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Last minute decision advice

Feluh98Feluh98 Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
Hi, I'm new to posting to this site, but I figured I would at least try it out because I have to make my college decision in just a few days. (I posted this in Cornell's section as well) I was accepted to UVA, and its engineering school, and Cornell in CALS for environmental engineering. These are the two schools I narrowed it down to.

Just to describe myself quickly, I, like many of the people on this website, worked very hard in high school, and have been accepted to at least one or two prestigious schools. However, after 4 years of working pretty hard, senior year proved to be difficult. I feel burnt out in a way, and it may simply be senioritis, but I'm worried that it may transfer to college. I think that I will be able to recover and study well again, as long as I pursue a degree I really want to. Also, in senior year, I started having more fun, going out more, and realizing the importance of doing that. I decided I want to go to college at a place where I can be really happy, and not terribly stressed out.

And that's where the college decision comes in. At UVA (with out of state tuition), I got the feeling that the program for engineering is a little more laid back, but if this is wrong please let me know. I think I could have more fun here, with better weather, better sports teams, and perhaps a better social life. The only thing is, I'm not sure if I would be willing to pass up an ivy league school, for UVA, a program that I felt had a less reputable and attractive program for engineering. I want to end up in Silicon Valley, at a big tech company, so whichever school, Cornell or UVA can do that, I will be happy.

Cornell, an ivy league education, is my other offer, and i am in CALS. I decided after I applied, that environmental engineering isn't for me, so I would have to transfer after 2 years, with the process of applying to a specific major. So I wouldnt really be able to study mechanical or electrical engineering for 2 years, if I understand correctly, which makes me anxious. I don't want to do bad in school in subject material that Im not passionate about. But at Cornell, if I rough this situation out, and stay positive, I would access to a great alumni system. A big part of it for me is access and availability of internships, and if Im correct, I think Cornell could help hook me up easily with connections they have in Silicon Valley. I think passing up an ivy league education is something I may regret, especially if it could've helped push me ahead in my search for a good engineering job out of college. Also, at UVA, i felt like the internships were limited and not encouraged until Junior year, and the ones that were offered, were very selective and highly sought out. I am turned off by the possibility of having to apply for an internship with only one slot, instead of being helped out by a career service and guaranteed an interview in places in California.

Price wise, I can lay it out. For Cornell, I have $5000 in loans, with a $3000 contribution and a $2500 work study. UVA, is $9000 in loans and a $4000 work study. UVA is also around $2000 more for my parents. This is irksome because UVA is usually such a great deal for in state students, but it turns much worse for out of staters. I would feel bad about my parents paying more for a school compared to an ivy league. Is UVA's engineering opportunities and a possibly better social life worth more than Cornell's package? I wanna be happy but also set up for graduation.

I reach out to everyone here to help me denounce any stereotypes or conceptions I had about each school. I guess for Cornell, its that the workload will kill me, and may deflate my grades so bad I can't even transfer into the engineering program i wanted to after 2 years. So am I wrong? would this process of transferring be less stressful than I am perceiving, and is Cornell a more manageable place, workload wise? For UVA, is their engineering program weak, in its job placement and internship opportunities. And another thing, while I am more of an athletic guy, who occasionally wears a polo shirt, would I be a good fit at UVA? I'm fairly outgoing when I get to know people, but again, I don't like competition, either in social life or academics. Thank you guys so much, I am overthinking everything clearly, and would appreciate any advice or info you have on either school.

Replies to: Last minute decision advice

  • Dean JDean J College Rep Posts: 4,489 Senior Member
    edited April 2016
    I saw this all the time: where you feel happy, you are more likely to take advantage of the opportunities your school provides you both inside and outside of the classroom.

    Have a talk with your parents about the finances. If they say that tuition/travel is not a factor, then you can move onto thinking about the environment that works best for your learning style and your wishes for college life. The fact is that both of these schools are fantastic. Both have graduates working in your desired field and location. You'll have an alumni network regardless.

    BTW, there are UVA Clubs in Silicon Valley and San Francisco. There's also a [url=https://www.****/UVAClubofSF]UVA Club of SF page[/url] on FB. Here are alumni blog posts about activity in that area.

    Good luck! You have two great options and while I obviously think UVA is a fabulous place, I don't think you can make a bad decision!
  • CharlieschCharliesch Registered User Posts: 2,081 Senior Member
    Keep this in mind: The Ivy League is an athletic conference. Also, part of Cornell is a state university.
  • IntlApplicantIntlApplicant Registered User Posts: 61 Junior Member
    Go where you think you will succeed. Engineering is not easy, and Cornell is known for some pretty bad grade deflation. I can guarantee you this; a 3.5 at UVA > 3.0 at Cornell.

    That said it all depends on your risk appetite; how confident are you on getting the grades required to transfer into your desired major at Cornell? If by chance you are unable to, will you be happy doing Environmental Engineering (or atleast studying it for the better part of 2 years)?

    If I were you id try finding out a bit more on how UVA engineering grads place by connecting with an alum before the enrollment deadline. You can always apply for grad school (or an MBA in the future) and get an "ivy league" education to rebrand yourself.

