Georgia Tech vs Duke for Biomedical Engineering

I’ve read quite a bit of threads on the comparison of the BME program for these schools but am unsure of how to proceed. Duke has been my dream school for a while, but with little financial aid, I will need to take out approximately 80-120k in student loans. On the other hand, I receive in-state tuition for Georgia Tech and my parents will cover that, allowing me to graduate debt free. I am struggling to decide between these two schools, and have spoken with many people, each of whom have had different perspectives as to what to do. There are common points that seem to be brought up in these discussions, and I was wondering if anyone could comment on the merit of these points as well as help guide me towards a potential decision. For reference, I am currently interested in pursuing a PhD, but may also steer towards graduating after undergrad with a focus in engineering and business to pursue a diverse range of jobs.

  1. Many people often speak about the alumni network in terms of job placement. Exactly how important is this network in obtaining jobs relative to the common method of searching and applying for them? Is Duke’s alumni network significantly greater and more diverse than that of Georgia Tech? I am also aware of GaTech’s excellent on-campus hiring but was curious to see how Duke compares, specifically with regards to biomedical engineering.

  2. Seeing as how I would need to take out 80-120k in student loans if I go to Duke, would the job placement (assuming a dual major/focus in engineering and business) provide a sufficient return on investment and higher salary compared to if I went to Georgia Tech? If I decided to pursue a PhD after, how difficult would it be to pay off the student loans following the PhD (assuming a job in academia or private pharma/biotech companies)? Also, just as a general question, how difficult is it to pay off student loans of that magnitude?

  3. How important is the undergraduate institution towards placement in a top graduate program? If at all, what factors of that undergraduate institution, besides just ranking, result in this placement? I ask this after noticing that top PhD programs at Harvard, Stanford, etc. often accept a majority of students who have attended highly ranked undergraduate institutions (I’m not sure if this is just a correlation or causation. I also don’t want people to think I’m under the impression that Georgia Tech isn’t highly ranked. I actually believe it’s severely underrated for how excellent of a school it is.).

  4. I often hear of people refer to college as not just an investment in education but an experience that is cherished for a lifetime. In that regard, is the student experience at Duke significantly better than that of Georgia Tech’s? I’m also not sure of what metrics to use to establish that comparison, but if anything comes to mind, I’d appreciate it.

I would greatly appreciate any advice you may have in helping me make this decision. I also hope this thread could serve as a guide for other students in similar situations or just as a comparison of the ROI of top private institutions in comparison to peer public institutions.

You have very good options.
If you are serious about BME and have Grad school in the future, then, no question, go to GT and graduate without debt. I wouldn’t advise 100k debt, and BMEs job prospects with a bachelor’s degree are not that great.
GT also has a partnership with Emory for BME. See other threads on this.

The main difference is, whether you prefer a Tech focused school such as GT. Duke is a great school overall, but even their engineers are mostly interested in premed, finance and consulting jobs, where the name recognition matters a lot.

Talk to someone in Duke’s financial aid office. See if they can help you out.

If cost was equal, then the discussion would focus on fit. But that is not the case in your situation. Georgia Tech is the clear choice. Tech grads earn excellent wages & Tech has a very strong alumni network.

Not sure if the price were equal the GTU might not be the superior choice.

It would be your call based on fit. But as cost is a benefit too it is something to consider.

But it’s your life and your years to enjoy.

Both are so excellent it doesn’t matter.

But I did see this on another post. If it matters at all.

“All I can do is share the US News rankings of the top 5 undergraduate biomedical engineering programs:

  1. Georgia Tech
  2. Johns Hopkins
  3. MIT
  4. Duke
  5. Stanford”

Debt is bad. Don’t do it.

Okay, thank you all very much for the input! Hopefully I can get a better aid package from Duke, but if not, I’ll probably set my sights on Georgia Tech.