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Top Tier vs Second Tier

indecisivegradindecisivegrad Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
edited April 2012 in Graduate School
I have been accepted to Cornell for their 9-month M.Eng. program without aid. On the other hand, I've also been accepted to Clarkson university for a MS and also received a scholarship that covers 40% of my tuition plus a $12,000/yr RA position. I've also been accepted into Virginia Tech and U. Illinois Urbana-Campaign without aid and into CMU with the $12,500 award for the first year of my MS. I also applied to GA Tech, which I'm still waiting to hear back from (and judging by the time they're taking to get back to me, I highly doubt I'm getting any money from them).

If I choose to go to Cornell and graduate in 9 months, it's only $20,000 more than going to Clarkson for two years (according to calculations, but it's just an estimate).

I don't have a problem attending Clarkson. I did a summer research program up there, met some awesome profs. and loved the time I spent up there (although it was during the summer time so I wouldn't know what it was like during the winter, which I heard could be long and cold).

My father on the other hand, would like me to attend Cornell's 9-month M.Eng program without aid. He's even willing to pay for everything. But if I go to Clarkson, I'd have to take out a loan and pay for everything else (not covered) on my own.

So which should I choose? Clarkson? Cornell? Or anything else?
Post edited by indecisivegrad on

Replies to: Top Tier vs Second Tier

  • RacinReaverRacinReaver Registered User Posts: 6,608 Senior Member
    If you're getting the same degree between the two schools, Cornell is probably the better bet financially. Think about it. If you go to Cornell you'll graduate in less than one year, how much does that translate in wages? If you're an engineer with an MS from Cornell you should be pulling down at least $70k a year, so live in a cheap apartment, drive the same car you have now, and pay that loan off within a year.

    Think of your financial timeline like this.

    Tuition: -$20,000
    Job: +$70,000

    Tuition: $0
    Job: $0

    In addition, you'll come out of Cornell with an extra year's worth of job experience after two years.

    The only way I'd change my opinion is if you already have substantial student debt or feel Clarkson's program is much superior for the career path you want.
  • indecisivegradindecisivegrad Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
    Reaver, thanks for your input.

    To clarify, if I were to go to Cornell, I'd pay around $50k for a year (maybe $60k if I take 3 semesters to finish), not the $20k you stated. If I were to choose the Clarkson route, it would end up being ~$25k-$30k for the whole two years. The prices include living expenses (yes, I did take renting a cheap place into consideration, but hey, you never know).

    I currently do not have a car and do not know if I need one to get around. Maybe I can get by by mooching rides off of people.

    I also like the aspect of going to Clarkson because I will have the opportunity to do hands-on research for my thesis. But if I choose to go to Cornell, I would be taking classes again, just like I did in undergrad (buuuut I would end up with a fancy-schmancy ivy-league degree in the end...)
  • RacinReaverRacinReaver Registered User Posts: 6,608 Senior Member
    You can play around with the math a little for how you're going to calculate costs, but, generally, the less time you spend in a program the better you'll do financially. That's why a PhD (which generally takes an extra 2-4 years past an MS) generally doesn't make more money than a MS in the long run.

    You might want to try asking Cornell for placement information for students out of that program and compare that to Clarkson's.

    Alternatively, you could always try to find a job with an employer that will reimburse you for taking night classes and get your MS that way. In that scenario you earn money full time with your BS, and you don't have to pay for your schooling to get an MS (though it may take 2-3 years and you'll have to sacrifice some nights/weekends).

    So, I guess, the question is if the ~$50k you'll have to forgo by going to Clarkson is made up by the research experience you'll gain by working in a lab. Do you foresee applying for a PhD at any point in your future?
  • indecisivegradindecisivegrad Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
    I don't know if I want a PhD in the future. I fully agree with you on the fact that PhDs don't make that much more than MS's, but getting obtaining a PhD all boils down to how much you love what you do.

    Personally, I have no experience in working in the industry (no internships during undergrad, just research experience), so I wouldn't know whether I would end up loving or hating working for a company more than doing research.

