right arrow
GUEST STUDENT OF THE WEEK: ak2018 is a rising junior at Virginia Tech having transferred from George Mason University. He'll answer any question, including about his studies abroad or his research at NASA. ASK HIM ANYTHING!
Make sure to check out our July Checklists for HS Juniors and HS Seniors. Consult these quick resources to get you started on the process this month.
As we work to adjust to the current reality, make sure to check out these dedicated COVID-19 resources: our directory of virtual campus tours, our directory of extended deadlines, as well as the list of schools going test optional this fall.

Are Liberal Arts Colleges worth $200,000 more than flagship state schools?

CamasiteCamasite 199 replies7 threads Junior Member
edited June 29 in Parents Forum
I have a rising HS senior (4.0 GPA, 1400 SAT first try, no study) who is just starting to sort out college options. We live in the Vancouver WA area (Portland suburb) and are mostly looking at Pacific Northwest schools and *maybe* California. Our spring break college visit road trip to CA ran afoul of the Coronavirus. Her favorite school so far is my alma matter Reed College, across the river from us. The Net Price Calculators suggest we will get zero from Reed (they only offer need-based aid) and our EFC is probably in the $90k+ range so we'll get zero need-based aid from anywhere.

Second choice is UW in Seattle. The price difference is about $50,000/year. I'm guessing she is a likely admit to UW, Reed might be a bit iffy. The other regional liberal arts schools like Lewis & Clark or University of Puget Sound are likely admits. We haven't yet visited Whitman. We were going to visit some of the CA privates and still might this summer. Like Santa Clara, Claremonts,, Loyola, USF, etc.

I'd love to see her go to Reed. But wow, $200,000 is a big price differential and we have a younger child 3 years behind her. She is likely going to be interested in some sort of bio/med research. She is especially interested in genetics. I expect she'll probably wind up doing biomed research in academia or industry. Or wind up in some sort of biomed lab job. She also wants to stay in the Northwest for careers which almost certainly means Portland or Seattle metro.

I'm coming around to the notion that just attending the UW in Seattle might be her best option all around. I'm guessing that no employer anywhere in the Seattle or Portland area is ever going to question her credentials with a UW degree. And she is likely bound for grad school anyway. Probably UW also, but who knows.

Anyone here want to convince me that a small liberal arts experience is worth an extra $200,000 over a flagship state school for someone likely grad school bound in a biomed or STEM field who wants to stay in this region? Because I don't see it.
edited June 29
121 replies
Post edited by CCAdmin_Vic on
· Reply · Share

Replies to: Are Liberal Arts Colleges worth $200,000 more than flagship state schools?

  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 10211 replies119 threads Senior Member
    You will be preaching to the choir here. For a grad school bound kid, save the money. Especially when you have a solid option in your state flagships.

    If a small LAC is truly important, she can try to chase merit if she can get her SAT score up, and is willing to look outside your region. There are plenty of Midwest LACs that give merit.
    · Reply · Share
  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 7391 replies34 threads Senior Member
    Simply no. Especially with kid 2 coming.
    · Reply · Share
  • Groundwork2022Groundwork2022 3449 replies78 threads Senior Member
    UW is a fantastic school. Save the $200K for grad school.

    If she strongly prefers LACs, she can look further afield in hopes of getting scholarships.
    · Reply · Share
  • bluebayoubluebayou 28013 replies206 threads Senior Member
    if she likes a smaller community, look to privates that offer merit money. UPS should offer her a merit scholly, for example. I believe that the Claremont's are need-based aid, however.

    Absent that, U-Dub is fantastic for instate.
    · Reply · Share
  • AlwaysLearnAlwaysLearn 460 replies17 threads Member
    I concur with you and everyone else who has replied.
    · Reply · Share
  • rickle1rickle1 2607 replies21 threads Senior Member
    As someone upstream mentioned, "worth" is relative. Two different scenarios:

    1. Is Reed worth an extra 200k? That's a value question and the answer depends on your values - literally how you value things. What you think things are worth. How you feel about them. I may value our property being on conservation with lots of privacy more than others. The comps don't show it's worth more, but it's worth more to me and that's what matters if I'm paying for it. Unfortunately many on CC misinterpret the word "value" and align it with a moral code, ethics, belief system, etc.

    2. Your financial situation. If the resources are there to pay for it in a way where your'e comfortable is quite different than going through hardship to make that happen. Then it becomes more about the value of what you would have done with the funds, not necessarily so much about the school. As in, "I can afford it. We'll be fine either way. This likely would have been part of an inheritance later anyway..."

    Some will take the approach of "Just because you can doesn't mean you should", while others will say, "I can so I will".

    No one can answer these questions for you. It's about how you value things.
    · Reply · Share
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 83480 replies741 threads Senior Member
    I think that the cost of education in the US is getting ridiculous.

    As long as there are enough very wealthy parents who can pay high list prices easily, colleges will want to collect as much revenue from them as they can.
    · Reply · Share
  • rickle1rickle1 2607 replies21 threads Senior Member
    @twotoschool I will comment on your thread so as not to hijack this one, but suffice it to say, if you can, you have choices. If you can't you don't. Assuming you have choices, up to you to decide what matters. Will be quite different for everyone.
    · Reply · Share
  • UWfromCAUWfromCA 1336 replies54 threads Senior Member
    For this particular student, keep in mind that the University of Washington is one of the world’s leading centers for biomedical research, especially in genetics. It also has a robust undergraduate research program.




    She should also consider applying to the Honors Program:

    “The UW Honors Program invites students to deepen their undergraduate education within an enriching academic community. We welcome a diverse population of students to explore diverse perspectives through a rigorous interdisciplinary curriculum that promotes innovative thinking, critical reflection, and conscious global citizenship. Students become expansive critical thinkers by drawing from the sciences, arts, and humanities to develop their own identity as leaders who bridge disciplines. Bringing selected faculty into close contact with dedicated students in small general education classes allows the Honors Program to combine the intimacy of an interdisciplinary liberal arts college with the strengths of a top public research university.”



    2019 Incoming Freshmen (middle 50%):

    High school Unweighted GPA: 3.87-3.99
    SAT: 1380-1530
    ACT: 32-35

    Good luck!
    · Reply · Share
  • rickle1rickle1 2607 replies21 threads Senior Member
    It's not just about LACs and "hand holding". I'm sure some benefit from that. It's more about where will you thrive. Sometimes at smaller schools, it's easier to find your voice and make a difference vs. the herd mentality. You still have to engage, seek things out, etc but the environment might give you more confidence to excel.
    · Reply · Share
  • politepersonpoliteperson 631 replies4 threads Member
    edited April 25
    UW is a great school for bio research and Seattle has a ton of opportunities for genetics research and internshipS. Personally I’d choose it over Reed at the same cost based on the academic experience. You might also check out some of the WUE schools as backups, and take a look at UBC, which is becoming more popular with PNW families.
    edited April 25
    · Reply · Share
  • theloniusmonktheloniusmonk 2990 replies5 threads Senior Member
    "Some kids NEED to have their "hands held."

    What - we were told that LACs don't hold hands?

    "Because I don't see it."

    I don't either, and since you went to Reed and you also don't see it, it's a pretty good indication that UW is the better choice, until at least you see Claremont, Pomona et al. that hopefully you'll be able to down the road.
    · Reply · Share
Sign In or Register to comment.

Recent Activity