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On College

ThebatThebat Registered User regular
edited October 2009 in Help / Advice Forum
See TLDR if it's too long.

Alright, I'll start it off and say that for some basic background information I have a 2070 on the SAT and a 31 on the ACT (The SAT score could have been better but my essay was on education television D:) I live in California and am a senior attending a public school which has an incredibly competitive class of 2010. My GPA is roughly 4.2 and I am ranked #30 out of roughly 600 which just barely puts me in the top 5%. I've finally gotten started on college apps and I'm planning on doing regular admission to UC Berkeley, Davis, UOP, Brown, Stanford, and maybe a few more.

I've participated in a few activities such as People to People (But I never went on the actual trip due to money constraints), our school's Science Bowl team (which nearly got to nationals), and played in the award winning school orchestra for my first three years. I'm not sure what I want to major in exactly but it's definitely going to be a science major and I'm contemplating going down that long road through med school.

Overall I just want to know what kinds of things you guys recommend on applications for college and scholarships since my parents have been out of the loop for years and our school is atrocious in informing us about these sorts of things.

I've talked with other students and have heard that some colleges such as Stanford do a rolling application process and select ten papers successivly and choose the top few of the lot and pick up another stack of ten and start it all over again. In this way it's actually advantageous to apply rather late. Is this true?

Also in regards to scholarships and loans, my parents make roughly ~100,000 a year total, probably a bit less but they're not going to be supporting me in any way so I'll have to make it purely through whatever I can get through work, scholarships, and loans. Speaking of which, my parents have an awful credit score; will this affect my ability to get student loans?

TLDR: SAT = 2080, ACT =31, GPA = 4.2, Class Rank ~5%, parents have horrible credit and can't/won't help pay for college, and I want to apply to UC's, Brown, Stanford, maybe a few more. I need advice for applications and finding money for school.

I know I'm asking a lot so I'd like to say thanks in advance for any advice.

Thebat on
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Posts

  • PowerpuppiesPowerpuppies drinking coffee in the mountain cabinRegistered User regular
    edited October 2009
    I'm not sure why you're looking to backpack through Europe if you are going to struggle to pay for school. I've never heard that it's good to apply late. See if the Fastweb scholarship service is still around, though IIRC October is a bit late to start looking for scholarships for next August.

    Powerpuppies on
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  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    If your parents aren't going to be supporting you at all I would look into getting yourself legally emancipated, so that you can still take advantage of the FAFSA process. It's been several years since I was in undergrad but I know that the "wealthy parents who don't help you" scenario can be a killer from a financial aid standpoint.

    Eat it You Nasty Pig. on
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  • KistraKistra Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Expect to get by mostly on loans. Look for local scholarships, but they will mostly be in the 500-$1,000 range (but they still help).

    It has been a few years, but I definitely remember earlier being better for applications.

    EDIT: and as an aside, even being legally emancipated won't help you with loans in medical school, they want your parents info on the FAFSA even if you are 40 and married.

    Kistra on
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  • ThebatThebat Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    As to the backpacking across Europe bit that was actually something that I decided against which I apparently did not edit out entirely

    Thebat on
  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    They want your family info, but IIRC it isn't factored into your expected contribution unless you're a dependent

    Eat it You Nasty Pig. on
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  • finalflight89finalflight89 Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Dyscord wrote: »
    They want your family info, but IIRC it isn't factored into your expected contribution unless you're a dependent

    It is expected that your parents help pay for your schooling up until you are 24 years old or are in graduate school. So their info is heavily factored in.

    finalflight89 on
  • baudattitudebaudattitude Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Kistra wrote: »
    EDIT: and as an aside, even being legally emancipated won't help you with loans in medical school, they want your parents info on the FAFSA even if you are 40 and married.

    This last bit here isn't true from my experience, I'm in my 30s and married and I get to skip right over the parental bit on the FAFSA.

    baudattitude on
  • BarcardiBarcardi All the Wizards Under A Rock: AfganistanRegistered User regular
    edited October 2009
    With that sort of sat/act and class rank you can just call those schools ask them where to look for money. They have entire offices dedicated to helping you out, you just have to CALL and bug them. Usually if you are applying there they can help you, but be weary of the UC schools right now as they are being screwed at the moment by the whole "collapse of California."

