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WashU or Rice?

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Replies to: WashU or Rice?

  • indecisivemessindecisivemess 16 replies1 threads Junior Member
    edited May 2018
    Is my last post showing up? You responded, but for some reason it got flagged on my end and I can't see it lol.

    It's so hard because I don't know what school I like best, I change my mind every 5 seconds loll. I think I might perhaps be a bit of a better fit at WashU or Tufts than Rice, but is a bit of a better fit/focus on my interests really worth $40k extra? Rice is not a bad school by any stretch of the imagination, and I think I'd still certainly find a good community there. Berkeley, I think I'd definitely fit in, but I do think it'd be difficult to find a close, tight-knit community of friends there with the atmosphere it embodies. Not getting individual attention, academically or socially, doesn't really help either haha.

    Anyways, thanks for all the help guys. Y'all (wow, maybe I am ready for Texas) are the best.
    edited May 2018
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  • aquaptaquapt 2437 replies51 threads Senior Member
    I saw your last post and responded, but now it isn't there.
    The ways of College Confidential are inscrutable sometimes...
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  • Faulkner1897Faulkner1897 523 replies7 threads Member
    Alas, I can’t see the ranking post, but you truly can’t go wrong. You have incredible choices. Please be sure to let us know your final decision (and it will help future students who might reference this thread).
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  • jym626jym626 57686 replies3023 threads Senior Member
    Look at Rice’s James Baker public policy institute. Excellent opportunity.
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  • mdphd92mdphd92 180 replies0 threads Junior Member
    edited May 2018
    Each of your choices would be excellent, and you can get to any career destination from any one of them. Remember that when surveys say a department is "stronger", they're talking about averages or overall size. But if you are looking for ways to be engaged outside the classroom, all you really need is a meaningful connection with one professor or one project. So I wouldn't get too worried about relatively small differences in departmental strength. All of these schools are going to give you plenty of opportunities and ways to "fit", as long as you take advantage of them.

    As for the finances (which you mentioned in your post that just disappeared), a general rule of thumb is that your student debt should be less than your expected income. So, a $30,000 debt is manageable if you make $30,000 a year. A $70,000 debt is manageable if you make $70,000 a year.

    In the end, you'll have the make the final decision. But you really can't make a wrong decision here.
    edited May 2018
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  • indecisivemessindecisivemess 16 replies1 threads Junior Member
    I'll try recap the post to the best of my abilities lol.

    Basically, I sat down with my college counselor for a good hour to discuss my options, and to sum it up, she laid out to me that she thinks all my options would be good fits for me (she specified that no matter which one I pick, she won't be surprised by my decision) and that none would truly restrict me - i.e., even though Rice's film program is definitely not comparable to Tufts or even WashU/Berkeley, that if I want to go into television or film, I'd still be able to. So ultimately, while she agreed that Tufts and WashU have stronger polisci departments with courses that are perhaps more unique and interesting, it's really up to me to decide if that's worth a $40k difference in education that'd ultimately be comparable to employers and law/grad school. Admittedly, I know very little about finances, so I'm just gonna take her word on this, but she felt that there is both a significant difference between $0 in loans versus $30k in loans and $30k in loans versus $70k, and while she thinks that Rice may be worth the higher price tag against Berkeley because of the individualized attention I'd get coupled with the ability to try out a bunch of different things and explore different classes (which I believe is significantly more difficult at Cal), she doesn't feel the same way about the price difference between Rice and WashU/Tufts. But ultimately, she said she believes that for me, the smartest two options are Cal or Rice.

    I guess the weird part about Rice for me is that I really knew very little about it until fairly recently lol, so it's surprising to me that it's my likely pick. Anyways, any thoughts on what she had to say?
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  • aquaptaquapt 2437 replies51 threads Senior Member
    The only thing I haven't already said is this:

    Another way to think about price differentials is to flip the perspective and think in terms of opportunity cost. If you really can spend $X additional to go to a school that offers something extra, how else might you meet that same need, or a different need, with that same money?

    For example, what if you went to Rice, and budgeted some chunk of the extra money you're not spending on Tufts/WashU to cover the costs and lost income to go to a summer film program? Just an example, but it can be helpful, in making incomprehensible numbers more comprehensible, to think about what else that same money could buy.
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  • AroundHereAroundHere 3600 replies22 threads Senior Member
    She's right - you will have much less competition to get spots in various classes at Rice and it would be much easier to change majors there versus Cal. Large lecture classes at Cal will be larger than at Rice, and the number of small classes will be better at Rice. There same advantages apply to WashU and Tufts as well.

    Graduating with zero debt is absolutely a great goal, but if that is not possible (because you really want the advantages of a private school), graduating with as little debt as possible is best.

