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What's the point in going to a top school?

Berries N CreamBerries N Cream Posts: 41Registered User Junior Member
edited March 2008 in College Search & Selection
So I've been accepted to University of Chicago which has been my #1 school since i was a freshman and i am nearly sure i will get accepted to Ohio State honors (in state) on a full ride.

Although UChicago is great and all, it seems to me that Ohio State would be the better choice. I mean, I plan to pursue grad school (maybe med school, law schools, or Masters) where GPA and test scores counts more than the prestige of the school. Since UChicago is tougher to get good grades, I think this may hinder my chances in getting into grad schools. Also, the social scene at UChicago sucks compared to Ohio State. And i im sure that i will learn the same material at Ohio State and UChicago.

The only pro i see in going to UChicago is that i may have a better learning experience. Also, going to UChicago would be better if i was interested in applying to phd programs, since prestige counts. And Uchicago has more prestige, which i don't care about.

Basically i don't see the point in paying an extra 30,000$ a year just to "maybe" get a better learning experience. And in the process, hindering my chances in getting into grad schools, and having a good social life.

I would value any opinions on this matter.
Post edited by Berries N Cream on
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Replies to: What's the point in going to a top school?

  • IsleBoyIsleBoy Posts: 2,681Registered User Senior Member
    I'd go to OSU Honors: better social life, less pressure, good for grad school.

    If you like UChicago better, go there. But, you sound like you've already made up your mind. That is what the admissions process should be about for you, the applicant.

    I have a friend deciding between Wash U, UPenn, Trinity (CT), and Earlham.
    Her first choice, after going through the whole process, so far, is Trinity. That's followed by Earlham. People think she's crazy. I think she's very sane. When she started, UPenn and Wash U were her top picks.
  • chicagoboy12chicagoboy12 Posts: 662Registered User Member
    Well will chicago give you financial aid? You will probably get some debt, but it may not be a big amount. And prestige matters when applying to grad school. Going to a top school shows you were qualified enough to be admitted. Schools are ranked for a reason. Recruiters and admissions know who is at the top. Why do you think job recruiters go to the same schools every year? They don't know the GPAs of the students, but they DO know that they are top students indeed.
  • Berries N CreamBerries N Cream Posts: 41Registered User Junior Member
    Yes, UChicago gave me some financial aid, but i would still have to pay around 30,000 altogether. And i understand that prestige matters but i think that if i work hard enough at Ohio State then i would have a lot of opportunities.

    And im pretty sure it be better if i finished top of the pack at Ohio State than middle-above average of the pack at UChicago (which is what will probably happen).
  • GodfatherbobGodfatherbob Posts: 1,302Registered User Senior Member
    just to "maybe" get a better learning experience

    There is no maybe involved, U of C is one of the best colleges in the world. I have a few other points as well:

    1) Grad schools are not ignorant. They know about U of C's grade deflation and will not weight an A from OSU equally with one from U of C.

    2) U of C is not only prestigious, but it's academics are stellar, arguably better than the Ivies. People that go to U of C aren't competitive at all--they go there because they actually like to learn, and subsequently (or coincidentally, I don't really know) their academics are superb.

    3) Yes, U of C won't have as many animal house parties as OSU. The social scenes are different. At U of C, people are intellectual--the guy/girl hitting on you at the party is actually an extremely intelligent, interesting person who, yes, enjoys a stiff drink.

    All that said, once you have your information, just go where you like the most. That's all that really matters when it boils down to it.
  • AsaAsa Posts: 135Registered User Junior Member
    100% for sure go to OSU. If you plan on going to grad school, you would be an idiot to pay $30,000 a year for an undergraduate education.
  • sockpuppetsockpuppet Posts: 182Registered User Junior Member
    Godfatherbob has a few points that may be flawed.

    1. Grad schools aren't ignorant about grade deflation. But they don't give a proportional amount of weight to lower GPA's from better schools. A student with a 3.5 from Ivy League might easily get a 4.0 at State Flagship, but graduate admissions might only give him maybe a .1 advantage. This is an example. However the benefit is someone manages to get a 4.0 at Ivy League, then they are seen as a 4.1.

    2. All top schools are competitive. Kids want to learn, but they don't want to be left in the dust grade-wise. A lot of kids are there for the purpose of a higher education (than a state school) but that doesn't mean they aren't competitive

    Here's my advice. If you want maximize your chances of graduate school, OSU may be better.

    However, there are aspects of schools that U of Chicago that may outweigh those benefits. At top schools like these, surrounded by very smart and competitive people, one can network extremely easily and these connections can help you throughout the rest of your life. And a few years past graduate school when have a good amount of work experience, having the UChicago diploma might be more beneficial.
  • runforfun529runforfun529 Posts: 2,135Registered User Member
    What kind of grad school do you want to go to? If you are looking to go to a prestigious grad school, go to UChicago.
  • IsleBoyIsleBoy Posts: 2,681Registered User Senior Member
    OSU Honors is well respected. UChicago is a great school, but being in the Honors college at a public school, like OSU, is also an amazing academic experience.

