Boston College vs Berkeley vs Haverford


My son has asked my advice and I don’t feel competent to give it. He has been admitted to the following programs:

Boston College Human Centered Engineering. It is a class of about 50 students. Last year was the inagural class with 27 enrolled students so he will be in the second graduation class. This program truly fits his personality and he really liked the campus when he visited. He is slightly nervous that the school might fail to acquire their ABET accreditation, but we think that scenario is unlikely as they just spent $150 million dollars on the new buiding as part of their $300 million commitment to the sciences.

UC Berkeley Aerospace Engineering. This is Cal’s inagural class for Aerospace Engineering majors. He is 1 of about 40 students admitted to the program. This program comes with the benefits of the Berkeley reputation and it’s collaboration with NASA. He is feeling pulled by this because he was the kid who always said he wanted to work for NASA but lost touch with it when his robotics team was defunded by the school district and began pouring himself into the humanities, which is what led him to the BC HCE program. (He will be able to avoid the first 2 years of GE requirements as he will be able to transfer all his lower division coursework from his Dual Credit coursework.) He would double major at Cal in Political Science because he’ll have the benefit of being general ed complete.

Haverford College Physics major. He applied here because he loves the small school feel, something neither BC or Cal will provide, but possible with the small size of the programs 50 and 40 students, the smaller feel will still exist. He is would pursue either the 4+1 program with Penn which would be Bachelors in Physics and Masters in Mechanical Engineering in a fast track program-earing double credit for classes taken at Penn during his undergrad, or he would pursue the 3+2 program with Cal Tech earining him a Bachelors in Physics at Haverford and a Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering at Cal Tech (Both these programs are by application, so not a guarantee. He would finish his Physics degree at Haverford if he did not get one of these other programs and then apply independently to MA or PhD programs.)

Boston College HCE will be equal in cost to UC Berkeley. BC and Berkeley will be double the cost of Haverford though both are manageable for us. He is thinking into the future and wants to select the program that will set him up for the best future. I am pushing him to think about the overall college experience because I see these 4 years as a time for an amazing experience being the most important deciding factor.

Perhaps you yourself are navigating between choosing between these schools? If so, how are you making the decision? Please share your experience and/or outcomes with these programs. Perhaps you have advice from the viewpoint of a professional in the engineering field and can say that he would or wouldn’t have a significant advantage based on the program he chooses??

Thanks in advance for all responses!

what’s his endgame? What does he want?

I mean, Haverford at half price - is a no brainer - unless he wants to be, for example, an aerospace engineer. It’s possible with physics but not probable.

So Haverford is mid-30s??

That’s a steal…Haverford only does need aid…so i wonder why it’s so different than BC which also meets need.

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Deleted - misread

What major does he really want to do?

Be aware that 4+1 or 3+2 programs involve an extra year of costs as well as financial aid uncertainty at the second school. This could somewhat counteract the lower cost of Haverford.

Because Haverford defines “need” more favorably for the OP than BC does?

End game is a contrast. He loves Robotics. Was his FRC team captain for 2 years as well master CAD, Design Lead, Strategy Lead, mill trainer, and Community Outreach lead. He would love to do design. He is his happiest when working in the workshop, so immediate goals is to work in Aerospace or Autonomous Robotics. Dream would be NASA or SpaceX.

Working in low income districts to inspire and connect kids to robotics along with fighting and speaking on behalf of STEM at his school board meetings because they defunded the only program in the district pushed him into Poli Sci.

Given these… He wants to work in robotics, but also wants to do outreach and work in the community to promote Robotics programs. He wants to have an established career in Engineering, followed or eventually mirrored with a political position that will have a positive impact on bringing socioeconomically disadvantaged students access to programs that promote STEM.

He is a planner.

I think Haverford meets demonstrated need without Loans and the other two meet need including loans.

As someone in the BC human centered engineering program, I would say to avoid it if you really have an interest in becoming an engineer. I think the program will be great in a few years, just very disorganized right now. About 1/2-1/3 of the class is looking to transfer out of it currently.

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The OP would have had to make a decision before now.

That’s sad but good information

I think this is the usual case with all new programs.

Thank you for your honest feedback. Haverford was the final decision! The new program at BC along with the uncertainty and how nonchalant the director was about the importance (or lack of importance) to get ABET was just too much to overlook. Berkeley sounded amazing and had all the things, except the feel of home and small size, so Haverford turned out to be best. It is an amazing campus, the size and environment is everything my son wanted! He can still go into engineering with a degree in Physics and pursue the 4+1 or 3+2 program of he still wants to do that in two years. Glad to have the decision made.