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Pitt vs...

gracellogracello 333 replies37 threads Member
edited April 2007 in University of Pittsburgh
Okay, so here's my dilemma. I applied to Pitt as a safety and wound up liking it more than I thought I would after I visited... not my favorite, but the scholarship I got sweetens the deal, and it was a very decent school. I was very excited about it while there, but I'm excitable in general, and the main reason I'm enticed is the financial aspect of it + some of the opportunities in the Honors College.
However. I also got accepted to the University of Chicago and UPenn, which were my two top choices, and am still waiting to hear on CMU, where I think I will probably get in.
I'm wondering if anyone else had to make this kind of decision... deny a dream school (I've wanted Chicago since I was a freshman... it feels like it was made for me) for a scholarship at Pitt, or move the other way and deny the scholarship for a shot at the dream? Any experience would be appreciated. I understand I'll probably get the Pitt side of experience here, but I'd really like to hear about other decisions people thought about making or had to make before making the final choice.
edited April 2007
24 replies
Post edited by gracello on
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Replies to: Pitt vs...

  • mercymommercymom 1220 replies29 threads Senior Member
    My D turned down U Chicago to take the Pitt scholarship. She also turned down a pretty good finaid pkg at Rice (no scholarship there, but decent finaid). Didn't apply to CMU or any of your other schools. She mostly fell in love with Pitt on her visit, loved the school and the city. Was impressed with all the honors college opptys. She is in engineering, which Chicago doesn't have, but when she was applying she thought she would go to med school, so was willing to major in biology if she went to Chicago.

    Money was a huge factor in the decision. Chicago's finaid pkg was completely undoable. She found a good compromise in Pitt as she didn't really want to stay in the south and knew she didn't like Houston enuf to live there, even if we could afford Rice. She mostly applied there for the reputation of the school and their engrg dept, but for some reason never really liked it. Pitt and Pittsburgh is kind of "Chicago lite", both the school and the city, and eminently more affordable, so she is able to do and go wherever and whatever she wants. She has the financial freedom to enjoy the city and the school to the fullest. For instance, she's doing study abroad this summer, which we could never afford if she'd gone to U of C.

    Finally, she now knows she hates chemistry and no longer wants to go to med school. She loves engineering and would no longer be interested in majoring in biology. She also loves physics, but the practical mechanics kind, not the quantum, string theory kind. Ditto calculus. Loves the math, but not the proofs that Pitt honors math and Chicago math get immersed in. Chicago is very theoretical about everything, and D likes the practical. Had she gone to U of C, she might have gotten into it, but she might have been miserable at great expense. As it is, she is happy and has the right mix of affordable yet stimulating.

    Hope this helps. PM me if you need more or have a specific question.
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  • LBPLBP 400 replies13 threads Member
    gracello, what do you wish to major in? What about the particular locales/lifestyles of the schools? These are certainly factors in your decision. Also, have you received $ from Chicago? If money is not a primary consideration, then go with your gut. If Chicago has always been your dream school and you're sure it's the right place for you - then that's your choice. Whatever decision you come to, don't look back. You've been accepted by fine schools and will succeed wherever you go.... Good luck to you.
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  • mercymommercymom 1220 replies29 threads Senior Member
    Yes, a lot might depend on your major. Pitt has a lot of good depts, but its strengths seem to lie in the science/medicine type fields (this does not mean the other depts are weak!). A lot of this is because of UPMC being right across the street. The bioengrg dept is no. 14 USNW, the nursing school is top ten, the philosophy dept is top ten or maybe even top five (haven't seen the most recent rankings). The neuroscience dept is amazing and has a co-op thing going with CMU. There is a state of the art nanoscience technology center, a rehabilitation science center. One of the hospitals is the largest psychiatric hospital in the state, which makes the psychology dept strong. There are all kinds of research opptys in these fields.

    Comparing the med schools also tells you a little something about Pitt vs. Chicago. In the USNW rankings Pitt is either the top ten or twenty for "patient care", while Chicago's Pritzker (sp) Medical School is similarly ranked for "research". I doubt this means that the patients don't get good care at Chicago, but I do think it shows you where the focus differs.

