scholarships).
Last edited by fwellimort on Thu Sep 03, 2020 1:37 am, edited 15 times in total.
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Christine_NM
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Re: College financial advice for undecided rising high school senior

Post by Christine_NM »

DD might discover she likes engineering of some sort, especially at Cornell. Sometimes if you add up several interests, the answer turns out to be engineering. If she has a masters, national laboratory may hire her and pay for doctorate. Just a thought, good luck. I would skip the ED because of so many uncertainties, unless she can change her mind.
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riskaverse2
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Re: College financial advice for undecided rising high school senior

Post by riskaverse2 »

OP here. Lots of great advice on this board. New insights to ponder over. Will definitely help us a ton. It seems that early decision might not be a great fit in midst of so many considerations.
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TomatoTomahto
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Re: College financial advice for undecided rising high school senior

Post by TomatoTomahto »

Some random thoughts:

Is her nature really med school, or is that what she thinks you want to hear? The 3 in AP Chem sticks out like a sore thumb. I am biased, but for high achieving CS students, the work/life balance and finances of a CS career are far more compelling than a medical career. IMO. That is, unless one has a strong desire for a medical career.

Early Action (EA) gives you many of the benefits of ED with fewer of the drawbacks. My son applied, legally, to Yale and Michigan at the same time (Restricted Choice Early Action). You can usually get out of a binding ED situation if you can say that the financial aid is insufficient, but with two physicians that’s probably not credible.
I get the FI part but not the RE part of FIRE.
welldone
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Re: College financial advice for undecided rising high school senior

Post by welldone »

Agree with TomatoTomato in regards to the AP Chemistry score, it stuck out to me as well.

We chose a different path than TomatoTomato did with his child, we found a school for our child that is an "under the radar" for most lay people but highly regarded within academic circles (they do exist!). She is getting a wonderful education and because it is a bit under the radar - she is getting opportunities that many at larger institutions might not be able to get as there are too many other students competing for those opportunities.

The best part is that we are paying much less at this school (because of the merit our child was awarded) than we would be as full-pay parents at more well known colleges she could have chosen to attend.

My advice would be to not concentrate as much on where the absolute best CS and/or pre-med programs rank on list compilations. Instead, figure out what kind of school your child wants to attend. If it is Cornell, go for it ED. If Cornell isn't the exact school she wants to attend, then figure out which schools fit her needs/wants best (size, location, depth and/or breadth of programs, type of educational mission, etc) and make a plan for applying to those schools.

Best of luck to your daughter, you are justifiably very proud of her.
coalcracker
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Re: College financial advice for undecided rising high school senior

Post by coalcracker »

TomatoTomahto wrote: Thu Sep 03, 2020 6:51 am Some random thoughts:

Is her nature really med school, or is that what she thinks you want to hear? The 3 in AP Chem sticks out like a sore thumb. I am biased, but for high achieving CS students, the work/life balance and finances of a CS career are far more compelling than a medical career. IMO. That is, unless one has a strong desire for a medical career.
I'm not terribly familiar with the work/life balance in CS, but as a physician I would say you can most certainly have a great balance without sacrificing income :sharebeer .

Entering college (small, top 50 liberal arts school), I knew I enjoyed STEM subjects but had no idea where that would take me. Luckily I decided to start in the pre-med track. After basically hating every single thing about bench research, medicine won more by process of elimination than passion. Maybe there is some profession out there that pays well and I would love with all my heart; alas, I will settle for one that pays well with a great work/life balance and job security, and that I never dread going into work, ever.

I chose my specialty (radiology) primarily for work/life balance and compensation. The fact that I enjoy it was a nice bonus. I knew that if I was working all the time with limited vacation, I could not be happy no matter how much I was paid.

Sorry for the tangent. My point is that a medical career can be almost anything you want it to be, not always the cliche of spending countless hours in the hospital and clinic.
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TomatoTomahto
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Re: College financial advice for undecided rising high school senior

Post by TomatoTomahto »

welldone wrote: Thu Sep 03, 2020 7:31 am We chose a different path than TomatoTomato did with his child, we found a school for our child that is an "under the radar" for most lay people but highly regarded within academic circles (they do exist!). She is getting a wonderful education and because it is a bit under the radar - she is getting opportunities that many at larger institutions might not be able to get as there are too many other students competing for those opportunities.
For CS purposes, my son chose the “under the radar” school. Yale is not a name school for CS, and son more than once had to explain his choice. Michigan (where he was also accepted in the SCEA (Single Choice Early Action) round) has a better “name” in CS. The only school he might have preferred to Yale is MIT, but no regrets.

