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Is going to a prestigious university worth the premium?

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Replies to: Is going to a prestigious university worth the premium?

  • fractalmstrfractalmstr 12 replies0 discussions
    This kind of discussion has taken place on CC many, many times. Lesser-known colleges can have very good programs in various disciplines, including engineering. Smart, hard-working students can get very good educations in all kinds of colleges. There are still some benefits to attending more selective institutions, but some of these benefits are intangible, and they are (at least in part) luxuries.

    I could not have said it better.

    What you have stated is pretty much reality. As a working engineer myself, I am friends with grads from all calibers of schools... the consensus is that, at the undergrad level, elite schools often provide fringe benefits and better networking opportunities. Lesser known schools, on the other hand, can often provide a better overall college experience since there isn't the incessant hypercompetitive and prestige mentality around campus.

    I had an amazing undergrad experience where I went, and it was not an elite school in the sense of national rankings (although it is a great school for Aero Engineering). If I had to do it all over again, knowing what I know now, I would still choose to go to the same school. I feel the experience I had there was priceless, and prestigeless (ha).
    edited May 2013
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  • HuntHunt 152 replies1 discussions Junior Member
    I get it, but I would state that there are probably plenty of students at the more prestigious schools that would be no more prepared for Shakespeare than students at Podunk U.
    This is not really true. There may be some such students, but at the most prestigious schools, the vast majority of students are well-prepared in all subjects--because they had to get top grades in challenging high school curricula just to get in. For example, these days there will be few of them, even English majors, who didn't already take calculus--and received a top grade in it. They are able to hit the ground running in a way students at other universities--on average--will not be able to do. This does create some opportunity for the top high school student to outrun the others at a less selective school, but that has pros and cons.
    edited May 2013
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  • OperateenOperateen 1 replies0 discussions Forum Champion
    For graduate and doctoral degrees, it is wise to invest in top universities.
    edited May 2013
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  • eyemgheyemgh 53 replies1 discussions
    Again, it depends on what your degree will be in. A Harvard medical school grad will practice right alongside a Mizzou grad in the Midwest. Their ability to get a job and the pay they will make will essentially be the same.

    M
    edited May 2013
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  • abby12490abby12490 23 replies8 discussions
    No, prestigious colleges aren't worth anything more and certainly not worth the money. My dad went to a state school and is now a CEO of a national corp. He hires and interviews people weekly and says he doesn't care where they graduated from, all he wants is a hard and dedicated worker.
    edited May 2013
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  • TheGFGTheGFG 28 replies1 discussions Junior Member
    Dear Abby,
    How does your CEO father evaluate how hard of a worker someone is BEFORE he hires him or her? Does he use the candidate's GPA? If so, would he consider a 3.7 at your local state university to be worth the same, more or less than a 3.7 at Princeton? Would he agree that, ON AVERAGE, a student who was accepted to a school like Harvard or Stanford worked harder throughout high school than the average student at Podunk U?
    edited May 2013
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  • OperaDadOperaDad 35 replies1 discussions Junior Member
    ^^^^ The answer is self evident is it not? If money is no object, there is no question on the table. For most people money is an object. 250K for a prestigious undergrad diploma, assuming full pay, versus 0 for Podunk U is a hell of a difference for many people. The question is whether that financial sacrifice is worth it.

    Except for international students, for those whom it would cost $250k, a lot of them, money is not material (I didn't say "no object", just that they have the ability and willingness to spend). For those whom money is an issue, the financial aid of top tier schools makes the cost significantly less than $250k, and in many cases, on par with Flagship State Schools. If it is going to cost the same (or less), why not choose the school with better name recognition?
    So lets say your child gets in but there are no discounts on the tuition (i.e., scholarships) .......

    Straw man argument. False choice. All the top tier schools have need based aid that is, by far, better than Flagship State Schools. If your family has an income less than $80k/yr, Harvard is FREE, including room and board. Try to beat that with even a Community College.
    edited May 2013
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 295 replies1 discussions Junior Member
    OperaDad wrote:
    If your family has an income less than $80k/yr, Harvard is FREE, including room and board.

    Not quite.

    Net Price Calculator reports that for a family of 3 with 1 in college, $65,000 or less is the income threshold to reduce the parent contribution to $0. The ESC (expected student contribution from work earnings) is $4,600.

