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Reasons to Consider a Less Selective, Less Expensive College


dereksurfs
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I am still a little stunned how poor we are apparently. I assumed we would be close to full pay, but it looks like we are poor. 😳

We have little mortgage left and my husband’s stock options are included in his W2 taxable income. His stock options given is about $20k per year. Our home price is also higher even if I use my county’s tax collectors valuation because of the property price boom.

 

If we lower the home value and increase the mortgage owed, so that equity is negligible, the net price comes down. We have on paper > $400k difference between home valuation by property tax comptroller and our remaining mortgage.

 

We’ll have to see how the CSS profile is calculated when the time comes.

Edited by Arcadia
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We have little mortgage left and my husband’s stock options are included in his W2 taxable income. His stock options given is about $20k per year. Our home price is also higher even if I use my county’s tax collectors valuation because of the property price boom.

 

If we lower the home value and increase the mortgage owed, so that equity is negligible, the net price comes down. We have on paper $400k difference between home valuation by property tax comptroller and our remaining mortgage.

 

We’ll have to see how the CSS profile is calculated when the time comes.

Ha. Are they expecting people to borrow against primary residence?

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Ha. Are they expecting people to borrow against primary residence?

My kids flute and cello instructors say using HELOC to pay was expected at the private very selective SoCal college their oldest is in. Their single family home is closer to two million in valuation (Sunnyvale area).

 

ETA:

It seems to be a good fit for their very nerdy oldest child but they had to teach seven days a week to pay for two kids in college simultaneously. I think their kids have a two year age gap.

Edited by Arcadia
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I wish we had a good option locally. We don't.

I am still a little stunned how poor we are apparently. I assumed we would be close to full pay, but it looks like we are poor. 😳

 

That would actually be a good thing if you were trying to get into schools like Stanford. Their definition of 'poor' is relative to the Bay Area and therefore more affordable for many Americans. There's just that little problem of actually getting in. lol :p

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I just ran a net price calculator for fun and apparently Stanford would only cost us $28k a year. That would be cheaper than A UC for us, but of course my kids couldn't get into Stanford. 😳

Lol! It's all in the perspective. I would be saying still $28,000, not "not only."

 

Fwiw, unless you entered all your assets, your estimate will be off.

 

In terms of equity, depends on the school. Some don't factor it all. Some from 1-4% (per year) but most cap equity at 2.5% of income.

 

Fwiw, I have never seen anything based on only higher home price.

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
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Lol! It's all in the perspective. I would be saying still $28,000, not "not only."

 

Fwiw, unless you entered all your assets, your estimate will be off.

 

In terms of equity, depends on the school. Some don't factor it all. Some from 1-4% (per year.)

It didn't ask for retirement savings.

 

I am really surprised on the estimate because we can absolutely afford $28k (we don't have too many kids).

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I wish we had a good option locally. We don't.

I am still a little stunned how poor we are apparently. I assumed we would be close to full pay, but it looks like we are poor. 😳

You're surprised how "poor" you are, I'm surprised how "rich" we apparently are. I don't think the fact we'd still be paying our own student loans then matters.
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Ha. Are they expecting people to borrow against primary residence?

 

The places that filled out the CSS told me they did.  I asked how they could possibly come up with a "Family Contribution" that was over two times the EFC calculated by FAFSA (which was still high, but doable).  Yes, they told me, that's right. We didn't make a mistake and forget you had two kids in college at once (and a third one right behind, but that of course doesn't count).  We expect that you should take out a mortgage on your primary residence and/or raid your retirement fund to pay for our school.  Um, NO.  My dh will be 64 when all the kids are done with college.  How are we supposed to pay back that money or replenish our retirement fund at that point?  Guess we'd have to live in our car and eat cat food.  I literally laughed at them.

 

Yeah, and high COL areas are completely not taken into account.  

Edited by Matryoshka
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I am really surprised on the estimate because we can absolutely afford $28k (we don't have too many kids).

Stanford did raise the annual income cap in 2015. Our AGI is still above. A friend’s kid in Stanford had her parental contribution adjusted when her dad was retrenched in the middle of the academic year. Her mom’s income falls under the $60k threshold. They do expect the student to do work study though.

 

“Under the new policy, Stanford will expect no parental contribution toward tuition from parents with annual incomes below $125,000 – previously $100,000 – and typical assets. And there will be zero parental contribution toward tuition, room or board for parents with annual incomes below $65,000 – previously $60,000 – and typical assets.â€

https://news.stanford.edu/2015/03/27/new-admits-finaid-032715/

 

ETA:

There is also the California middle class scholarship which we are not eligible for even if younger pick SJSU. Else even 10% savings would be nice, as in to gift to younger kid for his wants.

