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Full Ride at Vandy over Stanford?

marktwainmarktwain Registered User Posts: 18 New Member
edited September 2011 in Vanderbilt University
Hey everyone! So here's the situation:

I want to major in biomedical/biomechanical engineering with a possible double major or minor in Economics and complete all my pre-med reqs as well to keep open the possibility of med school. I want to be able to get a full engineering degree at the same time (BME is obviously the best option for this) but want a full business background at the same time in undergrad rather than getting an MBA.

So anyways, I've gotten into Stanford EA and will have to pay pretty much full price there (making it very hard on my family, esp having 2 little brothers) and travel pretty far (coming from north GA). Furthermore, although I have a slew of APs, most will obviously not transfer, thus making my plan very hard to complete in 4 years.

In addition, I have also gotten a full ride at Vanderbilt's School of Engineering. While Stanford is clearly superior in terms of engineering, Vandy will take most of my APs, allowing me to pursue my plan in 4 years, is close by, and has great pre-med/business options as well.

I have also applied to Penn's Jerome Fisher program which offers a dual degree with S.Eng. and Wharton. I obviously have not found out about that yet, but it is very competitive.

Any recommendations as to what to do abt Stanford/Vandy? I.e. is Stanford worth $50k more a year for what I want to do?
Post edited by marktwain on

Replies to: Full Ride at Vandy over Stanford?

  • SB27SB27 Registered User Posts: 35 Junior Member
    Mark Twain (a great American, by the way):

    I am making a few assumptions here:

    1. you feel good when you walk on VU's campus and you can envision yourself being happy there.
    2. Your family is not upper class (sounds like that is a "no").
    3. you are not dying to work at Google or some other Bay Area tech firm with strong Stanford affiliations.

    With these assumptions in mind, I would take the full ride at Vanderbilt for the following reasons:

    1. Vanderbilt is a great school and getting stronger. I am more familiar with their liberal arts programs, but I assume you applied their because their engineering school is very good.

    2. The kids at both school are great. The student bodies are becoming less distinguishable (Stanford used to be more diverse, VU is becoming more diverse. All good stuff.

    3. It is near your home, but not too near. A nice balance.

    4. Vandy's new freshman commons is very cool -- a great idea for building a strong bonded Freshman class.

    5. Stanford is no guarantee of employment. I hire people from Stanford GSB and talked to their dean 2 weeks ago. Fully 40% of Stanford GSB grads do not have a job waiting for them in May/June this year. A bummer considering this is a top 5 grad school program.

    6. We live within 20 minutes of Stanford. I know a dozen or so faculty members. My son's high school had 14% of its senior class admitted to Stanford this year so it is well known to us "out here". It is a great school, but not any greater than Vanderbilt.

    7. The money. In this economy, take the full ride. I really mean that. Do yourself and your family a favor - accept the full ride to a wonderful school. When you get there, crank monster grades and show them that you were worth it. You will not notice the difference between being at Vanderbilt and being at Stanford.

    Good luck.
  • GCN2GCN2 Registered User Posts: 394 Member
    Just a fair word of warning. Vandy's BME program is probably the most difficult major on campus. Econ is probably in the top 5-6 or so in terms of difficulty. Both, in turn, are obviously great programs on campus.

    If you want to apply to medical school you'll need a GPA of 3.5+ MINIMUM (functionaly 3.7+ or so to be competitive at the top schools). You better be prepared to work till you drop if you come here to major in those fields. With your admissions to Vandy on full ride, and Stanford, it is clear you have the talent to do so. Just don't take anything for granted. You will be working harder than you have ever imagined. There are engineers here who have high GPA's but they are very few. (I'm sure Stanford is no easier.)

