Neuroscience/Psychology--throwing up my hands

<p>All good advice here. I guess I'd look at it from two angles - things specific to the major and things about the school in general.</p>

<p>About the major:
(1) everything already mentioned on this thread (talk to profs & students - even if it's over the phone, find out numbers on what grads are doing after they complete their degrees, what kind of research, etc can an undergrad get involved in...)
(2) what are the options if D changes her mind about her major
(3) as far as what classes are offered, try to find the actual spring & fall listings to make sure everything listed on the course list is actually offered once in a while
(4) what are students in that major doing during the summers (are there good opportunities)</p>

<p>Outside the major:
(1) how easy is it to get classes you want. Do classes fill up and then you're out of luck, or do they wave you in easily?
(2) compare general ed requirements
(3) Details about dropping and adding classes (some schools give up to 4 weeks to make changes, others just a week)
(4) How many hours does the listed tuition pay for each semester? Is it pricey to overload on course load?
(5) Compare how D will use AP credits at each school. Sounds trivial, but if it opens up room for two more classes in her major or a minor, it's worth knowing about.</p>

<p>You can also ask questions on each school's thread here on CC - you'll probably get answers to questions you didn't even think of!</p>

<p>sujormik- I responded to you over on the Pitt forum, but I'll add that although I know nothing about the psych departments at the other schools your D is considering, when I talked to a friend of mine who is head of the psych dept at a major research university she spoke extremely highly of Pitt's department. My D is considering a psych major as well, and of all the schools that she applied to, my friend rated Pitt the highest (in fact over her own university). </p>

<p>I think the public/private distinction is a bit of a red herring here, as Pitt is only a state-related university and receives only a small amount of funding from the state of PA. I expect that research funding matters more. Research</a> | University of Pittsburgh</p>

<p>All things being equal, she can pick the best food or the nicest dorm. Revisit each one, and let her follow her gut. Congratulations, it's all good.</p>

<p>This is a great position to be in! Yeah! You did your job well; pat of the back to a great CC parent! Woohoo! I think, as other posters have mentioned, stop looking for "the best" as they are all equally wonderful. There is no "best". Your DD's major will require grad school, so this is not her end degree. This would be my priority:</p>

<p>1) where she feels good about the school,
2) the school that has a good rep for getting their students into the caliber graduate programs she is interested, and
3) where it would be most FUN!</p>

<p>Let's face it, the road to a MD or Phd is very long and difficult. You have to live a little too. You are only young once, so the balance between serious student and fun is important. I'd find the fun loving, serious campus and never look back! Good luck!</p>

<p>things i would do is check a) the requirements to keep her scholarships and b) the grading system of the school and C) semesters vs quarters.</p>

<p>son had one program he loved but it required a 3.8 to stay in the program and the school used a plus/minus grading system... ie an A- equaled 3.67 . so if he did great in everything with 90-93 he would have lost the scholarship! He felt much "safer" with a straight any B=3.0 any A=4.0 grading system. </p>

<p>He also preferred the pace of semesters to the pace of quarters.</p>

<p>You guys are AWESOME, I feel so much calmer already! And indeed, I am WELL aware at how lucky we are to be choosing from among top options. She seems far less worried about this than I am (I'm a life-long decision avoider LOL) and she's way smarter than me too, so I know she'll work through it. </p>

<p>Now all we need is for her to actually get in to Penn's BBB and have to factor THAT into the mix.</p>

<p>For the record, I'd say Pitt is probably neck and neck with Northeastern. I LOVED Pitt for her (as some of you know) and we're going to NEU in a couple weeks so we'll be on more equal footing.</p>

<p>Really, thank you all so much.</p>

<p>"Let's face it, the road to a MD or Phd is very long and difficult"</p>

<p>That brings up a Q that I have since my D is planning on majoring in Psych. Does a UG in Psych/Neuro etc generally require an MS or higher to secure a good job in the field?</p>

<p>Also, in looking up rankings I see a noticeable difference between the same schools depending on the specific specialty (eg behavioral vs cognitive vs neuro etc). What does anyone know specifically about Clemson, UVA, and possibly Tulane and W&M's departments?</p>

<p>I agree, now it comes down to fit and if that means there is a Chick-fil-a down the street, then that is the school that gets the nod. Also, put it into perspective, 3 rankings spots means the difference between Harvard and Columbia or Yale or MIT...</p>

<p>Also, unless those merit offers are all full rides, until you get the "final" package, one school may end up costing more than another.</p>

<p>
[quote]
things i would do is check a) the requirements to keep her scholarships and b) the grading system of the school and C) semesters vs quarters.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>^^ This is extremely important. What is the minimum GPA required to keep those merit aid awards? This can vary wildly. Obviously, the lower, the better. Keep in mind a 3.5 may have been easy for a student to attain in HS, but become much more difficult in college.</p>

<p>Good point about the GPA to keep the scholarships. One school we looked at only requires a 2.0 to keep their merit scholarships from the school. Their thinking is that they want kids to take a challenging class and not have to worry if they get a 3.0 in that class that they would lose their scholarship. Works for us.</p>