 

“Students whose families have income and assets up to $165,000 per year may be eligible for a scholarship of no less than 10 percent and no more than 40% of the mandatory system-wide tuition and fees at the University of California and the California State University.â€

http://www.csac.ca.gov/mcs.asp

Edited by Arcadia
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Stanford did raise the annual income cap in 2015. Our AGI is still above. A friend’s kid in Stanford had her parental contribution adjusted when her dad was retrenched in the middle of the academic year. Her mom’s income falls under the $60k threshold. They do expect the student to do work study though.

 

“Under the new policy, Stanford will expect no parental contribution toward tuition from parents with annual incomes below $125,000 – previously $100,000 – and typical assets. And there will be zero parental contribution toward tuition, room or board for parents with annual incomes below $65,000 – previously $60,000 – and typical assets.â€

https://news.stanford.edu/2015/03/27/new-admits-finaid-032715/

A big chunk of the population falls under $125K. 

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Right, we'll have kids in college (should they all go) from 2022 - 2047, with many years overlapping (2 or more in school).  When the last graduates college I'll probably be 60-65.  Is that the point at which I start saving for retirement or building assets?  With luck, by that point the business will run itself and we'll just live off the labor of others and be filthy rich and sit around all day drinking tea and watching the grandkids play.  Unfortunately, I can't count on that luck, because it is just as likely, statistically, that the business fails at some point and what we've got is the assets we've built to that point and the retirement we've saved, and we're back to trying to get a $15/hr job at 50 years old with no experience.

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Derek,

 

I do find this 2015 opinion piece an easier read The Benefits of a Less Selective College http://www.thecollegesolution.com/the-benefits-of-a-less-selective-college/

 

“So here is my top ten list of why students should not always go to the most selective college that will admit you:

 

1. Merit Money

...

2. Meeting Professional Goals

...

3. Personal Attention

...

4. Scholarships and Fellowships.

...

5. Quality Faculty.

...

6. Graduate School.

...

7. Licensing.

...

8. Employment.

...

9. The Community College Option.

...

10. Graduationâ€

 

You can also read the free 244 pages PDF by Scott White (the head guidance counselor at Morris High School in New Jersey) on the college admission process http://www.morrisschooldistrict.org/cms/lib02/NJ01001914/Centricity/Domain/578/scottwhitesbook.pdf

Edited by Arcadia
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Derek,

 

I do find this 2015 opinion piece an easier read The Benefits of a Less Selective College http://www.thecollegesolution.com/the-benefits-of-a-less-selective-college/

 

 

 

Yes, that was actually the first one I read and enjoyed. The one I referenced in the first post I also like due to the research conducted. Granted the research is somewhat dated, but the principles still apply. If anything, I think more companies are becoming more aware and enlightened in this area regarding the insignificance of pedigrees in correlation to job performance. Part of that has to do with companies like Google conducting their own research on employee performance over time. If you look at the large tech companies, for example, most have arrived at similar conclusions.

Edited by dereksurfs
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5. Quality Faculty.

...

 

Someone posted about wanting professors vs grad students as teachers. My kids have never had a grad student as a teacher. In a lab or recitation section, yes, but all classes have been taught by professors.

 

Same here.

 

And I'll also add that one can get great and not-so-great faculty anywhere, at any level.  It's the content and opportunities that vary, not how terrific (or not) the professors are.  Some not-so-great professors are awfully good at research and are kept at great (or not) institutes for those reasons.  Some terrific professors prefer working at smaller (or religious or close to "home" or whatever) places and not necessarily where the big names are.  Not everyone seeks the prestige that is out there.

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If anything, I think more companies are becoming more aware and enlightened in this area regarding the insignificance of pedigrees as they relates to job performance. Part of that has to do with companies like Google conducting their own research on employee performance over time. If you look at the large tech companies, for example, most have arrived at similar conclusions.

Internships are more and more becoming gate keepers. At a previous company, an MIT intern wasn’t a good fit. There is no obligation to give the intern a job offer. So it is easier for a company with internships to hire good fit employees without having to offer probation period to a new hire. My nephew who graduated this year with BEng (ISE) had an investment banking job offer with a big five bank where he did his internship at. He won’t have been hired if he didn’t intern there because there were so many job applicants for that post. Pay happened to be good but he is a workaholic so it’s a good job fit for him.

 

ETA:

Which is why it is good to check out internships opportunities as well when doing college tours.

Edited by Arcadia
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Same here.