    (still choose a safty school, like somewhere in Arizona, so if you dont get into a good school you at least get into a party school :P)

    If you are scared of applying early CALL THEM AND ASK. That whole rolling 10 apps at a time thing sounds strange to me, my guess is if they do that they give less weight to the people that apply late, and more to people that pass more "rounds," these are great schools and i don't think such a hang up in admissions would get past their genius level admissions people. Yes it is competitive, that does not mean they are not fair.

    Barcardi on
  • ChanusChanus Harbinger of the Spicy Rooster Apocalypse The Flames of a Thousand Collapsed StarsRegistered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Kistra wrote: »
    EDIT: and as an aside, even being legally emancipated won't help you with loans in medical school, they want your parents info on the FAFSA even if you are 40 and married.

    This last bit here isn't true from my experience, I'm in my 30s and married and I get to skip right over the parental bit on the FAFSA.

    Once I turned 23 or 24 (I forget which), they no longer required my parents' information on the FAFSA... of course this was several years ago, but I can't imagine it's changed. It may be that you can't apply on your own if they still claim you as a dependent on their taxes, but that's just a guess.


    As to financing options... Your guidance counselor should have a list of scholarships to which you can apply... you may not qualify for Pell Grants or anything like that if your parents make 100k/year. Alternately, I've never heard of anyone being denied a student loan. Hell, when I got my first one my credit score was complete shit... like in the mid 500s (ah, to be young again... thankfully I've remedied that since).

    Chanus on
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  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Dyscord wrote: »
    They want your family info, but IIRC it isn't factored into your expected contribution unless you're a dependent

    It is expected that your parents help pay for your schooling up until you are 24 years old or are in graduate school. So their info is heavily factored in.

    I went and looked into this, and apparently it's something that was changed in the most recent federal college access bill. In starting in 09-10 you should be able to apply as an independent student if you're emancipated/a ward of the court, but I didn't immediately find any more details.

    Hopefully it's something your guidance counselor will be able to help you with, if yours isn't worthless.

    Eat it You Nasty Pig. on
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  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    It also doesn't seem like the 10 apps at a time thing would incentivize late applications, regardless of how they actually handle them.

    Eat it You Nasty Pig. on
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  • ThebatThebat Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    It should also be mentioned that my awesome old guidance councilor of three years just retired and I have a new shitty one who is pretty much useless -_-

    Thebat on
  • Alchemist449Alchemist449 Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Not to be a dick but I have friends who applied to some of your schools with higher GPAs and better extracurricular and way better SATS and got shot down. That and cost kinda makes me think you should be applying to more state schools and not just the upper tiers.

    Alchemist449 on
  • ThebatThebat Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    You're not being a dick and I know my odds at which is why I'm applying to UOP, a rather decent school, which I'm very likely to get into due to legacy and their acceptance rates. I'm also applying to plenty of the UC's and other less competitive privates in California and the New England area so I know I've got atleast one go-to college if all else fails.

    I've seen plenty of people better than me get burned but I have a non-zero chance of acceptance so I'd like to have a go even if I probably won't get in.

    Thebat on
  • JasconiusJasconius sword criminal mad onlineRegistered User regular
    edited October 2009
    There have been recently, or there will be very soon, substantial reform of the education loan systems that will cut out the private lenders, who are already being underwritten by the government, and allow students to get loans directly from the government.

    This means that your chances of getting a loan for college is/will soon be pretty good.

    I had fairly minor credit usage as an 18-19 something and I was able to curry about 30-40k in school loans before my credit ran out, but that was with Sallie Mae. So figure that the government might warrant an extra 10% or so.

    Jasconius on
  • kaliyamakaliyama Left to find less-moderated fora Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    I. Application Timing
    Stanford does (or at least used to) handle things that way. I'm not entirely sure why applying later is going to be better - you're being compared in a meaningful sense against the rest of the applicant pool and against the vision of the class the admit committee wants to construct. So I assume you're saying it's more advantageous because you'll be compared against weaker applicants who get their shit together later in the cycle. That may or may not be true, but it is certainly true that admit committees are more willing to take risks on more-marginal candidates earlier in the cycle because they have more slots to play with than when the class is more full and they need to hit certain quotas (either affirmative action or for X kinds of majors or for creative types or more workaholic types).

    So apply early as possible. It seems like schools have moved away from binding early decision applications, which is good.

    Do you go to berkeley high or somewhere in the south bay or something?

    II. Financial Aid

    Only the UCs will be likely to ask for only the FAFSA. Private schools have more questionnaires that require parental info like the Need Access, even if you are emancipated. Private schools with larger endowments will often be able to make more generous aid offers. The UC system - and cal grants, I think - are a complete clusterfuck right now and will likely see tuition skyrocket in the next few years. I'd go private if at all possible and the cost difference isn't awful. The UC system's mass approach blindly adheres to the EFC from the FAFSA anyway - not a great model.

