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Pros and Cons of Public Flagship vs Private Colleges

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Replies to: Pros and Cons of Public Flagship vs Private Colleges

  • 1stTimeThruMom1stTimeThruMom 225 replies6 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 231 Junior Member
    @cptofthehouse How is he doing at big OOS? Sounds a bit like my son.
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  • Johnny523Johnny523 99 replies6 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 105 Junior Member
    Even expensive public flagships like CU offer a compelling option than the 70k private’s for families that are in the donut hole. And even full pay high ses.

    Sure if you're looking at 70k with no aid. But I've run the NPC on quite a few privates that start that high, and purely with merit aid, many end up similar to CU for my D21 (3.95 UW). CU and CSU would give her all of 3k in merit aid.

    I know everyone here is aware, but I've heard from so many people off-line who insist their kids (many of whom have excellent stats) will have to go in-state because they can't afford privates or OOS. So it's a trigger for me when I see/hear comments about state schools always being cheaper.
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  • privatebankerprivatebanker 5017 replies64 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 5,081 Senior Member
    Don’t be triggered. It’s not always anything. But for apples to apples. Your in state option is almost always cheaper than oos orivste or oos oubkic. For your solid student from the top end of the middle class ses and upper middle class families.

    Yes oos Publics are not always cheaper. Most times not.

    If you are a scholarship or merit level student. Of course the number and options change.

    Most students who are accomplished but not receiving merit and with no finaid. In state works best. But many aren’t interested.
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 28334 replies56 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 28,390 Senior Member
    @1stTimeThruMom , I’m done! I had one that went to a OOS flagship school but not the last one. None of mine went to PSU though it was on several lists. I’d have preferred my big state u kids to have gone there but did not happen.

    There is a social thing about going to a different state’s public schools in that you won’t see as many familiar faces or have acquaintances in common as the others have. That was the case for the one son. But he loved his school. It was his own pick.
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  • 1stTimeThruMom1stTimeThruMom 225 replies6 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 231 Junior Member
    @cptofthehouse Good for you for being done! Glad to hear your son liked the OOS school!
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  • cypresspatcypresspat 173 replies5 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 178 Junior Member
    Roycroftmom, my now 28 year oldest son went to our state flagship. He and 9 of his frat brothers remained close after school (technology enabled). None of them, including him, still live in our state. Just an anecdote.
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  • cypresspatcypresspat 173 replies5 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 178 Junior Member
    Well, I have read through all of these responses and have been thinking about what i could add. My s20 is a high stats kid and a strong 2 sport athlete who is breaking the record for researching potential schools. I have to give him credit. While we are all busy pushing him to visit schools to see if it ‘feels right,’ he’s reading the recent publications of all of the faculty members to see which schools have the kind of researchers he’d like to learn from. What the heck is THAT? His being all rational and all is really raining on my parade which was counting on his going to a school which will make me feel superior for at least one second to the obnoxious PTO moms at my high school.

    But, seriously, there is a huge emotional component to this for me, despite my making a living as someone who is supposed to never factor emotion into any decision.
    This is my last kid. Despite our benign neglect of his education, he really rocked this high school thing.

    My older kids went straight to their desired state school and were thrilled to be there. So was my checkbook. But THIS guy is different. He has a lot of options. We don’t want to screw this up.

    The fact is, for his intended major, our state flagship IS T20. He researched this thoroughly and gave us a slide presentation on exactly why this university is so highly ranked (just kidding about the slide presentation part). But, sigh, that is where ALL of the strong students go from our high school. Don’t you want to be different? Special? I don’t say this to him, but it is what I think.

    The fact is that, I gotta be honest, I will be really disappointed if he ends up at our state flagship. I will have zero concern for his future. I will have zero concern about his happiness here. Same for his academic prep. He’s my youngest (and favorite child, but don’t tell my other kids). He is only applying to other colleges that are stronger than our flagship in a significant way (and there are not many in that category given his tough filters). If he ends up at our flagship it is because he was not accepted at the others. So while we did cartwheels for our older kids when those acceptances rolled in the door.... this is a different ball game. I just want him to get what he wants. That is really all there is to it.

    He has stated over and over that he is totally fine with the flagship. And I believe him. But I want more than fine for him. I may have a very different attitude if there were other kids after him, or if we couldn’t swing the insane COA of his other potential options. But neither are true. My brain says ‘push the flagship, dummy’ but my heart just can’t.
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  • privatebankerprivatebanker 5017 replies64 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 5,081 Senior Member
    edited May 26
    @homerdog

    I love these stories. They are awesome.
    And totally get it for the most part.

    I just don’t understand why they would be a trigger of some sort. Most, if not all families statistically, cannot afford a 72k sticker price.

    To be positive and supportive of these other schools is simply being kind.

    The advice comes from a place of honesty and reflective of the emotion that Cypress beautifully describes. When that emotion, dislike of the PTO crowd and love of our child collide - really, really bad economic choices are made. Look at the debt stats. It’s staggering.

    So a lot of us, many who do and can pay full freight support or act as flag bearers for flagship honors etc. it’s both kind and honest.

