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cuckoomamma

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I don't have any real words of wisdom but just wanted to say, from your descriptions, it would seem that the larger school will be more likely to get her where she wants to be in the future. I should say that I'm more on the end of the spectrum of viewing college as a means to an end than as a stand alone experience, so that may factor into the way I read your post. It sounds like both have their pros and cons so I would probably tell her to go with her gut. I tell my dd in situations like this there is no one perfect choice but, rather, several good choices so not to sweat trying to pick the perfect option.

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Yes, there's no perfect option.  That said, I very much doubt that all students at the state school are like you described.  One of my dc attends a state party school, but it also has terrific instructors, a strong undergraduate research program, great honors program, numerous faith-based student groups, and lots of really nice people at all levels.  Dc has a decent social life with other non-partiers, so it's been a good experience all around.

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10 minutes ago, klmama said:

Yes, there's no perfect option.  That said, I very much doubt that all students at the state school are like you described.  One of my dc attends a state party school, but it also has terrific instructors, a strong undergraduate research program, great honors program, numerous faith-based student groups, and lots of really nice people at all levels.  Dc has a decent social life with other non-partiers, so it's been a good experience all around.

This was my thought as well.  

 

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IMO, school #1, the Private LAC is not to be considered. No way. That one is impossible.  It is obvious to me, from what you wrote, that school #2, the State Flagship, is where she should go. In a very large school, she will find and make friends who share her interests and her beliefs. Good luck to her!

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52 minutes ago, Mom0012 said:

This was my thought as well.  

 

Mine, too. Flagships have large student bodies. I can't fathom classifying thousands of students under some huge generic stereotype.

Fwiw, every single one if my kids has gone to a public and all if them have had great peer groups and profs.

 

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I'm with the rest here. Big public #2 would be the winner in our house based on your descriptions of the $ offer, credits going in, professors, and masters included. Is there an honors program that offers some chance at a small group of motivated peers? If not, perhaps an interest group (like an on campus living learning community for Education majors)? Regardless, I bet she will be able to find a fantastic peer group at a large U.

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2 hours ago, cuckoomamma said:

The professors are all doing research and nationally connected.

We’ve told a few people that she was seriously considering the flagship and they are seriously dismayed.

1. Who is helping these professors with their research? There might be the peers (and grad students) to start with.

2. Just some advice. I wouldn't listen to the crowd once she makes her decision (whatever it is). State the decision, that it looks like a fantastic opportunity, smile, and move the conversation forward.

I had someone already react to my DD's decision with, "Well, she can always transfer later if she decides [the distance from home] isn't for her. I just smiled and said she's going to love it.

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1 hour ago, RootAnn said:

1. Who is helping these professors with their research? There might be the peers (and grad students) to start with.

2. Just some advice. I wouldn't listen to the crowd once she makes her decision (whatever it is). State the decision, that it looks like a fantastic opportunity, smile, and move the conversation forward. 

I had someone already react to my DD's decision with, "Well, she can always transfer later if she decides [the distance from home] isn't for her. I just smiled and said she's going to love it.

Yes.  Especially to #2.  We had people dismayed that our ds chose to attend Alabama b/c he aspired to grad school.  He is now at a top grad program in the country for his field.  His flagship didn't hold him back at all.  Individuals tend to be far more "name recognition" aware than u's themselves.  

If she wants to go to grad school, courses (advanced coursework is a definite plus), UG research, and LOR are going to be key factors for admission (GPA and, depending on the field, GRE scores, as well).  Those will matter way more than the name of her UG institution.

 

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Just chiming in to agree that the state flagship seems the right choice and I even will admit to having some romantic (yet admittedly not accurate 😂) ideas about the smaller LAC experience.

And agree with not listening or even explaining yourself to others. My kids made really “outside the box” choices that still wouldn’t make sense to people. That’s okay. We’ve always zigged where everyone else zagged and it has been right for us!

