Does which undergraduate school you attend really matter...?

<p>Or, to clarify things more: Is the education generally the same at every undergraduate program?</p>

<p>The reason I ask is because my parents insist I either go to a state school or a school where I have family living nearby. Even though I am only a high school sophomore, this has angered me a lot lately. My dream school is MIT, and from what I've heard, it's everything I would ever want in a school. The University of Colorado at Boulder is my backup with an extremely strong physics program (my prospective major). All of my immediate family lives in Florida, which is also my home state. UF is a good school and everything, but I desperately want to aim higher than that. My parents don't support my aspirations. My mother dismisses my ambitions as flat-out "unrealistic" and even told (yelled) me this afternoon that "You don't have a choice." (She claims that she never even had these chances when she was a teenager, but that comes off as a bit hypocritical...) My father, while more sympathetic, says the family can't pay for out-of-state tuition, and even if I get a scholarship, the economy is in the gutter right now and I wouldn't be able to land a grant for living expenses. Both of them say undergraduate education is the same everywhere. I guess a big part of their sentiment has to do with the fact that I am a small girl with mild cerebral palsy, and it's understandable that they would be worried for my safety from outside threats and self-caused accidents. Boston is too big and Colorado is too far away. They wouldn't be able to move there because it's too expensive. Basically, I'm screwed.</p>

<p>So ... does it matter at all where I go for undergrad? I feel kind of dejected right now, but if undergrad education really is the same everywhere, then I can feel okay about ignoring my idealism and listening to practicality.</p>

<p>To say it's the same everywhere would definitely be wrong. Different colleges have vastly different experiences. At the same time, though, the people that constantly espouse certain colleges as flat out <em>better</em> are usually blowing hot air. The most important thing is that you find a college that you like that challenges you enough and gives you the resources you're looking for. If you want a college with lots of 1 on 1 interaction and small class sizes, you'd benefit from looking at LACs, whereas if you want a larger school with more resources and opportunities, you might want to look at larger state schools. The school that really fits you might be close by or it might not be. Just don't get too wrapped up in the prestige thing. Look at colleges in terms of what they offer and what you honestly want out of college. Fit is more important than ranking.</p>

<p>That said, if their concern is money, you should apply to <em>lots</em> of schools. Financial aid offers vary dramatically, and you can compare the different offers you get and pick the cheapest one. If your family income is low, the cheapest choices would probably be schools that meet full need, which tend to be high tier institutions and could be very far away. If your family is in that awkward gap where your EFC is higher than what you can actually afford, you might need to attend a lower tier school where you can get merit money, but without knowing your stats, I can't say whether you'd qualify for merit aid.</p>

<p>And you might want to remind your parents that their concern about out of state tuition only applies to public universities. There are plenty of private institutions that would serve you well. Furthermore, the idea of scholarship not covering living expenses is ridiculous. This is simply a matter of the scholarship NOT meeting your need, since room, board, books, travel, and other various expenses are all calculated into your need. If you got a full scholarship, it would cover these things. His concern about the economy is somewhat valid, but there's still plenty of money out there for kids who do the research, cast a wide net, and/or have high stats. I can say from personal experience that I got a MUCH better deal for college by going far, far away from home than I would've gotten attending a local university.</p>

<p>The household income varies, because both parents are self-employed, but it's around 60K a year. I don't know if that's considered low-income or not...
What you say makes sense, but my parents want to stay nearby because as a physically disabled female they are worried for my safety far away from home. I don't know how I would be able to convince them to let me go out-of-state even if it was both fiscally and academically advantageous.</p>

<p>^Well of course I can't comment on that. You, your family, and your physician are the ones who can make a choice regarding your disability. I addressed the other concerns you had.</p>

<p>That said, there are disabled students at my school (and a large proportion of Grinnellians come from out of state), so I don't think you should write it off as impossible to leave the state. There are plenty of schools that spend large amounts of money making sure their buildings are wheelchair accessible and their staff are trained to handle students with special needs. Besides that, are you planning to rely on your parents for the rest of your life? College is often the first step towards independence 18-year olds make.</p>

<p>^ Definitely not planning to rely on them. Personally I think them overprotective... and if I find suitable accommodations I should be fine.</p>

<p>I am a freshman at the University of Colorado and an in-state resident. I chose CU over Grinnell, Whitman, Denison, Lawrence, Kenyon, and Bates because it was so much cheaper for me to attend in-state. In the end, although I REALLY wanted to attend a small liberal arts college, they offer so many more resources than all of the other schools on my list for my major. </p>

<p>The week before national acceptance day I appealed to Grinnell to reconsider their decision not to give me any money. They did and still said "no" so I said "no." The cost just for tuition, room and board was just over $49K/yr and while it was the second cheapest of the private schools I considered there was no way I could go there notwithstading my parents' combined income being around $215K/yr. I would think w/ a combined income of $60K you should get some very attractive aid offers so, I too, suggest you apply to some good private schools if you're interested. Many top schools will meet 100% of your need so it might be really cheap in the long run. I have a friend who is attending Brown this year for $8,000.</p>

<p>However, as for CU and out-of-state tuition, it is my impression that they generall won't offer even excellent out of state students tuitio and fees that are less than an in-state student. Full freight for out of state is over $42K/year though.</p>

<p>Good luck.</p>