    UChicago tends to be intense academically. Very different from UMichigan, Northwestern, UWisconsin, Ohio State, and other Midwestern universities.

    As for grad school, undergraduate reputation is a smaller factor than grades and test scores are when adcoms choose a law, business, or A&S school, for instance.

    And, unlike undergrad, financial aid is harder to come by. If you like OSU Honors and would save money, I'd suggest going there.
  • RacinReaverRacinReaver Posts: 6,598Registered User Senior Member
    What field do you want to go into?
  • lssd2012lssd2012 Posts: 175Registered User Junior Member
    Well i want to go into math or statistics. As a career, my #1 choice right not is being an actuary but my job choice changes every month or so.
  • sakkysakky Posts: 14,759- Senior Member
    Although UChicago is great and all, it seems to me that Ohio State would be the better choice. I mean, I plan to pursue grad school (maybe med school, law schools, or Masters)
    100% for sure go to OSU. If you plan on going to grad school, you would be an idiot to pay $30,000 a year for an undergraduate education.

    The key question seems to be whether you will really go to grad school. A lot of incoming freshmen will say that they are definitely going to grad school...and then never do. For example, many students will simply do so poorly in college such that they can't get into grad school. {Heck, some students do so poorly that they actually flunk out of undergrad.} On the other hand, some students get such an excellent job right after undergrad that they decide that they don't really need grad school at all. I know some people who turned down top grad schools for job offers at McKinsey or other major consulting firms. Some other people simply develop other life priorities For example, I know of one girl who was a superstar student in high school and in the first few years of college, but then met the man who became her husband. She's now quite happy as a stay-at-home housewife, taking care of their new baby. She never bothered to graduate at all (nor does she really need to as her husband is quite successful). She said she might someday decide to go back to school to finish her bachelor's degree and perhaps go to grad school, but right now, she would much rather be a full-time mom.

    But the point is, you can't simply 'assume' that you will be going to grad school. Plenty of people who think they will eventually find that they won't.
  • Lafalum84Lafalum84 Posts: 7,518Registered User Senior Member
    "i am nearly sure i will get accepted to Ohio State honors (in state) on a full ride."

    Well, if that near-certainty becomes a fact, you will have two good choices so you really can't go wrong. It sounds like you know what you want to do, and are just looking for support. You have sound reasons for your decision. Don't let yourself get talked into something you're not comfortable with for "prestige" sake.
  • newenglandparentnewenglandparent Posts: 274Registered User Junior Member
    My child was in the same boat that you are in two years ago. She got into the honors college at our highly ranked State university with a huge scholarship and into U of Chicago with very little financial aid. In her case she chose Chicago, is now in her second year and loves it. She was into the intellectual challenge, quality of students and the type of life that Chicago offers. She was not into the frat scene, major sports or heavy partying. So for her Chicago was definitely the right choice. The quality of the education, the attention you receive from full professors, the interaction with other interested and very bright students(and usually not pretentious ) and the value on learning for the sake of learning is unique. Is it a major financial sacrifice? Absolutely and a difficult one. Is it worth it? In our case I would have to say yes, but that is not true for everyone. Chicago is a really special school. Before turning it down, try to spend a few days on the campus and get a feel for it. Talk to students there. Do the same at Ohio. Then decide which is a better fit. After that, look at your finances and decide what makes sense for you. Either way you can't lose.
  • jessiehljessiehl Posts: 3,328Registered User Senior Member
    As a career, my #1 choice right not is being an actuary but my job choice changes every month or so.

    Slight digression:

    If you actually decide that you want to be an actuary, consider going to Georgia State (not UGA) for a master's or something. My dad has been an actuary for more than 20 years and has said that Georgia State has one of the top actuarial programs in the country.
  • unaloveunalove Posts: 3,725Registered User Senior Member
    If I were in your shoes, I would choose Ohio State. And I say that as a U of C-adorer.

    For grad school (either academic or professional), OSU is good enough of a name to get you what you want-- a lot of people who come to Chicago for grad school did their in-state U as undergrad. What they also did that maybe their peers didn't was milk the school for all it's worth academically.

    For employment, my brother, who was an econ major straight out of an Ivy League school with a good resume and demonstrated leadership skills, was regularly turned down for jobs in favor of OSU grads. At least in his field (accounting), the OSU degree is more than prestigious.

    I chose Chicago because a) I could afford it, and b) I thought I'd meet awesomer people here than at my in-state (which is filled with awesome people). My dream career is also not a high-paying one.
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