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I would agree with the above comments. She just need to find her tribe. At a state flagship, there is a huge student body. Within that, there are pockets of community where she will find kindred spirits. She just needs to be encouraged to proactively go about finding that tribe which means "dating" a lot of different student groups until you land on the one or two that resonates with you. It does require effort on her part to do this and find community. I would actually tell her to not have expectations to find her community in her dorm. If it happens, great. If not, then you won't be disappointed if that doesn't happen. Faculty who inspire you and care about you as a student is not easy to come by. Plus a program of study that engages you definitely is key to weighting the scales towards the flagship. FWIW, I suspect the kids that she would be engaged with were probably elsewhere engaged with their interests and not lollygagging around.  

 

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As an Education major who went to a huge State school, I'd say go for your second school. What I'd be looking for is time in the classroom as an undergrad--I mean field experiences even before student teaching. Even if she goes into research, she NEEDS real-world experience in the schools, the more the better! I would look at the ranking of the education program, also. My state school was number 2 in the nation, just behind Stanford, when I went. 

You can always find a peer group at college, and sorry, but nearly all college students look like they just rolled out of bed, unless they are pledging or freshman. 😉 

It'd be a no-brainer, honestly. 

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14 hours ago, cuckoomamma said:

First school is a private LAC. Beautiful campus, beautiful environment. Costs more than the second school but could be done. The department in her major is small and the professors are mediocre. Some less than ideal and some supportive of what she’s looking to do in a general sense but definitely not saying that they would go out of their  way to facilitate anything. 

Dds impression is that they are supportive in a very general sense but would not be the type of people to help her find opportunities. Had the feeling that any letter of recommendation for grad school would be a general positive letter but didn’t strike her as people who feel passionately about things. 

School 2 is state flagship and very large. It has the best professors we met hands down of all the schools we visited. They immediately suggested a PhD, offered to help her find research opportunities with anyone in the department, were super enthusiastic and passionate. Kids look like they rolled out of bed, talk about Netflix, napping and drinking. Didn’t see one kid who looked like someone she would aspire to be. Kids are really uninspiring.

They will give her 2 years of credit in ap classes. She is accepted into the 5 year bachelors/masters program so will finish in 4 years for sure with a masters and still have credits to spare. 

The professors are all doing research and nationally connected. However, did I mention that we have huge concerns over the student body?  School is rural but she could live off campus. About a third of students live off campus for upper years-all seniors and half of the juniors. Not sure if this is good or bad. It offers flexibility but also gives a commuter feel. 

These (bolded) are the most important factors — and based on those criteria it's no contest. Don't worry so much about the students; every big school is going to have a mix of great students and slackers. Your DD doesn't need to be friends with all 20,000 (or whatever) students, she just needs to find a small group of like-minded kids — which she will definitely be able to do. She should choose the professors and the department she wants to spend the next four years with, because those aren't going to change. The paid-for Masters is a nice bonus, too.

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I agree with others about the necessity for undergraduate research and in-class teaching opportunities. My undergrad department was small, but infinitely supportive of independent research and mentoring students who had grad school aspirations. My undergrad research also was an honor's project, but without the support of a few professors and the chair of the department, I could have never finished the research I did. My support couldn't have come solely from an honor's program.

My grad school has a much larger student body, but it rarely feels crowded (except maybe the parking garage). I also see how other grad students had much more opportunities available than I did at my undergrad institution. 

 

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Well, that's interesting.  If the thought of going to that school depresses her, then maybe you should "decide" to go to the other school and see how that feels.  I will be an outlier and say that I don't think it matters that much which university you go to, and surely the professors are not so mediocre.  Maybe they are shy and not in the mood to chat with prospective students (or however you made your determination about them).  If she really loves the private LAC, then go there.

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12 minutes ago, perkybunch said:

Well, that's interesting.  If the thought of going to that school depresses her, then maybe you should "decide" to go to the other school and see how that feels.  I will be an outlier and say that I don't think it matters that much which university you go to, and surely the professors are not so mediocre.  Maybe they are shy and not in the mood to chat with prospective students (or however you made your determination about them).  If she really loves the private LAC, then go there.

Yes, how did you determine the other professors were so mediocre?  If she hates the state school to the point of feeling depressed about it maybe she should go to the other school?  We are all responding based on your statements about the professors and opportunities.  Are you sure those are accurate? What if she pretends for a few hours that she is going to the other school.  Then, how does she feel?  Does she feel depressed about that too?

