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Crowd-sourcing a final decision?

LurkerDad2LurkerDad2 Registered User Posts: 17 New Member
I've been lurking for about a year on this site but never posted, but figured I'd go with the wisdom of the crowds here:

Son is a top student, National Merit Finalist, captain of a sport - although not good enough for D1...maybe could walk-on D3 although he's fine doing a club sport to stay with it. Focus is academics with him and he's interested in majoring in Comp Sci and possibly doubling up with Bio in the hopes of either grad school or med school.

Choices are down to the following:
- Villanova - full merit ride with room and board included (we also live about 35 minutes from there)
- Case Western - slightly more than half-tuition merit scholarship
- Univ of Rochester - about 1/4 merit scholarship but would go up to about half if named first choice for National Merit
- Notre Dame - no merit aid offered other than some on-campus employment
- Brown - no merit aid offered

Have about half costs of each of these schools in his 529, so could fund an education at them almost fully for Case and URoch through that, but would be paying into ND and Brown to cover the rest.

He visited all but Brown and Case (but is spending two days at Case this week) and nothing has jumped out to him as a "must go to school", although he seemed more excited after coming back from ND, but that may have subsided a bit.

I've had people say to me,
- "He HAS to pick Brown because he got into an Ivy League school"
- "He HAS to pick Notre Dame because f their alumni network and the doors that will be opened."
- "He HAS to choose Nova because it's completely free"

Given that the plan...at least right now...is for undergrad to NOT be his terminal degree, but to move on to grad or med school...and looking at these choices (where Comp Sci is the primary major), what would YOU pick...understanding the financial situation (which I've told him to not completely factor into his decision making...e.g....don't pick Villanova just because it's free..pick it because you WANT to be there)?

Replies to: Crowd-sourcing a final decision?

  • wisteria100wisteria100 Registered User Posts: 2,986 Senior Member
    I'm reluctant to tell you how to spend your money, but since you asked...
    Notre Dame is a special kind of place. It's definitely not for everyone, but since he liked the vibe there and is excited about it, I would pick that.
    Congrats to your son for some great choices!
  • lz57c4lz57c4 Registered User Posts: 430 Member
    ^^ agree with Dad.
    - "He HAS to choose Nova because it's completely free"

    Given that the plan...at least right now...is for undergrad to NOT be his terminal degree, but to move on to grad or med schoo

    I wouldn't do debt for UG, save it for phd or med school. As for your 'no-debt' schools, I personally couldn't imagine choosing Case or URoch over Nova, but that's just me :-)

    Sounds like a tough decision though since they are all possibilities.
  • wisteria100wisteria100 Registered User Posts: 2,986 Senior Member
    I'll add that one of the reasons I didn't say Villanova, is due to the proximity to your home. Your son may feel that he isn't really going away, and a benefit of a college experience is to experience a new place.
    So I still say ND, but if you go with Nova - it's a great place also
  • naviancenaviance Registered User Posts: 500 Member
    ND is super-special. If you can't afford that- Villanova is special too. Loved Rochester.
    I personally did not like Case for the vibe so would not choose that. Your other choices do not indicate that Case is a perfect match.
    Despite rankings I would choose Villanova over Case.
    Good luck with the Rochester merit option! That is a great place too.
    So, if it were me (and it is not!) I would consider ND over brown, then Rochester with big merit OR Villanova (free plus book and personal expenses). Which school does your son prefer- Villanova or Rochester- they are SO different.
    I prefer ND (COA 66,000 plus books, personal expenses and travel) over Brown and they are the same cost.
    I have experience with 2 of these school and I have toured all of these schools. All great institutions. Congratulations!
  • collegefan101collegefan101 Registered User Posts: 27 New Member
    Your question was "what would YOU pick" - for me, if I had been fortunate enough to have this choice "back in the day" and knowing what I know now, I would choose Notre Dame. Fabulous network, especially in NYC and Philly, great education and supportive environment
  • my2caligirlsmy2caligirls Registered User Posts: 680 Member
    I would pick Villanova but needs to work for you and your son. If he goes the med school route the money saved will certainly help, and I am not sure he needs the ND alumni network to make it as a doctor. My larger concern would be selecting a major that will deliver the GPA needed for med school.
  • me29034me29034 Registered User Posts: 1,205 Senior Member
    You haven't said what he thinks of Villanova. Does he like it? Does he mind being that close to home? If he doesn't have a clear preference, I would go for Villanova. Save your money for grad school.

