Is Northwestern Worth It?

<p>I have a serious dilema at hand. I've been accepted at Northwestern University, but I've received no financial aid at all. My prospective major is economics and NU is highly ranked in econ. I think I'll benefit from the environment at NU, but is it worth a debt of 80-100K after graduation? In addition, I'm an international student and I know that as an international student, job opportunities in the US are rather scarce or at least more competitive as I must be eligible for a work visa which companies must be willing to sponser. </p>

<p>I've read the 'should you incur the debt' and 'private school vs state school' thread, but still cannot decide. Some say that it's dependent on one's major. It's more advantageous to go to the private university and tackle the debt if one is planning to major in business or affiliated because it's where top companies recruit. On the other hand, I wonder if I want a burden of 80k at the age of 21.</p>

<p>My other option is a very mediocre university here in Canada. Its admission standards are not high and from what I know, students are not very motivated or passionate about learning. If I attend this school, I won't be majoring in business as it does not have a strong business school. However, I will graduate with an approx. 100k surplus if I choose to attend this school as opposed to NU.</p>

<p>I think that the 4 years of undergraduate school is, without a doubt, 4 defining years in one's life. But is the 'undergraduate experience' worth going 80-100k in debt? </p>

<p>Advice would be greatly appreciate</p>

<p>That's a tough one. This is one of those A vs. B questions where I wish there were options C and D as well.</p>

<p>Fwiw, Econ from a top school is probably one of the more bankable degrees. The acid test question is probably something along the lines of how well can you defer gratification, living with much more modest standards of housing, transportation, vacations, etc., than your peers who don't have such debts.
You can get the degree but you need to recognize in advance that you won't be able to share their lifestyle for a number of years.</p>

<p>Thanks for the advice, TheDad.</p>

<p>OTOH, are you plannin gon grad school? If so, then a higher ranked grad school should help you out in this area, whereas a lower ranked one won't. Perhaps the loans there would serve you better. Maybe TheDad can speak to this.</p>

<p>Yes, I'm planning on attending grad school. My concern is that by attending a mediocre school in Canada, I won't be able to get into a top grad school in the states.</p>

<p>Depends on the grad school. And some PhD programs include stipends where they pay you instead of vice versa.</p>

<p>$80-100K debt for undergrad is more than I'm comfortable with. But if the only two choices are an outstanding school and a less than average school, and the student has top ambitions, the "right" answer isn't clear to me. Hence my "are you willing to sacrifice life style?" question.</p>

<p>Why are your choices only a mediocre school in Canada. If you got into Northwestern, you could get into McGill, University of Toronto and many other fine schools. In fact, I don't understand why you would prefer Northwestern to Canadian schools especially with the government paying half your tuition in Canada.</p>

<p>It's not that I don't want to go. It's that according to UBC, my 90 average "doesn't meet the competitive average of their school" and "according to my current academic standing, they cannot offer me admission." Somehow, I don't think I will be admitted to UofT and Western Ontario either, both of which I applied to. </p>

<p>The admission criteria is based only on grades here and 90 percent is apparently insufficient to qualify for admission into UBC. :P</p>

<p>EDIT: I'll attend UofT or the like if I'm admitted as it's much more financially feasible, but unfortunately my average isn't 'competitive.' :P</p>


<p>Can't you transfer to UT or better Canadian school after your first year? I am shocked that you didn't get into UT or the like as my two sisters went there and at least one of them wouldn't have gotten into any top-30 US schools. Very strange how different system works so differently.</p>

<p>i don't really know admissions standards in canada, but why not go to the "mediocre school" and just transfer into McGill or Toronto--that way you go to a top school and get the cheap tuition.</p>

<p>Also consider where you're thinking of living "the rest of your life"- if in the US it may make sense to spend the money and be educated here, if in Canada going the lesser school/hopefully transfer route would be more practical. Also, many business schools require work experience before grad school, you could get a Canadian degree, work in Canada, and then consider the US. There are many nice large cities in Canada, don't presume the US will be better for you. Do your parents have a preference, and if so, why do they- don't discount their views.</p>

<p>Is Northwestern Worth It?</p>


<p>No undergraduate education justifies the risk associated with $100K of debt. </p>

<p>Do the math.</p>

<p>calmom got there before me. :) And as said by many, many, MANY other people, graduate school is what counts.</p>

<p>^ not if you don't go to graduate school. most people with bachelors don't. there are some jobs you just can't get coming out of Joe Blow U.</p>

<p>If you DO want to go to grad school, consider a few things. </p>

<p>1) being a top student and a mediocre schools is better than being a mediocre student at a top school. Being a top student at a top school is best.</p>

<p>2) being a top student at a mediocre school won't give you the best opportunity to get a great first job. I don't know what your intended course of study is, but say its business or econ. you're better off going into debt as an undergrad if you think you can be a top student at northwestern. its easier to be in the top 20% at northwestern than the top 1% at joe blow u. Students coming out of top schools, and getting great jobs--while the salary may not be drastically different--offer great benefits. Good companies will pay for their employees MBAs, and offer their employees the best opportunites to get into the best MBA programs (which can cost $100,000 for 2 years...and 6 or 7 years down the line for you, likely much more).</p>