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Does she have other areas of interest besides education? Does she plan to take upper division courses in other areas? It’s hard to imagine there are not at least serious STEM students at the state U, as they likely wouldn’t or couldn’t stay in such a major if they weren’t serious. Does she have an interest in any foreign languages or studying abroad?

My niece who went to a top LAC and wants to teach science and math at the middle or high school level some day did not major in education on purpose. She had tons of teaching experiences during undergrad, both on and off campus and at all levels from k-undergrad and every summer, but didn’t feel like education classes would be the best use of her limited time there. She focused on math and science and is now teaching English abroad. I can understand why your daughter wants to major in education given her goals, but there are probably other students who share her interest in education, but not her major.

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My DDs had offers which were significantly better financially than the schools they picked. There were schools that were closer that were better known.

However, like your DD, they wanted a cohort of academically focused peers. They wanted to be in the middle of the class not the top. They wanted classes full of intellectually stimulating conversation not where the professor was trying to get students to talk.

They also wanted residential colleges. Food was real important. Both are gluten-free and they wanted schools that provided a diverse, robust selection of gf foods. Eating off the salad because there were no other gf options would have been disastrous.

My DDs looked at the student population, the school as a whole, and the surrounding community. Being city kids, they wanted the option to grab a cup of coffee or to go to a theater production off campus. 

As they were both undecided, they were more concerned about the overall feel of the school and not individual departments. 

Ultimately we encouraged them to go with their guts, to pick the school where they would be most comfortable both on and off campus as long as we could afford it. We believe that they will get the education they are meant to get regardless where they go.

 

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My view is not one of resignation, but affirmation that peers can be found on a large campus.  FWIW, my dd is majoring in foreign languages.  Her best friends on campus are almost all majoring in sciences. Only one is a humanities major.  Kids don't only take classes in their major.  They also make friends at a wide variety of social venues.  (My dd is active in her church community and has also met students that way.)  Ironically, I don't think my dd knows many of the students in her dept b/c she is so busy elsewhere.  (My other kids didn't really hang out with kids in their dept, either, except for chemE ds and that was for study groups.)

FWIW, I always read on CC about the inability for high performing kids to find "like-minded peers" outside of elite schools.  It has absolutely not been my kids' experiences at all.  

Was she accepted into an honors program at the flagship? That is another way to meet students.  Is there a residential living community that appeals to her?  That is another way.  

What companies are recruiting on campus?  If there are no serious students, there wouldn't be much hiring going on.

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I work at a public university.  My office door opens up into a large study area on campus and due to the lack of sound dampening in my office, I can hear at least five different groups of students at any given time.  All day long I hear engaging conversations from students who are clearly driven and passionate about what they are studying.  And some talk about Netflix too. When I open the door to look at them, they (collectively) look like a middle school sleepover gone horribly wrong.  There is a student out there right now with bed head, wearing sweatpants and SLIPPERS with non-matching tube socks.  He is practicing a lively in-depth presentation with three other students about a topic I cannot even understand.  Hopefully he chooses different attire for the actual presentation!  I wouldn't judge a student body on appearance or what they talk about casually.  I doubt there is any college out there that a single student could not find their tribe.

 

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I've got a child who chose the flagship over a small selective LAC, and a child who went in the other direction. I'm guessing your decision is made by now, but I wanted to say that it will most likely be just fine either way.

Someone above mentioned that it is possible that the LAC profs are just not interested in talking up prospective students, and my guess is that that is the case. I know at second daughter's school there is not an overwhelming amount of effort put into wooing future students. I can also say that my (somewhat socially awkward) daughter that chose the flagship found friendships with like minded students right away.

Either education is going to be what she makes of it. Having had students in both sorts of schools, I do think there are unique advantages to the selective school, but, that said, not sure the advantages are worth a significantly increased cost of attendance. For someone going into teaching (even with the goal of administration), I'd be looking at reducing costs as much as possible.

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I'm a huge booster of small LAC's in a general sense. I think LAC's are increasingly undervalued (though I know the top ones are still hard to get into). It seems like the strong focus is now on the consumer experience of education - how much it will cost, how many people it can connect you with, how many research and internship opportunities you'll have, etc. And it's less on the education for education's sake and social community aspects of college, which has always been core of where LAC's really excel. I'm not saying it's wrong that now we're much more minded to look at the cost benefits (after all, those costs have risen much faster than inflation), but I can totally see how some of the benefits of an LAC are less tangible and are increasingly less valued in a cost minded landscape.