    Otherwise, I would always take the free ride. Vandy's name won't keep you OUT of opportunities. Your merit alone will carry you into medical school, assuming you do well in undergrad.
  • Faline2Faline2 Registered User Posts: 4,166 Senior Member
    First congrats, your parents must be proud of you. I agree with SB27 completely. We are in a serious recession and he seems to have some very current insight into the hiring outlook at this time in terms of how degrees are valued.
    Stanford and Vandy are obviously two entirely different slices of American life, and Vandy cannot "be" Stanford or substitute for it. However, there is a different presentation when you apply places if you are mentored at Vandy and you excell in your field. You will find that Vanderbilt is something of a big school/small school and faculty will work hard on your behalf as you prepare for your next move.
    However, there is so much personal momentum for you to launch the next chapter of your life post Vandy after accumulating no debt! Your choices and the risks you can take are much broader.
    I would suggest you find the old 2004-2005 threads on Evil Robot, a fave on CC among parents. He was a Californian with a full ride in his home state, entrance to Yale among other fine colleges, and a full ride at Vandy in Engineering. He was a very refreshing personality, so we all became rather fond of him here. His folks were going to have to pay something in the close to the thirties annually I believe to do Yale. He hesitated to take that road when he had a very appealing offer from Vanderbilt.
    He took his full ride to Vandy and he excelled. I think part two of that sentence, about excelling where you decide to be... is the important part no matter where you go. He became a fixture in the Engineering dept and reported here four years later that thanks to the support he received at Vandy, he actually graduated in four years plus summer studies with a masters...if I am wrong, I am certain he had some post undergrad credential before he left Nashville.....I would have to search to find that in 2008. I recall he also posted on his early general social life and academic life at Vandy on Carolyn's college web site. He didn't choose to join frats, but he still had a blast in Nashville and had a very good social life. He said he made the right decision. He is working for Google. Of course the economy was better in 2008 when he got out. But he is an interesting example to mull over in your shoes. best wishes! (if you are debt free in four years, there is much less reason you have to have business credentials in undergrad, although I know at Duke where my eldest is now..lots of BME students minor or double major in economics.)
  • hilsahilsa - Posts: 2,328 Senior Member
    Vanderbilt is a top 20 university. It's not like Vandy doesn't have an amazing reputation already. It's just not as super amazing as Stanford's.

    I'm sure employers know that there are plenty of other amazing colleges besides HYPSM, like SB27.

    And I'd assume since you'd be in the top 20-10% of Vanderbilt's class, you would have an easier time getting good grades at Vandy, despite your major being a difficult one.
  • nyccardnyccard - Posts: 249 Junior Member

    Your post is so full of untruths that I wonder if either you or your kids were rejected from Stanford or something?

    (A) Let's start with the first lie, shall we? You said: "[Stanford] is a great school, but not any greater than Vanderbilt."

    Well, Stanford has smarter students, smarter faculty, better academics, higher selectivity, higher prestige and a bigger endowment. Any rankings, surveys and admissions data will verify this. Seriously, Stanford makes Vanderbilt look like Middle Tennessee State.

    (B) "The student bodies are becoming less distinguishable."

    How so? Stanford is much more selective than Vanderbilt can ever dream to be. Stanford's acceptance rate is less than half that of Vanderbilt; its yield rate is almost twice as high. Despite trying to lure students from Stanford (and MIT and HYP, etc.) with "merit" $$$, Vanderbilt's yield rate is still an abysmal THIRTY-SIX percent. Even though Vanderbilt bribes (more than one in seven) admitted students with $$$ and locks some up via not one but TWO Early Decision programs, almost two-thirds of admittees choose to enroll elsewhere. So who are left at Vanderbilt? A lot of bottom feeders who couldn't even get into Duke.

    (C) "Stanford used to be more diverse."

    What a ridiculous and completely unsubstantiated statement! Among top 25 schools, Stanford enrolls the highest percentage of underrepresented minorities. Also, Stanford has made a concerted effort to increase socioeconomic diversity on campus. Not only does Stanford offer one of the most generous financial packages in the country, but also it founded Questbridge, which is a program that identifies and matches academically talented low-income students with elite colleges.

    (D) "[Vanderbilt's] engineering school is very good."

    Actually, according to USNWR, Vanderbilt's engineering school is ranked #42 in the country. Meanwhile, Stanford boasts one of the two best engineering schools in the world. As an indicator of the gap between the two schools, Stanford faculty includes 136 National Academy of Sciences members, while Vanderbilt has only five. NAS memberships is one of the highest honors accorded to scientists and engineers. No kidding, compare to what Stanford engineers are doing, Vanderbilt engineers look like they're playing with L3gos.

    The OP also mentioned an interest in economics. Stanford's economics department is one of the three or four most distinguished in the country. Several of Stanford's Nobel Prize winners teach economics. Speaking of Nobel Laureates, Stanford currently has 16 on its campus Vanderbilt? NONE!

    (E) "Fully 40% of Stanford GSB grads do not have a job waiting for them in May/June this year."

    Since we've been discussing the two respective undergraduate institutions, I don't know how this is relevant. But let's run with it anyway. I doubt that the statement is not an exaggeration. But if it were true, then graduates of Vanderbilt's (Owen) business school, with its #44 ranking and THIRTY-SIX percent acceptance rate, must be panhandling on the streets of Nashville.
  • hilsahilsa - Posts: 2,328 Senior Member
    Yes, we know Stanford is a better school than Vandy. But hardly anyone can get into Stanford. Vanderbilt is a more realistic option for some people, ESPECIALLY right now since the economy is shot to hell.

    Like others have said, I think Vanderbilt on full ride would be the better choice. This person would have 200,000 of college debt if he went to Stanford (assuming he didn't get any aid). That's never good to start off with.