 

And I'll also add that one can get great and not-so-great faculty anywhere, at any level.  It's the content and opportunities that vary, not how terrific (or not) the professors are.  Some not-so-great professors are awfully good at research and are kept at great (or not) institutes for those reasons.  Some terrific professors prefer working at smaller (or religious or close to "home" or whatever) places and not necessarily where the big names are.  Not everyone seeks the prestige that is out there.

 

Yes, and believe it or not, this also applies to CC's in more desirable locations even though they are typically frowned upon by so many. IMO, the quality of CCs can vary even more so than 4 year colleges and universities themselves. I was fortunate enough to attend an excellent CC in a very desirable coastal area of Southern California. Professors from that school came from many big name universities and it was known for its excellent preparation of transfer students who went on to many prestigious schools, if that was their intended goal.

 

In addition, as you mentioned, there are smaller religious schools where some of these excellent professors simply enjoy working for a variety of reasons. Heck, we even see this at the homeschool level from online high school courses offered by instructors who could easily teach at prestigious schools if they 'wanted' to. Derek Owens is a great example of this and there are many more.

 

I've taken courses at our elite UCs as well as lessor known private universities. Overall, I've enjoyed the lessor known schools more for many of the reasons listed in these articles. While subjective to my own experience, it opened my eyes to there being so much more to a school than merely magazine rankings. That really tells so very little about the quality of a school, the environment and most importantly the best fit for any given student.

 

From a professional standpoint as apart of our hiring team for large tech company, I see no significant difference when it comes to schools and job performance. Each recent grad we hire is so unique including their experiences while in school that they are evaluated based upon those individual traits and acquired skills over school ranking status. The later never even comes into the equation. 

Edited by dereksurfs
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Each recent grad we hire is so unique including their experiences while in school that they are evaluated based upon those individual traits and acquired skills over school ranking status.

I think this is why my kids have done so well regardless of their school. They seek out every available opportunity on campus and make sure they are building their resumes and developing skills.

 

My freshman applied and was selected for th IB student advisory board. She has already submitted applications for summer internships. She knows the onus is on her to succeed and that she has to seek out the opportunities and not expect them to come to her.

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
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Derek,

 

My younger is more “passive†so we are keeping a lookout for colleges with co-op programs. He is less likely to seek out internships unlike my older boy. So it’s not so much about how selective a college is but how good a fit the college would be for a kid who is very laid back and go with the flow.

 

I think this is why my kids have done so well regardless of their school. They seek out every available opportunity on campus and make sure they are building their resumes and developing skills.

I agree. Even at high school level/age, the go-getters do better.

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Derek,

 

My younger is more “passive†so we are keeping a lookout for colleges with co-op programs. He is less likely to seek out internships unlike my older boy. So it’s not so much about how selective a college is but how good a fit the college would be for a kid who is very laid back and go with the flow.

 

I agree. Even at high school level/age, the go-getters do better.

 

Yes, I think its very important to find a place which helps them come out of their shell and discover those opportunities around them. I think that's really what all parents are looking for. Since each child is so different, the places in which they flourish will vary quite a bit as well.

 

I recall when I was in college I hated large auditorium sized classrooms, for example. It made me feel like a number completely disconnected from the instructor and fellow classmates. It just felt so sterile, impersonal and unnatural. Once I began attending a smaller university I became much more engaged with the learning environment, made friends, socialized with other classmates and the instructors. They knew my name and valued my thoughts. For me that was the ideal setting to learn within. Later in graduate school, I discovered the same was true while in a cohort program. It was within that team environment that we learned, worked, struggled, studied, competed to an extent, joked, etc... together. I thrived in that type of cohort approach and even today I think it helped me professionally in learning to work as apart of a team vs. an outsider looking in.

 

So that is what I would like for all our children to the greatest extent possible given our financial constraints. The more I think about, the more I have a hard time imaging it at a large or even impacted institution. Yet some kids do seem to thrive in those environments as well. So I do not want to exclude those simply because of my own preferences. They just seem harder from my perspective to become engaged with folks and therefore opportunities. I would imagine at least some of the larger schools have found creative ways to mitigate that lack of cohesion and personal interaction. Still, the smaller school and class sizes are an easier way to get there IMO.

Edited by dereksurfs
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The more I think about, the more I have a hard time imaging it at a large or even impacted university. yet some kids do seem to thrive in those environments as well. So I do not want to exclude those simply because of my own preferences. They just seem to harder from perspective to become engaged with folks. I would imagine at least some of the larger schools have found creative ways to mitigate that lack of cohesion and personal interaction. Still, the smaller school and class sizes are an easier way to get there IMO.