    But, if he really doesn't want to go to Villanova, I wouldn't make him, especially since you have enough savings to cover CW and UR. At his point, it depends what you can afford without debt. If he really wants ND or Brown, and you can afford them, then its his choice. If money is an issue then CW or UR.
  • northwestynorthwesty Registered User Posts: 2,747 Senior Member
    edited April 12
    Since your kid resonated with ND, I would pick ND full pay over Brown full pay. If your kid likes the taste of the green kool-aid (and many kids don't), the student experience at ND is really something. Brown is a great school (USNWR #14) but so is ND (USNWR #15). So picking Brown just because of the athletic conference it is in is dumb imho.

    My kid ultimately turned down ND full pay (which was hard) for a full tuition scholarship at another top 20 school. Even with $175k in the 529, it just seemed crazy to turn down $200k+ of free money from a peer school. The kid will graduate with over $100k remaining which can be used for grad school, grand kids, etc.

    My kid also had a big scholarship offer from a peer school of Nova (#50 USNWR). That one would have been in play vs. ND full pay had the top 20 scholarship not been there. In addition to the finances, there is some resume/prestige value in being able to say your are pretty much the top kid at Nova vs. one of many at ND. Also, are there any other perqs, mentoring and support your kid may get with the Nova scholarship? That can be valuable.

    Tough call; good problem to have.
  • menloparkmommenloparkmom Registered User Posts: 11,951 Senior Member
    I say go for the one that costs the least. It will give BOTH you and your DS piece of mind, and allow him to fully focus on getting great grades- which is what he will need in order to have a chance of acceptance at Med school.
    IF he ends up going on to a graduate program[ not PHD] then you will have the $$ available to help pay for that.

    thats what my DS did 10 years ago, and he never regretted his choice.
  • LurkerDad2LurkerDad2 Registered User Posts: 17 New Member
    edited April 12
    All interesting perspectives. He came back excited about Nova when he visited and spent a couple of days there - same with ND, although I told him to give it a few days and then assess. He doesn't seem to have super strong feelings either way at this point, and I've been waiting for that a-ha moment. He definitely wants to be involved in research and does some already - is really interested in computational biology, but also has an entrepreneurial nature (has 3 games he wrote in the Apple and Google stores). He also wants to be involved in some things on campus and do some service.

    The only "pro" with Brown he's been able to articulate is "It's an Ivy League school"...which looks good on the sticker on the back of the car, but if there's a next destination, that next school matters more. So I think that may be coming quickly off his list.

    I've told him throughout the process - money is a factor, but not the only factor, and most important is that you're comfortable with the environment and the people you meet. One thing I've told him to look at is how the students interact with each other on campus and how they interact with professors and cafeteria staff. He noticed at URoch, there wasn't that much friendly interaction..but it was a Friday morning, and cold as people walked quickly to their classes. He noticed it much stronger and friendlier at ND and Nova.

    @northwesty - he'd be in the Honors Program at Villanova which has some perks. And yes, I've started to talk with him about the perks of that and being one of the handful at Nova with that type of scholarship versus being in the masses at the other schools.
  • LindagafLindagaf Registered User Posts: 6,911 Senior Member
    Love that you aren't succumbing to prestige-itis.

    Can you comfortably afford paying for ND or Brown? He might not love Brown. Sure it's an Ivy League school, but if he hasn't visited and doesn't plan to, I would be wary. Brown has a very different feel to ND and Villanova. It's the "hip", arty, liberal Ivy. Does that sound like your son? I think Rochester is excellent, but it's quite nerdy and sciencey, but with all kinds of other people too. I am thinking it is probably a bit like Case.

    I personally would not want my kids to be 30 minutes away, much as I love them. It's too close. It might prove distracting. I hear plenty of stories of kids who go home too often when home is near, and then they don't assimiliate well into college life. Being farther away means a kid has to learn to cope.

    In your shoes, I think ND seems like a great choice if you can afford it. Then, Rochester, depending on what he thinks of Case. If he likes Case, that's excellent. Good choices, lucky kid!
  • MagnetronMagnetron Registered User Posts: 2,184 Senior Member
    No matter where he goes, "doubling up with Bio" does not fit well with a CS major unless he is going in with a ton of credits (won't happen at either ND or Brown, don't know about the others). CS, like engineering, has only a few open spots for other coursework. You may want to look into the feasibility of that plan at the different colleges.

    Kind of off topic, but CS education would end up being a large waste of time for someone entering med school. Bio and Chem classes would be an unnecessary burden for someone wanting a CS career. Best of luck to him, and let us know what he chooses.
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