    -Stanford makes Vanderbilt look like Middle Tennessee State.
    -So who are left at Vanderbilt? A lot of bottom feeders who couldn't even get into Duke.
    -Vanderbilt engineers look like they're playing with L3gos.
    -Graduates of Vanderbilt's (Owen) business school, with its #44 ranking and THIRTY-SIX percent acceptance rate, must be panhandling on the streets of Nashville.

    I mean, really. Did you have to use such a condescending tone? I don't think so.

    So if I get in, you'd be calling me a bottom feeder. That is such an elitist statement. It's very insulting, too.

    Compare any school to HYPSM and they are most likely going to seem inferior, which is what you did. But compare Vanderbilt and the like to all other schools across the country, it still remains that Vanderbilt is a great academic institution.
  • midmomidmo Registered User Posts: 3,720 Senior Member

    A quick look at the Common Data Set for both Stanford and Vanderbilt Univ. indicates that you have overstated your position by quite a bit.

    2008-2009 CDS

    CDS C (section C9)

    Stanford ACT composite: 30-34
    Vanderbilt ACT compositie: 30-33 (It is at least 34 for the engineering school, the school being discussed)

    Stanford University: Common Data Set 2008-2009 (section C9)

    Stanford SAT CR: 650-760. Vanderbilt CR: 650-740
    Stanford SAT M: 680-780; Vanderbilt M: 680-760

    Those differences are not worth the level of excitement you exhibited in your rude post.

    The engineering rank, for what it's worth (not much, because the graduate school is not under discussion) rose quite a few places last year, to something in the 30s. (You might try making sure you are reporting current data.)

    The OP will hopefully look at what the engineering school has to offer him in terms of course options, flexibility, research opportunities and likelihood of working closely with tenured faculty rather than graduate students and post-docs. If money is no object, maybe he will go with Stanford. If he wishes to graduate debt free and with grateful parents and siblings, he will probably choose to look at Vanderbilt, and the engineering school in particular, with an open mind.
  • midmomidmo Registered User Posts: 3,720 Senior Member
    BTW, nyccard, are you a Stanford student? Is your style of argumentation representative of the Stanford student body?

    It's just something the OP might want to keep in mind while he is debating his options.
  • aint_givinupaint_givinup Registered User Posts: 15 New Member
    sb27 - I thought your response was forthright and well thought out.
    nyccard - hmmm..how can i say what i want to say and still maintain the decorum of the forum here...
    I believe you overstepped quite a bit - and it was uncalled for. Whereever you are enrolled - it is best to keep it a secret, cause it might reflect poorly on the rest of your community.
    No doubt Stanford is one of the best - but time and again it has been shown that it is not worth the debt you accumulate - not for undergrad. I am all for undergrad anywhere but go to HYPS for graduate studies. Then it is worth it.
  • mixed_successmixed_success Registered User Posts: 7 New Member
    "No doubt Stanford is one of the best - but time and again it has been shown that it is not worth the debt you accumulate - not for undergrad. I am all for undergrad anywhere but go to HYPS for graduate studies. Then it is worth it."

    That's actually an extreme statement - not nearly as extreme as NYCCard's, but extreme nonetheless. With generous financial aid from HYPS class schools the amount of debt is often relatively small and manageable. In this case the OP had the most clearly delineated scenario - apparently being just a little too well off to qualify for substantive aid from Stanford while having a full tuition merit ride from Vanderbilt. For many others the distinction may not be so clear.

    The bottom line: each case needs to be considered based on its specific set of facts. In some cases it may absolutely pay to go to the highest-ranked undergrad school the student can attain. In many others, for personal, financial or academic reasons (when contemplating two highly regarded schools, the "lesser" institution may be better for the student's contemplated major or its approach may be a better fit for the student's learning style), it will not. Take anyone who expresses the answer in absolute terms for all with a grain of salt.
  • patronuspatronus Registered User Posts: 17 New Member
    you'd be an idiot to turn down Stanford for Vanderbilt.

    if attending Stanford would not completely impoverish your family to the point of starvation, then in this special case, the end does justify the means.

    just my 2 cents.

    and congrats on your admittance to 2 prestigious schools (one is just a tad bit more prestigious however. i think you know which one)
  • dbeardbear Registered User Posts: 490 Member
    stanford. def stanford. you'll pay off those debts in the future. you can earn money. you can't have the opportunity to be accepted to stanford again.. or at least go to stanford first, then if its really bad financially transfer to vandy. at least u can say u went to stanford first...
  • GCN2GCN2 Registered User Posts: 394 Member
    "then if its really bad financially transfer to vandy. at least u can say u went to stanford first... "

    Not good enough of a reason to drop 100k in my opinion.
  • bay-areabay-area Registered User Posts: 322 Member
    You should consider the Fisher program even if you aren't considering a business focus
  • Euler321Euler321 Registered User Posts: 597 Member
    When I was applying to schools I would have killed for Stanford.
This discussion has been closed.