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dereksurfs

Reasons to Consider a Less Selective, Less Expensive College

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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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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.

You boy's school in the middle of nowhere in MA, is out first choice.

â¤ï¸

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You boy's school in the middle of nowhere in MA, is out first choice.

â¤ï¸

 

Good luck!  My son loves it.   The workload is intense, but the school is definitely living up to his expectations, and that is saying something because his expectations were very high. 

 

Very few people in my area have heard of the school.  When they ask where it is, I tell them it is in Whoville. :D

 

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Good luck! My son loves it. The workload is intense, but the school is definitely living up to his expectations, and that is saying something because his expectations were very high.

 

Very few people in my area have heard of the school. When they ask where it is, I tell them it is in Whoville. :D

 

I don't think most people have heard about it on the west coast either. It's bizarre that there is so little name recognition. The remoteness of the location doesn't help. It is an academic gem though.

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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.

 

That was my reaction.  Like I mentioned before, I don't talk about this stuff IRL, so I don't know what is normal these days.  I had summer internships back in the dark ages.  I definitely didn't get a signing bonus.  Heck, the pay was not even great - I did it for the experience. 

 

My son debated over finances for about a month before he made a final college decision.  Had we known about these opportunities, there would have been zero debating.  This is why I am even mentioning it in this thread - for those that are lucky enough like my son to have to make such a decision as there are many qualified applicants who are not lucky enough to have the choice.

 

His school is a very special place, and I am thankful for all the opportunities he has had.

 

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I don't think most people have heard about it on the west coast either. It's bizarre that there is so little name recognition. The remoteness of the location doesn't help. It is an academic gem though.

 

My guess is their sports team isn't all that good.  IME, how well a school is known depends mostly upon their sports program - well, football and basketball anyway, not really the other sports.

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I don't think most people have heard about it on the west coast either. It's bizarre that there is so little name recognition. The remoteness of the location doesn't help. It is an academic gem though.

We were getting so many blanks stares and then the question "Where is that school?,"  that we started answering the question when asked where he was going to college by stating, "It is a small school in the mountains of MA  called ....." . 

 

My H was speaking with a friend in Israel when he asked if our son had made a college decision.  When my H answered the question by saying, "It's a small school in MA blah, blah, ....", his friend said to him "What type of F%$@&*^$ idiot do you think I am that I would need you to tell me where that school is located. 

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We were getting so many blanks stares and then the question "Where is that school?," that we started answering the question when asked where he was going to college by stating, "It is a small school in the mountains of MA called ....." .

 

My H was speaking with a friend in Israel when he asked if our son had made a college decision. When my H answered the question by saying, "It's a small school in MA blah, blah, ....", his friend said to him "What type of F%$@&*^$ idiot do you think I am that I would need you to tell me where that school is located.

Lol, I'm from MA and went to school in Western MA (though not quite that far west), and I'm surprised it's not more well known, apparently. I could swear I've seen it on those Tippy Top Schools lists more than once. Isn't it one of the 'little Ivys', like Amherst College?

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Lol, I'm from MA and went to school in Western MA (though not quite that far west), and I'm surprised it's not more well known, apparently. I could swear I've seen it on those Tippy Top Schools lists more than once. Isn't it one of the 'little Ivys', like Amherst College?

Yes, it is considered on of the "three little Ivies"  It has also been ranked #1 for liberal arts schools for like 12 years running. 

 

And they beat Amherst in football this year for the first time in a long time, although I must have missed the highlights on ESPN College Football. :D 

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Yes, it is considered on of the "three little Ivies" It has also been ranked #1 for liberal arts schools for like 12 years running.

