MIT vs Hopkins for an engineer/football player?

DS21 is a recruited athlete who has been told he is high on the board at both MIT and Johns Hopkins and has the full support of the head coaches at both schools. This means that he is likely to be accepted to JHU, and he has a 50:50 chance at MIT.

I’m a single mom in the donut hole because of his father’s financials, and do not anticipate getting any need-based aid. I might be able to figure out a way to get some family support or his father might contribute and if so, and if money is not the concern it is right now, I’m wondering what the CC community thinks about this decision. To me, the first question he’d be asked if he decides to go to JHU is “oh, you want to be a doctor?” and the first question at MIT would be “oh, you want to be an engineer?” and he definitely does not want to be a doctor or a biomedical engineer. Is that too short-sighted of me?

He has been toying with ED’ing at Hopkins in the hopes that increases his chances for one of their rare merit scholarships but I don’t think that’s a good idea. I think that applying EA for both schools is the right move (I’d want him to ED at MIT but they don’t do ED) and I still would love to see him on a full ride for so many reasons!

The other schools he is applying to are:

Carnegie Mellon (likely letter received last month, full football admissions support)
UChicago (also supported by football head coach, but they don’t have engineering; he’d likely do Finance or Econ)
ASU (expect at least full tuition for NMF)
Univ. of Miami, FL (legacy, possible Stamps/Singer as well as Benacquisto…for as long as that fund remains solvent anyway)
UFlorida (Benacquisto)

Due to Covid, he has only visited Berkeley in person. I feel like this would be an easier decision if we had been able to take our college tour this spring. Over the past year we have ruled out some of the other logical options including CIT, Georgia Tech, Rice, Harvey Mudd, Pomona, Amherst, Cornell, FSU, UCF, and RPI for various reasons.

My top choices for him are MIT and Miami…these are obviously extremely different paths and ultimately it’s his choice. (And yes, I know that we are extraordinarily blessed to be having this “problem.”)

MIT is arguably the top university in the world for engineering. However, that does not mean that it is the best university in the world for any one specific student who wants to become an engineer.

There are plenty of jobs for engineering graduates. Companies will care about how responsible you are and how strong you are. A degree from nearly all (exception below) of the schools that you named will get you an interview. Then you get to show that you are a reasonable and responsible and hardworking person to get the job.

With regard to Chicago, if your son wants to be an engineer then he should attend a university that is good for engineering, which of course means that they need to have a program at all.

Are you in-state in California?

I think that you need to look hard at the financials. Being divorced or in the “donut hole” does not make this easy. However, an engineering degree from Johns Hopkins or ASU will lead to a great career. Your son really does not need to attend MIT to have a great career.

By the way, I did attend MIT but for math. I work with people from a very wide range of universities and no one cares where anyone got their degree. I was talking to a top expert yesterday who is very impressive, but I have no idea where he got his degree and see no reason to ask.

Are you aware that some schools do not require you to provide the financial information of a non-custodial parent?

U Chicago is one.

Others with engineering programs include:
Georgia Tech
Stevens Inst
Santa Clara
Trinity (Texas) has ABET accredited Engineering Science

First of all, congratulations on your son’s prospects. You already know that the worst case scenario is a full-tuition scholarship at Florida, or pretty much guaranteed admission at CMU.

However, you should not ED at JHU with the expectation of a merit scholarship. In fact, merit scholarships are often used to entice students who have many options, and an accepted ED student has no options. Also I have heard that CMU is stingy on financial aid, so watch for that as well.

The next thing to consider after finances is fit. I have visited several of the colleges on your list with my kids. CMU and MIT are really quite different (both my kids applied to MIT, but both refused to apply to CMU after their visit). For that matter, MIT and Hopkins are quite different as well.

What appeals to your son about each college, and why?

This is really important, the other private school that does not require ncp info is Vanderbilt.

It is difficult to advise you without considering money, because it’s not clear how you will pay full price for the schools that require ncp info.

What does U Chicago’s net price calculator estimate for annual COA? Use your 2019 income:

  1. What are his academic goals? Both MIT and JHU offer quality programs in subjects other than the stereotypical ones associated with those colleges.
  2. Which state are you in-state for?
  3. What is your price limit? Have you considered the implications of divorce on financial aid? See

MIT & JHU are two of the best universities in the world. Based on the info. shared by OP, I have no way to distinguish between the two options with respect to which is better for your son.

Any interest from & in Lehigh, Bucknell and / or Lafayette ? Patriot League football is D-I so it might be out of range as a recruited athlete for your son as MIT & JHU are DIII if I recall correctly.

If he wants to major in Engineering I would think Chicago has to come off the list.

These are D3 schools, so I assume there’s no expectation of being a professional football player. A hopeful engineer deciding to commit to a major/career in Econ/Finance based on the college football team doesn’t seem to make sense.

Re-reading - if the underlying question is “if he gets into JH and MIT, which should he choose as an Engineering major”, I’d have to say MIT.

no Stanford? (IMO, the top 3 schools in engineering are generally, MIT, Stanford and Berkeley, and Stanford has generous need-based aid, but obviously D1.)

If he wanted BioMed Engineering, Hopkins would be a no-brainer to play D3. As he is not interested in biomedical, look to MIT. (I was under the impression that a coach’s high interest was nearly worthless at MIT admissions.)

