Neuroscience/Psychology--throwing up my hands

<p>So my D wants to major in neuroscience and psych. She applied to several schools we thought were highly regarded and hoped for "slam-dunk" with merit aid from one of them to help make the decision easier if she got into more than one.</p>

<p>She has been accepted to every one of them. Yay. She has gotten merit scholarships from all of them. Yay. Though we have yet to visit a couple of them, she only applied to places she felt she'd want to attend, so there's not a geographical component for the most part to the decision making.</p>

<p>However, because she's gotten $$ from them all (yay), essentially we now are faced with comparing apples to apples. Taking into account that we still need to visit a couple, and assuming she likes those as well as the others we've already visited, NOW how the hell do we rank the schools? </p>

<p>We're assuming all other things are equal here, which won't be the actual case since she is bound to like the fit better at one or two than all. Again, all have decent programs. Is a ranking 3 slots higher worth $5k a year? Where is the authority on specific programs and how do we compare those, vs the USNWR rankings (which don't do much for me). I feel more confused now than I did before!</p>

<p>Cost of flights? Lol......</p>

<p>But seriously, maybe on a re-visit as an acceptee, she will have a better sense of fit.......not academically speaking, but rather socially, culturally etc.......</p>

<p>Where do the graduates of these programs end up? What research are the professors conducting? Where did those professors study themselves? Do they publish much, and where? Who is going on sabbatical in the next four years?</p>

<p>Depending on your daughter's career goals, these would be worth investigating. And, if she's dead set on these majors, they matter much much more than the over-all university ranking at USNWR.</p>

<p>I was gonna send you an email rodney! I need to calm down, I know. And I know these visits may separate the wheat from the chaff. </p>

<p>But seriously, with respect to specific programs or majors, if everything else is relatively equal, how do you differentiate? One school is in a great city with tons of other schools and it's cutting edge on research. Another gets tons of dough from NIH and grants and stuff like that. All offer amazing internship opportunities. Chances to work with great professors. Study abroad.</p>

<p>Is it time now for us to get a private counselor to help assess these 5 programs? Aaargh!</p>

<p>happymom, where does one find that sort of data? If i know nothing about the field, how do I know if a prof's research is important?</p>

<p>If all are terrific, and all are affordable, then it's OK if she picks the one with the best food/nicest bookstore/cutest boys/other random item that is suddenly important.</p>

<p>To better crunch your numbers, go to FinAid</a>! Financial Aid, College Scholarships and Student Loans click on calculators, and then scroll down to find the award letter comparison tool. Be sure to double-check the various merit awards for GPA requirements for renewals.</p>

<p>City or country? Weather? Undergraduate research opportunities? Sports/no sports? Coed/all-women? </p>

<p>If they are all highly regarded, the rankings are going to be irrelevant. What is important is her experience. Often, once visited, potential students will have a feel for one or the other. </p>

<p>I always recommend a Thursday overnight, if she can swing it. Of course, all experiences are individual, but in my opinion it is the best time to get a real feel for what the campus (and other students) are all about.</p>

<p>Even now, as a 2d semester senior, she hates the idea of missing classes! We've done the basic eval stuff: city, climate not critical, sports could go either way, lots of research options at these places, not into greek system( but they seem less important at city schools anyway). Public transportation available. All have nearby airports with direct flights home. Etc. </p>

<p>We've considered ALL this stuff!</p>

<p>Your daughter is the one who needs to do the research on her profs. Each of them probably has a list of his/her publications and grants right on the university website. If she looks at a couple, she'll start to develop a bit of criteria for evaluating them.</p>

<p>When/if she visits campus, she can try to get the scoop from the current students as well. That way she'll have a sense about whether or not Dr. Famous is interested in undergrads at all or only in research. She needs people who care about both of those things.</p>

<p>So then there is the old tried and true: narrow down to two schools, and flip a coin. If she feels a sinking feeling in her stomach when one school (and not the other) comes up, she has an answer. </p>