 

And they beat Amherst in football this year for the first time in a long time, although I must have missed the highlights on ESPN College Football. :D

Okay, so I'm not losing my mind. ;)

 

So almost no one's even heard of the top-ranked LAC in the country? I guess those rankings aren't paid attention to as much as I'd thought! :lol:

Edited by Matryoshka
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Okay, so I'm not losing my mind. ;)

 

So almost no one's even heard of the top-ranked LAC in the country? I guess those rankings aren't paid attention to as much as I'd thought! :lol:

But kids who are into academics know about it. I think the population in general isn't aware of smaller liberal arts colleges as much as they know big universities (Harvard, Yale, Northwester.....).

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Okay, so I'm not losing my mind. ;)

 

So almost no one's even heard of the top-ranked LAC in the country? I guess those rankings aren't paid attention to as much as I'd thought! :lol:

 

My neck of the woods probably isn't the best barometer to use though as we have encountered people who haven't heard of the school our oldest attends, either. 

 

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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.)

My UG ds received a full-time salary over the summer. 100% of what his post-graduation salary will be prorated over the number of weeks of the summer internship. No signing bonus for summer, but he did receive one for the full-time position he already accepted. Not five digits, but a significant four.

 

Edit - this was a summer internship. No health benefits or housing provided for summer. Basically, just replicating what it would be like to live in that area on that salary with a full-time position. Of course, full-time position will have benefits.

Edited by Hoggirl
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You boy's school in the middle of nowhere in MA, is out first choice.

â¤ï¸

What school are you talking about, if you don’t mind saying? Sounds pretty great.

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That was my reaction.  Like I mentioned before, I don't talk about this stuff IRL, so I don't know what is normal these days.  I had summer internships back in the dark ages.  I definitely didn't get a signing bonus.  Heck, the pay was not even great - I did it for the experience. 

 

My son debated over finances for about a month before he made a final college decision.  Had we known about these opportunities, there would have been zero debating.  This is why I am even mentioning it in this thread - for those that are lucky enough like my son to have to make such a decision as there are many qualified applicants who are not lucky enough to have the choice.

 

His school is a very special place, and I am thankful for all the opportunities he has had.

 

 

Yes, thanks for sharing their experiences. There are so many ways kids (and parents) discover funds for college its almost mind boggling. The fact that you didn't know about this until 'after' him deciding is even more interesting. Why would he turn down full rides at the others which were better fits academically? What was the main thing it provided that they didn't? Was it more about the fit?

 

It really is more helpful to the Hive to hear about all these options and unheard of (to most) opportunities. Which school is he attending out of curiosity?

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My guess is their sports team isn't all that good.  IME, how well a school is known depends mostly upon their sports program - well, football and basketball anyway, not really the other sports.

 

From my perspective, this seems ridiculous. But I'm not a big college sports fan either. Still, doesn't the 'education' mean more than some silly games. lol  :p

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Williams

 

Wow, I just looked it up and the tuition is one of the highest I've seen. These numbers boggle my mind. I know that college costs have been rising steadily over the years. I guess I had't looked closely enough to see how much! And its not necessarily unique to this school, although high. There are many others I found on the list of most expensive colleges in America

 

Now, I am not at all implying attending them are a bad thing especially if one can afford to do so. But I could also see kids getting into crazy debt if they really wanted to attend and took out large loans to cover it. However, as others have pointed out in this thread the debt could be viewed as an investment if one anticipates highly paid opportunities upon graduation. And the internship opportunities do sound great.

Edited by dereksurfs

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Yes, thanks for sharing their experiences. There are so many ways kids (and parents) discover funds for college its almost mind boggling. The fact that you didn't know about this until 'after' him deciding is even more interesting. Why would he turn down full rides at the others which were better fits academically? What was the main thing it provided that they didn't? Was it more about the fit?

 

It really is more helpful to the Hive to hear about all these options and unheard of (to most) opportunities. Which school is he attending out of curiosity?

The full ride offers were better from a financial standpoint, but the schools my kids chose are better academic and social fits.  (However, both of their schools are very generous with no parent loans need-based financial aid and having two of them in college at the same time also helps a lot.)

