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Expensive private school or state flagship?

molbiohemonco1molbiohemonco1 Registered User Posts: 32 Junior Member
(This question is based on the scenario that I actually get into the private school for my chosen major in question)

I'm a high school senior who is considering applying ED to JHU for biomedical engineering (they are #1 in the world). JHU is really my favorite school and I would love to attend, but...it's going to be very expensive for me. My EFC for JHU is around 61k/year. As an NJ resident with perfect grades and scores, I think I have a good shot at a full ride from Rutgers and admittance to the Honors College. I want to go into biomedical engineering, biochemistry, molecular biology, or biophysics, and jobs in these fields basically require PhDs.

My total loan balance after 4 years should be somewhere between 100k and 130k if I attend JHU, before interest. (This figure depends on how much my parents are willing to contribute to cover the cost.) If admitted ED to the biomedical engineering major, I have to go to JHU: however, if I am admitted to the school but not the major, I am not bound to the school. Given all of this information, is it worth going to JHU with an eye on a research-based career, or should I just go to Rutgers and save? Are the opportunities available at JHU worth the significantly higher price tag? Does my chance at grad school go up as an above-average JHU student versus as a top Rutgers student?
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Replies to: Expensive private school or state flagship?

  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 72,246 Senior Member
    edited October 10
    You cannot borrow anywhere near that much without a cosigner, which is probably a bad idea for you and the cosigner.
  • DadTwoGirlsDadTwoGirls Registered User Posts: 4,564 Senior Member
    100k is way too much debt for a bachelor's degree. There is no need to go to a big name university for undergrad. Save your money for graduate school.

    When I was in graduate school at a highly ranked university, the other graduate students there had done their undergrad all over the place. I can only recall meeting more than one student from the same university from just one school -- by coincidence it was Rutgers. If you do very well there or at any other of at least 100 very good universities, then you will have a good chance at highly ranked graduate school.
  • molbiohemonco1molbiohemonco1 Registered User Posts: 32 Junior Member
    edited October 10
    My parents have assured me that they would be the cosigners for this loan @ucbalumnus , and they seem to think that it's a good idea for me to ED, considering I go to a competitive high school where my chances for JHU would be substantially reduced in the RD round. (The most they've ever taken from my school is 4/70 kids in the graduating class: this year 3/66 kids are basically guaranteed to get in already.)

    @DadTwoGirls I'm afraid that Rutgers, while it is a very good school, does not have enough professors with "friends in high places", so to speak. PhD admissions are more competitive than ever these days, and I felt like JHU has many more professors who could vouch for me during the PhD admissions process, assuming I perform at an above-average level.
  • BelknapPointBelknapPoint Registered User Posts: 3,900 Senior Member
    If admitted ED to the biomedical engineering major, I have to go to JHU...

    If you get admitted ED to JHU's biomedical engineering major, how do they force you to go? If a successful applicant refuses to attend, is kidnapping involved? Extortion? I've never heard of this before.
  • happymomof1happymomof1 Registered User Posts: 28,428 Senior Member
    Trust us. The professors at Rutgers have pals at JHU. Some of those folks now at JHU were students of the people at Rutgers. Some of the people at Rutgers finished their doctorates at JHU. At the research level, JHU and Rutgers are peer institutions.

  • molbiohemonco1molbiohemonco1 Registered User Posts: 32 Junior Member
    I realize that your post is made in jest @BelknapPoint but you know what I mean - I'm bound to go by the legal agreement.

    @happymomof1 So you're saying I have a similar chance as a top student from Rutgers versus a top student at JHU for a highly reputed (like top 10) PhD in the fields I listed above?
  • austinmshauriaustinmshauri Registered User Posts: 7,553 Senior Member
    You're actually not bound by ED if it's unaffordable. A loan balance of $130,000
    ** plus interest ** is considered unaffordable by most people.
  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids Forum Champion Financial Aid, Forum Champion Alabama Posts: 84,233 Forum Champion
    Does my chance at grad school go up as an above-average JHU student versus as a top Rutgers student?

    No.
    I'm afraid that Rutgers, while it is a very good school, does not have enough professors with "friends in high places", so to speak. PhD admissions are more competitive than ever these days, and I felt like JHU has many more professors who could vouch for me during the PhD admissions process,
    .

    First of all, you’re only going to be sending a very small number of LORs with your grad school applications. Surely at either school, you can find 3-5 “connected profs” who can write your LORs.