I would worry about impacted universities but not large universities. For large universities, I would look at the tutorial and lab class size for the majors my kids are interested in. My kids aren’t likely to speak up during lectures but they will speak up during tutorials and labs. So big class size for lectures aren’t a hindrance.

 

My large high school (11th/12th grade) calculus and physics lectures had a class size of > 400 in the lecture hall. Tutorial class however was only 22 kids (for an urbanite like me used to class size of 40 students, 22 is small). Lab class (Chem, Physics, biology) was at most 26 kids with more than enough lab sets to go round. Let’s just say that if I fall asleep in class, my teacher definitely knows. My engineering lab class size was 12 undergrads, tutorial class size was 24 and lecture class size was often around 400. My engineering lecturers and department secretaries all know me too well.

 

My oldest wants a large university because it’s big (he feels claustrophobic in small campus that he can’t get lost in), has many libraries (which to him means more choices of places to read and study), more food courts (he can cook but he likes food courts), and most importantly he thinks he is more likely to find his tribe in a larger enrollment college than a smaller one. This is a kid that felt like an outlier in a large k-8 public school yet managed to be popular without effort when he was there.

 

Have you look at the honors college program within the large state universities? That might balance a smaller size with cost of attendance, as in the lower price tag of state universities with the smaller cohort of the honors program.

 

Just because I am being too lazy to search around, quoted is what CalPoly says about their honors program benefits

“As active members of the Honors community, students are afforded many unique opportunities and benefits, including:

 

Opportunities to work closely with individual faculty members on co-curricular projects or in more intimate classroom settings;

 

Small-enrollment, degree-applicable Honors classes focused on interesting subjects within the University’s General Education Program;

 

Dedicated space in the Kennedy Library for studying, interacting with other Honors students, and meeting with program advisors;

 

Reserved space for incoming freshmen in the Honors Housing, in the Cerro Vista Apartments on campus;

 

Opportunities to receive Honors course credit for a variety of co-curricular and extracurricular activities, including study abroad experience, internship work, civic engagement, community service, and leadership within a campus student organization;

 

Opportunities to conduct meaningful interdisciplinary research with students and faculty from across campus; and

 

Recognition upon graduation and during commencement for the time, effort, and dedication required to successfully complete the Honors Program.†https://honors.calpoly.edu/content/benefits-program

 

ETA:

From SDSU about honors college benefit https://newscenter.sdsu.edu/dus/uhc/college_benefits.aspx

 

“Smaller Class Sizes

 

The number of students who may enroll in an Honors course is limited to no more than 25 individuals. Although the university average classroom enrollment is 42 students per class, that is not necessarily the case for General Education classes, many of which are held in large lecture halls seating 80 to 300 people.â€

Edited by Arcadia
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Another fun thing to do is compare lectures.  My son has a flipped class this year and hates it.  The MIT lecture set wasn't anymore in depth. The Aussies though, have a lecturer for the course who is dynamite.  So, he watches that prof, as he can learn from that fellow's presentation. 

 

Just curious - is it Dr. Wayne Rowlands?

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I always hear people talk about campus culture and if a student fits in into that. How would one even go about researching such a thing?

Frankly I find researching a "fit" so hard. It's one think to find a school with academic stats that match your own, but beyond that it seems to me a shot in the dark.

 

I have heard UCs are impacted. What does that really mean for a student?

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I always hear people talk about campus culture and if a student fits in into that. How would one even go about researching such a thing?

Frankly I find researching a "fit" so hard. It's one think to find a school with academic stats that match your own, but beyond that it seems to me a shot in the dark.

 

I have heard UCs are impacted. What does that really mean for a student?

Visiting is the best way to learn about culture.

 

Visit the largest school within driving distance and the smallest one and somewhere in between. Stop and look at the bulletin boards in the academic buildings and the student center. Eat lunch in the dining hall. Sit in on a class. You'll start to pick up on culture and find your student will develop some preferences.

 

But don't obsess over "perfect fit." Every school will have it's pros and cons. Make sure the school is at a reasonable level academically and that the campus is reasonably comfortable, but not every student finds a "perfect" school. And even those who think they found the perfect school can have a rough transition or discover imperfections once attending.

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I will add a caveat from my previous post regarding my school. Because my school is a lower tier state school, students who want to attend graduate school need to plan accordingly because name recognition is not going to get you anywhere. You have to do things like honors and internships and independent studies to really have a strong application. Also, the likelihood that I could get into a top ten PhD program in my field (most are not Ivy league) straight from undergraduate is probably nil. We just don't have the depth of program. People who want to pursue a PhD generally move up a tier for master's then elsewhere for PhD. 