 

My oldest had a research mentor in high school who told him that "he would be crazy" not to attend the school he is at now. His mentor told him that this school would open opportunities for him that he wouldn't have otherwise.  His research mentor was absolutely correct.

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It really is more helpful to the Hive to hear about all these options and unheard of (to most) opportunities. Which school is he attending out of curiosity?

MIT

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From my perspective, this seems ridiculous. But I'm not a big college sports fan either. Still, doesn't the 'education' mean more than some silly games. lol :p

Sometimes you can have the great education AND the "silly" games! And even watch your classmates in Olympic Games. ;)

 

Full disclosure: we are massive college sports fans - especially football.

Edited by Hoggirl
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Wow, I just looked it up and the tuition is one of the highest I've seen. These numbers boggle my mind. I know that college universities costs have been rising steadily over the years. I guess I had't look closely enough to see how much! And its not necessarily unique to this school, although high. There are many others I found on the list of most expensive colleges in America.

 

Now, I am not at implying attending them are a bad thing especially if one can afford to do so. But I could also see kids into crazy debt if they really wanted to attend and took out large loans to cover it. However, as others have pointed out in this thread the debt could be viewed as an investment if one anticipates highly paid opportunities upon graduation. And the internship opportunities do sound great.

Oh, I know the cost. We think it's worth every penny.

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Sometimes you can have the great education AND the "silly" games! And even watch your classmates in Olympic Games. ;)

 

Full disclosure: we are massive college sports fans - especially football.

It also cause massive jams on El Camino Real, Embarcadero Road and Palm Drive when there is a game on :lol: The Pac-12 Championship Game on Dec 1st is near my home :p

 

ETA:

We didn’t realize it’s game night and get caught in the massive jam while going to Trader Joe’s.

Edited by Arcadia
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It also cause massive jams on El Camino Real, Embarcadero Road and Palm Drive when there is a game on :lol: The Pac-12 Championship Game on Dec 1st is near my home :p

We need Washington to beat Washington State. Sorry - I am waaayyyy off topic now!

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Wow, I just looked it up and the tuition is one of the highest I've seen.

...

There are many others I found on the list of most expensive colleges in America.

We have seen the trend at $70k/yr for cost of attendance for quite some time. We have visited quite a few on that list through business trips or vacation trips. JHU has a lovely campus but it can be a bit scary a block away from the campus, plenty of campus security personnel on a weekend when we attended an award ceremony at Shriver Hall.

 

My husband also have good opinions of hires (full time and interns) from UT Austin. Out of state cost of attendance is high though.

Edited by Arcadia
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When the more expensive school is a place like MIT or Williams, that is one thing. But that's not even an option for most students. 3.6 million kids will graduate high school this spring. Some 60,000 freshmen will enroll in a highly selective college in the fall.

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When the more expensive school is a place like MIT or Williams, that is one thing. But that's not even an option for most students. 3.6 million kids will graduate high school this spring. Some 60,000 freshmen will enroll in a highly selective college in the fall.

 

Yes, though nice to attend I'm sure, that's certainly not the norm. If one gets accepted to MIT, Stanford, Cal Tech and the like we're talking about an entirely different type of decision vs. other schools which are similar in price and more accessible to the larger student population.

 

One of the schools in that 'most expensive' list is here in CA (won't mention the name). However, graduates from this school do not necessarily fare better professionally than those from many of our UC or Cal State public U's. In addition, some go into significant debt to attend such schools for various reasons/preferences. I actually have a family member who attended one and he has a 'tremendous' amount of school pride/spirit. However, I haven't seen it do much for him professionally especially while living out of state. 

 

There are so many ways to measure value when considering the cost of an education. Weighing that value in light of one's student is a very unique and multi-faceted assessment. And its not easy.  :p  I think most of us on here struggle with these decisions to some degree, some more than others.