    For example, harvard offers free tuition for any family making under $60,000, and would presumably have generous financial aid on a sliding scale past that. Many more universities have committed to a no-loan financial aid package, meaning all of your aid is met by grants. When I was a freshman in 2002, the sticker price for my private college was ~40,000, and the UCs were ~12,000. I had to pay probably about $8,000 at UC Santa Cruz, and only $2,000 at my private college. Subsequent years were completely free, and tuition at the UCs has pretty much doubled since then b/c of our refusal to raise taxes, and they'll have less $ to offer as financial aid.

    Your parents' credit won't have an impact on either your ability to get federal education loans or what you will be expected to pay. If their income is low and they have few assets, that will be what lowers your expectations to pay. Private schools are more likely to understand your individual situation.


    III. School Choice

    I think you should consider many other schools - applying to the UCs, Brown and Stanford is a pretty bizarre spread. You should consider at least one safety school. (a lesser UC would count, but it may not be a good fit for you. Probably somewhat below target but above a safety would be UCSD, which also has decent science programs from what I hear.) A private safety school (UOP would have to count) would also probably offer good financial aid packages on merit.

    I'd look for your fit at some liberal arts colleges - Amherst, Williams and Wesleyan are all elite institutions, certainly better-regarded than Brown. Cornell is a good ivy school on par with Brown. Harvey Mudd College is a science/engineering LAC who routinely beats MIT in science competitions and sends grads all of its to raytheon, med school, yadda yadda. UCLA and USC may be good schools for you, though I think USC offers a better environment in every respect. I'm not sure if your stats make you a target for UChicago, but if you're a nerd you'd be happy there. In any event, you should thoroughly investigate the top 30 or so universities and the top 15 or so liberal arts colleges on US news rankings and see which ones you think you'd like, and do about ten applications. One strategy is to split it 33/33/33 between reaches, targets and safeties, but I think a more risk-tolerant strategy is fine, too - more like 8 reaches + targets, and 2 safeties. Or just apply to more schools, but probably no more than 3 safeties.

    IV. SATs


    I'm not sure about the prevalence of this, but many schools still don't care much about the goofy new SAT's writing component. So some schools will only care about your english/math scores. Can you break down your scores by type?

    I think Berkeley and Stanford are going to be hard, but not impossible, especially if you have taken an AP science heavy curriculum and maintained the GPA That you have and otherwise demonstrate science talent (math) but also show you're well-rounded. However, there are lots of really good other schools you haven't heard about because you live in northern california and haven't talked to a professional college admissions counselor. Follow my US news advice.

    kaliyama on
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  • ED!ED! Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Wow. Is there any reason why your parents aren't going to be able to assist you financially? As someone said, so long as you are a dependent, you are out of luck as far as FAFSA is concerned (of course file it, but I wouldn't expect too much back). Really, your aspirations (as far as colleges you want to attend) do not match up to your current situation with your parents. Those are expensive schools and it just might not be in the cards for you to attend them as unfortunate as that might sound.

    Fortunately, those schools are not the be all, end all for your academic and professional success. While you navigate this process of finding sources of income to fund your educational goals, remember that you have options beyond what you THINK you have. For someone with your academic record and discipline, you shouldn't have any problem transferring to the school of your choice if you decide to go to a state college or local university in the interim period. Community colleges are also an option, especially if you do decide to go to a UC: you can have a transfer agreement written guaranteeing you admittance to the college of your choice and saving you a SHITLOAD of money (as the classes you take at the CC level, are the same you'd be taking at the UC anyway).

    ED! on
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  • ThebatThebat Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    I'd like to thank everyone again for the great advice so far, you've all been incredibly valuable in helping me so far and I've been raking through the scholarship database that the collegeboard has and I've found a good few which I think I can possibly make.

    I go to school in Stockton which makes UOP an even safer bet. I'll definitely take up your advice (kaliyama) and broaden my view a bit. I've actually gotten a ton of stuff from Cornell and have thought about it but haven't heard of the other colleges you mentioned which I'll be looking into now. I have heard of Harvey Mudd, that it has an intense science program and I'll talk to the guy I know who's attending it.

    The actual SAT Spread is 760 Critical Reading, 700 Math, 620 in writing.

