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Full Scholarship vs. Better School

ferrariman610ferrariman610 Registered User Posts: 47 Junior Member
I have been having this fight with my parents for a while, and was looking for the advice of some outside sources:

I recently found out that I was admitted to the University of Pittsburgh's Honors College, that I received a full-tuition scholarship, and that I was nominated for the Chancellor's Scholarship (full room and board, $500 book scholarship, free food plan, and $2000 for either research or study abroad).

As happy as I was to hear this, my parents were much happier. I know Pitt is a great school, but I would rather go to a school that is higher up on my list:

MIT, Hopkins, Cornell, Harvard, Stanford, U Penn, UC Berkely, Wash U

I know that there is a much less chance of me getting scholarships to any of these places (assuming I even get accepted). My argument is that I put in all the hard work in high school believing I could go to one of these more prestigious schools. My parents believe that Pitt is a great school, it is now free, and I will be a superstar there (compared to the other schools, where it is almost impossible to be a superstar compared to everybody else).

What kind of recommendations can you give my family and I?

Do those other schools give a lot of scholarship money?

If we called and said that I have a full scholarship somewhere else, do you think there is a chance they could give me a few thousand dollars or something?

Thanks for your help!!!
Post edited by ferrariman610 on

Replies to: Full Scholarship vs. Better School

  • fredkayfredkay Registered User Posts: 172 Junior Member
    can we see some of your stats
  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids Registered User Posts: 82,611 Senior Member
    MIT, Hopkins, Cornell, Harvard, Stanford, U Penn, UC Berkely, Wash U

    Most of those schools do NOT give merit scholarships and they aren't going to give a flip that you got a good scholarship at Pitt. ALL of the students at those top schools can get big merit scholarships at various schools.

    I see that you're out of state for Berkeley....Unless your parents are willing to pay $50k per year for you to go there, take it off your list. It doesn't give OOS students aid to help pay the costs.

    What are your stats?

    What is your likely major?

    My parents believe that Pitt is a great school, it is now free,

    Well, it's not free yet. You haven't won the free ride yet.

    If you don't like Pitt that much, you need to apply to some other schools that will give you big merit.
  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids Registered User Posts: 82,611 Senior Member
    I recently started my Senior year at a public school in the suburbs of Philadelphia.
    Here are my stats:

    Rank: 1/714
    GPA: weighted - 4.45; unweighted - 4.00
    Ethnicity: white male (if that matters)
    SAT: M 800 CR 710 W 700
    ACT: 32
    SAT II: Chem - 730, Bio M - 800, Math 2 - 700

    engineering major
  • ferrariman610ferrariman610 Registered User Posts: 47 Junior Member
    Rank: 1/714
    GPA: weighted - 4.45; unweighted - 4.00
    Ethnicity: white male (if that matters)
    SAT: M 800 CR 710 W 700
    ACT: 32
    SAT II: Chem - 730, Bio M - 800, Math 2 - 700

    Euro - 4
    Bio - 5
    US - 5
    Eng Comp - 5
    Physics C, US Gov, Eng Lit, Chem (taking honors class but preparing myself for AP test), Calc AB (my school doesn't offer BC but I may self study for it) - taking this year

    VP of National Honors Society
    VP of nature club (my school always wins local Envirothon)
    Future Problem Soving Team Captain - came in 3rd in states freshman year
    1st Chair Tenor Sax Jazz Ensemble + Symphonic Band, 2nd Chair in Wind Ensemble, Recognized as outstanding Musician in National Competition
    Student Leader in Marching Band
    Model UN
    World Affairs Club
    Mathletes (one of best on team, we do not compete in any major competitions, just local)
    Foreign Language Club
    Science Club (will be competing in Science Olympiads in March)
    Environmental Action Club
    Jr National Honors Society

    Community Service
    Aid for Friends
    JRA (Jewish Relief Agency) - will soon receive recognition for continual participation
    Arrange ensemble of friends to play at a retirement home regularly
    Clean up highway with Environmental Action Club

    All highest levels possible. My school does not allow AP's until 10th grade, where Euro is the only option. 3 is the max in 11th, and my school does not offer AP Chem (the equivalent is Honors Chem 2, but I will be taking the AP test).

