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monster 07-28-2013 11:06 PM

Choosing a university in the USA
oh help!!!!!

is the University of Virginia any good? William and Mary sounds quite Scary...... how on earth do we do this? A zillion websites ranking universities in a zillion different ways.

Clodfobble 07-29-2013 07:09 AM

What's the planned area of study? That makes all the difference in the world. Different schools have different strengths.

gvidas 07-29-2013 09:12 AM

The first decision you need to make is: are your kids well-funded enough that a top-ranked school is important? If not, can they pull in a scholarship that makes it possible?

The smart money seems to have it that college education right now is overpriced. From where I sit, major college debt is worth avoiding. Starting adulthood with >20$k in unbankruptable debt seems simply crazy, yet it's being sold as normal.

The most tangible benefits of college seem to me to be: calling another city/town home for 4 years; passing into adulthood with a safety net that is hung much lower than most households, yet still present; learning critical thinking, time management, prioritization, and other fundamental skills; proving to future employers that you can tackle a 4-year project and complete it.

If you're lucky/brave/wealthy enough to get a big-name degree, maybe reputation is worth something. But the point is, the tangibles are pretty much available anywhere, yet clouded by the cult of personality that schools project to make their essentially interchangeable commodity stand out. I'll concede that in some schools it's easier to fall into a community of serious-minded students than others; some places certainly have more peer pressure towards beer pong and football than study. But that has as much to do with the student in question as it does with the environment they are in.

What I'm saying is: look hard at scholarships and state schools. It's too bad you're in AA, since UMich is close enough the kids probably don't want to go despite it being almost certainly a great deal. If they do want to go there, let them move out.

Maybe the actual first question is: what do the kids want in life? Most paths are broadly laid out, anyway; the anxiety and depression come when you're on the wrong one (Johnny T. Welder goes to Med School is just as tragic as the inverse.)

Lamplighter 07-29-2013 09:25 AM

Very well said !

Gravdigr 07-29-2013 03:48 PM

University of Kentucky - now that you're finished laughing...oh, not yet? Ok, I'll wait - you could do a lot worse.

Big Sarge 07-30-2013 10:03 AM

Seriously consider Ole Miss (University of MS). It is always rated in the top 5 party schools. Four generations of my family have graduated from Ole Miss and we all have excellent partying skills. It is always important to choose a school that focuses on the important things in life.

Will she be going Greek?? Also Ole Miss is in the SEC, the only football conference that counts!

glatt 07-30-2013 10:27 AM

UVA is good, but a bit pretentious. It's all "TJ this" and "TJ that." TJ is Thomas Jefferson, the founder of the school. And they won't let you forget it.

Plus, I'm bitter because my kids will never get in because we live in Arlington. They have unwritten quotas they follow.

Happy Monkey 07-30-2013 11:05 AM

My sister's a MD/PhD student at UVA. Very pretty campus.

Chocolatl 07-30-2013 11:11 AM

If you can swing it, road trip around to the top choices. Most universities offer open houses several times a year. While a lot of it will be their sales pitch, you'll also have a chance to get a good feel for the campus and the atmosphere.

Griff 07-30-2013 11:44 AM

Sort by who has the program your kid needs, then visit them so you get the vibe of the campus.

monster 07-30-2013 10:44 PM


Originally Posted by Clodfobble (Post 871706)
What's the planned area of study? That makes all the difference in the world. Different schools have different strengths.

NFI. She likes Latin. And Spanish. She has a 3.9something and letters of interest from colleges with swim teams no-one has ever heard of. Well I haven't. Not Ivy league anyway. Although she's actually more noted in Water Polo circles, but they don't recruit in the same way, especially up here because cali is the center of all things WP. Does that help?

monster 07-30-2013 10:49 PM

Thanks guys. We'll certainly be road-tripping, but I just have no idea what's good and what's not. Is it really not that big a deal as long as you get a degree?

U of M would be fantastic were it not right on the doorstep. literally walkable. It's closer than all her schools.

Aliantha 07-30-2013 10:56 PM

Whats wrong with going to a local school?

ZenGum 07-30-2013 11:52 PM

Seriously, would it make sense to aim for the one(s) with the best swimming and water polo programs? That *might* take her to the Olympics or suchlike, and she'd still be getting a degree as back-up. Provided it is somewhere academically respectable, it still counts the same. And she'd be in the hunt for a scholarship, too.

Aside: the idea that a 16 year old "knows" what they want to do in terms of life approach (yuppie/bum/traveler/suburbanite), let alone field of study, is absurd. Some have firm beliefs, and a few of these do carry right through with it. Most chop and change and revise as they go. So, while this is a Big Decision, it's really at least half guess. Respect the things you're sure of, which in this case, seems to be swimming.

monster 07-31-2013 12:29 AM


Originally Posted by Aliantha (Post 871900)
Whats wrong with going to a local school?


because university is when you should fly the nest. When you're old enough to branch out and young enough for fuck-ups to be easily recoverable, and all your peers are in the same boat. That just doesn't happen if "home" is closer than the Laundromat and it'll only take a few minutes for mom to bail you out or dad to pick you up when you party too hard.

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