 

Most students who know from the outset that they want to study medieval history do not attend our university, they go elsewhere. I'm fortunate that we have a departmental atmosphere that supports tailoring of programs to serious individuals. I know a few other students who are getting that individualized support in other related fields, at the big state school that might not happen because it would go to the current graduate students. 

 

One challenge our school has is that we have weak foreign language departments. I'm taking Latin as a special course as the only student, it's not technically offered at our school. Outside of that we only offer French and Spanish as major/minors and two years of courses available for German or Chinese. There are areas of medieval history I'd like to study, but it would require at least two more languages that we don't even offer. So if you child is considering any field that might require foreign language, be sure to check out the viability of those departments as well. 

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I would worry about impacted universities but not large universities. ...

 

My oldest wants a large university because it’s big (he feels claustrophobic in small campus that he can’t get lost in), has many libraries (which to him means more choices of places to read and study), more food courts (he can cook but he likes food courts), and most importantly he thinks he is more likely to find his tribe in a larger enrollment college than a smaller one. This is a kid that felt like an outlier in a large k-8 public school yet managed to be popular without effort when he was there.

 

Have you look at the honors college program within the large state universities? That might balance a smaller size with cost of attendance, as in the lower price tag of state universities with the smaller cohort of the honors program.

 

Just because I am being too lazy to search around, quoted is what CalPoly says about their honors program benefits

“As active members of the Honors community, students are afforded many unique opportunities and benefits, including:

 

Opportunities to work closely with individual faculty members on co-curricular projects or in more intimate classroom settings;

...

 

Recognition upon graduation and during commencement for the time, effort, and dedication required to successfully complete the Honors Program.†https://honors.calpoly.edu/content/benefits-program

 

ETA:

From SDSU about honors college benefit https://newscenter.sdsu.edu/dus/uhc/college_benefits.aspx

 

“Smaller Class Sizes

 

The number of students who may enroll in an Honors course is limited to no more than 25 individuals. Although the university average classroom enrollment is 42 students per class, that is not necessarily the case for General Education classes, many of which are held in large lecture halls seating 80 to 300 people.â€

 

Arcadia,

 

Thanks for this info. Both are excellent state schools especially for STEM majors. And both are very impacted. SJSU also falls into this category. So I have been really torn in considering these as good options. That being said, we have friends at Cal Poly who really seem to like it there. Thus, I know it still works for certain students even with these negatives. I also work with a recent Cal Poly CS grad who shares with me some of his stories like having to crash the majority of classes even as a senior because there are simply too few available. Another friend of our son's is an engineering student there who speaks very highly of it! haha :p

 

I hadn't heard much about the benefits of the honors programs. It does sound like they try to provide extra perks for those students. 

 

Because there are so many factors in considering colleges, I think we'll still need to visit these larger schools so that our kiddos can gain a better sense of what they're like for themselves.

Edited by dereksurfs
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I always hear people talk about campus culture and if a student fits in into that. How would one even go about researching such a thing?

Regarding campus culture:

Doing the AMC exams at Stanford and my husband wanting to secure a free parking lot means we are usually two hours early. We park where it is free to park after 4pm. Our favorite parking spot is the one near Stanford bookstore. My oldest also attended Stanford Splash twice so far. My kids feels at ease in the Main Quad area/The Oval there. Stanford actually has a everybody’s backyard feeling to it. On a normal weekend, you have tourists and the general public (families) going there and picnic and kids running around at the field at The Oval. There is also the free Marguerite (campus) shuttle which my kids like because they get to walk less and free WiFi on board.

 

My kids don’t like tree huggers so UCB is out. They have been there many times but it is go straight to the event, and leave immediately after because they don’t want to loiter. They have witness some of the protests and saw the recent ones in the news. They don’t like colleges that have frequent protests which is also why they avoid San Francisco city’s downtown.

 

We are often at SJSU because their library is opened to public use. My kids summarizes the campus vibe as “Go Spartans†and lots of homeless people on campus. An adult did cause trouble at SJSU Martin Luther King Library entrance and had to be surrounded by security. Luckily there are two entrances to the library so those who need to leave for class can use the other one.

 

We were at U of Waterloo for the whole day walking around and seeing how people behave. People were very helpful, guiding us to free parking as well as asking us if we need help when we look lost. Pleasant vibe overall and nice engineering building. They have fully covered walkways so harsh winters is less of a problem. We could walk from admin/food court/bookstore past math building to engineering building without stepping outdoors; something that my kids appreciate.