    7-11 for 3 years (boss loved me)
    Research at Fox Chase Cancer Center through highly selective Student Scientist Program

    One from my research mentor at Fox Chase (will be supplemental).
    One from my current AP Gov teacher who also runs Scholars Bowl, which I was in last year, and is a co-advisor for Honor Society, which I am VP of.
    One from my Physics teacher last year.
  • entomomentomom Registered User Posts: 23,662 Senior Member
    MIT, Hopkins, Cornell, Harvard, Stanford, U Penn, UC Berkely, Wash U

    As stated above, as an OOS student, UCB will cost you 50k/yr. Of these schools, only WUSTL & JHU have any merit scholarships. The others only give need based FA, so will you qualify for substantial FA? Have your parents run Federal and Institutional FA calculators?
  • ferrariman610ferrariman610 Registered User Posts: 47 Junior Member
    Yea UCB was kind of just thrown in at the end, it was never really on my list until a few weeks ago.

    I'm applying to 2 of Wash U's scholarships, but even if I get them, I'm not sure how much they will be for. Of all the schools I am applying to, I think Hopkins has the best program and I pretty much love everything about it, so if I get any kind of money I will probably go there.

    About need based, I don't think I'm going to get anything. In fact, I think the people looking at my financial aid applications may laugh at it because my parents have so much money in investments and what not. If I do get anything, it will be VERY little.
  • squatierisquatieri Registered User Posts: 49 Junior Member
    The schools you have mentioned all have large endowments and are pretty generous in aid. If your family doesn't need aid, then there should be no choice between Pitt and these other schools... just go to the better school. But if you do need aid many of these schools will take care of you and you'll be left with little to pay for after college. Apply and see, they wont take away the scholarship from you by the time u hear back from all those schools.
  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids Registered User Posts: 82,611 Senior Member
    To tell you the truth....WashU tends to use its scholarships to target URMs and other highly desirable students. A white kid from PA with good but not top stats is not likely going to get merit from WashU.

    Anyway....if your parents are going to pressure you to take the big merit because they don't want to cash out their investments, then you REALLY need to apply to other schools that will give you big merit....so you'll have a choice. Plus, you have no idea whether you'll get into those top schools.

    If you don't LOVE UPitt, you need other options that you will love.

    Have your parents said how much they'llpay each year? If they have NO INTENTION of paying $55k+ per year, then those top schools won't be an option. Realistically, many parents won't cash out investments when there are less expensive but good options on the table.
  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids Registered User Posts: 82,611 Senior Member
    If your family doesn't need aid, then there should be no choice between Pitt and these other schools... just go to the better school.

    I don't think the issue is whether the family "needs" aid. I think the issue is that the parents may refuse to spend investment money to pay for the "better" school.
  • momofthreeboysmomofthreeboys Registered User Posts: 15,426 Senior Member
    What are the other colleges/unis going to give you that UPitt won't give you academically? What is different about the other colleges that you like better than UPitt? As a parent, and like yours, I would be weighing the cost/value benefit. If you were mine I would ask for a much better defined argument why the extra dollars should be paid to send you somewhere else and I would expect a stronger argument than you feel you deserve to go to A, B or C. You'll need to define why those other colleges are a better choice I suspect and you'll need to get accepted and you'll need to understand the costs of the other colleges/unis. Unless your parents are "into" car stickers, prestige might not be a good enough reason. Are they forbidding you to apply or are they telling you that finances are going to a strong consideration and you need to wrap your head around the possibility that you might be attending UPitt? You've been offered free tuition and you are being considered for research and other extras at a very good school... those are difficult hurdles for many, many parents to set aside.
  • liek0806liek0806 Registered User Posts: 3,316 Senior Member
    I think it's great that you worked your butt off in high school. You've done such a great job that you've been rewarded with a great opportunity at U. Pitt.
    With that said, I think you should still apply to those schools mentioned(with possibly the exception of Berkeley-I'd replace it with a school like USC that does offer merit aid for out of state students-it's a Private school), and then start to worry about finances once you compare merit/financial aid packages from the schools that admit you.
    Also, if one of the reasons you were interested in Berkeley is because of California, you should take a look at Harvey Mudd College. I know they have merit awards and they're a good engineering-science college. Scholarships & Grants