    That said, how strong of LORs do you think you’d get from JHU profs if your performance is only “above average”???

    Why would you think that Rutgers profs don’t have “friends in high places”? Probably many of the profs went to elite schools themselves.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 72,246 Senior Member
    You should realize that biomedical engineering is not that highly paid a field. MIT's career survey at https://capd.mit.edu/resources/survey-data indicates that bachelor's graduates found average pay of $61,850, and PhD graduates found average pay of $55,000 for post-doctoral jobs and $109,667 for other jobs. Do you really want to start a career with $130,000 of debt plus interest?
  • DustyfeathersDustyfeathers Registered User Posts: 3,092 Senior Member
    In academics it's not like the professors at X university are isolated from those at Y university. It's a small world after all and not only do they probably read each other's research papers, and know of each others' work, but they have met at conferences, maybe attended the same schools together, maybe have reviewed their grant applications for each other -- maybe are on the same grant with each other! As you said about grad school programs being competitive to enter, so are academic jobs. Getting a job as a professor is extremely competitive. That means that your professor at NoName U, may have attended Yale or Harvard or Johns Hopkins. Or, since Yale is notoriously bad at granting tenure, that person may have taught at Yale and then moved to NoName U. CUNY, often denigrated as some trashy school (see for example the early scenes of the movie LADYBIRD) has profs that once taught at the Ivies or who are recruited from CUNY to enter the Ivies. And CUNY also has graduated a bazillion (estimated) Nobel prize winners -- it's called the Harvard of the Proletariat for that reason.

    It's not the school that makes the scholar so much a the scholar that makes the scholar.

    Don't go into $100K debt for the name of a school. Focus on real value, such as preparing yourself well.
  • Mom2aphysicsgeekMom2aphysicsgeek Registered User Posts: 4,311 Senior Member
    edited October 11
    @molbiohemonco1 No, you do not need to go to JHU to attend a top 10 grad school. @Dustyfeathers' comments in #10 are accurate about professors, so pay attention to that post.

    Fwiw, my ds recently went through the grad school app process for physics. He attended a U ranked below 100 on full scholarship. His grad school acceptances encompassed top grad programs and he currently attends a top 5 program in his desired field. (And having no debt from UG means no financial stress as a "poor" grad student. That is a tremendous freedom.)

    As an UG you need to focus on top grades, solid coursework selections, UG research on your home campus, summer research like REUs, top GRE scores. Your recommenders should reflect your strong desire to do research.

    ETA: I wanted to add that when ds went to grad school open houses after acceptances that all of them had students from a wide range of UG backgrounds. The dept he is in now has grads from tippy top UG programs to some like him from completely avg schools. There are more top UG programs represented than not, but top students from lower ranked programs like him are definitely there. (Just as there are many tippy top UG school grads who are not.... the school did not guarantee their admission.) Be the best you you can be wherever you go.
  • mommdcmommdc Registered User Posts: 10,628 Senior Member
    If you have stats to be competitive for admission at JHU, why not apply to Rutgers, University of Pittsburgh, maybe some other good schools like Case Western, U Rochester, Ohio State, where you could get some merit aid that might bring the price down closer to Rutgers.

    Then you could visit the schools, talk to the engineering departments and see which ones might match your interests.

    It's good to have choices. And you might change your mind about bioengineering.
  • coolguy40coolguy40 Registered User Posts: 1,821 Senior Member
    That kind of debt can sink a career. It's not worth it, especially for a bachelors degree. Scholarships are a far better deal. Think of it this way. If someone handed you the keys to a brand new Honda Accord, would you turn it down so you can spend $80,000 on a BMW you can't really afford? It doesn't matter how nice the BMW is, you're going to be ahead financially with the Honda, because you don't have a car payment.
  • NJWrestlingmomNJWrestlingmom Registered User Posts: 758 Member
    JHU is not worth it for that debt. Rutgers has a great reputation in the sciences and will not hurt your grad school prospects at all. Repeating above, you will be much better off coming out of undergrad with no debt.
  • BelknapPointBelknapPoint Registered User Posts: 3,900 Senior Member
    I realize that your post is made in jest @BelknapPoint but you know what I mean - I'm bound to go by the legal agreement.

    Yes, I know what you mean, but your statements there and here don't reflect reality. Know what I mean?
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