<p>Has she visited any of these schools at all yet--before she applied?</p>

<p>You have several good schools with similar cost to choose from. </p>

<p>You could try to research every last detail of professors research and job placement and ... In the end, however, you are IMHO wasting your time. They are all interchangable and your child's experience there will be what she makes of it.</p>

<p>Like buying a car, once you have a budget and a couple of good, reliable choices, let her pick the one that "fits" best. Let her find a place she can call home for four years. That will come down to the non-academic stuff that is important to her - maybe dorms or food or climate or gyms or other facilities or clubs.</p>

<p>she needs to look closely at the curriculum at each and the on-campus research opportunities that might be available.</p>

<p>Neuro is different at every college. It can be Psych-focused, bio-focused, or comp sci-focused. (All three can be offered out of the Psych dept.) So consider the curriculum and her interests. Then, the on-campus research opportunities, in her department. (It doesn't much matter if the college has neuro opportunities in the Bio department if your D is a Psych major bcos the Bio students tend to get first dibs on opportunities in their departments.)</p>

<p>After the visits, if things are still equal between schools then consider taking a different approach. What does she NOT like about each school? Sometimes what's on that list may separate the schools. </p>

<p>Good luck!!</p>

<p>P.S. My daughter would love to go to Northeastern but I'm seriously doubting she get enough merit to attend.</p>

<p>Some students stay on the paths they select in high school, but most do not. Take a look at what else is offered as each institution.</p>

<p>If all things are still equal, then pick the least expensive.</p>

<p>Maybe one way to decide is by considering what students/parents DIDN'T like about your daughter's prospective schools. At least that would give you/your daughter some food for thought. I'll start with Northeastern, where my daughter studied behavioral neuroscience. </p>

<ul>
<li><p>Boston is an EXPENSIVE city. This will certainly come into play once your daughter moves off-campus - rents in particular are steep. </p></li>
<li><p>My daughter felt the behavioral neuroscience program had some weaknesses - it was more 'general science' and less 'neuro' than in other schools. Comparing course descriptions/requirements may be a good thing to do. </p></li>
<li><p>Most of the students at Northeastern are career-oriented, and there is less of a purely intellectual, knowledge-for-knowledge's sake vibe there than you'll find in other well-ranked schools. </p></li>
<li><p>My daughter felt humanities were weaker at NEU for the same reason as above. </p></li>
<li><p>Because of the co-op program, NEU has a bit of a different vibe than other campuses. After your 3rd semester many of your friends disappear off-campus as they go on their various co-ops. This didn't bother my daughter, but it is different from the traditional college experience. </p></li>
<li><p>Some students finish their BAs at Northeastern in 4 years, but most do take 5 due to co-ops. While you're not paying tuition when you're on co-op - in the end you will pay more in the extra year - rent in a city with steep rents. </p></li>
</ul>

<p>FWIW, my daughter overall really liked her NEU experience. Here's hoping OP's daughter will too, if that's the school she chooses.</p>

<p>
[quote]
That brings up a Q that I have since my D is planning on majoring in Psych. Does a UG in Psych/Neuro etc generally require an MS or higher to secure a good job in the field?

[/quote]
</p>

<p>Yes - psych with a neuro focus, or a major in neuro/bio, may be a little different, but generally a bachelors in psychology with no additional training leads to low salaried jobs. This may differ a bit by area, but in my area you'd see less than $30k/year as a behavioral assistant, residential counselor, or human services/resources positions. Psych is a very general study for undergrad since you will be exploring developmental, cognitive, social, clinical, and counseling rather than going in-depth into one until junior or senior year, and even then you're only scratching the surface. Of course, if the school offers neuro or cognitive science, this would lead to some different job opportunities and may lead to a better starting salary. You have to consider what you actually want to do with that major and determine whether a higher degree is needed and worth the extra cash. </p>

<p>UVa is excellent, as is W&M, and generally lead to excellent grad schools for students working toward that. I'm not too familiar with Tulane's psych program.</p>

<p>between NEU and Pitt, Pitt has a much stronger program in Neuro. With Carnegie Mellon is across the street, Pitt offers covers all three areas of neuro extremely well; CM covers the comp sci piece for those really interested. Pitt also offers several funded summer research programs.</p>

<p>Urban campus, big D1 sports. Lots of school spirit. Nice location.</p>

<p>I thought that as well, sort of a great blend. My husband is way more up about NEU, opportunities in Boston, student friendly community, etc. We had such a positive student-meeting experience at Pitt, I'm trying to find the same at northeastern when we go in 2 weeks (even advertised for it over on their wall here lol).</p>

<p>I do have to say that NEU's research opportunities in the Boston area are amazing. My daughter's co-op was at one of the finest facilities of its kind in the world. She graduated with extensive lab experience and participated in research that was published - she's listed as a co-author along with two Harvard scientists.</p>

<p>I think the GPA to retain the merit is the single most important component for you at this time.</p>

<p>I don't know all the schools you are considering, but FWIW, regardless of major, I have never heard a bad thing about Pitt. Being a PA resident, Penn State and Pitt are the go to schools in my area. Pitt is known to have very little red tape.</p>