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To move or not to move - need advice

collegeandicollegeandi 194 replies3 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
We are currently residing in SoCal. My D is a straight A freshman in HS. She is also an editor for her school magazine, member of the school robotics team participating in many contests as well as a chairperson in couple of other Honors Society clubs. She is interested in Engineering and has a demonstrated interest in Computer Science.

We are considering a voluntary move to Houston, based on some easing of travel for H, comparable employment opportunities and more affordable houses. However, a comparison of options for D’s higher education including good plans A and B is making the decision difficult.

While assessing well-recognized public Engineering School options in both states, Texas has UTA, TAMU and UTD while California has a long list starting with Cal. We are unlikely to qualify for need based financial aid and will not be able afford private universities like Rice or USC/CalTech.

While well recognized CSUs act as a good plan B in California after the UCs, I could not find any such option in or near Texas. Am I missing any options in Texas ? Also, D's established leadership roles may be lost if we move.

Considering all of the above, as well as any Texas options I may be missing, will it be wise to move to Houston?
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Replies to: To move or not to move - need advice

  • carachel2carachel2 2973 replies25 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    You are missing Texas Tech. So with Texas A&M, UT and Texas Tech you have three big powerhouse schools. Then under those you have one elite private school: Rice. SMU, TCU and Baylor add into that mix as well but they are privates. So no...we don't have a lot of smaller schools, we have about four big monster schools!

    Because of the automatic admissions to the two main universities, the ranking game in Texas is intense. There are parents who start in jr. high trying to figure out how to game the system by taking PE credits in the summer, online, etc. We had no idea! My Ds varsity level orchestra class (the top out of SIX orchestras at the school) was not a weighted class and she could not GPA exempt it...so it actually brought her class rank down for two years.

    There ARE some very good, highly competitive schools *outside* of Houston: Kingwood School District and the Cypress Fairbanks school district are the main two I can think of but I'm sure others will chime in. If you want to live IN Houston then you will need to look at privates or magnet schools. The traffic is *horrendous* and it is a large stinky crowded hot humid city..I can't imagine why anyone would want to live in the city limits. Most people commute from Kingwood, etc.

    Your daughter sounds very much hooked and engaged into her school. It might be very difficult for her to move in and find her way. On the other hand, she sounds so well rounded I have no doubt she will be able to make friends and and get involved. Living near Houston could give her a lot of amazing opportunities for summer programs with Rice, robotics competitions, etc. And NASA!? It would be right up the road!

    What does she say about the move when you talk to her? Does the move need to happen right now or is there some flexibility?

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  • zobrowardzobroward 3741 replies193 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    many people have fled from California for greener pastures to places like az,nc,floirda and of course texas. texas has many great public and private colleges/universities. texas also has excellent public high schools.(not all schools...just like in California) I would not hesitate to move if it benefits your family. the moving trucks head out from California full and return empty (the flow is one direction) there is a reason.
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  • carachel2carachel2 2973 replies25 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Also...are you set on Houston? There are many other areas with amazing schools (which will also be crazy competitive) that may be more pleasant to live. Austin and Frisco/McKinney areas come to mind.
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  • piesquaredpiesquared 175 replies0 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    edited April 2016
    "The traffic is *horrendous* and it is a large stinky crowded hot humid city..I can't imagine why anyone would want to live in the city limits. Most people commute from Kingwood, etc."

    ______________________________________

    This is hysterical and very untrue. Lots of normal people live inside the city limits. Millions of people in fact. We've done it and managed to have a more-than-decent quality of life and somehow even send a well-prepared public-school educated kid to college. I personally find the traffic horrid out in the suburbs as those master-planned communities make everyone wind around the same way and then end up on the same roads.

    Feel free to PM me and I'll give you some scoop on Houston schools. We've survived multiple magnet lotteries within the district.

    And yes, it can be uncomfortable in the hot humid summers but Houston kind of grows on you. There's a sort of can-do spirit that has its own charms. We're all in it together.
    edited April 2016
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  • carachel2carachel2 2973 replies25 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited April 2016
    Well it's true for me. Granted, I don't live there. Visited many many times and we have friends who live there. The thought of living IN Houston makes me shudder. It is wicked wet dank humidity. I hate the city. The friends who live there say it's private school or magnet schools or nothing. I would imagine the magnet schools are great

    Anyone can live anywhere and make the best of it I'm sure. Would I *choose* to live in Houston? No. I would not. There are amazing opportunities in Houston no doubt. But lots of Texans refer to Houston as "the armpit of Texas" so I'm pretty sure I'm not alone.