Thus, he got the benefits mentioned above, graduated in 4 years with a combined MS/BS degree, got awesome internships, got a lot of personal attention from professors, had interesting and lucrative TA opportunities, and his post graduation job is far more gratifying than we could have dreamed.
I get the FI part but not the RE part of FIRE.
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riskaverse2
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Re: College financial advice for undecided rising high school senior

Post by riskaverse2 »

She definitely has a lot to think about. From
reading everyone’s unique experiences and trajectories, it is heartening to note that there are several ways to approach this, with merits to each approach. Grateful for everyone’s thoughts.
potatopancake
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Re: College financial advice for undecided rising high school senior

Post by potatopancake »

riskaverse2 wrote: Thu Sep 03, 2020 8:20 am She definitely has a lot to think about. From
reading everyone’s unique experiences and trajectories, it is heartening to note that there are several ways to approach this, with merits to each approach. Grateful for everyone’s thoughts.
I went to UR for my BS and attended medical school. UR is a fantastic pre-med school. I took CS courses which were great and some of the folks, my friends who majored in comp sci at UR, work at Google, Netflix, and LinkedIn. I would suggest she applies regular decision to top schools + UR + state schools. You can evaluate next spring once she is swimming in admission letters.
fullplay2024
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Re: College financial advice for undecided rising high school senior

Post by fullplay2024 »

Having been through the college application process for our DS who applied for top CS schools last year, I'll share a few thoughts:

- DS had high test scores and high GPA, but know that college admission process at top 20 schools is a crap shoot. There will be surprises, positive and negative.
- DS was originally going to ED at CMU, but after visiting the school he wasn't so sure. So he ended up not ED'ing anywhere. He was priority waitlisted at CMU, but didn't get off waitlist.
- The best advice we received is to go into admission process with an open mind. Create a list of schools and place them into 1) REACH, 2) MATCH and 3) SAFETY categories
- DS ended up attending CS Engineering at UMich
- Make your final decision based on the admission choices you have considering pros and cons.

Good luck to your DD. As others wrote on this thread, she will do great no matter where she goes.
bsteiner
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Re: College financial advice for undecided rising high school senior

Post by bsteiner »

If she wants to go to Cornell, she should apply for early decision. Being on crew may help in that regard.

If she doesn't go to medical school, but studies economics and computer science, she might run a hedge fund or do something in the financial world.

As for the comment about art history, someone I know has a Ph.D. in art history and works as an art consultant helping wealthy people acquire artworks, and is very successful.
MMiroir
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Re: College financial advice for undecided rising high school senior

Post by MMiroir »

FWIW, here are comments.

1- My oldest, who had similar stats as the OP daughter, went through a similar decision process. She started the admission process in the Fall of her senior year as a pre-med, took AP computer science, and by the time she chose a college, she did so as a CS major. After a few years, she has no regrets about going CS especially when she sees so many very smart pre-meds weeding out during freshman and sophomore years.

2- Unlike some other fields, initial salaries for CS major vary dramatically based on what school you graduate from. The College Scorecard website ( https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/ ) lets you search for initial salaries by school and by major. Most state flagships CS majors make between $70K to $80K in initial salary (the average at SUNY Binghamton is $73,000). However, graduates from top schools like Cornell ($116,300) make substantially more. Note that the data comes from recent students who have Federal loans, so the salary income is about as reliable as one can find.

3- Ivy Achievement did an analysis of computer science programs that went beyond the typical lists one finds ( https://www.ivyachievement.com/computer ... -rankings/ ). While one can quibble with the analysis, it presents a somewhat analytical way of looking at the relative quality of different CS programs.

4- A previous poster mentioned College Confidential. While there is a wealth of information on that website, much of the advice given is of dubious quality or outright incorrect. Many of the long-time CC posters who give out much of the “advice” have sent their kids to $70,000 a year liberal arts college for humanity degrees, think that is a fine investment, and want you to think that is a fine investment your child as well. They have drunk the college Kool-Aid so to speak, and they want you to drink it as well.