 

We were at UCLA from Sunday afternoon to Monday evening and stayed at the hotel in the middle of their campus. It was a work trip for my husband. We get a neutral vibe about the campus. People go about their business and chat with friends. My oldest was mistaken for an undergrad because of his height probably (he is around 5’11). My kids were at ease at the downtown area of UCLA more than they have ever felt at ease at the downtown (Telegraph Ave) area of UCB.

 

We were also at CalPoly for work trip reasons. People were friendly and Asians are uncommon on campus so people chat us up. I think their enrollment is 5% Asians. My kids didn’t want to be in the spotlight due to being a minority. So any college where Asians are an obvious minority is also out.

 

I have heard UCs are impacted. What does that really mean for a student?

UCLA explanation of impacted courses

 

“The Faculty Executive Committee of the College or school considers the following criteria when making a decision to designate a course as impacted:

 

The course has high enrollment demand, and late drops would deny qualified students a chance to take the course that term

 

The course has a high instructor/student ratio or involves a large commitment of resources. Laboratory classes often meet this criterion

 

The course meets infrequently, and it is difficult to complete if a student has not attended by the second week of the term

 

The course satisfies the Writing II requirement

 

Courses designated as impacted during the regular academic year are also impacted during summer sessions.â€

http://www.registrar.ucla.edu/Registration-Classes/Enrollment-Policies/Enrollment-Restrictions/Impacted-Courses

Edited by Arcadia
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That being said, we have friends at Cal Poly who really seem to like it there. Thus, I know it still works for certain students even with these negatives. I also work with a recent Cal Poly CS grad who shares with me some of his stories like having to crash the majority of classes even as a senior because there are simply too few available. Another friend of our son's is an engineering student there who speaks very highly of it! haha :p

My husband has only good things to say about the engineering interns he interviewed there. We did hear an undergrad cursing the current president at the food court because he sat at the table next to ours. Overall the campus vibe was peaceful.

My kid who is interested in double/triple major is keeping an eye out for how colleges assess AP exams credit. He wants to get general education credits and foreign language credits done in high school if possible.

Link is to CalPoly AP exams credit for exams taken in 2017. They have a PDF for each year of AP exams from 2013 to 2017 https://content-calpoly-edu.s3.amazonaws.com/registrar/1/Degree_Progress/articdoc/APcred2017.pdf

 

OT: There is a contingent of my home country’s defence scholars at NPS near you.

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I always hear people talk about campus culture and if a student fits in into that. How would one even go about researching such a thing?

Frankly I find researching a "fit" so hard. It's one think to find a school with academic stats that match your own, but beyond that it seems to me a shot in the dark.

 

I have heard UCs are impacted. What does that really mean for a student?

 

Start with The Fiske Guide. They also have an online option.

 

Hang out on College Confidential, if you dare. :)

 

Some sites have ratings. It doesn't mean they're accurate, but it may be a good place to start.  These are just some characteristics you can research:

 

Most conservative: https://www.niche.com/colleges/search/most-conservative-colleges/

Most liberal: https://www.niche.com/colleges/search/most-liberal-colleges/

Best Greek: https://www.niche.com/colleges/search/best-greek-life-colleges/

Most Diverse: https://www.niche.com/colleges/search/most-diverse-colleges/

 

Ask here, via a thread or PM.

 

Writing the check for tuition is much easier when they have found the right fit. :)

Edited by lisabees
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5. Quality Faculty.

...

 

Someone posted about wanting professors vs grad students as teachers. My kids have never had a grad student as a teacher. In a lab or recitation section, yes, but all classes have been taught by professors.

 

At the community college my kids attended for DE, one of their chemistry instructors was a chemistry PhD who had taught several years at the state flagship.  He shifted to the CC because he liked the smaller classes and being able to spend more time with students.

 

This guy was a rock star.  Not only was he a great instructor, but he was genuinely interested in the students and had a lot of interesting side gigs (certified biochem collections diver, musician in Army National Guard).  There can be some quality instructors at a lot of institutions.

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At the community college my kids attended for DE, one of their chemistry instructors was a chemistry PhD who had taught several years at the state flagship. He shifted to the CC because he liked the smaller classes and being able to spend more time with students.

 

This guy was a rock star. Not only was he a great instructor, but he was genuinely interested in the students and had a lot of interesting side gigs (certified biochem collections diver, musician in Army National Guard). There can be some quality instructors at a lot of institutions.

I was told a lot had to do about students. Say if you are teaching a class of struggling kids, you can only teach to a certain level. We were strongly advised against any math courses at a local CC even at calculus and above levels.