    Now I repeat, none of this implies that other depts are not equally good, but UPMC is a driving force in Pittsburgh and all that medical stuff overflows into the ug programs. Pitt's also good for pharmacy and rehabilitation science/orthopedics. It's audiology program is top twenty.
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  • GasdocGasdoc 494 replies158 threads Member
    Good friends with a family who has a son who applied to Pitt as a "safety"...turned out he really liked the school and he got a very generous four year full tuition scholarship. In the end it was too good of a deal to pass up and he's really happy with his decision. The key is overall fit - often dream schools are everyone's else's dream but yours.
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  • gracellogracello 333 replies37 threads Member
    Okay, so here's a bit more information. Thanks for all of the help so far, maybe this can be of more assistance.
    I'm planning on a science major... I'm very interested in infectious disease, so biology with a focus in microbiology or a neuroscience major are both enticing. I got a full tutiton scholarship at Pitt and have interviewed for the Chancellor's scholarship. The initial package from Chicago is a stretch for my family, but my parents are willing to make it work. However, if I accept the full tuition scholarship (or if I get the Chancellor's scholarship, which is unlikely) then they will be able to help me with graduate school.
    Writing this down makes it seem like Pitt is a financially more logical choice, but I've been interested in Chicago for so long that it makes it hard to give up, you know?
    All of this advice is grounding me a bit more, making me realize that Pitt would be a good choice, but I'm still having trouble thinking about giving up "the dream". :)
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  • mercymommercymom 1220 replies29 threads Senior Member
    Pitt's neuroscience is really really good. Spend some time on their pages and read everything. Honestly, there is a huge collaborative deal going between Pitt and CMU. They share faculty (dual appts). Also some of the Pitt med school faculty teaches in the ug neuro dept. There is a statement on the web pages (if you dig) that Pitt and CMU came to realize that neither of them had the critical mass in that area to have a blockbuster going for them, but if they joined forces and also with UPMC and its facilities they could do wonderous things....and they are!

    If you then cross check the CMU neuro site you will find that when they list their "facilities", most of the centers and such are actually at Pitt. I have no idea what U of C offers in this area, but what Pittsburgh offers is astounding. You need to give it careful consideration.

    Luckily for us, our D wasn't "dreaming" of Chicago as long as you were, so giving it up wasn't that difficult. But I do fully understand where you're coming from.
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  • Pat2323Pat2323 612 replies23 threads Member
    gracello, if Chicago is where you really want to be, you should do everything in your power to go there. The most important thing for a prospective student is to find a school where he/she will be happy.

    However, if Chicago is just not an option, you can find comfort in the fact that Pitt is a top-caliber school. As you can see, there are tons of people here who love it, It is highly regarded in the science community, and it is located in a great city.
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  • lkf725lkf725 4596 replies184 threads Senior Member
    My son always dreamed of going to CMU since he was in middle school. He was accepted to every program he applied to but the financial package was ridiculous, even after appeals. It was hard to let the dream go, but he had several other great options and he chose Pitt Engineering. After he arrived on campus and became involved there, I don't think he ever thought of CMU again. He loves Pitt and is very happy with his decision. The fact that we saved around $120K is a big relief to all of us!

    Gracello, you and everyone else has to make the decision they think they can live with, but I just wanted to share our experience with you. I think sometimes the loss of the dream is worse than the loss of the actual experience.
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  • LBPLBP 400 replies13 threads Member
    Gracello, only you can decide what's good for you. Ikf put it best:"...the loss of the dream is worse than the loss of the actual experience." I think sometimes kids get too hung up on the name/perception of prestige. In VA, parents and students fall all over each other to get into William and Mary and UVA. Other students get accepted to both and couldn't care in the least. They opt to go elsewhere because the another school is their best choice. These students don't run with the pack; they make their own personal, individual choices for their own reasons - whether it's financial, social, and/or academic.
    So, if Chicago is where you believe you'll thrive - putting the prestige aspect aside - go there. Best of luck to you!
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  • gracellogracello 333 replies37 threads Member
    Thanks for all of the great advice, everyone... I got a scholarship to the University of Chicago (came in the mail today), so sometimes "fate" intervenes!! Good luck with all of your children/your own experiences.
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  • Pat2323Pat2323 612 replies23 threads Member
    I'm glad you got want you wanted, gracello. I think it speaks volumes of Pitt that someone would consider turning down their longtime dream school to attend Pitt from across the country. I'm sure you will be happy at Chicago, it really is a great school, and I am glad that you enjoyed Pitt. Just remember that it will always be waiting for you if you ever do become disenchanted with Chicago ;)
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  • oceangirloceangirl 90 replies5 threads Junior Member
    gracello,
    congrats on acceptance at UChicago, I've heard great things about it and if it's your dream school, then that's just about as awesome as it gets! I just wanted to say thanks for your posts; i've been feeling the same confusion and you (along with everyone else on this link) have really helped me realize that Pitt is where I want to be. I'm disappointed you won't be joining me, but hey, the point is you have to do what feels right for you!