    Thebat on
  • shadydentistshadydentist Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Start looking for scholarships NOW, because many have deadlines soon. A lot of very good scholarships face minimal competition because people are too lazy to look.

    shadydentist on
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  • DeebaserDeebaser on my way to work in a suit and a tie Ahhhh...come on fucking guyRegistered User regular
    edited October 2009
    If your parents aren't going to be supporting you go to a state university. Even if you can get loans, you are going to be stacking a shit ton of debt up for a possibly marginally better return. If you're popping grad school on TOP of private undergrad you may end up owing $250,000 dollars which could be $10,000 a year in INTEREST.

    California has an excellent state school system, take advantage.

    Deebaser on
  • kaliyamakaliyama Left to find less-moderated fora Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Thebat wrote: »
    I'd like to thank everyone again for the great advice so far, you've all been incredibly valuable in helping me so far and I've been raking through the scholarship database that the collegeboard has and I've found a good few which I think I can possibly make.

    I go to school in Stockton which makes UOP an even safer bet. I'll definitely take up your advice (kaliyama) and broaden my view a bit. I've actually gotten a ton of stuff from Cornell and have thought about it but haven't heard of the other colleges you mentioned which I'll be looking into now. I have heard of Harvey Mudd, that it has an intense science program and I'll talk to the guy I know who's attending it.

    The actual SAT Spread is 760 Critical Reading, 700 Math, 620 in writing.

    So to at least some college admission committees, you have a 1460/1800 SAT, which is really good. You still have a solid avg score. People here are in panic about sticker prices of private schools, but please don't let them deter you from applying. The UCs become more overpriced every year; you should see what financial aid packages schools offer you, not just rely on what the stated cost is.

    kaliyama on
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  • Xenogears of BoreXenogears of Bore Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    The real secret to college is that unless you are some kind of networking savant that the education you get at any decent non party state school is as good as any of the private schools, even the top tier. Yes, it looks good on your resume, but in the end it is a really minor footnote in most careers.

    My advice? Apply to a ton of places and go where they give you the most money. You'd rather have low/no debt and no job then a shit ton of debt and no job when you graduate.

    I deal with helping grads from time to time get jobs in the Boston area, and there are tons of people I advise with nearly 200 grand in the hole and others about 5k in the whole, with similar gpa's and resume points.

    The only other college specific advice I can give, considering I used to read applications for a living, is that you should make your essay as out of the box as possible.

    No one cares about how Mother Teresa moved you, how your shitty community service job you took to look good on an app changed how you treat others, about the death of a pet teaching you the meaning of life or anything else like that.

    Go funny, go ultra serious, but go big or go home.

    Xenogears of Bore on
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  • KistraKistra Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Kistra wrote: »
    EDIT: and as an aside, even being legally emancipated won't help you with loans in medical school, they want your parents info on the FAFSA even if you are 40 and married.

    This last bit here isn't true from my experience, I'm in my 30s and married and I get to skip right over the parental bit on the FAFSA.

    Are you in medical school? Maybe it is something weird with my school, but I have friends at other schools that bitch about it too so I doubt it.

    As far as I can tell, that is a medical school specific part. (Doesn't apply to law school or graduate school or nursing school, just medical school.)

    Kistra on
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  • ChanusChanus Harbinger of the Spicy Rooster Apocalypse The Flames of a Thousand Collapsed StarsRegistered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Kistra wrote: »
    Kistra wrote: »
    EDIT: and as an aside, even being legally emancipated won't help you with loans in medical school, they want your parents info on the FAFSA even if you are 40 and married.

    This last bit here isn't true from my experience, I'm in my 30s and married and I get to skip right over the parental bit on the FAFSA.

    Are you in medical school? Maybe it is something weird with my school, but I have friends at other schools that bitch about it too so I doubt it.

    As far as I can tell, that is a medical school specific part. (Doesn't apply to law school or graduate school or nursing school, just medical school.)

    Just to clear this up...

    FAFSA Dependancy Override

    I get questions everyday from students who believe they should be considered an independent student in the eyes of the FAFSA. Unless a student is 24 years old by January 1st of the school year they are going to attend, have a child, are married, have a 4 year degree, have other dependents, or a military veteran, then the student must provide parental financial information on the FAFSA.

    http://fafsa.blogspot.com/

    Chanus on
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  • KistraKistra Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Since I'm an independent student now that I am in professional school, why do I still have to submit parental information?

