I'm completely lost...

<p>I'm a high school senior and have most enjoyed my math and physics courses. As a result, I'm looking at primarily engineering programs. However, I am rather lost in the process of choosing a college. A big school is pretty important for me; I don't think I would do well in a smaller school. A lower price is also rather important. Through conversations with my college counselor, we've come up with a small list of potential schools. </p>

<p>My Current List of Schools:
UC Berkley
Carnegie Mellon
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
USC
Wash U
Rice University</p>

<p>But at this point I've run into a problem, I have no clue how to decide on a school. I'm not even sure what I should start to research about the schools to decide. What qualities in a school make it more desirable than another? I live in Illinois, so I suppose U of I would be my top choice from the price factor alone, but other than that I'm lost. </p>

<p>Does anyone have any suggestions to add to my current list of schools? Any advice in general? All suggestions are welcome. My point in making this thread is to ask for a springboard into my research, I'm not really sure where to start. </p>

<p>Stats:
35 ACT (35E, 36M, 34R, 33S)
800 Math II SAT II
800 Physics SAT II
3.92/4.00 Unweighted GPA
4.99/5.33 Weighted GPA
High School Rank Unreported
3 Senior Year AP's: Physics C, Calc BC, Spanish
White Male</p>

<p>Intotheblue4, I have a few comments/suggestions. First of all, I'd ask why some of the schools on your list are there. You said you wanted a big school but Rice is fairly small and CMU and Wash U are midsized at best. Is that all you mean by saying size is important to you- 4000 something students (which is what Rice has) or above? Maybe look at some other big public schools like UT Austin, Purdue University, or some other UC schools.That being said, you have a set of good schools there, and given your stats, you're a great applicant for them.</p>

<p>In terms of what factors you should look at, the first thing would be doing general research to narrow your academic focus: EE, MechE, ChemE, computer science, bioengineering, etc. I'd recommend you rely on college sites like college confidential (scroll through posts regarding your schools to get a better sense of what they're like) or other comparable sites. I'd also recommend the Fiske College Guide. With these, you can feel out the atmosphere at each school and work through other factors that you may want to consider (setting/location, sports, Greek life...)</p>

<p>School counselors often give BAD advice when a "lower price" is needed. GCs tend to have their heads in the clouds when it comes to cost and act like money will fall from the sky.</p>

<p>You're instate for UIUC, but that doesn't make it a safety unless you know that your parents will pay the $30k per year to go there. If they won't, then it's not a safety.</p>

<p>None of those OOS state schools will likely have a "low price". </p>

<p>A safety MUST be affordable for you and your family!</p>

<p>How much will your parents pay each year?</p>

<p>If you need financial aid, then (and this is IMPORTANT), will you QUALIFY for the amount of aid that you need? Are you lowish income? Do you have a non--custodial parent?</p>

<p>BTW...OOS publics don't usually give OOS students much need-based aid. The Calif publics will be unaffordable unless your parents will pay for them.</p>

<p>Since you have high stats, you should apply to a couple of schools that will give you large merit for your stats...those can be your back up schools.</p>

<p>Are you a NMSF??? What was your PSAT??</p>

<p>Since you like bigger schools, maybe look at USC. Merit can be iffy there if you're not NMF.</p>

<p>Tell us what you like about bigger schools, because I don't think Rice (small) or WashU really fit that desire.</p>

<p>A first step would be to get on each school's website. Go through each site with a fine-tooth comb and make a list of plusses and minuses for each program. Don't worry about whether you're listing "important" features, just get them down on paper. Then search CC for further info. and ask questions, adding to your list. Doing this exercise will help you differentiate between schools and to start to think critically about what's important to you.</p>

<p>Your list for a school might look like</p>

<p>Plus:
Like the size
Professor X is supposed to be great
Good weather
Strong coop program
Automatic admission to graduate program with a 3.5</p>

<p>Minus:
Language requirement
Freshmen aren't guaranteed housing
Non-majors sometimes blocked out of courses in X<br>
Current students say they got less FA in sophomore year than freshman year</p>

<p>Illinois is extremely expensive for an in-state school, $34K/year for engineering students.</p>

<p>You say low price is important, but everything on your list is high price unless you qualify for need-based aid or merit aid.</p>

<p>Your excellent stats will give you a shot a merit aid at some of those schools, but they are elite schools where merit aid is not easy to predict.</p>

<p>Berkeley is pointless unless you can pay the $56K/year out of state cost, because you won't get significant aid there.</p>

<p>While you are at each school's web site, check out its net price calculator. Yes, Berkeley will probably be too expensive unless you are a mechanical engineering student who gets the full-ride Drake scholarship.</p>

<p>When you say "lower price" what is your net price limit? If it is $30,000 to $35,000, then you can find some very good schools for engineering with list prices in that range, even without financial aid (e.g. UIUC in-state, or Minnesota, NCSU, Stony Brook, Virginia Tech, Cal Poly SLO, New Mexico Mining out-of-state). Under $25,000, you may find schools like Cooper Union and South Dakota Mines.</p>

<p>But if your price limit is $15,000 or less, then your safeties may have to come from this list <a href="http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/financial-aid-scholarships/1348012-automatic-full-tuition-full-ride-scholarships.html%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/financial-aid-scholarships/1348012-automatic-full-tuition-full-ride-scholarships.html&lt;/a> if your in-state public schools' financial aid is insufficient. Full or near-full rides with engineering can be found at Alabama - Huntsville, Louisiana Tech, Prairie View A&M, and Howard, though if you can afford up to about $10,000 to $15,000, you would have more choices among the full tuition scholarship schools like Alabama - Tuscaloosa, LSU, etc..</p>

<p>If you are a National Merit Finalist and designate Texas A&M as your first choice, you get a scholarship that reduces net cost to about $12,500 per year.</p>