Help Decision: College of Charleston, Florida, Florida State, South Carolina, Arizona

My daughter now has to Decide:

She doesn’t really know what to study. Right now it’s international studies/relations but it could change - she’s truly undecided.

Her favorite school is American but with $15K in merit, it’s still near $60K a year (before going Greek).

She really liked College of Charleston and is in the Honors College there but in mainly every ranking category (grad success, job success, departmental rankings), it’s low. It’ll be $40K a year.

She really liked U of SC and is in the Honors College. It’s also not high ranked (the school) but the Honors College is. It’s about $29K a year. It could work but she’s seeking Jewish life and we’re not sure if they have it. We’ve reached out to some folks but no response yet. She didn’t like it as much as Charleston but does like the campus.

Then there’s Arizona - great aid. She needs to visit. We have relatives there and were on campus a few years ago. She doesn’t remember. It’s a cheaper option - $24K or so.

Finally FSU (she likes but doesn’t love) - it’s dirt cheap - $22K a year and much high rated (but is it worth another $21K a year) - Florida - at $43K - which she liked more.

Considering a major that is likely not a job getter, what’s the right choice? I have a 2nd in school at Alabama who is about $20K a year. We are not getting any need aid. Do you send your child where they want to go (UF over FSU) or a more expensive Charleston that is low ranked - or do you save the $$ and give the choice of only FSU or Arizona.

btw - I can tell you all the COAs the schools give you are understated - and add Greek…another $5K.

It’s the typical parent wants one thing; kids another. Objectively, I know the answer - but any thoughts on the subject - or maybe my research is wrong (i.e. maybe Charleston Honors is really good for getting a job, etc.).


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Following because we are in a similar boat with C of C so very interested to hear the feedback. D really likes C of C but it also ranks lower than all of her other schools: Virginia Tech, Northeastern, GWU, UMass, Clemson, JMU, etc. It’s mainly the lure of Charleston itself, I think. (Sorry I can’t be more helpful). We are Jewish too and I do get the sense that C of C has active Jewish life on campus, so there’s that. D is not particularly interested in becoming involved but it’s good to know it’s there.

My impression is, College of Charleston does fine with regional job placement. See their HonorsHub for more on internships and research. CofC Honors Hub

Some of your qs may be best addressed to the various honor programs- some admitted students events, often have answers on job and grad school placements.

I do wonder if more things to like about FSU and Arizona can be found. It’s a high price at the others for solely “fit” factors.

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Thank you so much. I realize what I wrote was all over the place - I know you guys got it but not sure others will:

Major - International Relations (maybe) - really undecided - but will be a liberal art.


  1. Daughters favorite (not mine): American - $60K -ish after aid.

  2. College of Charleston - $40K-ish, Honors, Intl Scholar which is another cohort in Honors. She likes a lot. I’m worried about low grad rate, lack of pedigree (if that’s true). It’s a very unique school…small, downtown campus.

  3. U of South Carolina - $29K-ish. She likes although not as much as Charleston. She’s in Honors here. More traditional campus. It’s the one school where we have to learn more about Jewish life (or lack of).

  4. FSU - about $22K a year. Not accepted to Honors - but she can join a living learning community to get a smaller cohort experience. She liked but then went to UF.

  5. UF - she went the afternoon she saw FSU. She liked FSU but really like UF - which is about $43K a year. No Honors. FSU is ranked higher in Intl Relations - and even if it wasn’t, is UF worth nearly double the cost?

  6. Arizona - we are going to visit next week. About $24K or so. In Honors.

There were other acceptances that my daughter has ruled out after visiting.

As a dad, AU is out - I just have to ban it. She loves Charleston. I see a hefty price tag, not great outcomes, and a major that isn’t necessarily job worthy. I also have a second At Alabama and will have two years cross over.

Hope this is clearer now.

What’s your max budget? Have you communicated that to your daughter from the start?

If you said let’s see what aid you get you might have to be the bad guy and set a limit now.