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Are you talking about USC? That is not any more selective than many UCs. I thought we were comparing selective schools to cheaper (due to price or scholarships) options but significantly less selective. Of course if one is facing a huge price difference between somewhat similar schools (say UCSD and USC), it's a no brained to go with a cheaper options unless there are some specific reasons (unique major, famousbteacher...) to decide otherwise. Academics at such schools won't be all that different.

Our family would stretch considerably to pay for say Williams as opposed to UC Irvine, but under no circumstances would we be paying the price tag for USC. There has to be a significant difference in educational quality for us to part with $65k a year.

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Are you talking about USC? That is not any more selective than many UCs. I thought we were comparing selective schools to cheaper (due to price or scholarships) options but significantly less selective. Of course if one is facing a huge price difference between somewhat similar schools (say UCSD and USC), it's a no brained to go with a cheaper options unless there are some specific reasons (unique major, famousbteacher...) to decide otherwise. Academics at such schools won't be all that different.

Our family would stretch considerably to pay for say Williams as opposed to UC Irvine, but under no circumstances would we be paying the price tag for USC. There has to be a significant difference in educational quality for us to part with $65k a year.

 

Well, in an effort to not offend others, I'd rather not say. But if you PM me, I'll tell you the name.

 

The top 1% are the outliers and so, no, I'm not referring to them here. I'm differentiating between those most elite schools which are NA for the majority of us. As I've mentioned above, there is a spectrum of schools most of our students will gain acceptance to, some being more of an academic 'stretch' than others. When looking at selectivity, the majority of schools have been given an associated ranking. For example, does being ranked 24th vs. 45th in computer science really matter, especially if cost is much higher to gain that ranking or 'perceived' prestige? Sometimes going to the lessor ranked school is a better choice not only financially but in terms of  equivalent professional opportunities. 

 

Yes, *if* we could afford an extra $65k per year, it would have to be quite a bit better in every regard than some of our excellent state universities.

Edited by dereksurfs
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Even elite students have this decision to make, though.  They are often  deciding between expensive ivy league (or very good small liberal arts college) schools, fairly costly public ivies (for out of state kids with no great unis in state), or good public schools or private schools that are nonetheless not in the top tier of either private or public schools, but are free or very close to free.

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Even elite students have this decision to make, though.  They are often  deciding between expensive ivy league (or very good small liberal arts college) schools, fairly costly public ivies (for out of state kids with no great unis in state), or good public schools or private schools that are nonetheless not in the top tier of either private or public schools, but are free or very close to free.

 

I just think its easier for some families to accept footing a much larger bill for MIT, Stanford, etc... than some (relatively) lessor school. That's not saying its necessarily the better choice especially if it entails a significant financial hardship for the family.

 

IMO, it would seem almost cruel to allow a student to apply to an elite school they really wanted to attend, knowing it was out of reach financially and therefore not in the realm of possibilities. What if he actually gets accepted? I think that is where some of the tension lies. Do we jeopardize our retirement or get a second out on our home so that little Johnny can go to his dream school? Those are some really tough decisions.

Edited by dereksurfs
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Are you talking about USC? That is not any more selective than many UCs. I thought we were comparing selective schools to cheaper (due to price or scholarships) options but significantly less selective. Of course if one is facing a huge price difference between somewhat similar schools (say UCSD and USC), it's a no brained to go with a cheaper options unless there are some specific reasons (unique major, famousbteacher...) to decide otherwise. Academics at such schools won't be all that different.

Our family would stretch considerably to pay for say Williams as opposed to UC Irvine, but under no circumstances would we be paying the price tag for USC. There has to be a significant difference in educational quality for us to part with $65k a year.

Berkeley, UCLA, and USC are all tied with a ranking of 21st (along with Emory in Atlanta) in US News. I do understand that Berkeley and UCLA are public while USC is private. So, presumably far less expensive for those in California.

 

Maybe I'm misunderstanding what you are saying. I don't know about the selectivity among those three schools.