But even I think this LAC sounds like a terrible fit. And I also find it hard to believe that a large state flagship school could actually be bereft of academically inclined students. I suspect that the profs telling her that she's be one of just a few students so focused is more saying that she's above and beyond even good students, not that everyone else is a slacker or not interested. I mean, if she's really already looking at a PhD path, then that's always going to be just a few students out of the crowd.

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Decision is not completely made. I won’t be home for a few hours and she’s waiting to talk with me again.

is financial aid available for a masters or is that a whole different animal?

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12 hours ago, cuckoomamma said:

We’re reading all the responses, so thank you!

Logically speaking, we know all students at the flagship can’t be the same, but when you legitimately haven’t seen anyone who appears academically inclined and driven, it becomes a real concern. We’ve spent a lot of time at different campuses and there are definitely differences in student bodies. If she had spent high school as part of a large group of friends, we’d be less worried. She’s waited a long time to have academic peers, and we need her to be happy enough in her personal life to benefit from the academics offered. 

 

 

The students you are looking for are at the library studying.  Or in a lab doing research.  Or doing something productive with their time.  

Where are you looking?  And what does an academically inclined and driven student look like? 

Saying this, I'm as guilty as the next person about stereotypes of what a serious student should look like.  

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FA may be available for a masters.  Parental income won't count any more against you.  It depends on program and school.  Some schools well fund grad students and some require a lot of financial privilege or risk to consider.  

I have a very academically, high stat minded kid headed toward a big 10 flagship school.  Did you dig around in clubs?  Is there an honors program?  Learning communities?  I know kids where my kid will be headed can be accepted at any grad program in the country if they shine there.  I just have a hard time believing her people aren't there somewhere.  I think good fit is generally much more important on a smaller campus.  I also think the same group of kids at 9 am on a Monday morning can be different at 3 pm on a Wednesday too.  We had a session at an elite school early in the day once that was extremely underwhelming in terms of engagement and actually caused me to laugh but it's just a quick snapshot of a small percentage of a student body with a single prof in a single setting.  Were you visiting freshman gen ed classes or more specialized classes?

We were surprised after all the marketing and accolades the LAC's my son was considering how strong the faculty was at the big 10.  It was actually a pretty shocking difference in background/experience. My kid got some very personal attention from faculty too (music program).  So that made it more of a no brainer.  I do think the ability to work and mix with grad students is labelled as a downside by many LAC's but can really be a plus for an academic, focused and mature undergrad.  My kid was hand picked into a music studio of primarily grad students.  I think that will be great for him.  

I went to a big 10 engineering school with a huge student body.  I am an academic geek.  I did just fine there.   I also think of it as a means to an end.  Can you be reasonably happy and engaged for somewhere for 4 years?  Can you find some community?  Malcom Gladwell has an interesting video out about the advantages of being a bigger fish in your pond.

Anyway - good luck with your final choices!

Edited by FuzzyCatz
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9 hours ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

My view is not one of resignation, but affirmation that peers can be found on a large campus.  FWIW, my dd is majoring in foreign languages.  Her best friends on campus are almost all majoring in sciences. Only one is a humanities major.  Kids don't only take classes in their major.  They also make friends at a wide variety of social venues.  (My dd is active in her church community and has also met students that way.)  Ironically, I don't think my dd knows many of the students in her dept b/c she is so busy elsewhere.  (My other kids didn't really hang out with kids in their dept, either, except for chemE ds and that was for study groups.)

FWIW, I always read on CC about the inability for high performing kids to find "like-minded peers" outside of elite schools.  It has absolutely not been my kids' experiences at all.  

Was she accepted into an honors program at the flagship? That is another way to meet students.  Is there a residential living community that appeals to her?  That is another way.  

What companies are recruiting on campus?  If there are no serious students, there wouldn't be much hiring going on.

One of my sons definitely makes his friends outside his department. He'd have to as his major graduates only 2-4 a year.