<p>The reality is that for the vast majority of kids in the large majority of circumstances, there are multiple schools that can fill the bill (and have you pay it.) Whatever you do, don't DARE to make the decision for her, except to say that if May 1 rolls around without an answer, she's going to the local community college.</p>

<p>:-). You have my word of honor!</p>

<p>If neuroscience/psychology is a definite career path for her, it might be worth attending relevant classes on a return visit to the top contenders. If there is a chance she'll study something else, she should consider strength of other departments</p>

<p>Is a ranking 3 slots higher worth $5k a year? </p>

<p>==========</p>

<p>Absolutely not.....3 spots means NOTHING. And, next year, the ranks can change and the higher school may now be tied or lower. </p>

<p>Visit each school and the dept major, meet with some faculty, and your D will find one that fits her best.</p>

<p>If she picked these schools with her academic interests in mind, all have turned out to be affordable, and all are places she wouldn't mind going, then the decision doesn't matter that much, does it?</p>

<p>It's like choosing among five good restaurants. Whatever the decision, you're going to end up with a good meal.</p>

<p>Also, she doesn't have to "rank" all five. She just has to pick one. That's less complicated.</p>

<p>She has a while to make up her mind, and probably things will seem clearer to her by April. In the meantime, she might want to visit the campuses she hasn't seen -- during Spring Break or on weekends, if necessary. And she can probably find out a lot about life at the schools from the media that her generation relies on -- like Facebook.</p>

<p>What schools? You could always do a poll on here and let the cc community decide? ;)</p>

<p>Otherwise, I agree with the above and say let her decide based upon anything she likes (preferably with overnight visits at each contender).</p>

<p>OP,
The worm is in grad school in this field. Like your DD, He got accepted to all his schools. He spent time at each program, interviewed with profs and spoke to other grad students. I may have some insights for you on programs.</p>

<p>For an UG, I'd suggest looking at the courses offered in the field. I'd go for depth. One of the big differences is that some programs lean towards the biological/psych side, and others towards the computational/cognitive science. For the record, the worm shifted his interests. It is not until one is immersed in classes and research that one can get a feel for the type of work that captures one's imagination.</p>

<p>Your DD should be so excited.</p>

<p>I agree with mom2ck - have her make appointments with faculty at the schools she visits. Just whether or not she can easily make the appointment should tell her something, and she'll get a good sense from them professor of whether they're really excited about working with undergraduate students.</p>

<p>Just curious- are the schools LACs or larger U's? Also agree that your dau whoudl read the faculty member's bios and see what research they are doing. If she is interested in auditory evoked potentials and auditory processing and they are doing work on cat phermones, it might not be a good match</p>

<p>^lol...except I'm sure there is plenty of research on cat pheremones.</p>

<p>My daughter was a psychology major at Pitt and graduated in May 2011. She loved it! Psychology is a very strong major there and one of the largest departments, if not the largest. She did the cognitive science concentration, and she found it very challenging and interesting. In addition, Pitt has wonderful resources for directed research for the psych major. My daughter had no trouble working on two separate projects, and she was able to use the skills she had learned in each of them to land part-time jobs afterward (one during the summer).</p>

<p>Because she loves the brain and how it works, she also took four neuroscience courses at Pitt, another very strong department. She worked extremely hard in those but loved it. She just missed earning a neuroscience minor (she lacked one class for that).</p>

<p>Here are some links:</p>

<p>Current</a> Opportunities for Directed Research in Psychology</p>

<p>Cognitive Science Concentration, Psychology Department:
<a href="http://www.psychology.pitt.edu/documents/CognitiveScienceConcentrationinthePsychologyMajor--newcurriculum_000.pdf%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://www.psychology.pitt.edu/documents/CognitiveScienceConcentrationinthePsychologyMajor--newcurriculum_000.pdf&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>Best of luck to your daughter!</p>