    I have until April 15th to respond to Cornell. So that gives me time to do more research, ask around, and finally decide. Thanks again for your input!
  • scaleupchemscaleupchem Registered User Posts: 105 Junior Member
    Are we talking about Clarkson in Upstate New York? Because if so, P&G heavily recruits engineers from Clarkson and the starting salary for a Band 1 Engineer (entry level) is $65-70K. I know several Clarkson graduates who are in leadership positions within the company and in many other companies. Like my grandmother always told me, "free or greatly reduced is the best price." It would be a shame to get in debt going to Cornell, and end up working with people, with the same degree mind you, who spend 1/4th of what you spend on a degree. I went to Tuskegee, which is not fancy, and is small. I got hired before many people I knew who went to other schools, was given bigger raises, and was promoted faster than people from the "big name schools." Several Tuskegee engineers, and many companies outshine thier counterparts from much bigger schools. Unless you are getting a PhD, I really would advise against going to Cornell. If you want a job in industry, technally, you don't need a MS. I know many engineers who don't have MS degrees, and still progress faster than their counterparts with graduate degrees. The former CTO of my company was a BS ChemE from a mid 60-100 ranged engineering program, and she brought this exact scenario up. Her friend got a PhD, and only was promoted twice, while a person with a BS was promoted 6 times in her career. And she is not the only example. I know R&D directors in Fortune 500s who went to low ranked state schools and still outshine their counterparts from the Ivys. Its about, "can you do the work, and can you play the game?" Its just that simple.
  • indecisivegradindecisivegrad Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
    No Scaleup, I'm not joking, and yes, we are talking about Clarkson University in Upstate NY.

    While I do believe that Clarkson grads are probably no different that graduates from "big name schools", my parents are really the ones that need the convincing. If it weren't for them trying to convince me to choose Cornell, I wouldn't even be posting in this forum to begin with.

    As for your opinion, it's even the case from where I'm from. I graduated from University of Florida last December and have been on the hunt for a job (or internship in-between undergrad and grad school). So far no such luck. I've heard from people I know that their friends who graduated from University of Central Florida (their engineering department is not as stellar as that of UF's, and UF is pretty stellar in engineering) landed a job that payed $80k a year upon graduating.

    Several people have convinced me that Clarkson is an excellent school. Only problem would be that it's too cold up there.

    But thanks for your opinion. I'll keep it in mind.
  • BooleanBoolean Registered User Posts: 75 Junior Member
    Several people have convinced me that Clarkson is an excellent school. Only problem would be that it's too cold up there.

    It's just as cold in Ithaca. I definitely don't miss the Upstate NY weather.
  • kkuo12887kkuo12887 Registered User Posts: 117 Junior Member
    While I do believe that Clarkson grads are probably no different that graduates from "big name schools", my parents are really the ones that need the convincing.

    Why do you need to convince your parents? You're a grown adult.

    ... unless they are funding your graduate school.
  • hesdjjimhesdjjim Registered User Posts: 561 Member
    It's your choice. Not theirs. Period.
  • Polo08816Polo08816 Registered User Posts: 916 Member
    His/her parents are probably paying for the school. Either that or the person's not a real adult and can't make decisions for him/herself.
  • XaviFMXaviFM Registered User Posts: 952 Member
    ^^The OP said parents would pay for Cornell^^

    Go to Cornell, for you it's free, and Clarkson would cost you something. So, in that case, take scaleupchem's advice and take the less expensive (to you) degree and go to Cornell.

    @scaleupchem: Tuskeegee has an excellent reputation. Everyone I know who went there (5 or so people) is pretty capable.
  • indecisivegradindecisivegrad Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
    ^^ Finally, somebody who can read!

    Once again, to clarify: Yes, my parents will pay for Cornell. But if I were to go to Clarkson, I would have to pay for it myself.

    @kkuo12887 I know I don't have to convince my parents. And yes I am a grown adult. I just wish they would **** and accept my decision.
  • indecisivegradindecisivegrad Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
    ...and if you ask me, it sounds like a bribe.

    I didn't know College Confidential blocks stuff out. I meant to say S, T, F, and U, as in I wish my parents would just "S, T, F, and U" and accept and respect me decision.
  • xdarthveganxxdarthveganx Registered User Posts: 61 Junior Member
    Your parents are offering to pay for your graduate degree from Cornell and you're having doubts!!!?? Geez, GO TO CORNELL haha.
  • XaviFMXaviFM Registered User Posts: 952 Member
    Hell yeah it's a bribe. But they're bribing you to do something good. So take the bribe.
This discussion has been closed.