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NM question

kaywalliskaywallis 8 replies3 threads New Member
I would really like input on this question. My son will soon be named a national merit semi-finalist, and he will do what is necessary to become a national merit finalist. This means he'll be offered a full ride to a number of schools that offer them to NMFs, and reduced cost at others. His intended area of study is math. He scored a 1540 on the SAT and is in the five of his class. He is certain to go to graduate school, and it would not surprise me if he ultimately pursues a Ph.D or goes to law school. I have saved around $20k per year for his education

Question: would he be better off taking the full ride at one of the schools that offer them, and saving my money and his for graduate school, or should he accept an offer, which I expect him to get, from a top 20 school, such as U. of Chicago, CM, Vanderbilt, Rice, or Princeton, and take on some debt, but graduate with a sheepskin from a better school?

Thank you for any input.
edited August 2018
5 replies
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Replies to: NM question

  • prodesseprodesse 1344 replies71 threads Senior Member
    Grad school usually comes with teaching duties and stipends, but I recommend trying to love some of the free ride schools!
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  • Twoin18Twoin18 1682 replies17 threads Senior Member
    Is your EFC actually around $20K or something much higher? Most would not recommend trying for a top 20 school if it means $100K in debt. But it's also worth noting there are many more full tuition scholarships (where your remaining costs would consume most if not all of that $20K) than full rides.

    If he is specifically focused on math then there are some good affordable options, notably the University of Utah where the top math student has won a Churchill scholarship in 3 of the last 4 years (https://unews.utah.edu/university-of-utah-student-awarded-prestigious-churchill-scholarship-3/).
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  • vistajayvistajay 1477 replies27 threads Senior Member
    If he is seriously considering becoming a lawyer, it would be better to save his money and attend a top 20 law school. The law schools will care more about his LSAT score and grades than where he went. But a top 20 law school will help him get a decent job. And you really don't want much debt coming out of law school if possible.
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  • JBStillFlyingJBStillFlying 7041 replies24 threads Senior Member
    edited August 2018
    Slightly different perspective, and I say this as someone who is fairly familiar with how at least a few PhD programs work. If your son is going to pursue a PhD he is likely to be much better off at an elite school. The reason is that PhD programs only let in a few kids a year and give them serious dollars to pursue their field of study. Therefore, they rely very heavily on accolades passed on from colleagues who are well known and respected in the field. There are exceptions of course, but in general the top schools tend to have the "top" (or best known) academics.

    Professional schools such as Med or Law or B - even grad. engineering - different story. Those programs, even the top ones, take in a much larger group of students, tend to recruit from many different types of undergrad. institutions, tend to look more broadly at the overall application, and are far more stingy with stipends and merit aid.

    Now, even if your son ends up wanting to do a PhD, it's probably still ok for him to attend a full-ride (even if less notable) school. First of all, as of this point he probably doesn't quite know what he wants to do yet, and may well change his mind once he arrives anyway. Second, for at least some programs of study, there are terminal master's programs for those students who need to generate that all-important rec. letter to go on to apply to top PhD programs. That terminal master's program may be expensive unless he can get aid/merit. But it is another channel of entry - and one that doesn't require he attend a top elite right away.

    There are enormous intangible benefits to attending a top elite and a very bright kid might find it to be much more fulfilling intellectually, regardless of what he ends up doing. But honors college at State U on a full ride might give him a similar experience, depending on how selective it is, how rigorous is his major and how challenging his Gen. Ed's. If he can take honors in those so that he's academically challenged in all his courses (not just his major) then that should be fine!
    edited August 2018
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  • kaywalliskaywallis 8 replies3 threads New Member
    I want to thank each of you who took time to respond to my question.
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