    The U.S. Department of Education considers graduate and professional students to be independent. Therefore, parental income and assets are not considered for its programs, which constitute the bulk of the financial aid available. However, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services still uses parental information to establish eligibility for its scholarship and loan programs.

    Many of the loans for medical school come from HHS. As a result most medical schools wont look at your FAFSA without your parents information even if you are 35 and married with kids.

    I realize that this doesn't apply to this kid right now. But he talked about applying to medical school down the road, it seemed prudent to mention that no matter how much he separate himself from his parents now, their information is going to play into his ability to get student loans down the road.

    Kistra on
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  • DeebaserDeebaser on my way to work in a suit and a tie Ahhhh...come on fucking guyRegistered User regular
    edited October 2009
    The real secret to college is that unless you are some kind of networking savant that the education you get at any decent non party state school is as good as any of the private schools, even the top tier. Yes, it looks good on your resume, but in the end it is a really minor footnote in most careers.

    My advice? Apply to a ton of places and go where they give you the most money. You'd rather have low/no debt and no job then a shit ton of debt and no job when you graduate.

    All of this.

    Deebaser on
  • SaammielSaammiel Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    kaliyama wrote: »
    So to at least some college admission committees, you have a 1460/1800 SAT, which is really good. You still have a solid avg score. People here are in panic about sticker prices of private schools, but please don't let them deter you from applying. The UCs become more overpriced every year; you should see what financial aid packages schools offer you, not just rely on what the stated cost is.

    Unless he is a crippled poor minority from Oakland, he/she probably isn't going to get enough of a scholarship to make the ROI favorable. And there are opportunity costs to applying to a ton of Ivies with little hope of making them affordable. The name cachet in non-prestige occupations is just not worth it generally.

    Saammiel on
  • DeebaserDeebaser on my way to work in a suit and a tie Ahhhh...come on fucking guyRegistered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Saammiel wrote: »

    Unless he is a crippled poor minority from Oakland, he/she probably isn't going to get enough of a scholarship to make the ROI favorable. And there are opportunity costs to applying to a ton of Ivies with little hope of making them affordable. The name cachet in non-prestige occupations is just not worth it generally.


    This too. OP, scorewise you sound like a pretty smart kid, but you are competing with thousands of other smart kids in your tax bracket for a limited supply of grant/endowment/scholarship loot. In this economy I imagine getting that cash is even tougher and that many schools will trend towards accepting people that can afford their ridiculousness outright or at much less of a discount than youwould need to make it affordable.

    At a state school, a part time job will enable you to afford off campus housing / books / food with the stafford loan picking up most of tuition.

    You'll get your BA/BS with under 20k of debt.

    Deebaser on
  • Fourier_seriesFourier_series Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    OP, if you are set on going to med school or grad school, then I would definitely suggest for going for a solid-but-cheap public school for your undergrad.

    I was in a very similar situation as you. I had awesome test scores (not to brag, but better than yours), was valedictorian at a big public school (one of the top 3 in my state), and I knew I wanted to do grad school in some kind of hard science field.

    My parents also made about 90k a year combined, and I had several siblings who were also about to be college-age, so I wasn't going to be getting a ton of support from them just for practical reasons. So instead of taking any of the massively loan-funded offers I got to top tier universities, I took an offer at a decent instate public school because they basically gave me a free ride via several scholarships (I also went and got a few small local scholarships).

    So I graduated with zero student loans, and got into an "elite" university for a Ph.D. in an engineering field. Because the thing is, if you get an advanced degree, no one is going to care where you did your undergrad. There are a lot of people here in my program that went to crappy little no-name colleges for undergrad, and there's also people here that went to Harvard, Yale, and Stanford. And no one cares, because we all ended up at the same place.

    If you do your undergrad at like Stanford, and then later on find out you can only get into med school at Public University #2054 School Of Medicine, then you pretty much just wasted a shitload of money to get the Stanford name on a degree that no one will ever look at (because all anyone will care about is where you got your M.D., at least until you get actual experience, and even then that'll stop mattering very much).

    That's just my two cents.

    Fourier_series on
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  • VeritasVRVeritasVR Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    OP, if you are set on going to med school or grad school, then I would definitely suggest for going for a solid-but-cheap public school for your undergrad.

    I was in a very similar situation as you. I had awesome test scores (not to brag, but better than yours), was valedictorian at a big public school (one of the top 3 in my state), and I knew I wanted to do grad school in some kind of hard science field.