Also note, unless you are instate for UC, Cal or UCLA will cost $65k/yr for OOS.

But need-based aid at Stanford is problematic, since the OP is divorced from an ex with high income and/or assets which will likely prevent need-based aid at colleges that require both parents’ finances (like Stanford and MIT).

If money weren’t an issue, I’d probably take the sure thing at Carnegie Mellon. Or, I’d ask the CMU (Or JHU) coach whether, if MIT early round is not successful, would he support a RD application. Some of the state schools you list are great at engineering and are the sorts of schools most engineers attend. I’m not sure JHU is going to be a better financial decision over those in terms of ROI, but there might be other factors you care about (like continuing to play football).

Hopkins sounds most suitable for him but he should RD to see which school makes it more affordable with merit and aid combo. If he wants to ED to Hopkins to improve chances than he should check with his father first. May be he is willing to cover the cost not covered by aid, merit and your contribution.

@bluebayou as an average excellent student with no hook there, he could never get into Stanford! Plus, we toured there last year and we both disliked it; we just didn’t feel any positive vibe during our tour, the architecture reminded us of 1980 Mission Viejo which is not a compliment (@dadtwogirls, @ucbalumnus, we live in Orange County, CA), and the student tour guide was incredibly arrogant.

We also toured Berkeley on that summer mom/son road trip. We both liked it, but he may not be a good fit for that scene…and housing is insanely expensive and run-down. That said, he’s definitely applying and would be thrilled to be accepted there. He would not play football. He’s solidly a D3 player.

@Publisher so DS21 has been ignoring multiple outreach attempts by coaches in the Patriot League, as well as many other coaches at top LACs. I have to hand it to him, he is very decisive about what he does not want - he just doesn’t have any interest in a LAC and he actually told the Pomona coach “honored, but no thanks” recently.

@Mwfan1921 thank you, he finally! checked out Vandy today (I have been pushing him to consider it) and he ruled it out. I do appreciate his decisiveness! The financial part of this is probably a lot more up in the air than for most families, because there are so many unknowns for us with his father and our extended family. What I do know for certain based on the JHU NPC is that if just my situation is considered, I’d get a small need-based level of support but it wouldn’t be very much.

@Mastadon he also did an in-depth Georgia Tech review today and decided against it. The others on your list just don’t interest him. But thank you so much for that list - it would be a great list for another single mom who was not on the edge like me, on her own :smile:

@hebegebe thank you! Yes, when we got his PSAT score (226 SI) I cried! and he spent several months chanting “Gator Nation” to me (go Hurricanes!) but the whole covid recession issue has me really worried about the long-term viability of the Benacquisto). Honestly because we haven’t been able to visit due to covid, it’s hard for him to gauge most of the colleges on his list beyond their reputation, web sites, virtual tours, and for the football schools, their coaches and facilities (all of which totally knock our socks off!). What about CMU turned your kids off? I grew up in NJ so I could never live in Pittsburgh - the long, gray winters depress the heck out of me.

@sherimba03 congrats to your son! I know he was worried about the fball working out! I think i’ve To,d you this before, but S17’s good friend is playing fball at CMU. He picked it over U Rochester and a couple others because he loved the coaches and players he met. It the biggest thing I’ve heard about CMU is the kids are different. I don’t know how to explain it - my son’s friend is a normal, smart kid - smart, but enjoys sports, doesn’t partake in philosophical debates or that kind of thing. CMU kids I think are a more intense bunch. But he’s still happy there and has been very happy with school and football

Hi @NJWrestlingmom thanks and yes, I truly think DS21 would be happy at ANY of his target schools, and he has nothing but positive things to say about the coaches at the schools where he is being recruited. I’ve also been so impressed with them - they have met with both of us online and they are all so great! So as his mom I am trying to help him identify what is important to him and one thing that I am very relieved about is that I have convinced him there is no upside, and lots of potential downside, to doing an ED application to any of his target schools. I want him to have as many options as possible for as long as possible.

I truly hope that by next spring we will have tackled covid to the ground and all of our '21 children will be able to experience a “normal” freshman year at whatever school they end up at.

Oh and @bluebayou a coach’s interest is most definitely not worthless for MIT admissions. For males, the admit rate for unhooked applicants hovers around 6 or 7%. For recruited football players who are “high support,” the admit rate is 50%. This is quoted directly from their spring 2020 “virtual Junior Day” slide deck.

They still absolutely have to have all of the academic stats to meet MIT standards, of course. :blush:

So, nowhere near most other D3s and all D1s in terms of a guarantee, but it’s super exciting to have a 50% chance of acceptance at MIT!

But will MIT be affordable if he is admitted?

@ucbalumnus as I had mentioned in my original post, we are unique in that it is possible it will be affordable, based on several personal factors that will become clear over the next few months. Again, my family situation is probably not the typical cc family’s situation where it’s a lousy idea to apply to schools that you know you couldn’t possibly afford; that is just setting your child up for heartbreak.

I have made it extremely clear to DS21 what the situation is and that we might not be able to afford it, but because it is possible that we will be able to afford it I did not want to discourage him from applying. He understands the situation and although he will be disappointed, it will not come as a shock if it doesn’t work out. We have the UCs as an affordable and outstanding option, along with the NMF scholarships at ASU and the Florida schools. So, he has a good backup plan!