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WashU or Rice?

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Replies to: WashU or Rice?

  • aquaptaquapt Registered User Posts: 1,975 Senior Member
    edited May 2018
    On the plus side for Rice, I will say that it's one of the best places to hone your political chops in an environment where diverse opinions are cogently represented. The student culture overall is fairly apolitical, but when you get into classes/settings where political issues are debated, you will find thoughtful and informed opposition for any position you take, and that can be a terrific growth experience. A lot of universities will tend to be more of an echo chamber, and it's better for your positions and values to be legitimately tested by intelligent opposition than to get swept along on a wave of affirmation.
  • melvin123melvin123 Registered User Posts: 1,537 Senior Member
    0 loans at Berkeley? Why not Berkeley?
  • indecisivemessindecisivemess Registered User Posts: 17 Junior Member
    Sat down with my college counselor for a good hour, she basically laid out for me that she believes that no matter which college I'd go to, I'll be able to make the most of my opportunities. She doesn't believe that, say, a Rice education would prevent me from going into film/television if that's what I really want, and she also said that all these schools are comparable to grad schools/law schools.

    Basically, to summarize, she thinks I'll fit into any of these 4 schools and they will all present me with amazing opportunities (and that she honestly wouldn't feel surprised if I chose any of them), but that although she agrees that Tufts and WashU are stronger in polisci and certainly in film (especially Tufts), that they aren't $40k stronger. Meanwhile, she felt that Rice might be worth the $30k investment over Cal, because it'd be more manageable in terms of student loans and I'd get the individualized attention and opportunities of a private school. Ultimately, though, she felt it should be between Rice and Berkeley for me because of cost (which, admittedly, I don't know too much about finances so I'll take her word for it).

    What do you guys think?
  • seaotter17seaotter17 Registered User Posts: 172 Junior Member
    Honestly, go to the school you like best. If cost really isn't that big of a deal, just wing it. You could go to the best college in the country for its famous school of XYZ and end up hating it, not performing well, etc. I agree with your counselor--it seems as though you will make the most out of wherever you go. After my first year of college, I can tell you that most of the whole prestige game is only important in two places: Wall Street, and College Confidential :). Tell anybody you meet that you go to Tufts, Berkeley, Rice, or WashU and they will be impressed. Best of luck!
  • aquaptaquapt Registered User Posts: 1,975 Senior Member
    It seems like you've made quite a bit of progress, because you now have a ranking of your schools in terms of how well-suited they are to your needs, and it turns out that ranking falls in order of price. (If it didn't, you'd have easily eliminated at least one option!)

    So now it comes down to the question of value for your (and your family's) dollar... and that is a calculation that will vary for every individual and family situation. For some, an extra $10K/year for a better-suited program would be a no-brainer. For others, saving that same $10K/year and still attending a top school would be equally a no-brainer. You, clearly, are in the tough decision zone in between.

    IMHO, it sounds like your college counselor has been a great help with the first part - the sorting of your schools by suitability - but there's no point in applying *her* perspective on what is "worth" $10K or $30K to you and your family. It's not her money, and dollar value is a slippery and subjective question. It's time to put everybody else's financial opinions aside. Describe to your parents what you think the value-added looks like for each school that's more expensive than that last, and decide with them where your price point should be.

    I realize I'm only describing the problem and not really helping to solve it, but... there is is. You're well positioned to make a good decision now. Sorry it's so stressful and down-to-the-wire, but I think you are going to make the right choice for you now that you have clarity on what the decision points really are. Good luck! :-)
  • indecisivemessindecisivemess Registered User Posts: 17 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.
  • aquaptaquapt Registered User Posts: 1,975 Senior Member
    I saw your last post and responded, but now it isn't there.
    The ways of College Confidential are inscrutable sometimes...
  • Faulkner1897Faulkner1897 Registered User Posts: 511 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).
  • jym626jym626 Registered User Posts: 57,383 Senior Member
    Look at Rice’s James Baker public policy institute. Excellent opportunity.
  • mdphd92mdphd92 Registered User Posts: 180 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.
  • indecisivemessindecisivemess Registered User Posts: 17 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?
  • aquaptaquapt Registered User Posts: 1,975 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.
  • AroundHereAroundHere Registered User Posts: 3,601 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.
  • indecisivemessindecisivemess Registered User Posts: 17 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.
  • AroundHereAroundHere Registered User Posts: 3,601 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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