Clark vs Allegheny

I just got into both schools via EA and EA II. I’m still waiting on other schools RD, but I’ve had a lot of questions about these schools (and they both gave a good amount of merit), so I wanted to create this thread.

17K annual, 68K total. Total Cost: 47K/year.

Solid location, Worcester is a little rough. But I like Mass, and I like to ski/bike/hike, so it’s not a bad location.

Academically, I like their Geography program. It’s one of the strongest in the nation, and it’s a field I would like to study. I also like the prospect of doing a reduced-tuition accelerated masters degree.

On a side note, I think their architecture is neat.

36K yearly, 144K total. Total Cost: 31K/year.
Great location for outdoorsy activities, although it’s a little flat, and also pretty isolated—both physically and socially.

Academically, I’d probably study the environmental geosciences. A slight downgrade from Geography, since that’s my first choice, but Env. Geo is not a bad choice. I will say that I’m worried about that thesis—even though I do talk about attending graduate school.

I’m also a little worried about the distance from home (Allegheny is 8 hours, Clark is 2).

I am curious though…if I choose to attend Clark, could I possibly appeal and mention the aid I earned at Allegheny? I earned a respectable scholarship at Clark, but I earned Allegheny’s highest-level scholarship (granted, it’s not full tuition, so I’m sure they hand out a good amount of them every year—but it’s still very large, and I’d assume quite respectable to a certain degree).

It is worth mentioning that I could afford these schools with much less of a scholarship then they gave me. I can attend Clark without worrying about about more then 20K of debt. But Allegheny would be debt-free.

For reference, here are a few other schools that I’m waiting to hear back from: UCONN, Syracuse, Dickinson, Gettysburg, Bates, etc. Does “brand name” really matter that much, or will a Clark/Allegheny degree be plenty respected?


My S19 was between Gettysburg and Allegheny. If he went to Allegheny, no loans, but Gettysburg about 20k in loans. He picked Gettysburg.
First, he felt Allegheny was very isolated - the town very small and really far from anywhere. For us it was like a 6 hour drive - Gettysburg 2hr.
He did the overnight and just wasn’t feeling the vibe. For him, the loans was worth going to Gettysburg - the campus, the awesome town and he felt the school was better academically.
He did get merit from Gettysburg and we did try to get a bump, but it didn’t work for us. However, I would definitely go to Clark with your Allegheny offer.

1 Like

I think Clark is well-respected. I know one person who got a Master’s degree from Harvard after graduating from Clark and a film student who had an internship with Ken Burns during her time at Clark.


Both schools are known and respected in their region. Neither is particularly well known outside it. I mention this only because you’re unlikely to find a ton of people who know both well.

If you thought you might want to end up in the Pittsburgh area, you might feel differently than if you’re a New Englander.

If you can do an accepted student day at both, particularly with an overnight, it might become very clear to you. From the students I know who have attended these schools, they don’t have the same vibe, and this is partly the regional influence.

With that said, 2 very good options!


We loved loved loved Allegheny! It was a serious contender until the end. D also accepted at Gettysburg and Dickinson but Gettysburg was always at the bottom of her list. Personally i don’t think Clark is worth the extra, but you could try getting more from them. Distance did factor in (we are in CT) but it wasn’t a deal breaker. They are very strong in ES, but if you really want Geography, Clark might be better option.

1 Like

I’m pretty sure you can do a geography-heavy program at Allegheny if you want to. They seem to have a robust GIS laboratory, for example. You can definitely ask Clark if they’re willing to match, or come closer to matching, the offer you got from Allegheny; they may or may not budge but it doesn’t hurt to ask. Either school could work well for you, though. I don’t think you should be swayed by intimidation over the thesis; that would actually be your opportunity to do a meaningful, resume-building project in your area of greatest interest, and you’ll get lots of support.

The other schools on your list are very good too, but I don’t know that those “brand names” are worth debt if you can graduate debt-free from Allegheny or possibly Clark. Save the money for grad school, IMHO. Congrats on some nice offers!


I have seen instances where families were able to increase a school’s offer by playing one school off against another. It might or might not work, but it’s worth a try.

I’m wondering what the post College plan is for a degree in Geography? Just asking, and do have a friend who was a geography major. He got his PhD and taught college. Just wondering what your thoughts are.

1 Like

A thing about doing a thesis… Many kids do theirs on something that interests them and is related to jobs they maybe seeking. It really helps in interviews to be able to talk about that. The student demonstrates confidence and competence and the prospective employer gets to see that the student really likes the field.

Of course, the timing or topic may not lend itself to this but wanted to let you know that it sometimes has value beyond academics.


If you prefer Clark, sure, see if they will swing a little more money. Tell that you will attend if they will offer more, if that is true. Remember though that the Allegheny scholarship is bigger in large part due it being a harder sell for a lot of students. Clark has a better location, most would argue. It’s a good school with a good reputation. We thought students were friendly and genuine.