    Note that borrowing 5500 or less for freshman year doesn't require a cosigner. After that, your parents need to be on board with your student debt. You can borrow most of what you need for Rice through the federal direct loan program which doesn't require a cosigner and which has the best interest rates and payment plans if you spread your borrowing over all four years.
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  • indecisivemessindecisivemess 16 replies1 threads Junior Member
    edited May 2018
    I think I'd probably just take out my loan senior year. One advantage to Cal is that I would actually have some money left over to put to grad school/whatever I choose to pursue post-undergrad, and for Rice $30k is obviously much easier to pay off than the $70k I'd have to pay at WashU/Tufts.


    One last consideration I guess is, do you guys think the polisci program at Berkeley is stronger than Rice? It's obviously more well-known, but besides that.
    edited May 2018
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  • AroundHereAroundHere 3600 replies22 threads Senior Member
    With regard to taking a loan senor year:

    Taking out your loan senior year means that you know the exact amount that you need -- you might be able to reduce your costs by getting good summer jobs, or your costs might increase if there is a tuition jump or if you need an extra semester to graduate.

    But, a large loan senior year means you will have to get a private student loan. The federal government won't lend it to you. The larger the loan amount, the higher the risk for the lender. You will need a cosigner with a better credit rating, and you may need to pay a higher interest rate.

    The federal direct student loan advantages are that they have a lower interest rate and that there are programs to help borrowers with lower incomes after graduation that help you avoid default. But, you have to take them year by year.
    The amounts you can borrow are:
    Freshman 5500
    Sophomore 6500
    Later years 7500

    If you do not take a loan as a freshman, sophomore or junior, the federal government will not loan you more as a senior to make up for that.

    Of course, interest rates and loan terms can change between now and your senior year, but for many years the federal direct student loan has been the best bargain loan out there.
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  • aquaptaquapt 2437 replies51 threads Senior Member
    @AroundHere has an excellent point. You won't be paying interest while you're in school, and you can always pay your loans off early. So it's actually advantageous to take the low-cost loans available to you as you go along. (But, you can worry about that after 11:59:59 tonight, lol)
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  • AroundHereAroundHere 3600 replies22 threads Senior Member
    @aquapt OP will be paying interest while in school -- the loans will likely be unsubsidized since they do not qualify for financial aid.

    It can be tricky to work out all the details of what loan is best, since it depends on the amount borrowed, how fast you can pay it back, what interest rates do over the next four years (The Fed is increasing their rate these days), and so on. It's important to run the numbers as best as you can each year (as you know tuition increases, summer job earnings, interest rates etc) and not just leave all the loan decisions until senior year.
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  • mdphd92mdphd92 180 replies0 threads Junior Member
    edited May 2018
    One issue is that the student-to-faculty ratio at Rice is 6:1, but at UC Berkeley, it is 18:1. That means it's going to take more effort at UC Berkeley to get individual attention.

    I don't have firsthand knowledge about UC Berkeley, but one issue I have heard is that it can be hard to get the classes you want. You can do a little research on this yourself, though. Go to https://classes.berkeley.edu and click on Social Sciences, then Political Science. Pick Spring 2018, which is the current semester. This yields 50 classes. Of these 50, 19 say "No Open Seats", which means they filled up. You might see if these are classes that you would want to take, though. Note that sometimes one class fills up, but you can take it another semester when you have higher priority or you can find an equally good class to take instead.

    The UC Berkeley Political Science Web site apparently addresses this issue, and says that declared Poli Sci majors get priority:

    http://polisci.berkeley.edu/undergraduate-program/requirements-major/course-enrollment-strategies

    I don't have any firsthand knowledge about Rice either, but as a control, you can go to https://courses.rice.edu, and under Term, select Spring 2018, and under Department, select Political Science. You then have to click on the course numbers one at a time, but in almost all cases, the number enrolled is below the maximum enrollment, which means the class is open. I did see one class, POLI 457, where the number enrolled (14) exceeded the maximum enrollment (12), which means that the professor must have allowed the extra students. Again, you should see if these are classes that you would want to take.
    edited May 2018
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  • AroundHereAroundHere 3600 replies22 threads Senior Member
    In addition to looking at full classes, you can look at graduation rates: The difference between the four year and five year graduation rate gives you an idea of how many students need to add an extra semester or two to graduate. A good chunk of those students probably had trouble getting into a class, although some of them may have had trouble passing a certain class, too.
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  • aquaptaquapt 2437 replies51 threads Senior Member
    ^ Some may have taken time off, too. Elapsed time to degree doesn't necessarily mean continuously enrolled time.