Maybe she’ll love Arizona and it’s over. Otherwise I’d pick UF over CC for the same price. Forget rankings. Plus she’s still not 100% sure of her major.

After that I’d pick USC. She’s in the Honors College. Their International business program is among the best if she wants to go that route. In fact I’d probably pick it over UF by a hair. I’m a USC alum. Charleston is a quick 2 hour ride from Columbia.

FSU or AZ are the cheapest. For what she’s studying FSU ranks higher.

I can afford any. With C of C I’m at with greek 65k or so a year including my son at Bama. But I can save 10-20k at another school.

The question, like so many, is do I want to afford it ? She’s not majoring in engineering, computer science, accounting etc. if it’s not international relations/studies it will end up being a liberal art…sociology, poli sci, maybe even hospitality. That’s why I struggle…why pay for a Ferrari if your drive is no better than a Chevy. She’s a great leader and she may amaze but I’d feel more comfortable spending if I knew the likelihood of solid earnings were strong.

Yes, she knows finances are an issue but at 18 they really don’t get it. It’s just a ton of money. My feeling is kids can find happiness anywhere. But then they give you the guilt trip.

If I was answering someone else I’d say FSU or AZ. next. Your kids should be satisfied they get to go to school !!!

How bout FSU at 22k over UF 43k

Funny if you read the CC people that have been to both prefer FSU. Not my kid. FSU is ranked higher in intl relations although UF is overall ranked higher.

Should rankings even matter ??

rankings should not matter as much, as its what the child puts into it. I know several jewish kids who went to USC. Might want to reach out to the hillel. Yes CofC has a vibrant jewish life, and the location is great, and if in honors college, once again I dont think rankings matter. I know graduates from there that are doing very well. My concern with UF would be class size and getting classes that she wants. Also having to possibly take classes in the summer.
I have heard great things about Arizona. Why is FSU so much cheaper than UF. Did she get in state tuition at one and not the other?

BTW we sent our child to GW (they offered more than American) and now she wants to do something completely different. But she really grew there before covid and had great internships.

Maybe go back to UF and ask about any possibility of further merit.

UF is now #30, right behind #28 UNC. They’ve really moved up. So merit is difficult. They give few awards. Even admission is difficult - under 30% I think

FSU gives OOS waivers if you have a 31 act. It’s ranked #58. It’s solid. Tuition only 7k. It’s also difficult with an OOS admit rate under 20%.

At U of AZ tuition is about 37k. They have auto scholarships. We got $30k. If not for a B+ in pre calc would have been $35k. It’s where you go for merit as is FSU (and Alabama which my daughter did not like).

C OF C we got $12k…they give 8-12 for OOS. U Of SC we are in state minus $500. My concern with C of C is…it’s not ranked high and their graduation and placement stats aren’t great. But…she’s in Honors and an ‘international scholar’ which is a part of Honors…so that should change how I feel but I’m not sure it does. I’d pay the $40k if I thought the school is legit. I’m just not sure.

Last Feb, before Covid shut everything, we did Gtown, GW and AU. My daughter loved Gtown but they don’t do merit aid. She hated the ultra urban ness of GW to the point we left the tour mid way. She also didn’t like they don’t have dining halls. All meals are off campus. So while I hear GW gives nice aid it did not make her very large (21 schools) application list.

AU she loved. I thought it wasn’t that nice but she loves DC. Really it’s in the burbs. She also got into UMD. But no $$. It’s be like $53k so she eliminated it.

We shall see. It’s hard to say no to daddy’s girl !!

I’m going to PM you. Am from FL and have a son majoring in IR.

Awesome. I love the CC. thx

I love FSU. Just visited last week. S21 got Honors, OOS waiver and his major is solid there. Penn State with palm trees.

Went through similar last year with S20. Three schools below or well below budget. Two a little above budget but great opportunities. We discussed pros and cons. After that it was his call for better or worse. He chose well but sometimes it has to percolate and be their idea.

USC with honors is hard to pass up. She’ll get individual attention. Not sure why this isn’t #1. She’ll be a number at any large public school. That said, if she loves UF and it’s affordable you could do a lot worse. Maybe UF is the compromise from going to CC.