A thesis can be a nice boost to your resume. My D attended Bates and had to do a senior thesis. She’s now working full time, but I can tell you that her thesis has absolutely been an asset to her resume. It’s a big project which will take considerable time and require a lot of research and feedback from mentors. It’s a project that, if you do a good job, can be a selling point. So don’t decide against Allegheny for that reason.

1 Like

The area around Clark is pretty dicey. (I have a friend who lives there.)Clark uses it as an asset by promoting community service. But it is a turnoff for a number of applicants, so they too are motivated to provide inducements for applicants they want.

Of course they are motivated to provide enticements. They have good merit aid packages. In terms of opportunities to be involved and easier access to potential jobs and internships, Clark is a stronger option. Worcester has a train right to Boston, plus WPI and Holy Cross are there. The area around Clark isn’t great, but it’s not necessarily dangerous. This student can read the Clery Report for both schools to get a better sense of safety.

I think Allegheny is a good school too. It’s really a case of where this student sees themselves thriving.

1 Like

My understanding is that geography is one of Clark’s true stand-out departments. If that is what you want to study, it’s as good as any name in the field.

My daughter really liked the Clark campus, and even though the neighborhood was mixed, she liked the walkability to take-out food options like poke, Vietnamese. She would have applied, but they ultimately didn’t have the degree program she wanted.

I know nothing about Allegheny.

1 Like

Oh–and I think the 5th-year master’s program at Clark is tuition-free (at least that 5th year is), not reduced tuition. So that can offset some of the increased tuition at the undergrad level. If you are looking to get a PhD eventually, you may have more options applying for a PhD with a master’s in hand (which are harder to get funding for) than applying for direct-admit/funded PhD programs with only a bachelor’s in hand.


No argument here. I was just trying to encourage the family to appeal the scholarship award by pointing out that Allegheny isn’t the only college to have issues with their location. I am familiar with the area around Clark.

1 Like

@Lindagaf @gardenstategal @aquapt @Bill_Marsh @Leigh22 @Mom270 @taverngirl @ArtMom22

Thanks for the contributions!

I’m leaning towards Clark right now, even though it would cost a bit more. With that being said, I think Clark—if it was truly my first choice in the end—might be willing to hand over a little more (even if it’s just an extra 2-3K a year).

Yes, I would probably go for the Master’s. And then depending on what I was interested in (and what skills I had), I would probably go into academia (PhD), industry (Real Estate/Development/GIS Tech/Remote Sensing), or Government (Planning or Policy Administration).

IF I pursue the free graduate work at Clark, the ROI jumps. However, Payscale statistics show that Clark graduates generally make a bit more than Allegheny graduates—not a major difference, but I think a Clark degree will be better known among Boston/Providence/Hartford/New York firms, whereas Allegheny has the Pittsburgh/Cleveland/Cincinnati/Columbus firms.

In short, I think a Clark degree would put me in solid competition with bigger “brand names.” In the very least, employers would respect it.

…lots to think about. Like I said, I’m still waiting on other schools. Oh, and UCONN would be 35K (instate).


You sound clear-headed, OP!

2 considerations:

  1. If you do want to continue past a bachelor’s degree, doing a thesis - at any school - could help you prepare, position, etc.

  2. Difference in wages has many roots. Majors offered and pursued (pharmacists and electrical engineers make more than teachers.) Geography and costs-- a job in NYC will pay more than the same job in Portland, Maine.

Just mentioning that if either of these things play major roles in your decision.


Thank you!

  1. I will definitely consider the thesis as a positive, even if it looks a little daunting. I think that Clark also requires a Capstone Thesis/Research Thesis—definitely for honors students, but I think for every student.

*Clark does not require students to be in honors to pursue most of the Fifth-Year Masters, but they give preference in some cases.

  1. Agreed—which is why I’m leaning towards Clark. Even if I end up moving to another part of the country later on in my life, establishing connections in the Northeastern Corridor (no matter what career) could help set up a meaningful (and hopefully prosperous) career.
1 Like

Definitely try appealing the financial aid offer if Clark is your first choice. I don’t know about using the Allegheny offer to get Clark to give you a better offer. I’ve heard that it’s done, but not necessarily the only way to approach this. Here are my suggestions (I have appealed FA successfully several times.)

  1. Call the FA office. Speak to your FA officer. If that name is not on your FA letter, ask who it is.
  2. Be polite and ask what their procedure is for appeals. Some schools just consider the conversation the appeal. Most want an email request. Some have specific forms.
  3. If you email, be concise, appreciative of their generosity, and state anything specifically that makes this difficult financially. Tell them you really want to go there and are really trying to make it work, but you are wondering if they can help out a little more.

When I called my son’s school the FA officer mentioned Covid and asked if that had impacted our finances at all. It had, but honestly I wouldn’t have thought to mention it if he hadn’t said that.

Good luck!


I forgot to add–if you are appealing merit aid, that is generally done through the admissions office, while need based add goes through the financial aid office. Of course, just ask as it may be different there.

1 Like