    And sorry I misspoke about the loans - I should have stuck to my knowledge base and left the loan advice to @AroundHere :)
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  • indecisivemessindecisivemess 16 replies1 threads Junior Member
    Ahhhhh 2.5 hours to go, and I'm honestly stuck between Tufts and Rice now (sorry WashU). Quite the emotional journey, I know. I wish I more seriously considered Tufts before, y'know, the day of the deadline. Do you guys feel that the political science program at Tufts would be worth the extra price tag over Rice? How do the social atmospheres at both these schools compare?

    I wish there could be some clear-cut answer as to which would be a better fit for me, socially and academically. I'm a really social person (def work hard, play hard BUT also anti-frat), but I also have a bit of difficulty pushing myself to make friends, which is why the residential college system of Rice appeals to me. However, I'm also a "liberal arts" kid who likes to talk politics and, well, be liberal and Tufts has definitely got that going for it. Boston >>> Houston for sure, but it is in Medford so I'm not even really sure how many students take advantage of Boston. I think Rice does have the edge in name recognition, although idk how well that applies to liberal arts. At Rice I'd have the advantage of uniquely standing out as a polisci major, which I'm sure comes with its benefits (closer connections to professors, more freedom, and personalized opportunities) and its drawbacks (less interesting class options, potentially worse career prospects).

    My Dad's pushing for Rice and my Mom for Tufts, so that certainly doesn't help. Ughghg.

    On a side note, I really appreciate all your guys help. So kind of you!
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  • AroundHereAroundHere 3600 replies22 threads Senior Member
    edited May 2018
    Poli Sci at Rice - niche says a typical graduating class has 32 Poli Sci majors, multiply by 4 for freshman through senior classes and there are 128 poli sci students on campus. There are also 25 in public policy. If none are double majors, that's another 100 kids to talk politics with.

    Tufts is 67 graduating in poli Sci and then there's another 172 in international relations and peace studies has 19. All those before multiplying by 4. Tufts is a busier place for politics-related majors.

    But then there's your debt load. To pay off 70,000 in loans in 10 years (say before you start a family), the payments would be about 800 a month. (I used 7.5 percent which is a middle of the road rate for a fixed rate private loan right now.)
    edited May 2018
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  • HamurtleHamurtle 2740 replies36 threads Senior Member
    edited May 2018
    Tufts...Medford is close enough to Boston. Plus Fletcher School.
    edited May 2018
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  • aquaptaquapt 2437 replies51 threads Senior Member
    edited May 2018
    Oh boy, a parent split!

    You experience Rice as having an edge in name recognition because you're from California. Lots of east coasters are far more aware of Tufts than Rice. I don't think there's a clear winner on that front.

    Access to Boston from Tufts on public transit isn't hard at all. I'm sure some students take more advantage of the city than others, but there's little barrier.

    I think the additional structure of the residential college system at Rice has pros and cons. It definitely gets people involved and included. There's definitely a lot of fun involved. Some people never get tired of that, and others start to feel like the "summer camp" vibe is getting old after a while. I do think it offers a lot of the upsides of a Greek system without a lot of the downsides. On the other hand, I don't doubt you'd make friends at Tufts; and there might be a higher percentage of people there who share your interests, passions, and temperament.

    Will be an interesting political season in Boston in the fall, with the Republican Governor (mostly at odds with our Republican President but also with Massachusetts Dems) running for re-election.

    For equal money I would be #TeamTufts. But it's not equal money, so nobody outside of your family finances can call it for you. Interesting evening in your home!
    edited May 2018
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  • Faulkner1897Faulkner1897 523 replies7 threads Member
    edited May 2018
    I think @aquapt post about where you want to live after graduation is valid, although if you have plans for grad school, this makes that point less of a concern.

    I visited Tufts with my oldest when she was looking at colleges. Its vibe is very different than that of Rice. I also think that the NE is culturally so different than Texas, which has a big impact on the cultures of these two schools.

    My oldest ended up at a school in the NE (not Tufts). She loves the school, but occasionally she comments that she probably would have been happier at Rice. Maybe it’s Texas, maybe it is the kind of student that Rice looks for, but there is no disputing that Rice has a very kind, caring, accepting, inclusive, and happy student body. Personally, I think the multiple essays on the Rice app really help the admissions officers find the students who are the best fit for Rice. If you were offered one of the merit scholarships, it is clear that Rice really wants you to be part of the class.

    One other point that comes to mind. I attended Owl Days with my Rice ‘22 kid and went to a forum where the president of Rice spoke. He talked about the many opportunities for leadership and governance at Rice. Each residential college has its own cabinet - that’s 11 residential college presidents. Rice also has the Doerr Institute for New Leaders: https://doerr.rice.edu. Not sure if this has any appeal to you, but it is quite interesting and not often mentioned here on cc.

    Good luck to you - truly there is no wrong answer here. You seem like the kind of student who will do very well wherever you go!

    edited May 2018
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