    You might not be able to envision this now, but having the financial freedom to do whatever you want, and not have to be forced to take the first job you get after undergrad just to start paying back loans, will be a huge plus. Comparatively speaking, you'd even save more money going to Pitt and then Harvard/MIT or wherever for a Masters program, than simply going straight to one of those schools straight from undergrad.
  • loringloring Registered User Posts: 463 Member

    Let's peer into my magic 8 ball. Damn! Says "Try again later".

    Seriously, looking into the future, it seems likely to me that you will pursue graduate education (yes, that word 'assume'). If that is indeed the case, is it wise to spend $50k a year on an undergraduate education at a big name school when you can save $200k by going to a good school? Most folks recommend not pursuing a graduate degree at the same school that you got your undergraduate degree from. At the end of your education, when you go to find a job, which degree will mean more, the undergraduate or graduate? Unless your parents are Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, or Gates, you might find them coming up a little short when it's time for graduate school. By all means, pursue your dream schools and see what comes your way. You never know, you might get some merit aid or a relative that thinks you hung the moon might offer to pay for that sheepskin from the dream school.

    My son finds himself in a similar circumstance as you. I do hope he gets admitted to his dream school because he, like you, has worked very hard the past four years. I'm hoping that we get to sit down and make those tough decisions in the spring. Unless our financial situation changes, he may have to shoulder much of the debt to attend his dream school. The reality is that there will be much less financial stress on our family if he goes somewhere on a full ride. We might then be able to help him purchase a car or help him some with other aspects of school without undue strain.

    Issues regarding finances are sticky. My advice is to continue to pursue your dream schools. If you don't get accepted, then the discussion is moot. If you do, well, then you've got options. In the meantime, I would encourage you to seek all the scholarship opportunities you can find locally and nationally. I would explain to your parents that you understand that your dream schools would represent a significant financial burden to them and ask them how much they would be willing/able to cover if you still wanted to go there.

    Regardless, because of your hard work you have earned an opportunity that few people get the chance to have. Enjoy your senior year and relax whenever you can. You've got lots of options and none of them suck. ;-)
  • wgmcp101wgmcp101 Registered User Posts: 936 Member
    Just for your information, there are obviously other good students that have made the same decision to go to Pitt. The average Pitt honors eligible CR+M SAT score, which is 19% of Pitt's overall incoming class, is 1457. That fits into the average CR+M (score ranges averaged from their 2009-10 CDS) SATs of the other schools on your list in the following way:

    Harvard: 1475
    MIT: 1465
    Wash U: 1460
    Pitt Honors: 1457
    Stanford: 1440
    U Penn: 1440
    Hopkins: 1400
    Cornell: 1395
    UC Berkeley: 1350
    Pitt overall: 1265

    Now, that isn't quite a fair thing to compare, because a lot more goes into admissions and enrollment decisions, like academics and environment, but it does suggest that there were over 700 students with SAT scores in a comparable range to some other top schools choosing to take the merit aid and attend Pitt this year. I don't know if that helps or not.
  • squatierisquatieri Registered User Posts: 49 Junior Member
    It won't cost 50,000 plus a year though! These schools give a lot of aid. It may be 20,000 a year after financial aid. Before you got news of the possibility of a scholarship to Pitt, I'm sure your parents were preparing to send you away to college. They most likely have money saved up to pay for your college costs. Another consideration is if you want to go to graduate school. If you do then go to Pitt and use the money your parents have to go to a strong graduate program.
  • Iron MaidenIron Maiden Registered User Posts: 1,982 Senior Member
    Passing up a free ride at a good school like Pitt would be a huge mistake. Why spend >$150,000 when you don't have to? Trust me, once you get your first job no one cares at all where your undergrad degree came from. I've interviewed and hired 100's of college grads. It is not a factor.

    Graduate school is another matter. Save your money for that. There is not even a decision to be made here.
This discussion has been closed.