Edited by Hoggirl

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IMO, it would seem almost cruel to allow a student to apply to an elite school they really wanted to attend, knowing it was out of reach financially and therefore not in the realm of possibilities. What if he actually gets accepted? I think that is where some of the tension lies. Do we jeopardize our retirement or get a second out on our home so that little Johnny can go to his dream school? Those are some really tough decisions.

I agree with this 110%.

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IMO, it would seem almost cruel to allow a student to apply to an elite school they really wanted to attend, knowing it was out of reach financially and therefore not in the realm of possibilities. What if he actually gets accepted? I think that is where some of the tension lies. Do we jeopardize our retirement or get a second out on our home so that little Johnny can go to his dream school? Those are some really tough decisions.

My kids are a year apart. We have to think about whether we can put both through if both happened to get accepted to very selective schools. Budgeting at $300k for a kid, it would really mean liquidating all company stocks and using most of our unearmarked savings as well as quite a bit out of my husband’s biweekly paycheck.

 

My oldest is leaning towards colleges with past Putnam winners (team or individual). It’s really going to be a pain when college apps comes around in 4 years time.

 

My only sibling was 9 years younger so it was easier for my parents to bankroll my college expenses including all the wants.

 

ETA:

The Schafer Prize is for women and my kids are so far not interested in research. Oldest might look at the Fields prize winners list though.

Edited by Arcadia
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Berkeley, UCLA, and USC are all tied with a ranking of 21st (along with Emory in Atlanta) in US News. I do understand that Berkeley and UCLA are public while USC is private. So, presumably far less expensive for those in California.

 

Maybe I'm misunderstanding what you are saying. I don't know about the selectivity among those three schools.

That's what I am saying. They are so similar yet USC is twice the cost. We wouldn't pay for USC when we can get the same education for half the cost. Edited by Roadrunner
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Even elite students have this decision to make, though.  They are often  deciding between expensive ivy league (or very good small liberal arts college) schools, fairly costly public ivies (for out of state kids with no great unis in state), or good public schools or private schools that are nonetheless not in the top tier of either private or public schools, but are free or very close to free.

Yeah, I suspect there are a lot more of the "1% kids" making those kinds of choices than people may think. I know several who chose a full or near-full ride to a state flagship over Ivies or other elite schools (including DS), and there are quite a few others on this board.

 

Out of curiosity, I decided to look at where the recipients of the Schafer Prize went to school. There are certainly plenty of finalists from Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, and MIT, but the 2016 winner was not only at the University of Utah, she had started at CC and transferred. Other finalists have attended University of Central Florida, Montana State, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Michigan State, University of Southwest Missouri, University of Dayton, Texas A&M, Washington State, Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Dominguez Hills, Santa Clara U, University of Northern Iowa, Spellman, Valpraiso, Holy Cross, Bard, Reed, Agnes Scott, Kalamazoo, UCB/LA/SB/D, and the Universities of Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Washington, and Wisconsin.

 

I'm sure that most kids who had the intelligence and drive to be finalists in the Schafer Prize had higher ranked options than Northern Iowa, SW Missouri, Central FL, or Oklahoma State, yet that's where they landed, and it did not hold them back from accomplishing amazing things. All of them had great REU experiences, and most had published original research.

 

Really smart, motivated kids can make the most of their opportunities wherever they land.

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My kids are a year apart. We have to think about whether we can put both through if both happened to get accepted to very selective schools. Budgeting at $300k for a kid, it would really mean liquidating all company stocks and using most of our unearmarked savings as well as quite a bit out of my husband’s biweekly paycheck.

 

Unless you are very wealthy, you do get some break when you have two in at once. Run different scenarios on the college board EFC estimator.

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Do we jeopardize our retirement or get a second out on our home so that little Johnny can go to his dream school? Those are some really tough decisions.