    Gasdoc,
    your comment "The key is overall fit - often dream schools are everyone's else's dream but yours" really resonated with me and I wanted to thank you as well. I still don't quite understand why it's so difficult to just do what you know is right for you, but wow is it difficult when close friends constantly say you should do otherwise. Luckily my parents have given me great guidance and haven't pushed me to choose one way or the other which has taken a load of pressure off. In the end they definitely agreed that Pitt was the best fit, too. But what do you say when your best friends tell you that they think you'll hate it and will be miserable? I don't get it...predicting such a miserable future is only making me feel worse now! I don't know if you had some similar experience, but thank you for your insight, it is much appreciated.
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  • megnutmegnut 56 replies12 threads Junior Member
    My S used Pitt as his safety and got the four year scholarship. He was interested in the Premed program opportunities. He just got in to Cornell and kind of wants to go there now..They offered a generous package but it still will mean much more sacrifice then Pitt. Sooooo.....is it worth it if he decides he really wants to go there?????? Or do you save money for graduate school??? HELP
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  • bluejaybluejay 786 replies129 threads Member
    Same here, megnut. Pitt vs Cornell only Cornell was not at all generous with financial aid.
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  • mercymommercymom 1220 replies29 threads Senior Member
    gracello - congrats on the scholarship! i know how much you wanted U of C; best of luck to you!

    oceangirl - fit is very personal. i don't know what to say except that my D knows kids who turned down lots of "big name" schools to go to Pitt, schools like Rice, U of C, Columbia, MIT, Berkeley, CMU. There are lots of kids on those honors floors with great credentials - 1600 SATs, NMF, vals and sals. there is even a kid whose parent is a prof at MIT (and the kid had a 1600 SAT). (1600 m/v on these stats). all these students had other choices and they chose Pitt. Are they miserable? no way, they love it.

    megnut and bluejay - what can i say, Cornell is a really great school; congrats on the admit. i know this will be a difficult decision. if money is going to be a problem i suggest reading one of the threads going right now on the loans vs scholarship issue - there are several. if you're thinking about professional school (like law or medicine) consider how much that's going to cost - there are no scholarships to professional school.

    also consider lifestyle. Pitt is urban; Cornell is rural. what more can i say - my D loves Pitt and so do others. only you know what's right for you. fit is everything tho'. go with the best school you can afford where you'll be the happiest - and only you and not your friends can make that decision.
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  • mercymommercymom 1220 replies29 threads Senior Member
    just to show you how personal this all is, i couldn't even get my D to apply to Cornell in spite of prodding by her piano teacher who went there, 'cause she didn't want to go to a rural school; all her apps were to big cities. to each his/her own.
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  • Pat2323Pat2323 612 replies23 threads Member
    mercymom put it perfectly. No matter what college you go to, you will be able to challenge yourself. The most important thing is to find a college that fits you. Trust me. I have been to a college that did not fit me, and I was so miserable that it affected my grades. Once I transferred to a school that fit me, Pitt, I was able to excel. You have to go where you will be happiest.
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  • oceangirloceangirl 90 replies5 threads Junior Member
    thanks mercymom, I completely agree with you. I have always wanted to live in the city and after 3 visits to Pitt, I know its what I want. It's frustrating to hear otherwise, but I know it won't be true, so in the end it really doesn't matter (just got my PittStart info today, as a matter of fact). I really appreciate the encouraging words, it only makes me more excited to get started!
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  • cc77cc77cccc77cc77cc 142 replies34 threads Junior Member
    Personally, I believe that you would learn just as much at Pitt as any ivy or top school; however, I also believe that the top schools would open up professions to you that you otherwise would be unable to break into. Like it or not, corporate America is comprised of prestige whores and you would have a much more difficult time getting into the NYC financial industry.

    I am choosing between Pitt vs Penn M&T (wharton + engineering). Pitt would be completely free, including books, computer, etc. but I don't know if I will be able to pass up the connections at Penn. I'm waiting to see if I get into the med guarantee before I try to make my decision.
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  • LBPLBP 400 replies13 threads Member
    cc77: Wow! Did you get the Chancellor's Scholarship?
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