    To me, most threads when the parent or student mentions finances are not an issue - I can’t recall many times as a whole that people pushed the cheaper vs more prestigious option. Unless it’s gatech uc mich or uva types and a specific program.
    edited May 26
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  • homerdoghomerdog 4722 replies87 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 4,809 Senior Member
    edited May 26
    @privatebanker But those of us who choose to spend the money do sometimes get the business for making our choices. I hear a lot of posters say that undergrad is never worth full price privates. Yet, for the record, 50% of families are full pay at most of the elite LACs and private universities.The OP was just asking what makes elite privates worth more than a public and I was trying to explain why our family decided it was worth it.
    edited May 26
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  • privatebankerprivatebanker 5017 replies64 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 5,081 Senior Member
    edited May 26
    @homerdog

    Oh. That isn’t fair. Sorry that happened. Perhaps it’s just someone feeling bad that didn’t have the chance to choose. But still not nice or even realistic.

    FWIW I made the same choice as you and don’t care what others think. Money well spent for us but certainly value top flagships and my daughter better too!

    I went to one and it is the reason we can pay for her. Lol.
    edited May 26
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  • 1NJParent1NJParent 1066 replies27 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,093 Senior Member
    There's no way we can all agree on how much a college education is worth, or how much more an education at college A is worth than at college B. Some people obviously think an education at some colleges are worth millions, but most of us don't. Either we don't have the means, or we aren't rich enough, or we're savvy enough financially. Whatever the case may be, we put a value, our own value, on an education at some college, based on our own circumstances. Some of us have more leeway in valuing the education; some of us have less. And we don't have to justify it to anyone else.
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  • CU123CU123 3310 replies58 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3,368 Senior Member
    Its actually quite easy to determine which to go to. I had two go to the state flagship and one go to a top private, its where each of them wanted to go. They went to the university that fit them best.
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  • twogirlstwogirls 7064 replies7 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 7,071 Senior Member
    edited May 26
    There is no right answer here. There are a lot of variables...and there are many excellent private and public schools. It is up to the student to take advantage of what is offered and to find the right fit...whatever it is.
    edited May 26
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  • homerdoghomerdog 4722 replies87 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 4,809 Senior Member
    Another reason to not choose a public university is impacted majors. For undecided students, it’s impossible to choose a major before attending and then stick with it. I’ve heard that, for the UCs especially, it’s hard to change majors and still finish in four years. And sometimes one just flat out cannot switch. At many private universities and LACs, one doesn’t have to declare a major until end of sophomore year.
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  • twogirlstwogirls 7064 replies7 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 7,071 Senior Member
    edited May 27
    @homerdog I know how hard you worked to find the right school for your son, and I know how you struggled with the cost (it’s a lot of money). I would never look down upon you because you can send him to any school in the country. That’s horrible- everybody has a different situation. We worked just as hard to find schools and were able to spend what I consider to be a lot of money..but five years ago when she was applying to schools ...we just could not swing $70,000+ a year (65,000+ back then) without stressing my husband out big time. My D will be off to grad school in the next few years.....she still has money left in her 529. That makes all of us incredibly happy.

    I think my “trigger” is the subtle (sometimes not so subtle) bashing of state schools. Some are great, others are not. Same goes for private schools. My daughter graduated at the very top of her HS class. She had no problem fitting in academically at her school. She also had no problem finding a peer group.

    @homerdog I wish your son the best...I really do. He clearly picked the right school for him and I hope you fill us in on his experience. Best of luck!
    edited May 27
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  • lucy_van_peltlucy_van_pelt 232 replies12 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 244 Junior Member
    @homerdog impacted majors....

    I see the other side of this coin.... what happens if you are at a small private that doesn’t offer the major you’ve discovered is the right one for you? You either cobble something together or transfer. Neither are ideal situations.

    Just like every private is different - every public is different with regards to majors and colleges and when you get into that major.

    And my kids’ school send 40-50 kids to our state flagship. My kid rarely sees them unless she really tries. So many kids won’t even consider a large public “because they want something different” or are “too smart for state U”...

    I know a local kid who wants a specific science research and only applied small privates. He would have been better served (in his field) looking at large research universities and getting tied into research early. But he didn’t even look because he was too smart for them. Ironically, he didn’t get into his top 7 private choices. Oh yeah, full pay at $60k/year for a top75 school. State public? $30k/year for a top20 in that field. But “he was too smart”.

    We don’t always make rational decisions.
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  • twogirlstwogirls 7064 replies7 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 7,071 Senior Member
    edited May 27
    My daughter declared a major at the end of sophomore year...and then she changed it. None of this was ever a problem. Every school is different.

    I think you could be “nurtured” at big schools as well as small schools. My daughter’s prof kept a close eye on her during her entire first year. D joined an organization on campus who also looked out for one another and these kids became her best friends. D received more personalized attention than her sister, who attended a school with 5,000 kids ( she wanted a smaller school). Is this a function of the school....the student...a little of both?



    edited May 27
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