Son struggling mightily to make decision-need your advice/anecdotes!

<p>My son is completely tortured about making his college decision. He applied to 6 schools, got in all, and narrowed it down to the top 2.</p>

<p>School #1 is a private, more expensive, top 50 school where we'll have to pay $14k per year after scholarships plus he'd need $5k in loans per year (unless he can earn enough). This school seems to provide that elusive feeling of fit. He could definitely see himself going there. He liked the campus, the people, the city. It is about 1/3 the size of school #2. He liked that most students are from out of state and come without their high school cliques and friends. </p>

<p>School #2 is a large but highly ranked state school (top 60) which had ALWAYS been his number one choice (until visiting School #1 above!). He says he thinks he can be happy here but really prefers the private school. Due to the state lottery and his grades it would only cost $7k per year!</p>

<p>The rub is this---he "thinks" he might like to major in Geography but admittedly plans to go in as undeclared. He really doesn't know for sure what he wants to study. However, School #1 doesn't even offer this as a major. So, his heart seems to lie with #1 but his head--due to cost and POSSIBLE area of study---may be saying #2.</p>

<p>H and I have encouraged him to look at all areas of study at School #1. We've spoken to the Advisement Office at School #1. He's talked to friends and others for advice. He is still conflicted. He told me last night to "tell him what to do". He doesn't want to have to think about it anymore and I don't blame him.</p>

<p>Any thoughts or suggestions?</p>

<p>First, a question for you, M/D, are you happy with forking out the 14K? Any subtle pressure, other children at home, looming lay-offs, any solid financial reason not to go to School 1? I'm usually the person who says NO DEBT, but 20K on his part is not that much, especially since he can knock it down with work.
If you are OK with your cost, then I would make this observation to him- it will be much easier to transfer to the state school than get into the LAC. So many kids change their majors, have him try it for a year, if geography is it, or it is too confining, whatever, then come back to state school, that simple.</p>

<p>Have you read the thread I started on A Way to Decide?</p>

<p><a href=""&gt;;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>There are several good ideas there that you might try if you haven't yet.
In relation to that, your S's idea of "you make the decision, Mom" might be a way to test out what he really wants. Pick one of the two arbitrarily and see if he gives you the pump-fisted "YES!" or seems a little deflated.</p>

<p>I do like cangel's comments also.</p>

<p>PS My S is going to Tulane, which I think might be School #1, so I'm doing a little secret rooting. Isn't it funny how we can become loyalists for a school so quickly?</p>

<p>If transferring to a state school is a possibiity, then first check whethrr that is truly feasible in your state. Here in California transfer to a UC from a private college is extremely difficult as the UCs must give priorities to junior college students, which takes care of pretty much all the transfer spots and then some.</p>

<p>Thanks to all for your replies.
Cangel, while it will be a struggle for us to pay the $14K (we currently have a D in college too), we told him we'd figure it out. We are aware of transfer issues--from the state school to private will be problematic since the advisor said aid for transfer students is typically much less than for freshmen. Already told him no decision is irrevocable. Just transfer! This is a kid who may not have a clue about college but knows in his heart he's a creature of habit and probably won't transfer.
So in his mind, the decision is really kind of "final".</p>

<p>jmmom, you are right! School #1 is Tulane. He quite unexpectedly loved it. I checked that other thread--some good ideas there. We have already done the "trying it on for size and see how it feels". He
still doesn't know. He just lays on the couch, puts his baseball cap over his face and says he doesn't know how he's supposed to decide when he doesn't know what he wants to study. Good point, I guess.</p>

<p>I think the problem here is that we're ALL conflicted. One day I tell him the state school because it's cheaper and has his potential major. The next day I tell him, "listen to your gut". He even said to me and H:
"What's wrong with you people--you keep changing your minds!"</p>

<p>We're just trying to give him the benefit (or maybe not!) of many ways to look at it. I think so much information is just too much for him to wade through.</p>

<p>I love the idea about making him take his deposit to the post office himself though.</p>

<p>If you don't know what you will end up studying, private colleges generally speaking have better advising and better avenues of exploration free of thundering herds headed into large lecture halls.</p>

<p>It would really help to know what schools you're talking about -- some of us may be personally familiar with one or both, and could tell you specifically about pros and cons.</p>

<p>S is POTENTIALLY interested in studying geography. Univ of GA is the other school which has a major & minor in it. He knows he'd end up happy at UGA, but Tulane is really pulling at him.</p>

<p>I've got mixed feelings. Tulane DID seem like a great fit for him--I always thought smaller for him would be better. But kids from around here absolutely love UGA, it's so cheap for us, and does have geography, just in case!</p>

<p>It is a tough decision. One thing that you might want to think about is whether you think a big state school would be a problem for him. If he has organizational issues, is not quick to jump on things (like registration), needs some more personal attention, you may want to consider the private option over state especially in the beginning of his college years. As Cangel pointed out, the transfer that way would be easier. </p>

<p>My experience has been that kids who are able to handle things well who go to the state flagship school truly love it, and within the year have wondered why they even considered a more expensive alternative. You might need to think where you feel your son best fits--would either school equally be good matches? Also could he use some of the money saved for some dream summer abroad, away or at home? Good luck to him in making the choice.</p>



<p>This has been my observation as well. UGA in particular is attracting a lot of really bright kids because of its generosity...I don't think it's far behind Tulane academically.</p>