    I do agree with you about the traffic from the suburbs. Looking at it from that aspect only it would probably be better to not have to battle that out in a daily basis.

    Also.. Please note that I did highlight the potential benefits of living in Houston with Rice and NASA so close. So I didn't completely bash the city. It sounds like you have made the best of it. Honestly, if I had an open option to choose where I would love I would not pick my current area either.
    edited April 2016
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  • piesquaredpiesquared 175 replies0 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Well my point was more that Houston has quiet charms and it grows on you. I always say it's not a great place to visit but it is a good place to live. I've never actually heard it referred to as the armpit of Texas but I guess we are geographically if nothing else.

    We personally live in a neighborhood with decent sized homes (not the giant ones) on appropriately sized lots. So lots of live oak trees and green space. The low cost of living (and no state income taxes, although we do have high property tax and sales tax) makes for a high quality of life.

    My neighborhood itself is very walkable but if I could change one big thing it would be a better public transit system and a more walkable city in general. Those are definitely deficits.
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  • carachel2carachel2 2973 replies25 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    @anomander Most Californians seem to feel the most home in Austin ;)

    I'll have to check out those links.
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  • HighburyHighbury 319 replies6 threadsRegistered User Member
    One of the reasons you cite for the move in your original post is affordability of housing. If you were modest in your Texas housing choices could it possibly afford you the opportunity to be full pay at privates? When we moved from the Northeast to North Carolina we were able to buy a nicer house at over 100,000 less the price. We could have bought a really fancy house, but instead earmarked that extra money for our kids educations. If you only have one child this could be an option for you. But then again, not everyone care to pay full sticker price - I understand that.
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  • inspiration12inspiration12 156 replies3 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    OP is asking about higher education in terms of being a state resident. In that regard, there are fantastic engineering schools in Texas, just like in California. The tuition cost will be less in Texas, if that's a factor. The top 10% rule (varies for UT) should be known to the OP as far as automatic admission to public universities. Some suburban areas with strong high schools include The Woodlands, Cypress Fairbanks, Katy, Kingwood and Sugarland, if outside the city is a consideration.

    I am from the Pacific NW (which I love), and have lived near Houston for many years, but I find the city a fun place to go with all the parks, trees, theater, shopping, and restaurants, along with a invigorating diverse population. Downtown might not be my first choice as a retirement spot (although there are many areas where you would never know you are in a large city), but I (and my husband) sure have had ample job opportunities and the lower cost of living is hard to beat.
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  • KnittergirrlKnittergirrl 211 replies8 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    I moved from the DC area to Houston immediately after finishing my senior year of high school because my parent's job moved there. I disagree that Houston is 'the armpit of Texas.' Sure, there are some bad areas, just like in any other city, but there are also plenty of really nice areas. I have a few friends from the area, all of whom were educated either at private schools or in the huge high schools in the suburbs (like the Woodlands). I live near Lamar High School, which has an IB program that qualified students can do. From what I've heard, it to some degree separates the more high-achieving students from what might be considered the 'rougher' crowd of the school. If your daughter was to enroll in a program like this, I suspect that she would do just fine and be able to go to college just as prepared as anyone else, plus get the experience of being in a diverse school.

    I really did not like the atmosphere of the area I grew up in. It was pretentious and homogenous. While I loved the cultural opportunities and restaurants and such that the DC area had to offer, my suburb was not to my taste at all. I was looking forward to going to college and to moving. I really like the area of Houston I live in now. It's liberal and there are a lot of things within close distance. I can walk to nice cafes and shops and most things are no more than a fifteen minute drive away.

    If your daughter is attached to her high school and enjoys living where you currently live, then I don't really see the need to move to Houston (or any other place). But if that's not the case, then I think moving could be a good experience.
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  • carachel2carachel2 2973 replies25 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Just to clarify... The "armpit" comment refers mostly to the warm and humid weather of Houston.
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  • collegeandicollegeandi 194 replies3 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Thanks everyone for the great, detailed insights, am still going through all the links.

    I had missed listing Texas Tech.

    Transfer students being subjected to potential GPA adjustment in Texas is a good input, will research that. My D has taken rigorous courses in her school and I would certainly not like to have part of her GPA lost in translation !

    We have discussed this potential move with her and she is OK with the idea but I would not like her to lose any significant achievements or potential opportunities. We had considered Austin, DFW areas as well but greater Houston seemed to be a better option especially as mentioned above with the proximity to NASA etc. I have a younger S too so private colleges may not really be an option even if we save on the cost of our house.