My wife thinks that CC bcuz of its mid size and the fact she is an Intl Scholar and in Honors that she’ll get the most attention. My daughter will excel is discussion based classes. I may be too hard on the C of C. Or she’s a nicer house on a less nice steet :). Good to hear about FSU. She did not get Honors there but you can do living learning communities which are themed and take courses together. They tell you it’s an Honors substitute.

Thx for the info

In my opinion FSU is the clear winner here- and I’m saying that as a proud UF Graduate. From what I am hearing a lot of kids here in FL are picking FSU over UF even with the price being the same. My S was admitted to both UF and FSU and is leaning heavily to FSU even though my husband and I are both UF grads. Apparently the kids feel that FSU is more fun and social.

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Thx. On the CC FSU comes off far better. But when my daughter visited both she preferred UF. But again for $23k savings she can learn to love FSU

Plus supposedly FSU is better in the social sciences. UF better in science / STEM.

My daughter doesn’t want a huge college. UF is really big. one of the biggest schools population wise. FSU is big but not as big.

The issue is with all these kids on zoom you cannot tell this from campus visits.

I appreciate everyone’s insights.

If she is planning on joining the Greek community that does make UF a lot smaller but the campus is a lot more spread out than the FSU campus for sure but for $23K I would pick FSU.
We were in Tallahassee visiting this weekend and the FSU campus was very alive and there were students everywhere.

Your daughter really needs to start whittling the list down to 2 or 3 schools and then drill into the programs and requirements. Also look at how many credits she’ll get if she has AP/IB classes. FSU is very generous with AP credits. I had both sons map out a four year schedule so they could visualize what they had and where they were going. Things can change but at least they an idea of what was doable.

Her list is somewhat confusing. Her favorites of AU, CofC, and UF are all so different. On paper the best two offers are FSU and USC by far but those don’t seem to be at the top of her list. At some point you have to walk away, smile and let her pick. It’s tough not to give your opinion but it seems her two affordable favorites are UF and CofC with honors. Not bad choices either way. Good luck.

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Thanks - yes, her “desires” are mid size and urban. But she loves DC and GW was too urban.

AU is her favorite - just because it’s in DC. She liked it. But has read about rats in the dorms.

Charleston is just a cool city - and it’s so unique.

U of SC is urban and the campus isn’t too big so she liked that. We are trying to learn if they have a Jewish life. When she reads #1 Honors College and gets in, that swayed her mind.

Dad is pushing FSU - but to your point I shouldn’t too much. And yes, it’s likely too big. And UF even bigger. When she visits, campuses this year are not crowded - so that impacts perception.

C of C is lesser (ranked - but i have to stop saying that means lesser) and more expensive - that’s my conundrum internally :slight_smile:

We have whittle though - we applied to 21, in at 17,with two to go. Really, I know she’ll end up at C of C. I just need to feel better about my money disappearing :slight_smile:
thanks for the note!!!

I know many from here who attend(ed) C of C. it was one of the places that my D considered , but she did not get into honors. We got lucky that GW gave us enough money (though AU did not). If this is where she really wants to go, its not a bad choice, and i can introduce you to someone who had both their kids go there.

I would go for USC Honors in terms of best value, especially if her major isn’t in STEM. The experience and learning conditions will be excellent (students as good as at AU or UF). For non Stem majors, peer quality is essential since classes rely on class preparation and participation or group work, depending on the subject. Everything international is highly prized at Usc btw (strong FL, international business…)

CoC Honors is also very strong and will prepare her well for grad school. She’s not among the bottom 25% admits so some issues dont apply to her. In addition, the city is historical and has international contacts (I think lots of trade go through, direct industrial connection to Germany…)

Greek is fluff. If that’s more important to her than high level academics then FSU or Arizona will be okay.
Personally I wouldn’t exchange the opportunity of a top ranked Honors college for Greek life, especially since she’ll have a ready-made community of peers through the honors dorms.