His best friends are mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and classics majors. They don't have to sit together in class to be friends. 

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On 4/30/2019 at 5:41 PM, cuckoomamma said:

With one day to go, dd is still undecided. Dd was accepted to many schools, received lots of merit aid, but the financial aid packages were all over the place and the bottom line not feasible for many schools. We tried negotiating financial packages by offering the packages from other comparable schools but there was barely any movement (about 2k) . 

I accidentally clicked on your name when starting to respond, and I glanced at your recent posts. It looks like your dd was accepted to schools she liked, but they turned out to be unaffordable. I'm sorry; it must be hard to say no after being accepted to your ideal schools. I would guess there is a period of mourning about what might have been that makes it hard to choose a different school quickly. 

We’re down to 2 schools that are very different, and I feel that I really don’t know which way to counsel her. She is going into education. She’d like to teach for a few years but is looking towards a phd, running a private or charter school, doing research, becoming a principal...along those lines. 

I have one acquaintance from college who majored in education and later went back to school to get a doctorate in something educational. She went on to be a longtime principal before being named as an assistance superintendent in a large school district where she works. Her oldest also plans to be an educator and will be attending the same big state u that we did. 

I have a different acquaintance from college who did not major in education, however, she founded a school. She does have an MBA. 

First school is a private LAC. Beautiful campus, beautiful environment. Costs more than the second school but could be done. The department in her major is small and the professors are mediocre. Some less than ideal and some supportive of what she’s looking to do in a general sense but definitely not saying that they would go out of their  way to facilitate anything. 

Dds impression is that they are supportive in a very general sense but would not be the type of people to help her find opportunities. Had the feeling that any letter of recommendation for grad school would be a general positive letter but didn’t strike her as people who feel passionately about things. 

I am a "big state u graduate," however, I can't believe there are any well-respected LACs that don't fully support students going on to graduate school. If she chooses this school, she may need to find the opportunities, but she will be able to find them. I have read the college board since my oldest, who graduated college in 2017, was in high school, and one of the reasons people choose LAC's is the ability to do research as an undergraduate. I can't believe this LAC is the complete opposite to that.  (ask here and people will give advice on getting started in research.)

When you say the cost could be done, does that mean loans would be needed for student or parents? I wouldn't encourage that for a student going into education and or wanting a doctorate.

Does this school have an education major? I ask, because my oldest had a high school friend who wanted to be an English teacher /college professor. She decided to attend a selective college that did not have an education department. Since the plan was to teach high school before becoming a college professor, the choice seemed odd to others, but I don't think anyone said anything as it was her choice. She lasted a year at that school, and then came back to our state flagship to major in education. She now teaches with the Peace Corps. 

Has she done any in-classroom student teaching, not just working with school-age kids in after-school/summer programs? Will she be able to do that quickly at the LAC? I ask, because a friend's daughter went to a LAC that is popular around here, because she liked its education department best. They needed both parent and student loans to afford it. Turns out, she hated being in a classroom full-time and transferred after a semester or a year. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
8
On 4/30/2019 at 5:41 PM, cuckoomamma said:

Kids are similar to her in values towards academics and having a direction in life. 

The school will give her one semester of credit from ap classes. She must live on campus all 4 years. She will graduate in 4 years with Bachelors and have to pay for masters. Not sure that she can go straight for her PhD and roll the masters in with it to reduce cost. Columbia wants a masters degree first. Not sure if in general there is financial aid for masters. She might have to begin teaching and take classes at night which would be stressful. Selective school with name recognition. Feel we would be paying this school in order to have desirable peers.

Many teachers do online master's programs while teaching. 

You mentioned going to Columbia for her doctorate. Have you looked where their current students went? The educational leadership doctorate students went to Rutgers, University of North Carolina, University of Richmond, University of Scranton, New York University and Paine College. Two of them received their master's at Columbia before enrolling in the doctorate program. Another two students are international students.  

School 2 is state flagship and very large. It has the best professors we met hands down of all the schools we visited. They immediately suggested a PhD, offered to help her find research opportunities with anyone in the department, were super enthusiastic and passionate. Kids look like they rolled out of bed, talk about Netflix, napping and drinking. Didn’t see one kid who looked like someone she would aspire to be. Kids are really uninspiring.