    We are considering the Katy/Cinco Ranch area, recent reports of severe weather there have scared us, though :-) - should it be a real concern ?

    Another key area of consideration is getting admission into a desired Engineering major in the 4 key UT schools and fallback/safety options. Inputs from members who underwent this experience would be greatly appreciated !
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  • inspiration12inspiration12 156 replies3 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Well, it's going to be warm and humid in many places in the South during the summer - just the way it is...
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  • carachel2carachel2 2973 replies25 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    @dansmoaustin ... Could you chime in here about your daughters recent experience applying to Engineering at UT?
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  • piesquaredpiesquared 175 replies0 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    edited April 2016
    My son was auto admit to the University of Texas. As discussed, entrance to majors is not guaranteed. He applied CompSci, which is very competitive, and got Turing Scholars honors. I had lots and lots of friends whose children applied engineering to UT, many of them not in the top 7% (8% this year), who were successful. It is holistic. There are lots of horror stories about kids who "should" have gotten in, but my anecdotal observation is that a strong overall student with leadership ECs does stand a good chance. There is absolutely no guarantee though, and you should understand that going in.

    Texas A&M is switching this year to a holistic review for engineering only. For A&M, you should strive to meet the auto admit stats (they do not take that many out of their auto admit pool), but you can be in the top 25% and still meet the SAT requirements. University of Houston (which is okay, better in Mech E and Electrical) wants to see a score of 600 on the math SAT. Texas Tech is a good option, as is UT-Dallas and even UTEP.

    Finally, the state schools do not meet full need, so we found that on average for a strong student with merit potential, a school like Colorado School of Mines ends up being fairly comparable financially. Other students I know are doing engineering at OSU or other neighboring state schools.

    Oh and about Katy, it's former prairie, so it has a certain (very flat) look to it. Everyone says schools are good. I can comment more on HISD and SBISD and somewhat on FBISD.
    edited April 2016
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  • quietdesperationquietdesperation 545 replies60 threadsRegistered User Member
    My dad moved us when I was headed into 10th grade. It was not a great experience for me, I'd had the same big group of friends and classmates from the time I was in kindergarten and I had to start afresh. Honestly, at that age, everyone knew each other and I wasn't equipped to make a bunch of new friends. Here are some things that happened to me that you may want to plan for:
    - moved from a school that weighted gpa to a school that didn't. they also didn't use weighted gpa for class rank.
    - I played varsity tennis and basketball, but wasn't good enough to make the basketball team at the new school.
    - I was one of the best chess players in the country at my age, there was no chess club at the new school and I couldn't find enough interested students to start one.
    - I dreaded lunch, a sea of students and no one I knew.

    I got through it and did very well socially in college but those three years were no fun. Hopefully your D is better equipped than I was to make new friends and based on your post, I'm sure you'll be proactive in helping her.

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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 34185 replies378 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I moved in early jr year of his, to the DC area. It distinctly affected my college choices, as the new hs was a giant step better than the former, the peer competition was almost universally stronger than before, and classroom expectations high. I had some serious catching up to do.

    I have zero regrets. What I gained form the move itself and the new intellectual experience was life changing. But the adjustment did point me at a different set of colleges than I would have earned in my other location. A number of opportunities were closed to me as a new kid.

    So imo, OP needs to consider how this timing might affect what her girl wants, what she may truly be able to continue to achieve- or not- and how that affects college. What if, for some reason, her robotics options (or role) are limited or the newspaper responsibilities are all sewn up? Is she resilient enough to make the best of this, forge new paths- and maybe see her college possibilities change?

    If she doesn't get into one of the 'better' TX college options, can you afford to send her private? What if she doesn't like those TX colleges and would have been happy at the multiple US or CSU choices?

    Can you wait and do this move at a later point in your family life?
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  • wecandothiswecandothis 849 replies103 threadsRegistered User Member
    I am a single parent- transplant from NYS (upstate) when children were small. My older child is a successful UC Berkeley grad and received excellent financial aid there- both merit and need based. My younger child went to an excellent local CC and is now transferring to either UC Davis or UC Berkeley, also with excellent aid. The educational opportunities here are amazing. Do not automatically assume you won't qualify for aid. Merit based aid is available at both public and private colleges/universities. There are many top notch private schools in CA that offer great aid packages, even if you don't think you qualify. The CSU's are incredible choices to have as "back-ups"- some of them have even gotten more selective than UC's in certain majors.
    Your D is doing very well, and in general I would advise: if it isn't broken, don't fix it.
    I know we pay a lot to live here, but in my opinion you just can't beat CA.
    Good luck with your decision.
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