Purdue Engineering vs UCI Engineering
I have a tough decision regarding my college decision. I would be extremely grateful for any advice you can pass on to me.
My goal is to go through undergrad school and progress to get a PhD at a top institution such as MIT, Cal Tech, UT Austin, Stanford, etc. in my declared major, Aerospace Engineering.
So here's my question. I am deciding between attending Purdue for engineering or UCI for engineering. UCI is cheaper and much closer to home. There are minimal undergrad research opportunities, but they still exist as it is a research institution. There are also local companies such as NASA, SpaceX, Boeing, etc in California where I could apply for internships. My debt would not be nearly as drastic. Purdue on the other hand has a much better and more challenging engineering program that is more respected and more opportunities for undergrad research. However, it would also probably cost me an additional $65k over 4 years and is located in the middle of nowhere.
How important is the better engineering program at Purdue and added research opportunities when it comes to applying to top notch grad schools? And would it be worth the additional $65k? Also, would it still be possible to go through UCI undergraduate engineering school and get admitted to somewhere like Cal Tech or MIT for graduate school?
From what I have researched, I believe what it comes down to is this: Is it justified to spend $65k more for the added benefits at Purdue over UCI when it comes to applying to the top grad schools? Or is it entirely feasible to prevail at UCI and still have a good chance at admission to the same schools?
Currently, I am at a standstill and don't know what to do. I would like my grad school admission to not be inhibited by what UCI would have to offer me.