 

This guy struggled to put his daughter through Stanford and HMS and the other in Emory, and I don't think he's happy with his decision.  

 

"And then, on top of it all, came the biggest shock, though one not unanticipated: college. Because I made too much money for the girls to get more than meager scholarships, but too little money to afford to pay for their educations in full, and because—another choice—we believed they had earned the right to attend good universities, universities of their choice, we found ourselves in a financial vortex. (I am not saying that universities are extortionists, but … universities are extortionists. One daughter’s college told me that because I could pay my mortgage, I could afford her tuition.) In the end, my parents wound up covering most of the cost of the girls’ educations. We couldn’t have done it any other way. Although I don’t have any regrets about that choice—one daughter went to Stanford, was a Rhodes Scholar, and is now at Harvard Medical School; the other went to Emory, joined WorldTeach and then AmeriCorps, got a master’s degree from the University of Texas, and became a licensed clinical social worker specializing in traumatized children—paying that tariff meant there would be no inheritance when my parents passed on. It meant that we had depleted not only our own small savings, but my parents’ as well."

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This guy struggled to put his daughter through Stanford and HMS and the other in Emory, and I don't think he's happy with his decision.  

 

"And then, on top of it all, came the biggest shock, though one not unanticipated: college. Because I made too much money for the girls to get more than meager scholarships, but too little money to afford to pay for their educations in full, and because—another choice—we believed they had earned the right to attend good universities, universities of their choice, we found ourselves in a financial vortex. (I am not saying that universities are extortionists, but … universities are extortionists. One daughter’s college told me that because I could pay my mortgage, I could afford her tuition.) In the end, my parents wound up covering most of the cost of the girls’ educations. We couldn’t have done it any other way. Although I don’t have any regrets about that choice—one daughter went to Stanford, was a Rhodes Scholar, and is now at Harvard Medical School; the other went to Emory, joined WorldTeach and then AmeriCorps, got a master’s degree from the University of Texas, and became a licensed clinical social worker specializing in traumatized children—paying that tariff meant there would be no inheritance when my parents passed on. It meant that we had depleted not only our own small savings, but my parents’ as well."

That's a really interesting article, and I think the author is a prime example of someone who was blinded by prestige and made really stupid financial decisions. He admits he has NO money whatsoever saved for retirement and is deeply in debt due to choosing to pay off a large tax debt over time; he says he may never pay it off in his lifetime. The part about his daughters not being able to get scholarships because he made too much money is BS — that's financial aid, not scholarships. Kids who can get into Stanford and Emory could have qualified for significant merit aid at very good schools. Every year there are stories of kids who get into multiple Ivies and choose a full ride elsewhere. I'm pretty sure the daughter who went to Emory could have gotten a nice scholarship somewhere else without ruining her chances of becoming a social worker or bankrupting her father.

 

This guy is exactly the sort of person the article in the OP was written for. Unfortunately, he is also the sort of person who is probably least likely to pay attention to it. I sure hope the daughter who's in med school will be happy to support her broke parents for the rest of their lives. 

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This guy struggled to put his daughter through Stanford and HMS and the other in Emory, and I don't think he's happy with his decision.

From the same article, his biggest financial problem seems to be his money management problems rather than just his daughters college costs issue. Maybe he didn’t get good tax advice from whoever help him with his income tax filing. Without all his other money issues, his daughters’ college costs would be financially painful but not as disastrous.

 

“There was worse to come. Because I lived largely off the advances my publisher paid me when I commenced research on a book, the bulk of my earnings were lumped into a single year, even though the advance had to be amortized to last the years it would take to write the book. That meant I was hit by a huge tax bill that first year that I could not pay in full without cannibalizing what I needed to finish the book. When I began writing a biography of Walt Disney, as my two daughters headed toward college, I decided to pay whatever portion of my taxes I could, then pay the remainder, albeit with penalties added, when the book was published and I received my final payment. The problem is that the penalty meter keeps running, which means that the arrears continue to grow, which means that I continue to have to pay them—I cannot, as it happens, pay them in full. I suppose that was a choice, too: pay my taxes in full, or hold back enough to write the book and pay my mortgage and buy groceries. I did the latter.