    Note that the flagship state schools vary in need-based financial aid. The ones in NC, FL, and WA are particularly good for their in-state students. The ones in IL and PA are particularly bad for their in-state students.
    edited May 2013
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  • Niquii77Niquii77 81 replies0 discussions Junior Member
    Dear Abby,
    How does your CEO father evaluate how hard of a worker someone is BEFORE he hires him or her? Does he use the candidate's GPA? If so, would he consider a 3.7 at your local state university to be worth the same, more or less than a 3.7 at Princeton? Would he agree that, ON AVERAGE, a student who was accepted to a school like Harvard or Stanford worked harder throughout high school than the average student at Podunk U?
    Who cares about how hard a student worked in high school? If I was CEO I would want an employee who works hard now. Not that they had a 3.999 GPA in high and was varsity captain of the soccer team. High school doesn't matter once you're in the job market.
    edited May 2013
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  • truthseeker2truthseeker2 32 replies0 discussions
    Well Opera Dad, since my child is a graduating Senior this year, I know lots of parents whose kids have been admitted to various schools and many are now wrestling with the issue of whether to pay for the more elite school or not because most of us are NOT getting need based aid. In my case, my EFC this year is $99,999. So to me it is a real question. Do I want to spend full ride for that more elite University or not? That's why I am researching the issue, and almost everything objective I review indicates that for Undergrad, its not worth the extra cost if significant. Most of the people saying its worth it are giving subjective opinions only. I even reviewed some of that thread from 2006, but when I read opinions such as "kids at more elite schools are more likely to do things for the joy of learning only", I stopped reading . . recognizing from a critical thinking point of view . . that these opinions were complete nonsense. That's my opinion anyway.
    edited May 2013
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  • TheGFGTheGFG 28 replies1 discussions Junior Member
    Answer the question, Niquii. How does a boss know how hardworking a recent college graduate is now, BEFORE s/he is hired and actually starts doing a job for the company?
    edited May 2013
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  • maikaimaikai 20 replies0 discussions
    "Is going to a prestigious university worth the premium?"

    No. Not unless you feel you "fit" there and want to attend for reasons other than the prestige aspect.
    edited May 2013
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  • eyemgheyemgh 53 replies1 discussions
    There's a common misconception on CC that families with high EFCs can "easily" afford to pay full price because their calculated EFC "says so".

    In reality, that's an extremely complicated question, much of nance not captured in the EFC formula. Do you fully fund your 401k? Are you underwater in a mortgage? Etc. Etc.

    As a family also with a high EFC there are VERY few we'd consider paying full price for, maybe two. And then, it's a big maybe.

    M
    edited May 2013
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  • anxiousmomanxiousmom 1 replies0 discussions Junior Member
    "Lesser known schools, on the other hand, can often provide a better overall college experience since there isn't the incessant hypercompetitive and prestige mentality around campus." end quote.

    UMMM, without having gone to a prestigious university, how do you know that they are incessantly hypercompetitive and have a prestige mentality?

    Both my kids went to a topo-twenty ranked university and loved being surrounded by fun, quirky, interesting, enthusiastic and motivated students... It cost me less for the first kid, than having her attend our local state school. and about the same as the state school for the second kid.
    edited May 2013
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  • finalchildfinalchild 74 replies0 discussions New Member
    Not sure "worth" is exactly the right word.

    There is a certain irony (or is it lack of irony) that applies here as well as to the other thread now active about School vs GPA.

    The kids who go "prestigious" are also kids who would do exceedingly well (on a percentage basis) at schools at a "discount." So those kids likely would succeed no matter what. I'm guessing there are few kids among the top tier who couldn't figure out a way to be sufficient challenged in a flagship honors college. And so a few do go that route for the better bargain, but many do not.

    So I'm not "worth" is the metric that carries the day when folks decide about enrolling at "prestigious" schools. Those kids most likely are going to succeed no matter which path they take.

    A Smart car would get all of us to work and back just as well as all of the tiers of cars above that....from Kia, Hyundai, etc all the way to Lexus, Mercedes, etc. But we all don't choose what will accomplish the same thing based on "value" or "will it get the job done." There are probably very few among us who need more than a 2000 sq ft home with 2-2.5 baths, but many among us still choose 3500 sq ft with 3.5 baths and a 3 car garage or 5000 sg ft plus with more than 3.5 baths.

    The easy thing would be to say it's all just so much overkill, and overkill very may well play a role, but it's probably much more complicated than that.

    BTW, OP, congrats on getting on Featured Discussions basically immediately. Impressive.
    edited May 2013
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