I have never taken a single course st a CC, so it's hard for me to judge.

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At the community college my kids attended for DE, one of their chemistry instructors was a chemistry PhD who had taught several years at the state flagship.  He shifted to the CC because he liked the smaller classes and being able to spend more time with students.

 

This guy was a rock star.  Not only was he a great instructor, but he was genuinely interested in the students and had a lot of interesting side gigs (certified biochem collections diver, musician in Army National Guard).  There can be some quality instructors at a lot of institutions.

 

Yes, thank you. There is a fallacy that one must attend an elite school to receive quality instruction. I've learned from personal experience that it isn't necessarily true. As others have mentioned you can get really good and bad instructors at  just about every school. At the local CC where our son is taking DE courses he is loving his current Marine Biology course which is taught by a passionate PhD in the field. They take fantastic field trips to the coast, research labs and the Monterey Aquarium which all bring the subject to life for him. The class is relatively small, highly interactive and rigorous. This professor loves the location here on the Monterey Bay as do we. 

 

OT: Happy Thanksgiving All and thanks for all your participation in the forums!   :thumbup: Here's a photo of our family this morning enjoying a break from school:

 

IMG_20171123_100702-XL.jpg

Edited by dereksurfs
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At the community college my kids attended for DE, one of their chemistry instructors was a chemistry PhD who had taught several years at the state flagship.  He shifted to the CC because he liked the smaller classes and being able to spend more time with students.

 

This guy was a rock star.  Not only was he a great instructor, but he was genuinely interested in the students and had a lot of interesting side gigs (certified biochem collections diver, musician in Army National Guard).  There can be some quality instructors at a lot of institutions.

 

We have experienced this.  Most of the CC instructors my kids have had have been fabulous and care very much about the students.  They are extremely qualified and dedicated.  Three of my sons attended our state flagship university and the quality of instruction overall was not nearly as good as what they experienced at the CC.  Plus, the CC has small class sizes and professors who speak English!  

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I was told a lot had to do about students. Say if you are teaching a class of struggling kids, you can only teach to a certain level. We were strongly advised against any math courses at a local CC even at calculus and above levels.

I have never taken a single course st a CC, so it's hard for me to judge.

 

Our CC upper level math classes have been wonderful.  No complaints at all.  

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My story isn't to say I think that it doesn't matter where a student attends because it's all the same. Our state flagship isn't well ranked outside of 2-3 majors. Neither of my kids would have been well served staying here for college.

 

But neither does that mean that every student should attend the highest ranked school they are accepted to.

 

Ds2 turned down a higher ranked school to go to Virginia Tech. The Corps of Cadets and proximity to friends weighed heavily on his decision.

 

I feel that schools tend to fall into bands rather than a strict 123 ranking.

 

I'll add that the opinions of neighbors, friends and family about what school is best doesn't really matter to me either.

Edited by Sebastian (a lady)
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Frankly I find researching a "fit" so hard. It's one think to find a school with academic stats that match your own, but beyond that it seems to me a shot in the dark.

My kids have no interest in sports or militrary so we didn’t need to ponder about NCAA or ROTC when looking at colleges.

 

At the local CC where our son is taking DE courses he is loving his current Marine Biology course which is taught by a passionate PhD in the field. They take fantastic field trips to the coast, research labs and the Monterey Aquarium which all bring the subject to life for him.

Are you aware of Monterey Aquarium’s Teen Conservation Leader program?

https://www.montereybayaquarium.org/education/teen-programs/teen-conservation-leader-tcl

 

Also since your son is interested in robotics, MATE (Marine Advanced Technology Education) is nearer to you then to us. They might be located at the community college your son is attending DE courses at.

http://monterey.marinetech2.org

Edited by Arcadia
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I think younger two will opt for lower cost schools, possibly even living at home and commuting, at least for middle son.  

 

We had thought all 3 could do that, but my oldest needs something more specialized and will be going to a private school after 2 years at community college.  Not everything will transfer, so he will be a sophomore, but he is a sophomore in age anyway, so that works.  And, he has a scholarship that brings it down to *almost* state school price.  He is taking out a loan for the difference.  

 

Middle son is a Sr. in high school.  He has toured 2 schools (NC State schools) and applied to 3.  One of them is very cheap.  In fact, it is only $2K more per year than living at home and commuting to our local state school.  Maybe even the same if we were to take him off our car insurance while he is away!  

 

But last weekend, after looking at colleges and him really saying he has no idea what he wants to study, he looked at me and said, "Mom, is it really that bad if I stay at home and go to the community college first?"