    My parents also made about 90k a year combined, and I had several siblings who were also about to be college-age, so I wasn't going to be getting a ton of support from them just for practical reasons. So instead of taking any of the massively loan-funded offers I got to top tier universities, I took an offer at a decent instate public school because they basically gave me a free ride via several scholarships (I also went and got a few small local scholarships).

    So I graduated with zero student loans, and got into an "elite" university for a Ph.D. in an engineering field. Because the thing is, if you get an advanced degree, no one is going to care where you did your undergrad. There are a lot of people here in my program that went to crappy little no-name colleges for undergrad, and there's also people here that went to Harvard, Yale, and Stanford. And no one cares, because we all ended up at the same place.

    If you do your undergrad at like Stanford, and then later on find out you can only get into med school at Public University #2054 School Of Medicine, then you pretty much just wasted a shitload of money to get the Stanford name on a degree that no one will ever look at (because all anyone will care about is where you got your M.D., at least until you get actual experience, and even then that'll stop mattering very much).

    That's just my two cents.

    This.

    There's a reason people call your undergraduate university your doesn't matter.
    See what I did there?

    VeritasVR on
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  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion Pronouns: He, Him, HisRegistered User regular
    edited October 2009

    Go funny, go ultra serious, but go big or go home.

    This. I firmly believe that my essay on how I learned to swim by blowing up a rowboat while trying to fish using dynamite was the main reason I was accepted to my University. The entire thing was a lie, and I said so throughout the piece, but the telling of the story, and my assertions that the non-reality of the essay was no different than the touchy-feely papers made almost everyone who read it laugh, and one professor to sigh sadly.

    I call both reactions a win.

    Enc on
  • grungeboxgrungebox Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    OP, if you are set on going to med school or grad school, then I would definitely suggest for going for a solid-but-cheap public school for your undergrad.

    I was in a very similar situation as you. I had awesome test scores (not to brag, but better than yours), was valedictorian at a big public school (one of the top 3 in my state), and I knew I wanted to do grad school in some kind of hard science field.

    My parents also made about 90k a year combined, and I had several siblings who were also about to be college-age, so I wasn't going to be getting a ton of support from them just for practical reasons. So instead of taking any of the massively loan-funded offers I got to top tier universities, I took an offer at a decent instate public school because they basically gave me a free ride via several scholarships (I also went and got a few small local scholarships).

    So I graduated with zero student loans, and got into an "elite" university for a Ph.D. in an engineering field. Because the thing is, if you get an advanced degree, no one is going to care where you did your undergrad. There are a lot of people here in my program that went to crappy little no-name colleges for undergrad, and there's also people here that went to Harvard, Yale, and Stanford. And no one cares, because we all ended up at the same place.

    If you do your undergrad at like Stanford, and then later on find out you can only get into med school at Public University #2054 School Of Medicine, then you pretty much just wasted a shitload of money to get the Stanford name on a degree that no one will ever look at (because all anyone will care about is where you got your M.D., at least until you get actual experience, and even then that'll stop mattering very much).

    That's just my two cents.

    Just to add to this...no matter what, make sure to do well in school. Doing mediocre at an Ivy League school didn't help my sister-in-law get into anything except the fourth best med school in Texas...after four years of applying and a master's degree later. My friends that got 3.9 GPA's at big state schools like UT, on the other hand, sailed into the top one or two in Texas. I imagine California is very much the same way -- lots of state schools, lots of state medical schools, lots of applicants. Doing well in school shows aptitude and will certainly trump the name in most cases.

    Being a post-doc in engineering, I've met any number of people that came from little nowheresville schools that do well, and no one cares. Your undergrad only matters within the first two years after, then no one cares.

    grungebox on
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  • November FifthNovember Fifth Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    My only advice would be to apply for as many scholarships as you can for whatever school you end up attending.

    If you don't have a job, I would recommend spending at least 15 hours or so a week on scholarship apps, as long as it doesn't affect your current school work.

    November Fifth on
  • CrystalMethodistCrystalMethodist Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    If money is an issue, the UC system is amazing. Great education and you'll pay very little, plus the opportunity for merit scholarships on top of that. For merit scholarships, lower your targets a bit. It might be worth it to go to a "worse" school (you'll still get a great education and have an amazing time) because they're offering more money to you. With a 4.2 GPA and your SAT scores, you should be able to find a good number of places like this.

    That said, I had an amazing, fucking wonderful time at Stanford and would recommend it to anyone. If you have any Stanford questions, just PM me.