<p>3) If you want a career in academia, going to the "mediocre" canadian school might be best. almost all colleges pay for students to get their masters or ph.d.'s in academic fields, like history.</p>

<p>4) if you want to go to law school school you should go to the cheap option. if you want to go to med school go with northwestern. you most likely can find someone to pay for your med school debt after you're actually a doctor. not likely in law. also, you will be able to get into law school SOMEWHERE if you are even an average student at an average school. not so for med school--and i'll go out on a limb and guess northwestern has better med school placement than whichever canadian school your interested in.</p>

<p>I concur with what was said above. If you have to, go to a mediocre school and transfer to a better Canadian school. If you plan on attending graduate or professional schools upon graduation, you will be glad that you don't have a lot of debt caused by undergraduate studies.</p>

<p>50000+ debt is never remotely justified for an "undergrad experience". However if you family is able and willing to foot this debt, well.....</p>

If you are planning to get an undergrad degree in econ and then go on to graduate school in economics, I have a few anecdotes that may be relevant to you--except that I don't know how your international status affects things. These little stories are based on the experiences of my H, an econ prof for many years.</p>

<li><p>My H obtained an undergraduate economics degree from a mid-ranked state public flagship. No well-known, much less famous, econ professors there, but there were research opps that H took full advantage of. He was an excellent student, performed well at his research job and earned very good letters of rec. He was accepted to quite a few of the top econ PhD programs in the US, and chose one in the top 10 that guaranteed him paid RA positions for all of grad school, and waived all tuition and fees. He graduated with a PhD from a top school without one penny of debt--a good thing, because starting professor salaries are lousy. On the other hand, he could have chosen a better-paying job straight out of grad school if he had gone into industry, government or quasi-government (Fed. Reserve Bank, IMF, etc.) If he had accrued a lot of student debt, he might have been forced to choose one of the non-academic offers, which were less to his liking. </p></li>
<li><p>When H was a prof at a different mid-level state flagship some years ago, he had an undergrad student he thought very highly of. He wrote letters of rec to every prominent prof he knew, and the student was accepted to the PhD program at one of the "top 3" Ivy institutions so well-known here on cc. That man is now a tenured full prof at a different Ivy. He wasn't held back by his "mediocre" undergrad institution.</p></li>
<li><p>Last week, H attended the 'senior honors thesis' presentations of his students at yet another state flagship public (these are students in the Honors College). He was really impressed by how good they were, and told me he is convinced the top students at this mid-level public are just as good at the TOP students at any school. Since he was dept chair for many years, and head of the hiring committee for many others, he has had plenty of opportunity to assess the training and talents of economists from institutions of every stripe. </p></li>

<p>I'm not going to pretend I think any other school is just as good for you as Northwestern. If you have the money, or you have grandparents who will gift you the money, or you win the lottery this week, go to NU. But if you can't afford it, you can't afford it. That's life. No sane person goes into 100K debt for undergraduate school. If you must attend a "mediocre" institution, make sure you stand head and shoulders above the average student; get noticed for your drive and your maturity as well as your brains. Get to know profs who can help you out for recs. Do research during the academic year and the summer. Your own attitude and behavior will prove to be the defining factors of your undergraduate years.</p>

<p>I have another comment inspired by your situation, ChenChen, but not really directed towards you because it is too late for you. I notice you applied to NU even though you are not eligible for need-based financial aid. Did you apply to some of the other high ranking privates that award merit scholarships? I advise all who have top records and whose families will not qualify for need-based aid, but who nonetheless cannot or will not cough up 200K for undergraduate education, to throw some merit-awarding schools into your application mix. We are a "full-pay" family, so my son concentrated on merit awarding schools when he filed his apps this year. He will attend a "top 20" private next year with a merit scholarship worth about 40K per year, renewable for four years. He did NOT apply to NU even though we looked at it, simply because they do not award any merit money (his choice; he is a natural cheap-skate, we have discovered).</p>

<p>Good luck to you. Please keep in mind that the four years you spend as an undergraduate can be very important, but many, many successful people do not attend illustrious institutions as undergraduates. Debt is confining, limiting, even crippling. Play the college game smart.</p>

<p>Thanks to everyone for taking the time to reply. I think I have much more to go on to make my decision now. Just to clarify, the reason I applied to NU and other colleges without applying for finaid was because I grossly underestimated the cost of attending private universities in the states. </p>

<p>"Can't you transfer to UT or better Canadian school after your first year? I am shocked that you didn't get into UT or the like as my two sisters went there and at least one of them wouldn't have gotten into any top-30 US schools. Very strange how different system works so differently."</p>

<p>Actually, Samlee, the rejection was from UBC, but I don't expect an acceptance from UofT either because their standards are about the same and UBC is lower ranked than UofT.</p>