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Question East Coast University?? - May 22nd 2012, 08:26 PM

Hey, guys. I've got another college question for you.

I grew up in California. I moved here from the midwest when I was seven, and now I can hardly imagine living anywhere else. But I'm a community college student and I'm looking to transfer to university in fall semester of 2013 as an economics major. I'm all set to apply to UCLA, Cal Poly SLO, UCSB, and maybe Cal (if I decide that's the type of academic environment for me).

My grades and my extra curriculars are such that I also have a chance at transferring to an Ivy, or one of the Seven Sisters. I'm currently looking at Brown, Cornell, Smith, and Wellesley. I have separate reasons for wanting to go to each one (all very long-winded), but I have to consider that they are more expensive and far away from home and family.

I have wonderful options here in California (I do understand the irony that people come from all over the world to go to UCLA and Berkeley), and I am definitely not discounting those. But I don't want to settle for local when I might be better served by spreading my wings and moving away. Am I foolish to waste application fee money (and possibly tuition money) on colleges that are so far from home?

Financial aid packages being what they are, I can't really tell if the help of aid and grants would balance out the costs. I would have to apply to all my choices and hear back from them on that to really find out.

Does anyone else have experience with this? Know anyone who has? Help!


"How dare I? Because it is the truth." -Jane Eyre

"You do what you love, and f#%* the rest." -Little Miss Sunshine
   
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Re: East Coast University?? - May 23rd 2012, 12:07 AM

I was about 45 minutes from home when I attended undergraduate school, and I'm currently about 2.5 hours from home while attending graduate school. The funny thing is, both times, I felt like I was very far from home. I know I could (and still can) hop into a car at any time and see my parents, but honestly, I've created lives at my universities. Between classes, work, internships/practicum, extracurriculars, and my social life over the past five years, I haven't really had the time to plan trips home, even if the distance isn't that far.

Personally, I think you can create that "independent" feeling whether you're an hour's drive or a six hours' flight from home. Obviously, you can't experience that when you're in community college, but trust me, you can have that experience at any of the universities you mentioned. It's a choice, really, because some people choose to go home every weekend while others choose to go home during breaks. Some people choose to call their parents every day and "report" to them while others choose to set themselves further apart in order to establish the distinction between their lives and their parents' lives.

When making your decision, I feel there's a lot more to take into account than just the distance. These are all great universities, but how are their departments for your intended major? Will you get the support you're looking for? Furthermore, tuition isn't something to poo-poo at (as you already know). Since you are a California resident, you'll be eligible for FAFSA (which means CalGrants, potentially thousands of dollars each year), as well as the "resident" tuition rate (even though UC's are costing more and more each year, it's still cheaper than Ivy League universities). I went to a UC, and due to my family's low income, I was able to get a free ride for undergraduate school. I had to pay for room/board/transportation costs, but that's it - the rest was completely free. There is absolutely no way I would have turned down an offer like that in order to "spread my wings." Trust me, you can always move to the east coast after earning your degree if that's what you want to do - but you're the economics major, so surely you understand how serious student debt can be. =P

Depending on your financial situation, you may be able to apply for fee waivers with your east coast applications. That's how it was for me when I applied for graduate school, anyway. Unfortunately, that was for the CSU system, so I'm not sure how it will be with the Ivy League system. Maybe they've set up a similar financial aid program - and if that's the case, it certainly couldn't hurt to go ahead and apply anyway, just to see what all your options are (and to find out if you'll be receiving any grants/scholarships as a student).





   
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Re: East Coast University?? - May 23rd 2012, 01:31 AM

I don't view maintaining a relationship with my parents as "reporting" to them. I miss them when I don't see them for a while, and that's why I call home or visit. I also would not turn down a substantial scholarship just to move across the country, and I wasn't suggesting that...

I have researched the undergrad programs at these schools and that's why they're on the short list. I wouldn't have considered them if there wasn't something special about them academically. You can skip the next two paragraphs if you don't want to read the minutiae of those thought processes. In short, the public universities I am interested in offer great training and recruitment for economics and accounting, while the private universities also offer depth of study with the profs themselves rather than TA's, more options for curriculum, smaller classes, and close-knit networks in a different environment than I've had before.

Cal Poly is well respected in business, and rounds out its programs with hands-on technical skills that I really appreciate. It's also a great deal cheaper than UC's and private universities, as well as having an amazing post-grad employment rate. UCLA and UCSB are recruiting schools for accounting (what I plan on concentrating on), and actually a lot of their graduates end up being recruited for work on the east coast as well as all over California.

Brown has open curriculum which basically means that on top of getting a great education in my major, I'd also be able to concentrate on whatever I chose, without having so many silly GE requirements (like yet ANOTHER year of U.S. History and Government). Cornell is very similar, emphasizing autonomy in your educational planning, as its philosophy is that students should have the resources to learn and do anything. Smith and Wellesley are women's colleges which appeal to me for their strong networks and their ties to highly influential women.


The ideal college is the one that challenges me to work my hardest, allows me to ask questions, get to know a few instructors, connect me with people who WANT to think deeply, offers practical knowledge as well as more abstract learning, has an emphasis on service to the community over partying, and most importantly will put me in touch with people who I can connect with for internships and employment. Obviously I'm not going to get EVERYTHING on this list, and even then I have to work for it. But the university that will provide the opportunity for the most of that is where I want to go.

My top choice right now is still Cal Poly SLO. It will take a lot more work (prereq classes) to get there, but the program is intense for a reason. And it is much cheaper than a UC or a private. Assuming I get no substantial grants at other colleges, it's the obvious choice.


"How dare I? Because it is the truth." -Jane Eyre

"You do what you love, and f#%* the rest." -Little Miss Sunshine
   
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