    CrystalMethodist on
  • kaliyamakaliyama Left to find less-moderated fora Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Saammiel wrote: »
    kaliyama wrote: »
    So to at least some college admission committees, you have a 1460/1800 SAT, which is really good. You still have a solid avg score. People here are in panic about sticker prices of private schools, but please don't let them deter you from applying. The UCs become more overpriced every year; you should see what financial aid packages schools offer you, not just rely on what the stated cost is.

    Unless he is a crippled poor minority from Oakland, he/she probably isn't going to get enough of a scholarship to make the ROI favorable. And there are opportunity costs to applying to a ton of Ivies with little hope of making them affordable. The name cachet in non-prestige occupations is just not worth it generally.

    ROI on spending the small X of money to submit the application?? There are opportunity costs to dropping thousands. I think you're falling victim to the same cognitive problems of sticker shock that wrongly discourage people from applying. How much money he's going to get depends entirely on his family's income; unclear how low it is.

    The issue of whether it's worth it to go to a better school for more $ depends on a lot of factors, not least of which how much more money he's going to pay. That's a discussion we'll have to have once he finds out where he gets in. But almost nobody pays the full price at a private school.

    Stanford isn't going to give him a merit scholarship, no, but most places, especially the highest tier of schools, offer much more need-based financial aid than anything else. I think the UCs are a bad deal and get worse every year - not even getting to the educational environment and reputational issues, the simple fact is that the budget crisis is sending tuition skyrocketing every year, you don't get as good customer service, and the class availability is atrocious. For most people it's better to compare 5 years of the yearly cost of a UC with 4 years of a private university.

    It's impossible to say what the deal's going to be unless we know how much money they make. It would be helpful for OP to post that. But a close family member works in finaid at a private school and a few close friends work in various admissions departments of selective universities. So I feel like I have an idea of what i'm talking about.

    edit: saw the longer thebat post. http://www.finaid.org/questions/noloansforlowincome.phtml

    You should expect significant financial aid contributions, though not a free ride based on income, if your family makes between $60,000 and $100,000. Everyone's endowments have been hit in the recession, but elite schools have the most money to play with and you shouldn't shy away from applying to the ones in your target credentials.

    If your parents aren't going to be helping you because they have their own debts (explaining their bad credit), private school's finaid calculations are much more likely to be sensitive to those kinds of issues.

    I guarantee you your EFC w/$100,000 is going to be "all of it." This is a good ex. of harvard...
    http://www.jbhe.com/news_views/58_ivy_league_financial_aid.html

    kaliyama on
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  • SaammielSaammiel Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    kaliyama wrote: »
    ROI on spending the small X of money to submit the application?? There are opportunity costs to dropping thousands. I think you're falling victim to the same cognitive problems of sticker shock that wrongly discourage people from applying. How much money he's going to get depends entirely on his family's income; unclear how low it is.

    There are opportunity costs to dropping hundreds on long shots as well.
    Stanford isn't going to give him a merit scholarship, no, but most places, especially the highest tier of schools, offer much more need-based financial aid than anything else. I think the UCs are a bad deal and get worse every year - not even getting to the educational environment and reputational issues, the simple fact is that the budget crisis is sending tuition skyrocketing every year, you don't get as good customer service, and the class availability is atrocious. For most people it's better to compare 5 years of the yearly cost of a UC with 4 years of a private university.

    He/she isn't restricted to choosing between extremely expensive top tier schools and UC either. They can find schools in other states that are still far far less expensive than an Ivy.
    It's impossible to say what the deal's going to be unless we know how much money they make. It would be helpful for OP to post that. But a close family member works in finaid at a private school and a few close friends work in various admissions departments of selective universities. So I feel like I have an idea of what i'm talking about.

    From the OP;
    Also in regards to scholarships and loans, my parents make roughly ~100,000 a year total, probably a bit less but they're not going to be supporting me in any way so I'll have to make it purely through whatever I can get through work, scholarships, and loans. Speaking of which, my parents have an awful credit score; will this affect my ability to get student loans?

    I don't think they are getting much need based aid without emancipation.

    Saammiel on
  • DeebaserDeebaser on my way to work in a suit and a tie Ahhhh...come on fucking guyRegistered User regular
    edited October 2009
    kaliyama wrote: »
    Saammiel wrote: »
    kaliyama wrote: »
    So to at least some college admission committees, you have a 1460/1800 SAT, which is really good. You still have a solid avg score. People here are in panic about sticker prices of private schools, but please don't let them deter you from applying. The UCs become more overpriced every year; you should see what financial aid packages schools offer you, not just rely on what the stated cost is.

