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University of Maryland or Columbia University

CEO3197CEO3197 Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
Hello Everyone,

I want some third party opinions on the subject of choosing the right college. I was accepted to both UMD and CU. I wanted to know which school might be the best fit for me based on the following info below.

Intended Major: Finance
Track: Pre-law
Degree-seeking: Undergraduate

Academics: I know Columbia might have an edge on the academics but UMD is a good school as well.

Financial: UMD would, of course, be a lot more affordable than CU even with the scholarships offered at Columbia. Would the slightly higher tuition cost for Columbia be offset by the academic opportunity?

Pre-law: How important would the undergrad degree be when considering graduate school admissions?

Living: I know this might sound silly but l never really left home and moving to NYC although enticing is also a little intimidating. College Park is like 15 minutes away compared to NYC for almost 4 hours.

I would really appreciate your thoughts and opinion on the topic.

Thank you!

Replies to: University of Maryland or Columbia University

  • happy1happy1 Forum Champion Parents, Forum Champion Admissions Posts: 24,196 Forum Champion
    1) Didn't you have to make a choice by 5/1?
    2) Columbia does not have an undergraduate business school (hence no finance major).
  • CEO3197CEO3197 Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
    No, my admissions decision was delayed. When l referred to fiance l meant economics. They have a major that is geared toward a finance track.
  • yikesyikesyikesyikesyikesyikes Forum Champion U. Michigan Posts: 1,950 Forum Champion
    What is the difference in cost of attendance? How significant is it for your family?

    FWIW, LSAT is the most important component of your law school application (assuming you want to attend a T14/15 Law School).
  • CEO3197CEO3197 Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
    The cost of attendance is about an extra 20K a year for Columbia. If l go to UMD l would be pretty much debt free when l graduated. The burden won't be significant for my family because l would be paying for my education.
  • RiversiderRiversider Registered User Posts: 564 Member
    Go to Columbia.
  • yikesyikesyikesyikesyikesyikes Forum Champion U. Michigan Posts: 1,950 Forum Champion
    edited May 15
    The following advice is just based on numbers:

    80k debt is significant - especially if you will go onto law school (you cannot count on much financial aid here). I would say if you are 100% set on law school, or close to it, to go the Maryland route. Most T14/T15 Law School admissions are very numbers driven, so long as you are coming from a decent university (University of Maryland more than qualifies). From what I have seen, a lot of people have a good idea of where there we will be admitted based on their LSAT/GPA (assuming their profile is not heavily weighted towards one or the other). The exceptions I can think of off the top of my head would be Stanford and Yale Law (both are top law schools that are relatively small compared to the rest of the T14/15 - so much more of a crap shoot).

    The following advice is more holistic:

    Think about where you will grow more during your four years (it will likely be at a university with more competitive/talented peers in a different city than where you grew up: Columbia - but not necessarily). Think about what you look for in a college experience. Big sports? You won't find it at Columbia. Ivy League reputation and the social benefit that provides? You won't find it at Maryland. I could go on.
    Maryland and Columbia have drastically different cultures and student life. Do you have other career tracks you are considering? Some of them may require grad school right out of college, some of them may not. Some types of grad school care significantly more about your undergraduate school's reputation than others. Some career tracks care a lot about your undergrad school's reputation, others do not. If you are not set on law school almost certainly (most high school students are not, even if they believe to be), this decision will require more nuance.

    My post is not intended to tout one option over the other, but have you think critically about both options so you can make the best choice for yourself. If you provide us with more information, like if there are other careers you are considering or other important factors for a college experience that you have not told us about, we can help guide you better.
  • ColoradomamaColoradomama Registered User Posts: 2,516 Senior Member
    Given the number of top law schools in the Washington DC area, with great relationships with UMD, and the number of UMD grads in law firms, I see no problem with U of Maryland for prelaw at all, in fact a slight advantage if you are aiming at law firms in the DC area. If you want to experience NYC then try Columbia, but if not, stay comfortable, save money and go to UMD.
  • hzhao2004hzhao2004 Registered User Posts: 621 Member
    Columbia is definitely worth the extra $80k over U. of Maryland. I think this is a no brainer.
  • ColoradomamaColoradomama Registered User Posts: 2,516 Senior Member
    Two Wash DC area law schools have an arrangement with U of Maryland to allow you to apply to law school early and start law school after three years of undergraduate learning.
  • CEO3197CEO3197 Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
    Thank you very helpful feedback, l am also interested in banking that might be another career track but l am pretty sure law is where l will end up.
  • yikesyikesyikesyikesyikesyikes Forum Champion U. Michigan Posts: 1,950 Forum Champion
    edited May 15

    I'm glad you told us that - it actually kind of complicates the decision a bit more for you. If by banking, you mean investment banking or any other type of high-end financial services for institutions (transaction/treasury services, merchant banking, etc.), prestige is pretty important. Columbia would be what is considered a "target" school, a school which firms consistently go to for finding students to place in these positions. Maryland is not (it may be a "semi-target", not sure). The same firms oftentimes recruit at Maryland, but a higher proportion for some of your less competitive "middle" or "back-office" positions (compliance, most risk, and the like) or less sexy non-institutional front-office positions (consumer banking, certain types of wealth/asset management - although wealth/asset management may also be considered extremely desirable under some contexts). Similar rules apply for people trying to get in on the "sexy" buy-side opportunities like private equity - which is generally even more competitive (especially since many/most firms choose not to recruit students right out of undergrad at all).

    You can find a lot of information on this on Wall Street Oasis (fair warning though, that community can be toxic).

    Is the boost you will get from Columbia worth 80k? I do not know, honestly. You will have a lot more easy access to impressive contacts coming out of Columbia (in your peer group and among alumni), which can be extremely advantageous for your whole life, but difficult to measure.
  • happymomof1happymomof1 Registered User Posts: 29,316 Senior Member
    @hzhao2004 - Are you going to pony up that 80k for the OP? Unless you are, your comment is useless.

    @CEO3197 - Where would the 80k difference come from? You wrote that UMD would mean graduating "pretty much debt free". So how much debt do you need to take on for UMD? Just the standard federal student loans? Or not even all of those? What do you mean when you write that the 80k won't be a burden on your family because you would be paying for your education. How would you do that? Do you have a college fund available that you aren't using for UMD? Any debt beyond the standard federal loans will require a co-signer or will need to be borrowed by someone else such as your parents.
  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse Registered User Posts: 27,507 Senior Member
    Columbia would be my choice
  • yikesyikesyikesyikesyikesyikes Forum Champion U. Michigan Posts: 1,950 Forum Champion
    Just to clarify my last post: Asset management can also be for institutional clients.
  • sushirittosushiritto Registered User Posts: 3,182 Senior Member
    Would the slightly higher tuition cost for Columbia be offset by the academic opportunity?

    IMO, yes.
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