<p>There are certain kids for whom the LACs are a better option. I have friends who are both proud flagship state school graduates who have done extremely well and loved their college experiences. They always felt strongly that their kids absolutely should go to State U, as it is a top 50 school, has everything and the price is right. Why pay 4 times more to go to a private school. Until their son came to age. These folks are smart and they knew their kid. They knew how their D had to sit on line to get first dibs on a class. They knew the size of the freshman English class. For them the extra money was a no brainer. The husband said it would take the boy 8 years to get out of State U if he did not flunk out first. A small school where the professors make an effort to get to know the kids was a much better fit, so they dug deeper in their pockets and paid it. </p>

<p>Another family I know was sure that their D would be state school bound, and that was always the assumption. She visited Private U just for the heck of it, and fell in love. This was IT. So, the family decided to let her go for it despite the additional cost. How often do you find IT? But in your case it seems like there is a lot of ambivalence. I don't know if it is that important which school he picks as he likes them both. Is it truly something he wants, or did it just hit him as the better deal? These issues all can come into consideration.</p>

<p>Let's say the academics of two schools are equal.</p>

<li> The locations are not.<br></li>

<p>New Orleans is one of the most interesting American cities, fourth behind New York, Chicago and San Francisco, IMHO. The physical environment is gorgeous. There is a wonderful interplay between established gardens and architecture. That interplay feels very European and it is unique in the US. </p>

<p>The urban plan set out by the founding fathers incorporated a huge mix of economic classes, with the wealthy merchant houses built on the outside boulevards and smaller and smaller houses built toward the inner rings of the neighborhood. Even in the leafy blocks surrounding Tulane, there's as big an economic mix as you'd find in New York City. And that's a good thing for privileged students to observe and understand. So says me.</p>

<p>The European environment influences the lifestyle too. New Orleans prided itself on it's cafe society decades before Starbucks was a twinkle in Schultz's eye.</p>

<p>The musical scene is unbelieveable and deep in history. The Jazz Fest is worth the ticket price. The politics are unbelieveable and an education alone. There is a compelling South American influence--mixed with the Napoleonic legal system. Did you know that Louisiana law is based on the Napoleon code? Quite a cocktail to observe.</p>

<li> On top of the location is the private school advantage of an international mix of students, an instant broadening of a young person's perspective as they absorb how kids in Englewood New Jersey view the world vs kids from Caracas. Once you meet kids who have sailed around South East Asia with their parents, it is easier to imagine yourself on such advnetures. Those cross-cultural friendships provide a surge of confidence and global sure-footedness. And that confidence has no easy substitute.<br></li>

<p>So says me--again! ;)</p>

<p>Wow. I just read all this, and cheers makes me wish we were moving to New Orleans. And like Cangel, I'm also one for minimal debt; on the other hand, $20K a year is not like--well--$46K+ a year. Based solely on cheers' comments, I think your son should go with Tulane!<br>
Just reading what you wrote, curiouser, and obviously not knowing your son...I'm wondering if he is conflicted, because he feels (wrongly believes) that choosing Tulane might be the 'selfish' thing to do. Not that it is, but a kid who might have a kind heart might also feel that he's putting you out by asking you to pay more, especially when he's undecided about his major. So it sounds like he really wants to go to Tulane (to me), but he wants you to say it. (Pure guesswork here..) So, I'd say.."Okay..let's fill out the paperwork for Tulane..that's where your father and I really want you to go" you really mean it..and see how he reacts. That's my suggestion! And thanks again, cheers, for that wonderful vision of New Orleans.</p>

<p>All his high school pals going to UGA are going to want to come visit him at Tulane!
This maybe one for the coin flip - it lands heads and you feel awful, you know the other school is right!</p>

<p>so is school #2 University of Georgia?
I am a decision maker. Tell him to go to Tulane! :)</p>

<p>How about the best of 2 worlds? He can always get a masters in geography from the state school, and major in something else in undergrad. He'd probably need a masters in it anyway.</p>

I am continually amazed by the terrific people on this board who offer some pretty terrific insights. Thank you all so much. </p>

<p>Loved the great description of New Orleans and indeed what a rich component it adds to an educational experience. And jack--sounds like you DO know my son! Your post was especially on target for me.</p>

<p>Still no decision but I did have him read this over. He articulated that he really wants to go to Tulane but that the lack of geography program is really nagging at him. We've discussed making a decision by Monday.</p>

<p>I'd also love to hear from anyone who struggled with the specific issue of loving the college that didn't exactly have the program you THOUGHT you wanted.....</p>

<p>Dear curioser,</p>

<p>If your son has been invited to the Honors Program at Tulane, then he should be able to cobble together something similar enough to a degree in Geo to suit him even if they don't offer an out-and-out major in it. My son's actually going there because they do offer his odd major, but he plans to do many other things at the same time, and the honors program supports that. </p>

<p>I suspect that, even if he's not going to be in the HP, he could probably put something together for himself. Suggest having him contact an advisor. I'll bet he could make it work. Tulane seems really committed to this sort of thing.</p>

<p>I was thinking the same thing re designing his own interdisciplinary major. Didn't bring it up as I didn't want to allow my newly-developed rah-rah-Tulane to influence. Also, if he will need grad work for his interest, the exact major for undergrad is not as critical as having broad and relevant preparation for the graduate specialty.</p>

<p>Tell us a little more, if you know, about his desire to major in Geography. Does he have a particular career in mind? Does he anticipate grad school?</p>

<p>I just checked the Tulane catalog online and the policy section allows for Self-Designed majors, if he didn't already know that.</p>

<p>I notice that one of your earlier posts says "POtentially" geog. major. Since so many kids change their minds, and since Tulane seems his real choice, why not start out there? Can't he always transfer after a couple yrs. to UGA if he really is blocked from his desired major (I'm betting he won't be).</p>

<p>I sympathize, jmmom. The more I find out about Tulane, the happier I am that my son sort of fell into it!</p>