5- If you have not already, hire someone to help her with her essays. The person we hired was worth his weight in gold.

6- Based on your daughter’s stats, she will do very well. If you are so inclined, the plaintiff’s report in the Harvard admissions lawsuit does an excellent job of statistically dissecting Harvard's admissions process, and all of the top privates have a similar process. ( https://projects.iq.harvard.edu/files/d ... dacted.pdf ). If she is applying to top 20 privates, your daughter will:

a) Benefit from applying as a CS major. At the top schools, only 25% of CS majors are female. The schools are desperate for more gender balance in this major.
b) – Suffer from applying as a pre-med or biology major. The schools have too many female pre-meds and they want to weed them out. Better to do so before they get on campus.
c) – Her odds of admission will be reduced because of her Asian background.
d) – She can improve her odds of admission by applying to schools outside her home region.

7) If you are looking for schools outside the private top 20, the 35 ACT will get her an automatic tuition waiver or cheap in-state tuition at the following state flagships. These make great safety schools, and if she wants to go pre-med, some may offer easier paths than a T-20 or your local school. Among these schools, ASU probably has the best CS program, and she would automatically get in their honors program.

Arizona
Arizona State
Auburn
Iowa
Iowa State
Kansas
Kansas State
Kentucky
Mississippi
Mississippi State
Missouri
Nebraska
New Mexico
Ohio State
Oklahoma
Tennessee
South Carolina
Utah
Last edited by MMiroir on Thu Sep 03, 2020 11:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
fourwheelcycle
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Re: College financial advice for undecided rising high school senior

Post by fourwheelcycle »

If Cornell is your daughter's first choice I don't think you should dissuade her from applying ED. It sounds like you want to support your children's higher education, and I expect you can afford to support the cost of their first choice schools.

Applying ED will improve your daughter's chances of getting in. It will not create a legal or even a moral obligation for her to begin her freshman year at home, on her computer, if that is what Cornell offers. Every college is up in the air about whether to go on-site this fall. If a reliable Covid vaccine is not available by next fall, and Covid is still prevalent in many students' home towns, colleges will still be up in the air about on-site vs. distance learning next fall. They will realize every student, including ED students, has the right to defer their freshman year start by a term, or by a full year, if they are concerned about Covid.

If a college wants to play hard ball and tell students they must re-apply if they want to defer a full year, so be it. Colleges can certainly make that choice, but I bet few will make it.

Hopefully, Covid will be under control, one way or another, by fall 2021.
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Watty
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Re: College financial advice for undecided rising high school senior

Post by Watty »

Our situation was a lot different but when I was helping my son select a college one quote really stuck with me,
"Picking a college for you kid is not about picking the best college, it is about picking the college that is the best fit for your kid."
You of course want to sort college into tiers like;

top colleges
acceptable colleges
OK colleges just for special situations
colleges to avoid.

Most of the colleges mentioned so far in this thread have all been top colleges.

Within the tiers the college rankings are less important so finding the college with the best fit for her personality and your finances should be a high priority.

I live in Georgia and my son ended up going into Computer Science. He was not a great student in high school but he could have probably have gotten into Georgia Tech. Realistically he would have started out low in his class and he would have had to struggle to keep up and Georgia Tech has a reputation for being a high pressure school. Georgia Tech is also in downtown Atlanta in an urban setting which he did not like. There are also about 50% more male than female students and all the students are working on science and technology degrees so they are stereotypically less social.

It is a great college, especially for the cost of instate tuition, but it would have been a bad fit for him and realistically he might not have graduated.

Instead he went to a lower tier large regional Georgia university that also has a Computer Science program along with a wide range of nontechnical degrees. It is in a rural area in pretty much a textbook college town. He fit in well and in some ways was a bit of a "big fish in a small pond" although he still really struggled with some of the higher level math classes. He graduated with the Computer Science degree and now he is doing great in his career and really thriving in the computer work he is doing.

Georgia Tech was clearly a better college than the one he went to but for him he made the right choice to go to other college since it was a better fit. Even if he was stronger academically Georgia Tech would still not have been a good fit for him.

I'm not saying that your daughter should go to a less challenging college but the fit is still real important when it comes to things like size, high/low pressure, distance from home, urban/rural, college social style, etc.

