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Please help with college choices for son!

momstlmomstl Posts: 10Registered User New Member
edited November 2012 in Parents Forum
I have been lurking on this site for months and could really use some advice for my high school senior!

He has his heart set on Vanderbilt or Notre Dame, but after researching I know it is a game of chance as to whether or not he will get in. He already has been accepted into a large state school with significant merit money, but is not in love with the school because of its size. I need help in guiding him to other safety schools.

Summary of stats:
Public high school
34 ACT
3.9 GPA UW
9 APs
Varsity basketball and volleyball
NHS
Started a club at school to assist students in AP classes.
Link leader
Senior committee
Math Tutor (paid and unpaid)
Volunteer hours (but not a ton)
Summer job

He is not sure what he wants to major in. He is talking about engineering, political science, economics, math - ugh! A college offering a large number of majors for this undecided is important.

He is in love with Vanderbilt and Notre Dame because of their prestige and size. He is looking for a similar school, but here is the kicker - sports are very important to him. He won't be playing in college, but he wants a school he can "follow for the rest of his life."

He doesn't want to be too terribly far from home. We are from Missouri, so anywhere within a seven hour drive would be wonderful. This has been a terribly difficult search for us!

Thanks in advance for any advice you have for us!
Post edited by momstl on
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Replies to: Please help with college choices for son!

  • BeanTownGirlBeanTownGirl Posts: 2,725Registered User Senior Member
    I would approach it like this, focus on the limiting factors - engineering, 7 hours from home, school where his stats will get him merit awards. Then see if those meet the sports criteria.
    You may not be able to get all of those requirements met.
    At his state school would he be eligible for an honors program of some sort that might make the school seem smaller?
    WUSTL, Purdue?
  • BeanTownGirlBeanTownGirl Posts: 2,725Registered User Senior Member
    Don't know if these are too far or too big - Auburn, Marquette
    Case Western is a good fit except for the rah-rah thing. Syracuse is too far.

    Most of the big sports schools are also big schools!

    There may have to be some compromising....
  • music222music222 Posts: 183- Junior Member
    "but here is the kicker - sports are very important to him. He won't be playing in college, but he wants a school he can "follow for the rest of his life."

    That's a VERY POOR reason to go to a school.
  • momstlmomstl Posts: 10Registered User New Member
    Thank you so much for the help! I am having trouble wrapping my brain around the rah-rah thing - that is my son and husband! He would be willing to go far for a school he loves. He is going to apply to an Ivy just to see what happens. I am so worried he is placing too much hope on Vanderbilt and will not have the ECs to get in.

    He has already been accepted into the Honors Program at the state school (not our state), but is not convinced that is where he wants to be. I want him to be excited about a school, and so far that isn't it.
  • momstlmomstl Posts: 10Registered User New Member
    I know it is a poor reason! That's the problem I'm having. That is why I am asking for advice - I need to find another school for him to fall in love with as a safety.
  • happymomof1happymomof1 Posts: 19,375Registered User Senior Member
    If he is willing to go a bit further, his stats qualify him for full tuition at U of Alabama, and full ride at U of Alabama Huntsville. But the cut-off date may be coming up soon. Go to the Financial Aid Forum, and scroll down until you hit the threads on guaranteed merit-based scholarships. There is one thread specifically about guaranteed full rides.
  • music222music222 Posts: 183- Junior Member
    That is why I am asking for advice - I need to find another school for him to fall in love with as a safety.

    Isn't it his job for him to find another school?

    I don't know who wouldn't go to a school with significant merit money. Not in love with a school because of its size is a cop-out.

    If he wants to go to a school because of "prestige" and the sports teams, that's fine. But, he shouldn't expect his parents to foot the bill when he is already offered merit money at another school.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Posts: 36,764Registered User Senior Member
    Lots of safety possibilities here: http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/financial-aid-scholarships/1348012-automatic-full-tuition-full-ride-scholarships.html

    However, only a few of them have big spectator sports scenes (Alabama, LSU, Mississippi), which are mainly found at big state schools.

    Big sports scenes at somewhat smaller schools include Stanford, Northwestern, and Duke, but these are obviously not safeties for anyone.

    But I agree with others that the big sports scene should take a back seat to academic suitability and affordability.
  • SteveMASteveMA Posts: 6,079Registered User Senior Member
    St. John's University in Collegeville, MN. It's smaller than Notre Dame but with the sister school close to the same UG size as ND (single gender schools but all classes and activities are combined-just no co-ed dorms) but has a similar alumni network, involvement, rabid football following and the most successful football program at any level in the nation :D. They have a 4/1 engineering program with the University of MN. Depending on where you are in MO, it's a bit farther than 7 hours but a good back up to ND--and they are generous with merit money!

    music222--I STRONGLY disagree that finding a school where people follow them for life is a poor reason to pick a school. The networking done at the games is invaluable. The school spirit that strong followings create also makes for a wonder college experience. Given the OP's other choices, I am sure that academics are important and they can research that as well.
  • oldfortoldfort Posts: 16,999Registered User Senior Member
    Just because a school offers merit scholarship(discount) doesn't make it the right school. If money is the primary driver then everyone should be going to community college.
  • SteveMASteveMA Posts: 6,079Registered User Senior Member
    oldfort--really, why? Plenty of schools give great merit aid and are the "right" school for a lot of kids. If our kids went to the CC down the road they would be paying MORE than what their net is so far at their school of choice.
  • LBowieLBowie Posts: 967Registered User Member
    I am getting a feeling of deja vu! My son had similar thoughts last year. I would add Duke and Wake Forest to his list. I think these are a little further than Vanderbilt for you. Not sure if it fits the 7 hour restriction!

    (No, in fact I just checked and it is over 8 hours just from Nashville to Durham and 7 to Winston-Salem. What about Northwestern? They have D1 football and i think are pretty good this year.)
  • oldfortoldfort Posts: 16,999Registered User Senior Member
    SteveMa - because it should just be just one criteria, not the only criteria, because there are people who think:
    I don't know who wouldn't go to a school with significant merit money. Not in love with a school because of its size is a cop-out.
    Not in love with a school because of its size is a very legitimate reason. Not going to a school without one's interested major is also very valid.
  • oldfortoldfort Posts: 16,999Registered User Senior Member
    The reason a school would give a student merit money is because there is something a school wants to buy, more often than it is student's above (school's) average academic record. It is a way for school to elevate its academic record.
  • LBowieLBowie Posts: 967Registered User Member
    (This discussion is out of control and off the original, very legitimate, question that this new person on CC has asked. )
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