Difficult college decision!

Hey everyone!

I’ve been put in the unfortunately lucky position of choosing between some great colleges. I really have no clue where to go and I have about 10 days to decide so I’m getting a little nervous. My options are Yale, Duke, UVA, and Washington and Lee.

Yale has been my been my dream school ever since I remember. I believe this would be the best fit for me socially and academically; the only issue is that we’d have to take out loans of about $10k/yr (my parents have yet to give me the final number, but this is the estimate). We are currently appealing as Duke unbelievably gave us more aid than Yale. I’m going to Bulldog Days next week FWIW.

Duke- Not as expensive as Yale but not as cheap as UVA. I like the school and would be fine if I had to go there, but I just can’t seem to let go of Yale. I did go to Blue Devil Days and really enjoyed it.

UVA- I’m from Virginia so it’s much cheaper since I’m in-state, in addition, I received a full tuition scholarship, so the COA is about $12k (in addition, I’m in the running for a scholarship that will cover the rest of the COA). I’m also CSS and an Echols Scholar, so if I went I would have many opportunities and resources at my disposal. However, I’m mainly concerned that it’s a state school and has to obey rules set by the Virginia government; also, I know it has a worldwide reputation but the prestige at some of my other options is hard to ignore.

W&L- I received the Johnson Scholarship (a full ride and benefits) but I really don’t like the anything about the school: the composition student body, the location, the academic offerings, etc. I guess I’m looking for someone to affirm that turning down this school is the right decision. I want to have a good college experience and be happy, and I feel that this could not happen at W&L, nevertheless I find it very difficult to turn down such a large amount of money.

Financial Situation/Career Goals: The main dilemma is that I want to go to medical school so it would make sense to keep undergraduate costs low and choose UVA. However, I’m not completely set on medical school and I’m also interested in business and policy so what if I end up in a career where a name brand college is much more important than it is in medicine? Also in a lot of instances, 2 years for an MBA is a lot cheaper than 4 years of medical school so undergraduate debt wouldn’t matter to the same extent (I think, I could be wrong on this). I think if I chose not to do medicine, Yale and to an extent, Duke, could help me with providing prestige and other academic pathways whereas UVA wouldn’t (to the same degree that Duke and Yale could). If I were to do medicine and still go to Yale, I read a statistic that said you shouldn’t take out loans that exceed your estimated entry-level salary and the average medical school resident makes $40k/yr, so the loans should be doable.

Final thoughts: In my mind, Yale > Duke > UVA, but I know that my emotions don’t really matter in this decision as much as I would like them to matter. I’m not sure if I would sacrifice my chances of going to medical school just to go to Yale but I know that last year I was 100% set on becoming a doctor, and now I’m about 85% sure that I want to be pre-med. There’s always a chance that I could have a further change of heart in college or get weeded out by the difficult courses, so I don’t want to make my undergraduate decision with that being the number one priority, maybe the fourth priority.

Thanks for all your help and for reading through this entire post!

PS. I also have more reasons to choose one college over another–I’ve thought about this for a long time–but I just didn’t list all of them.

You wrote that Yale would be the best fit for you socially and academically. I think that should answer your question. Is there is any way that you can bring that loan amount down with working during the summers and maybe even on breaks? All the schools that you were accepted to have prestige and can open doors for you, but you had a dream and the dream became a reality. Do your parents think Yale is doable?

It sounds like your clear favorite is Yale. Very few people get to make their dream come true and have it cost 10K (in loans), which could be further reduced.
Would 10K be for all 4 years? Per year? Taken on by you (5.5K I assume) and your parents (4.5K)?

Well for sure take W and L off the list since you simply do not care for it and UVA, which you like, is affordable and provides with lots of opportunities with the two exceptional scholars programs you are in. I’d keep UVA on the table if you find that it comes down to money and let W and L go. Trust me, someone will be glad to get that scholarship when you decline it, so don’t feel badly. Things work out for a reason.

You and your parents then have to decide if Yale is worth it for the loans. It seems that, as you posted, Yale trumps Duke. So I think it will come down to UVA vs. Yale in the end. What wins money or fit?

Yale or UVA

@citymama9 I will actually already have a work study as anybody on financial aid has a mandatory student contribution at Yale.

Sorry for the confusion, @MYOS1634 the final price would be around $38k, but we’d have to pay about $10k in loans–my family could pay for the rest.

Thanks for all the help everyone!

You have some wonderful options - congratulations!

Take W&L off the table for sure. Let someone who truly wants W&L have that scholarship.

Going against my usual sentiments about college debt, but for $10K total debt - I’m picking Yale. That is one of the few schools where it’s worth it to go out on a limb a little. In the big scheme of things $10K for Yale is manageable.

The only concern I would have would be maximizing my GPA for medical school. Won’t that be tough at Yale? Then again it’s going to be tough at Duke, too.

Yale gets my vote in light of your personal preferences, especially if your upcoming visit goes well.

@SouthFloridaMom9 Thanks for your advice! It would actually have to be around $10k per year, not total–but I’m waiting for a final number from my parents. It could range anywhere from $5k per year- $15k per year.

As for maximizing my GPA for medical school, from what I’ve researched I feel like it would be easier at Yale than at Duke or UVA, but feel free to add anything you’ve heard. And I’ll definitely come back with my thoughts after my visit!

Quality of students at Yale will be the best of the best making it tough to stay above the grade curve, but the grade inflation at Yale is huge. Since you’ll be much happier their you’ll probably focus better. I say go to Yale

It will all work out for the best OP!

You are obviously smart and will make the best choice for you.

I lean UVA because of future cost of Med School, easier to smoke the grades there, and the Echols Scholars program is terrific. Remember, you are looking at a least a quarter of a million dollars for Med School, which will be added to whatever debt you carry over from undergrad.

But you have no bad choices here at all. Congratulations on your wonderful success.

Good luck!

Grade inflation at Yale (basically all grades in the B + to A range, a couple B 's but it rarely dips below that) makes it very easy to keep a med school worthy GPA so this shouldn’t be a worry.


So, you and your family would have to take out anywhere between $20,000 and $60,000 in loans to attend Yale? I think that the amount here really does make a difference. If it’s $50,000 or so, that is a lot of money to owe. If you then graft potential medical school loans on top of that, the amount would be very very large.

Up to 30k is okay. Above that, not so much.

Hey, already posted about this in the Duke forum, but I saw here you were interested in maxing your GPA out for med school and had some concerns about pre-med at Duke. Pre-med courses are certainly hard, as they would be at any other top school, but I wouldn’t say that it is ridiculously hard to get a good GPA to get into a top med school. Certainly the Orgos of the world are hard, but electives and non-major classes can be pretty easy As if you do some research.

I would definitely say Yale but find a full time job for this summer and work your butt off to make as much as possible to help pay. After this summer Yale will be able to help you find paying internships more than Duke or UVA will because they work really hard at those connections. But even with an internship you may also be able to work some part-time in the evenings and on weekends to help pay for your expenses over each summer.

If you want to go to medical school, save your money, do well in undergrad, and then get into the best medical school you can, and then the best residency your can. If you are a physician, nobody will care that you went to Yale and you will be more in debt.

When I was at Bulldog Days, we went to the financial aid office and asked for another review and it’s now around the same price as Duke. So with that, I think I’m going to Yale!


Congratulations OP! Hope you’ll chime in here next year and let us know how it’s going.