One thing that she also needs to be prepared for is that even though she is a fantastic student now she may find that she is only an average student or even below average in some of her classes. That can be a shock for some students who have never run into that before and they may not know how to handle a class that they are struggling with.

You can look it up for any college but I just checked and Cornell has a graduation rate of about 94% which is actually pretty high. That means that about 1 out of 17 freshman students don't graduate. With as selective as they are I would think that any student they accept is capable of graduating. There can be lots of reasons that a student might not graduate but I would suspect that the college and student not being a good fit for each other would be an important factor in that.

One other thing to really keep focused on.

That is that how well the university that she goes is ranked and what people say about it really does not matter a lot. What matters more is how good the department she is in ranks. The problem is that even a top university will have a few weak departments and many otherwise mediocre universities will have a few excellent departments.
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Watty
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Re: College financial advice for undecided rising high school senior

Post by Watty »

One more comment.

At some universities the CS program can be very hard to get into, even more competitive than medical school.

Some students who could not get into the CS program would enrol at that university then transfer into CS after a year or two since that was easier to do. Sort of a backdoor admission process.

I have heard that some universities have really clamped down on that and made it very difficult to transfer into the CS program so that it would be a lot harder to transfer into CS than to get admitted to it as an incoming freshman.

Since she is undecided about what to do then she may want to initially get admitted to the CS program since it will be a lot easier to transfer out to some other major. If she tries to do it the other way around she may not be able to get into the CS program later on.
otinkyad
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Re: College financial advice for undecided rising high school senior

Post by otinkyad »

MMiroir wrote: Thu Sep 03, 2020 10:44 am 7) If you are looking for schools outside the private top 20, the 35 ACT will get her an automatic tuition waiver or cheap in-state tuition at the following state flagships. These make great safety schools, and if she wants to go pre-med, some may offer easier paths than a T-20 or your local school. Among these schools, ASU probably has the best CS program, and she would automatically get in their honors program.

Arizona
Arizona State
Auburn
Iowa
Iowa State
Kansas
Kansas State
Kentucky
Mississippi
Mississippi State
Missouri
Nebraska
New Mexico
Ohio State
Oklahoma
Tennessee
South Carolina
Utah
Utah and Ohio State are similarly well regarded, but with the OP’s stats, I’d look higher in the food chain. My son had a 1480, and ASU was his safest of safeties.
Jake806
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Re: College financial advice for undecided rising high school senior

Post by Jake806 »

I applied ED to a school like Cornell and am currently attending. I wouldn’t recommend applying ED to a school just because your counselor recommends it. Only if your daughter is obsessed with Cornell should she be considering ED. She’s qualified enough to make it into any school of that caliber regular decision, it just may be slightly more stressful when waiting.

Also, it’s worth mentioning that I know countless people that changed out of, or into, the premed route so it may be worth paying a little more for a good middle ground where she can succeed and explore all of her options for a year and still be on track before declaring her major, while not spending an insane amount of money prior to med school if she decides to go.
ThatsMyFamJam
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Re: College financial advice for undecided rising high school senior

Post by ThatsMyFamJam »

The school name may matter less than the program and her willingness to learn and work consistently once in the job market.

A friend's son went through UC Irvine's Honors pre-med program and got into more prestigious med schools than two of his friends, who went to Ivy League schools, which didn't have a specialized program. He said UCI provided a constant supportive environment toward that goal.

If working for FAANG or other top Silicon Valley companies is a goal, look at LinkedIn profiles of people who work there. Some went through schools in the area, like Santa Clara and San Jose State. (I've read some executives complaining Stanford grads didn't want to start at the bottom like everyone else). I know someone who's been wildly successful in a non-CS role (investor relations) in Silicon Valley who started at a community college while helping her dad run his solo practice and later earned an MBA going to Pepperdine night school. Family had tons of money but she just didn't know what she wanted to do. It was her work running her dad's office that springboarded her into a job opening a new branch of a large company and the jobs after that.

In all these examples, the pedigree (university) mattered less than other factors.

I have a HS senior. I've told her she is free to take a year to explore internships, volunteer, different jobs (like temp jobs) to expose her to various environments and gain knowledge about life and herself. Or she can go to one of the UC schools (we're in CA), which we have saved for. I didn't see the added value of paying $300,000/child (as opposed to $150,000 for UC).

