I was thrilled to get into Stanford, but now that the initial excitement has worn off I'm beginning to have second thoughts. My state university has been calling again and they are offering me even more money (to the tune of full ride + 5k a year) and I'm really not sure how wise it is to turn it down. After all, what's really important is the graduate degree, not where you go for undergraduate studies. Of course, going to Stanford would make it easier to get into a top-notch graduate school and it's way better academically than my state u, but the money is still tempting, which I guess is the point.
Worse, Stanford has a very harsh AP credit policy. I've gotten 5's on all my exams, but they don't even credit English Lang/Comp, Lit/Comp, or US History! I'm very annoyed with Stanford over that. I mean a 3 on one of those tests is supposed to represent an A or B in a university level class! Not crediting them just seems like a cheap way to get more money.
I could use some more perspectives. Is Stanford worth 45k per year for undergraduate studies? My family could manage to pay it, I just want to be sure it's the best way to go.
From Stanford? I don't know yet, but seeing as how Northwestern, Middlebury, and Claremont McKenna all thought I didn't have financial need, I can't imagine Stanford is going to be giving much.
I am getting money from outside scholarships. Thus far 3k, with hopes of ~12k more (total for all four years). Short of a scholarship windfall, we're going to be paying alot for college at Stanford and I just want to know it's worth it for undergrad studies.
someone on the Stanford09 board was in a similar situation except it was with USC. here's what a current student said (just replace USC with your state school, some things probably wont apply):
Stanford is just better. Academics doesn't even compare, USC
engineering vs Stanford engineering... its not even on the same level,
and thats pretty much true with most of the other disciplines too.
That means that 5 years from now you'll be making a lot more than that
extra 90k in comparison to USC kids. Also, the location is a lot
better in terms of jobs and research facilities. The Stanford medical
school has tons of research oppurtunites over the summer and Stanford
is in the middle of Silicon Valley so there are a lot more companies
looking for Stanford students. Although, Stanford is probably lacking
in the girls aspect in comparison to USC, Stanford girls are smarter
making them a lot more interesting... We also have a great campus and
SF is 45 minutes away by train. But ya overall, its easy to see the
difference in the level of education that you get here versus USC, I
mean i got the full scholarship from them and its tough on my parents
but they prefered that i get a better education because you'll see the
effects of that for the rest of your life. College is about more
than where you go, its about your peers and the people who surround
you on a daily basis and Stanford is definately the best environment
in that respect.
another: I was choosing between the 2 as well,
but personally, i think the all around free spirit of Stanford is
amazing, the crazyness of the students, the band, and just the over-
all weird feel of norcal (okay, maybe thats just for me) has
attracted me to the school. But of course, sc has a LOt of money to
give, but maybe think about how much money youre going to make vs.
the money you paid for your education?
Wow, yeah that's exactly the reassuring comments about the worth of a Stanford undergrad education that I wanted to hear. I still wish they were more generous with accepting AP credit and hopefully they are as generous as williamzhang says with financial aid
Time to go find some more scholarship applications.
Zeller, first of all congratulations for the admission. Secondly, I'm biased as a Stanford alum. Since you asked about "perspectives," let me write about a few points you made:
1) Many high school graduates are focused on college as a stepping stone for graduate school, for getting a good job, etc. But from a different perspective, it's a four-year segment of your life when you'll get to experience and learn about things that you'll never see again. Classwork, friends, and activities are all a part of that. In particular, you'll make many lifelong friends in college, many of whom may become business contacts later in life. Think about that comparison when you compare Stanford to your local state school.
2) Don't worry about the AP credit. You'll soon discover that AP courses, even at top high schools, don't cover the material in nearly the same depth as the "best" universities.
Zeller, I totally understand your mixed emotions. I absolutely love Stanford and all that it has to offer academically and socially, but financially I just don't know if my family can stick it out. Notre Dame is offering me literally double the scholarship of Stanford and their financial aid is need-based as well. My parents are not going to just look the other way and hand over their life's savings. I hope I do not have to turn down my dream because I know in the long run I will be able to pay everything back, but with med school to come...I just don't know what to do.
One of the things I would suggest is checking to see how your SAT/ACT scores compare with the 25/75 percentile for your state school. If it is way above the top of the range, that is at least some indication of the caliber of the students who will be taking classes with you. I assume that if your scores are off the chart by comparision, you will not be challenged in your classes since the course will need to be pitched at a lower level to meet the needs of the general population. That can be frustrating if the class is moving too slowly or at too superficial a level. Also, you will not end up not as well prepared for grad school after four years if your classes have not been challenging.
I would also check things like average class size, student/faculty ratio, research opportunities. You will probably get more individual attention at Stanford than your local state U. In addition, I would like at the percent of students living on campus. A lot of state colleges end up being commuter schools which creates a completely different feel than a residential college like S. Look at percent of instate students. At S you will have the chance to interact with students from all over the US and the world. Sharing ideas with students from this diverse population will enhance your perspective and world view.
I also assume that at Stanford education does not actually cost $40,000. Since the vast majority of private colleges cost in the same range but don't have the same quality of faculty or resources, I can only guess that endowments and gifts to Stanford must pay for the additional costs so that they can keep their tuition within the same competitive range as other universities. Therefore, you are actually getting a bargain at $40,000.
Lastly, I don't know many things that are more worthwhile for a parent to spend their money on than their child's education.
about ap credits:I've heard differently. My teachers say that "a 5 on an AP is like getting (at worst) a D in the course--just barely passing." It makes sense that stanford would want to give you their own version of history/literature, rather than relying on the APs. Besides, doesn't princeton have an even stricter AP credit policy?
Zeller: congrats on facing such a nice dilemma: I have no idea what you should do, because the generous financial offer sort of makes the comparison apples to oranges. I would like to question your assumption that what's really important is where you go to graduate school. It is important all right, but there are many ways in which where you go to undergraduate school is more so. I'm sure you're a wonderful student, as the choice you face indicates, but you're education is still pretty early along, and you stand on the brink of a most important phase. Echoing some of the comments above, and admitting that the Stanford board is biased toward Stanford, I think you should go with the place that will give you the best experience in the next four years, if you can justify it financially.
As much as we would like to think that AP classes are college level, they are not (at least not Stanford kind of college...). A lot of your education has to do with peer interaction. There will be a major difference between Stanford and State U. But only you can decide if it's "worth the money" for you...
At Yale, I believe, a high score on an AP test lets you start higher up in the course food chain...but it does not eliminate the # credit hours one needs to graduate... the intent being that you can engage at the correct level of course and not be "repeating" basics, if you will. So, my recommendation is to think of the AP course as giving you a leg up into a different starting point...and something that got you into Stanford in the first place, you know, demonstrating a real passion for learning and taking the toughest courses available to you etc etc.