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Is higher prestige for undergrad worth the cost if I plan on doing a PhD?

bunnyrabbitlordbunnyrabbitlord 7 replies4 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 11 New Member
For more context, I have been accepted to RPI and The University of Manchester (UK). UoM is higher ranking, does better research, and I would be getting a MPhys with Theoretical Physics. However, it would cost me ~$60k total while RPI would cost me ~$0 (payment has been worked out with my parents in a way that made these the total costs for each school).
I plan on going into a physics PhD program in the USA whether I attend RPI or UoM and thus I am wondering whether the prestige of UoM is worth the extra cost?
(I am still factoring the experiences of each school as well and not looking solely at cost and ranking but these two are the leading factors)
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Replies to: Is higher prestige for undergrad worth the cost if I plan on doing a PhD?

  • CardinalBobcatCardinalBobcat 150 replies1 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 151 Junior Member
    I recommend looking at each school's acceptance rate into PhD programs in your field. It's possible that there is a significant difference (and possibly not favoring the higher-ranked program.) Hope that's a helpful thought.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 6146 replies35 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 6,181 Senior Member
    Most PhD programs are full funded.
    Can your family afford the $60k cost difference? If not, then you have an easy decision to go to RPI.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 76468 replies665 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 77,133 Senior Member
    RPI's physics department claims that many graduates go on to physics graduate programs at https://science.rpi.edu/physics/programs/undergrad/bs-physics , but does not say over how many classes or applicants the list of students is out of.

    RPI has a career survey at https://rpi.app.box.com/v/AnnualReport , but it does not give useful information about graduate school destinations by major.
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  • bunnyrabbitlordbunnyrabbitlord 7 replies4 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 11 New Member
    It's more whether I would be able to afford it. To clarify the monetary situation I would be paying 1/3 of the ticket cost with any scholarships going towards my third and my parents pay the remaining amount. RPI offered me a little more than half of the total amount (~35k scholarship with a ~75k ticket price) while at UoM I will be getting nothing since it's international and they cost ~$45k per year so I would have about $60k of debt personally.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 76468 replies665 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 77,133 Senior Member
    edited July 10
    It is hard for an undergraduate student alone to take $60k of debt.

    Do your parents like RPI more so that they will pay $50k per year there versus $30k per year at Manchester? In any case, it looks like they have decided that you will go to RPI.
    edited July 10
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  • bunnyrabbitlordbunnyrabbitlord 7 replies4 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 11 New Member
    They haven't really shown a preference to either one since the cost for them would be fairly similar for each school (I'm sorry if I'm making the financials confusing but the only true difference in cost would be on my end).
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 6146 replies35 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 6,181 Senior Member
    My vote then is for RPI. It will be a gift to come out of a school debt free.
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  • DolemiteDolemite 2106 replies34 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 2,140 Senior Member
    How soon can you start doing research at RPI? Will you be able to skip intro Physics classes due to AP/IB credits and start taking upper level classes sooner? A big part of getting into a Physics PhD program(apart from the obvious high GPA) will be research and the Letters of Recommendations you can get from professors. Many schools will expect you to be at a certain level classwise before you can get into research so the sooner you get there the better and the more time to cultivate those relationships for your LORs.
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  • bunnyrabbitlordbunnyrabbitlord 7 replies4 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 11 New Member
    At RPI I would be skipping the first year math classes but they HIGHLY recommend I don't skip the first year physics classes since they want all physics majors to take their Honors Physics I & II, so even though I could skip due to AP credit I wouldn't be.
    At Manchester they do still go over the entry level physics stuff but they do move on a bit too since part of my acceptance to Manchester was dependent on my AP Physics C scores (I needed a 5 on each one).
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  • CreeklandCreekland 5672 replies88 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 5,760 Senior Member
    If you don't have 60K or a significant portion of that saved up, choose RPI. 60K is quite a bit of debt to graduate with and you could be hard pressed to find loans going up to that amount by yourself anyway.

    RPI should be able to get you where you want to go if you do your share toward getting there.

    If you have 60K - or even half of that - saved up and it can come out of pocket, then choose the place you like.

    Trust you worked out living costs in the UK to add into that cost.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 76468 replies665 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 77,133 Senior Member
    AP physics C is not as math intensive as college physics courses for physics majors are, particularly in E&M. Taking the honors intro sequence could be a good option.
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  • happymomof1happymomof1 29380 replies170 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 29,550 Senior Member
    Are you a US student who can file the FAFSA? If so, you can borrow a total of $27k in federak student loans ($5,500 freshman year, $6,500 sophomore year, $7,500 junior year, and $7,500 senior year). Any debt beyond that would require that you find a co-signer or someone to borrow the money for you.
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  • Twoin18Twoin18 1424 replies16 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,440 Senior Member
    It’s truly bizarre that a difference of $5K per year in net cost would mean you paying $60K more and your parents $40K less. The actual difference is only $20K and that assumes you do 4 years in the UK to get a masters. Doing a BSc in the UK would actually cost less overall than the equivalent US degree.
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  • bunnyrabbitlordbunnyrabbitlord 7 replies4 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 11 New Member
    I can see how it’s weird so let me try and explain a bit: RPI’s ticket price with room and board, tuition, etc (the total cost) is about $75k a year so I would need to pay about $25k based on the plan I have with my parents. However, RPI offered me a scholarship (the leadership scholarship they called it) which is ~$35k. My parents said that any scholarships I got go towards my third so RPI would cost me very little due to the scholarship. Manchester’s ticket price (again, with room and board and everything) is about $45k but I am getting no scholarships so my third is $15k a year ($60k for 4 years as the program I’m in is their integrated masters). Thus, even though the total after scholarship price for RPI is only about $10k/year or so less than Manchester my price is drastically different.
    I hope that clears the waters a bit.
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  • bunnyrabbitlordbunnyrabbitlord 7 replies4 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 11 New Member
    I will say I haven’t sat down with my parents and worked out all the details yet as AP scores only came out yesterday so my ability to attend Manchester is a recent development. The cost on my end could end up being less than $60k once I talk to them but right now I’m stating prices based on the plan we had previously agreed upon.
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