    Unless he is a crippled poor minority from Oakland, he/she probably isn't going to get enough of a scholarship to make the ROI favorable. And there are opportunity costs to applying to a ton of Ivies with little hope of making them affordable. The name cachet in non-prestige occupations is just not worth it generally.

    ROI on spending the small X of money to submit the application?? There are opportunity costs to dropping thousands. I think you're falling victim to the same cognitive problems of sticker shock that wrongly discourage people from applying. How much money he's going to get depends entirely on his family's income; unclear how low it is.

    I color coded the seperate issues. There is a marginal rate of return in going to a Semi Prestigious Private School over a much cheaper but still quality state school.

    And the sticker shock is grounded in reality. There are many middle class people out there with re-fucking-donkulous student loans. You can go pretty deep pretty fast.

    Bottom line, unless someone else is paying for it, cost is a major factor. You'll be shouldering that debt for a while.

    Deebaser on
  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    It's likely you can expect a decent to large amount of need-based aid from a high-end private school, if they accept you. Not everyone has Harvard's endowment, but still.

    Sadly with public universities, increasing tuition is something you potentially have to worry about. While I was in undergrad, costs went up more than 33% between my first and third years alone (not in california, but cali's issues are worse than oregon's anyway.)

    Eat it You Nasty Pig. on
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  • kaliyamakaliyama Left to find less-moderated fora Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Deebaser wrote: »
    kaliyama wrote: »
    Saammiel wrote: »
    kaliyama wrote: »
    So to at least some college admission committees, you have a 1460/1800 SAT, which is really good. You still have a solid avg score. People here are in panic about sticker prices of private schools, but please don't let them deter you from applying. The UCs become more overpriced every year; you should see what financial aid packages schools offer you, not just rely on what the stated cost is.

    Unless he is a crippled poor minority from Oakland, he/she probably isn't going to get enough of a scholarship to make the ROI favorable. And there are opportunity costs to applying to a ton of Ivies with little hope of making them affordable. The name cachet in non-prestige occupations is just not worth it generally.

    ROI on spending the small X of money to submit the application?? There are opportunity costs to dropping thousands. I think you're falling victim to the same cognitive problems of sticker shock that wrongly discourage people from applying. How much money he's going to get depends entirely on his family's income; unclear how low it is.

    I color coded the seperate issues. There is a marginal rate of return in going to a Semi Prestigious Private School over a much cheaper but still quality state school.

    And the sticker shock is grounded in reality. There are many middle class people out there with re-fucking-donkulous student loans. You can go pretty deep pretty fast.

    Bottom line, unless someone else is paying for it, cost is a major factor. You'll be shouldering that debt for a while.

    Thanks for the color-coding. I responded to both issues in my post though. There isn't that much opportunity cost in applying to schools. It's certainly worth applying to 10-15 schools with the distributiosn I discussed in an earlier post.

    And I agree that depending on the cost of the school it can be better to end up at a CSU rather than spending for a private school. It depends on a lot of factors: what he wants to do (science probably makes his future options less prestige sensitive, though it will always help), school fit (CSUs are largely commuter schools, school size, etc.), and how much money he gets in financial aid.

    For the reasons I outlined in the edit (I updated my post at the bottom before you posted yours but maybe after you noticed it), I very much believe that he'll get lots of financial aid. But there's no way to tell until he actually applies. We can't have the discussion on whether he should go to a private school until we can tally up the costs and benefits of that decision. We can't tally up the costs + benefits until we see how much attending a private school will cost him. We can't see that until he applies to private schools. Especially with the parsimonious UC system and what his FAFSA EFC is likely going to be, I think it's entirely possible that a private school will be cheaper, or no more expensive for him, than a UC.

    When we actually get to the discussion of where he'll be attending, i'm likely to be posting lots of links of these which emphasize the importance of prestige in future outcomes:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/01/business/01deese.html

    kaliyama on
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  • ThebatThebat Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    I've had the opportunity to look over colleges a bit more and I'll do a sweep in the local area. Unless some fantastic opportunity comes up with an out of state college I'll stick to California and head to whichever college has the closest thing to a free ride.

    I appreciate the essay advice and will try to write something that stands out as mentioned.

    To further clarify on the parental income: My parents (upon asking) actually earn $70,000 a year since my father was layed off and rehired again for lower pay. I've also been alerted that they're going through a bankruptcy.

    Thebat on
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