They will give her 2 years of credit in ap classes. She is accepted into the 5 year bachelors/masters program so will finish in 4 years for sure with a masters and still have credits to spare. 

The professors are all doing research and nationally connected. However, did I mention that we have huge concerns over the student body?  School is rural but she could live off campus. About a third of students live off campus for upper years-all seniors and half of the juniors. Not sure if this is good or bad. It offers flexibility but also gives a commuter feel. 

Are the students living off campus in apartments/houses nearby or are they commuting from their homes in other towns? A lot of students at my kids' school live off campus, but most of them live close enough to walk to class. Some need to drive a few minutes to get to school, but no one is considered a commuter. 

I think she’d have a rich intellectual life, but I’m very concerned about the social aspect. I feel this school is better for her career path, but the kids are a real downer. 

I went to a LAC so am more familiar with those pros and cons. We’ve told a few people that she was seriously considering the flagship and they are seriously dismayed. Many feel because she is so academically inclined, the LAC and name recognition is important. We both are feeling very conflicted. If she would graduate with the masters from the lac she would choose it. Graduating in 4 years with the masters is very tempting. 

I live where big state u is a popular choice for smart kids, so I have no experience with what to tell dismayed friends. However, like everyone else, I feel confident that your daughter, if she has an open mind, can find her tribe at the flagship. Have you looked at the school's Common Data Set to reassure yourselves that there are students there with test scores and grades like your daughter's scores/grades? Do you know that Big State U probably has more high-achieving students than the LAC simply because of its size? I do have to say my oldest was a bit worried during orientation when a nearby student mentioned her ACT score was 10 points lower than my student. (That score was still higher than 80 percent of ACT test takers.) After that momentary worry, there was never another concern and the kid loved the school and made plenty of connections and friends. 

I think your job is to reassure your daughter that she will be able to successful socially and professionally no matter what school she choices. 

 

 

 

 

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My kid was also accepted to more elite schools we cannot afford.  It is hard and disappointing.   I don’t think it’s uncommon at all either.  

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what state are we talking about?  I am trying to think of a state flagship that wouldn't have at least a LAC worth of motivated, intellectual students. 

Now, many of your intro classes at the state flagship would be full of averagish kids, and that would be no fun.  But - good news!  The state flagship is probably, from the sound of it, going to give her credit for all of those classes and not require her to take them.  

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OP, I really hope both you and your dd find peace with her decision, whatever it is.  

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Thank you all for talking us through this. She decided on the flagship 😊. Many of your comments helped us. She said that when she imagined making the decision, she couldn’t wait to tell the professors at the flagship. We both think it’s the right decision, and yes, I think not being able to attend another school she was accepted to made it harder. 

I really appreciate you all sharing your thoughts. It was a time when we really needed to hear that it was going to be ok, so thank you!

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Yay congrats, cuckoomamma!  I'm glad you all can move on!  🎉❤️🥂🎂

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8 hours ago, cuckoomamma said:

Thank you all for talking us through this. She decided on the flagship 😊. Many of your comments helped us. She said that when she imagined making the decision, she couldn’t wait to tell the professors at the flagship. We both think it’s the right decision, and yes, I think not being able to attend another school she was accepted to made it harder. 

I really appreciate you all sharing your thoughts. It was a time when we really needed to hear that it was going to be ok, so thank you!

 

One of the nicest graduation gifts my kids received were sweatshirts from their prospective colleges.  Even if they don't wear them much as college students, it helped make the transition seem real.

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@cuckoomamma I'll be looking forward to seeing your post around Christmas filled with happiness that your DD has found her tribe at the state school. 👍

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RootAnn, I made the same comment to her as we were debating all sides on Wednesday. I told her that I thought that we'd be looking back and laughing at how worried we were. Thank you all again for the support!

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On 5/2/2019 at 5:29 PM, Sebastian (a lady) said:

 

One of the nicest graduation gifts my kids received were sweatshirts from their prospective colleges.  Even if they don't wear them much as college students, it helped make the transition seem real.

 

My ds will be a transfer student in the fall, so it wasn't a graduation present, but he really appreciated getting a sweatshirt for his new school! I agree, it does help the transition seem real!

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