And don't sacrifice your retirement or let her go into debt without some indication she could readily pay. Some are still paying student loans into their 40s.
Scooter57
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Re: College financial advice for undecided rising high school senior

Post by Scooter57 »

I suggest letting her take a year or two off. Kids are pushed into career paths without having enough actual life experience to choose wisely. My daughter was in a very high performing high school and the school was pushing VERY hard for her to apply to an expensive private college, but she didn't know what she wanted to do, so I sent her to an internship year at Dynamy, where she got to try out thee different careers. She rode an ambulance for a couple months. She worked at a theater, where she was taught some tech lighting skills and discovered a knack for doing the electrics for lighting. At the end of the year she decided not to go to college and ended up spending a few years in Hollywood supporting herself (very well) as a lighting tech and getting roles in movies, videos and TV pilots. Eventually she decided on what she wanted to do and did 2 years at an LA junior college which enabled her to go to UCLA with a big scholarship as she was too old for our income to count in her financials. She is now completing her Ph.D. in quantum mechanics, has her name on papers in high impact journals, and is very happy with her career, which was something she would never have dreamed of studying at 17.

Most of her friends who went to the expensive prestige colleges majored in stupid things like classics or psychology that left them working at lackluster jobs. Her only other very successful friend, now working for the SEC, did not go to college either until she had worked at a mall store for long enough to become manager. She then got a business degree and specialized in accounting and has gone straight up ever since, traveling all over the world.

I think the current obsession with FIRE is a result of so many bright kids being pushed into deciding on careers without any life experience. These people don't love their work because it doesn't fit them, and for those that didn't major in something high paying, they are stuck without the option of earning enough in a few years to retire.

Nothing terrible will happen if your child waits a couple years and goes to college to learn something that exciters her rather than drink, party, and socialize.
interwebopinion
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Re: College financial advice for undecided rising high school senior

Post by interwebopinion »

We were in a very similar boat - high performing DD who's not sure what she wants to be and no way to get a break on tuition because of income/assets. So the issue is somewhat fresh for us.

Our thinking was that she should go to the best brand name, only because if she decided to get a non-professional degree, then the brand might open up more doors for her next stage. Thankfully things worked out great for her.

If instead she had been very sure of a professional path, then likely she would have gone the UCs route and saved money for grad school.
stoptothink
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Re: College financial advice for undecided rising high school senior

Post by stoptothink »

interwebopinion wrote: Thu Sep 03, 2020 5:00 pmOur thinking was that she should go to the best brand name, only because if she decided to get a non-professional degree, then the brand might open up more doors for her next stage. Thankfully things worked out great for her.
Glad it worked out for her, but it's risky paying for a "brand name" when you have no clue what you intend to do. Several example of this on my staff and within my own family. If mommy and daddy are going to fund it all, that changes everything.
livesoft
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Re: College financial advice for undecided rising high school senior

Post by livesoft »

interwebopinion wrote: Thu Sep 03, 2020 5:00 pmIf instead she had been very sure of a professional path, then likely she would have gone the UCs route and saved money for grad school.
I would have thought that UCs were a brand name in California. At least here in Texas, graduates of UTAustin, Texas A&M, and even Texas Tech have plenty of alumni in hiring positions that would give fellow alumni at least a chance at interviewing. Sorry, U of Houston, I left you out.
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riskaverse2
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Re: College financial advice for undecided rising high school senior

Post by riskaverse2 »

Excellent and extremely helpful responses!I think I’m getting more and more convinced that she should stay open minded and perhaps cast a wider net in terms of applications. We will definitely run several of these ideas and suggestions by her and see what she ends up deciding. Thank you!
SchruteB&B
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Re: College financial advice for undecided rising high school senior

Post by SchruteB&B »

Jake806 wrote: Thu Sep 03, 2020 3:27 pm . Only if your daughter is obsessed with Cornell should she be considering ED. She’s qualified enough to make it into any school of that caliber regular decision, it just may be slightly more stressful when waiting.
I think that depends. At my children’s high school I have seen many high stat, very talented students shut out by going for regular decision vs ED. At our High school, applying ED confers a very great advantage.
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