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Pls help me choose: Pitt, TAMU, or USC (oh my!)

NuthinFancyNuthinFancy Registered User Posts: 3 New Member
Hi gang,

OK, my son is down to the wire, and all admissions and financial aid is in. Here are the choices.

1) Interested in: Engineering/Science (NanoTech) with possible grad or MD after.
2) National Merit Scholar.
3) We (like many others) are very constrained on cash. We can do about $10-12K/year cash without falling apart. Otherwise, it's off to loan-land.

The choices and costs (after all grants and scholarships are factored in. We are not including loans and work/study):
1) USC: Cost: $36K/year.
2) Texas A&M: Cost: $18K/year
3) UPitt: Cost: $10K/year

We are drawn to Pitt because of low cost and decent biomed/science, but USC and Texas A&M have the bigger reputations. Of course, USC has the nice weather. We have friends/relatives in PA.

What would you guys advise?

Thanks so much,

Post edited by NuthinFancy on

Replies to: Pls help me choose: Pitt, TAMU, or USC (oh my!)

  • happymomof1happymomof1 Registered User Posts: 28,378 Senior Member

    Lots of people are choosing Pitt this year because of that whopping big merit scholarship. Your kid is going to be in classes with lots of really great students!

    But, if he just can't stand Pitt, then TAMU. He can make up the difference between what you can afford with Stafford loans and by working during the summers and part-time during the school year.

    USC is not affordable for you. Kick it to the curb.

    Here is a handy calculator that will help you analyze the offers if you really want to: FinAid | Calculators | Award Letter Comparison Tool But frankly NothinFancy, I think this one is a no-brainer.

    P.S. I grew up in Iowa, but went to college in PA where I successfully mooched off my maternal relatives during every vacation period. If your relatives are like mine, your son won't feel like he's mooching, he'll feel like he really is at home. Wishing you all the best!
  • invader71invader71 Registered User Posts: 1,660 Senior Member
    I'd say go to Pitt it's much better and has much more national prestige then A&M. USC is just not affordable in your case and not worth all of those loans.
  • wgmcp101wgmcp101 Registered User Posts: 939 Member
    Pitt is significantly better know in the biomedical sciences than either Texas A&M or USC, and is ranked ahead of Texas A&M in many rankings, such as The Center for Measuring University Performance and in The Princeton Review's metrics (higher is better):

    USC: Selectivity 98, Academic 85, Quality of life 78
    Pitt: Selectivity 92, Academic 83, Quality of life 98
    A&M: Selectivity 87, Academic 71, Quality of life 90

    In others, such as the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, Pitt does better than both USC and Texas A&M. So while rankings should be taken with a grain of salt, it is certainly not the case that A&M has a better reputation than Pitt, at least outside of Texas. In the northeast, Pitt certainly has a better reputation.

    What is certain is that Pitt pulls in the 5th most National Institute of Health funding any institution in the US, and NIH funding is the primary metric used to evaluate the size, breadth and scope of biomedical research. The ranking is 1. Harvard, 2. Johns Hopkins, 3. Penn, 4. UCSF, 5. Pitt. Pitt is also 10th overall in total federally sponsored research (just ahead of Harvard). A&M and USC aren't anywhere near Pitt is research totals, and nano and biotechnology are research disciplines, where getting excellent undergrad research experience should be a priority...and Pitt excels at providing that.

    Pitt is also one of the leading nanotech centers in the US. Pitt was ranked #2 in the nation for microscale- and nanoscale research by Small Times magazine, circa 2006, and was ranked ahead of Texas A&M in this ranking in 2007. Small Times, btw, is the authority on micro and nanotechnology and those are the most recent rankings that I'm aware of.

    With the cost being cheaper, IMO, it really is a no-brainer to go to Pitt especially since it has the "bigger" reputation in your field of interest, as long as you like the urban setting, etc. If you are concerned about the comparative quality or reputation, here are two university "propaganda" pieces that may ease your mind (see here and here). Presumably, you may be in the honors college as well, so here is a thread showing a comparison of where Pitt honors college stands compared to others. It also might be worth noting that The Princeton Review had Pitt ranked #8 for Happiest Students and #11 for Best Quality of Life.
  • NuthinFancyNuthinFancy Registered User Posts: 3 New Member
    Thank you everyone for all your informative and thoughtful responses. He is headed to Pitt in the fall! Letting go of USC was hard emotionally but I know this is the right choice.
  • wgmcp101wgmcp101 Registered User Posts: 939 Member
    Congrats, he had three good options. He'll do great at Pitt.
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