 

We did not do a college fund.  We have some general IRAs that we designated as college, but it isn't enough to fund college for 3 boys.  We opted to pour a lot into retirement instead.  Our plan was always for me to go back to work and pay cash for college, and that is exactly what I am doing.  We are cash-flowing school.  It also helps our retirement as I will get not only money, but health insurance for our retirement.

 

 

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I was told a lot had to do about students. Say if you are teaching a class of struggling kids, you can only teach to a certain level. We were strongly advised against any math courses at a local CC even at calculus and above levels.

I have never taken a single course st a CC, so it's hard for me to judge.

 

Sounds perfect for two of my boys!  :hurray:

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Yes, that is why I wanted to hear from those who went to the top schools and it is working well for. We have quite a few on this forum who have kids at the top schools. In many cases, like yours, it was a good fit on many levels. If that's the case and they like the school then why not? Some really will thrive at those top schools. And by contrast, for some it would be a very poor fit even if they could get accepted. Then there will be others who get accepted and it will be more a matter of degrees in terms of which would ultimately be best overall rather than extremes (wonderful/terrible). 

 

My kids turned down free rides for schools that they felt were better academic fits.  When reading these threads, I find that some of the comments definitely don't mirror my kids' experiences: 

 

1.  Big fish/ Small fish:  I read this comment quite frequently and know it is not true at my kids' schools - opportunities are not limited to just the "big fish" - there are fantastic opportunities for any student who seeks them out.  The professors are very accessible and go out of their way to help all students create extra opportunities for themselves.

 

2. Cut-throat environment:  The environments at my kids' schools are the polar opposite of cut-throat.  The kids work together on problems sets and don't discuss grades.

 

3. Affordability:  I don't discuss this IRL, so I don't know if my son's experience is typical or not.  But we did not factor in internships when determining the costs of attendance.  Kids are getting 5-figure signing bonuses, housing, and a high hourly wage for summer internships.  This was a savings that we definitely did not know to factor in when determining affordability.

 

Obviously, YMMV and I have zero knowledge of how my kids' experiences compare to kids' experiences at other schools.

 

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Kids are getting 5-figure signing bonuses, housing, and a high hourly wage for summer internships. This was a savings that we definitely did not know to factor in when determining affordability.

Kids are getting $10,000+ signing bonus and high hourly wages for summer internships? Wow. Definitely not something my kids have experienced. $5000-$5500 plus housing and $100/wk for food, plus all travel expenses has been the norm for my kids for summer. Never heard of a student getting a $10,000+ summer internship signing bonus before. For full-time employment post-graduation? Pretty normal.

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
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JD and MBA summer interns at top firms get full-time salaries over the summer. for JDs that $2-3k per week.

But they are not UG programs and that is what we have been discussing. Co-op engineering students make a high wage, as well. Ds made about 2/3 of his post-graduation salary in paychecks plus housing provided and received full-benefits and a scholarship. But, it was not a summer internship. They typically fall into a different category.

 

Dd found out that she can get paid by a program at school for unpaid internships (and that is at a public.)

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My kids turned down free rides for schools that they felt were better academic fits.  When reading these threads, I find that some of the comments definitely don't mirror my kids' experiences: 

 

1.  Big fish/ Small fish:  I read this comment quite frequently and know it is not true at my kids' schools - opportunities are not limited to just the "big fish" - there are fantastic opportunities for any student who seeks them out.  The professors are very accessible and go out of their way to help all students create extra opportunities for themselves.

 

2. Cut-throat environment:  The environments at my kids' schools are the polar opposite of cut-throat.  The kids work together on problems sets and don't discuss grades.

 

3. Affordability:  I don't discuss this IRL, so I don't know if my son's experience is typical or not.  But we did not factor in internships when determining the costs of attendance.  Kids are getting 5-figure signing bonuses, housing, and a high hourly wage for summer internships.  This was a savings that we definitely did not know to factor in when determining affordability.

 

Obviously, YMMV and I have zero knowledge of how my kids' experiences compare to kids' experiences at other schools.

 

We found the same experience you did, except there was no sign on bonus for middle son's summer research that he did.  It still paid quite nicely - the Stanford one.  It paid a more average salary when he stayed at Rochester.  I figured the difference was COL at each place.  There were no "unheard of - by me" schools among his research peers on these summer assignments - nothing I'd consider lower or mid level.  There were public and private, small and large, LACs and research Us, but all would be considered "name" schools by anyone knowing their colleges (not by their sports teams).  Ivies were included, but so were these others.

 

But I just have the one data point (x three with spending summer researching).

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