    Don't discount UVA's emphasis on the liberal arts which permeates even STEM majors; employers are increasingly looking out for people who are good at communicating their ideas in addition to strong technical skills.


  • ProfessorDProfessorD Registered User Posts: 288 Junior Member
    Another consideration: after a year of residency in Virginia, as a graduate student, I was able to qualify for in-state tuition. I was on a scholarship, so it really only meant a change to what the school was paying itself.
    I don't know if you'd be able to swing that, but UVA's in-state is about 1/4 the OOS tuition.
  • CharlieschCharliesch Registered User Posts: 2,081 Senior Member
    edited April 2016
    It is very hard in Va. for a dependent out of state student to achieve in-state status while an undergrad, unless their family moves to Va., and even then there is a 12 month waiting period.

    If a person wants to achieve in-state status for grad school, it takes 12 months of in-state residency. To achieve it, you should change everything to a Va. address - make sure you file Va. taxes, register your car in Va., register to vote in Va., get a Va. drivers license, etc.
  • Dean JDean J College Rep Posts: 4,489 Senior Member
    Charlie's right. The student would have to be independent financially. If the parents are claiming the student as a dependent on their taxes back at home, the student isn't a Virginia resident.
  • lostaccountlostaccount Registered User Posts: 4,645 Senior Member
    "Keep this in mind: The Ivy League is an athletic conference. Also, part of Cornell is a state university." The reason the 8 schools are part of the athletic conference is because they are peer institutions. Suggesting people are confused about the term when it really does not mean much beyond an athletic conference is misleading. in fact, the 8 schools have been grouped together ( and interacted with each other) far before it was an athletic conference and that is why they became an athletic conference, not the other way around.

    But the OP appears to have applied to CALS rather than to the school at Cornell that houses the majors he/she wants. Was that because she/he felt it would be easier to be admitted to CALS than to the engineering school or did the OP's mind change about he future direction of his/her life in a 4 month span? If it was strategy, it is a poor one. The transfer is not a given and engineering requires a full 4 years, at least. Bad strategy. I'd go with UVa.


  • lostaccountlostaccount Registered User Posts: 4,645 Senior Member
    And yes, the course of study in engineering, especially in the first two years, is that rigorous that transferring anywhere is often extremely difficult-GPAs are notoriously low. That is not a stereotype. Yes it is as difficult as you describe which is why the strategy is a flawed one. Usually admissions is able to detect those trying to sneak into/back door a more competitive school. I guess not always. But a foot in the Cornell door is not a foot into engineering.
  • cali60cali60 Registered User Posts: 161 Junior Member
    my sons #1 choice was Cornell. He was actually an athlete who didn't commit early and the coach recommended applying to CALS for a sure way to get into Cornell. There was no way I would chance CALS as a door getting into engineering and be out all that tuition for something your heart isn't into.. Like you, he was interested in environmental eng , he thought, but also mech eng. At the time, admissions to engineering (with a few phone calls) would provide no info on anything if he changed his major to the eng dept. So he applied engineering rather than chance it and was wait listed. Yes, he was disappointed. It was the only school he said he LOVED. WEll... He went to UVA for eng. and very happy and very successful. LOVES UVA (and i even asked if he wanted to transfer to Cornell after freshmen year and he said no way)! He's Mech Eng. major. One of his roommates got into Cornell and turned it down for UVA. good luck with your decision…
  • cali60cali60 Registered User Posts: 161 Junior Member
    as far as internships and jobs… the schools have recruiters and those companies only have the budget to go to so many schools. You can get an internship from UVA after freshmen year of you want. The thing is no matter where you go, don't rely on who comes to your school…you have the internet to make connections and apply. My son had more internship offers than there were summers just by being assertive, applying, etc and not being dependent on who came to the school.
  • CharlieschCharliesch Registered User Posts: 2,081 Senior Member
    edited April 2016
    Let me explain my "the Ivy League is an athletic conference" remark. I was trying to say that too many people become obsessed with the Ivy prestige, as opposed to looking for a college that is a good fit for them and that has the right academic offerings for them. Pretentiousness can get in the way of education. I received my masters from an Ivy League university, and on the whole, my professors and courses at UVa were much better. (However, I didn't study engineering.)
  • RintuRintu Registered User Posts: 263 Junior Member
    I think, you have two great choices!

    Campus: Both are beautiful. I like UVA little more and Charlottesville is indeed a great place!
    Student body: In my opinion, The class profile will be the same for both the places.
    Ivy vs. UVA: If you are an international or planning to look for career outside the US, Cornell will be the right choice.
    Career prospect: Cornell CoE is a better brand than UVA's SEAS. However, CALS doesn't enjoy the same brand pull as Cornell CoE. UVA SEAS is pretty good in facilitating internships. Not too sure about Cornell CALS.
    Workload: Yes, Cornell is known for excessive competition and at times it leads to unhealthy atmosphere in the classrooms. Grade delation happens in CALS? I am not too sure.

    Finally, it is difficult to refuse the Ivy tag, even if it doesn't give a tangible benefit!

This discussion has been closed.