 

And so the hole was dug. And it was deep. And we may never claw our way out of it.â€

 

ETA:

From the same article, this might be the main issue

 

“In any case, with my antediluvian masculine pride at stake, I told her that I could provide for us without her help—another instance of hiding my financial impotence, even from my wife. I kept the books; I kept her in the dark.â€

Edited by Arcadia
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Even elite students have this decision to make, though. They are often deciding between expensive ivy league (or very good small liberal arts college) schools, fairly costly public ivies (for out of state kids with no great unis in state), or good public schools or private schools that are nonetheless not in the top tier of either private or public schools, but are free or very close to free.

Right. And extremely selective schools like the ones snowbeltmom's boys go to may be a good value at 20k or whatever one's parental contribution is, if one is not full pay. Show of hands how many here would pay full price/ $70k/year for them? Edited by madteaparty

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Are you talking about USC? That is not any more selective than many UCs. I thought we were comparing selective schools to cheaper (due to price or scholarships) options but significantly less selective. Of course if one is facing a huge price difference between somewhat similar schools (say UCSD and USC), it's a no brained to go with a cheaper options unless there are some specific reasons (unique major, famousbteacher...) to decide otherwise. Academics at such schools won't be all that different.

Our family would stretch considerably to pay for say Williams as opposed to UC Irvine, but under no circumstances would we be paying the price tag for USC. There has to be a significant difference in educational quality for us to part with $65k a year.

 

My husband went to USC for grad school.  We were already married.  Thankfully, it was a 3 semester program (including one summer) and not a full 4 years.  I think the cost was only $10K per semester then (tuition and fees, no room or board.)

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My kids are a year apart. We have to think about whether we can put both through if both happened to get accepted to very selective schools. Budgeting at $300k for a kid, it would really mean liquidating all company stocks and using most of our unearmarked savings as well as quite a bit out of my husband’s biweekly paycheck.

 

We would be in the same situation with just the one kid at at time. But it's a real problem for you because your boys will get admitted. Mine is more of a philosophical dilemma ;)
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I finally  had a chance to sit down and read the article a little better.  I have been saying this exact thing for years.  

 

I went to a private, Christian college.  Long story short, my parents really pushed Christian over anything else, in fact, my high school (Christian missionary kid boarding school overseas) did as well.  Almost everyone I knew was going to a private Christian school.  Now, missionary kids DID get a discount at most Christian schools, so that was a positive, but state schools weren't really on anyone's radar.  And, since it was in the dinosaur years before internet, we had limited info on schools in the USA.

 

I say all of the above to get to this:

 

I ended up in the same job as many of my colleagues who went to Cal State schools and paid something like $800/year in tuition (not sure what room and board was at the time for a state school), while my cost of attendance was much more.  I didn't have the option to live at home, but my tuition alone was far more.

 

I then got both of my MAs from private schools as well.  It was what I was familiar with and I just went for it.  My colleagues again got their MAs from schools that were about 1/4 the cost.  

 

We ended up with the same salaries and the same jobs.

 

The truth is, for 90% of the jobs you get, you don't need the elite schools (maybe even a higher percentage) and for those jobs where the NAME is important, you typically need an MA anyway, so getting the UG in a cheaper school and spending the bigger bucks for grad school makes far more sense.

 

My husband's job was like this.  He got his undergrad from a  state school in MI and then his MA from USC, which at the time was ranked #1 on the West Coast for his field of study (I have no idea about current rankings.)  It stood him in good stead for his career and we have no regrets.

 

We just have to weigh the importance on the school, the name, the course of study, our own kids' needs, and our finances.  So many variables.

 

 

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