Skip to comments.Vanity - College Choice of a Previously-Homeschooled Student - Opinions Solicited
Posted on 04/06/2012 6:23:00 AM PDT by sitetest
I don't engage in vanities very often, but I thought this one might be interesting to some folks, and I wouldn't mind a little (courteous) input.
Some of you may remember that we homeschooled our two sons through eighth grade and then sent 'em off to a local Catholic high school. The older guy, who is registered here as swotsonofsitetest, graduates in June and will be off to college in the fall.
We're now coming to the end of the college application and admission process and it's decision time. I'm interested in folks opinions about that decision.
After eight years of homeschooling, he did very well in high school, received very high scores on the SAT and his SAT subject tests, may or may not be valedictorian this year, and has pretty good (although somewhat run-of-the-mill and not-terribly-exciting, it turns out) extracurriculars. Thus, he applied to some top schools and met with some success.
He applied to Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Johns Hopkins, Washington Univ in St. Louis, Univ of Virginia, Notre Dame and the Univ of Maryland, College Park. He plans to double-major in civil engineering (where the school has civil engineering, otherwise mechanical engineering) and classics.
He is quite the classicist, more of a language guy than a math and science guy, but that's only a relative measure. He's very, very good at math and science, just off the charts in language stuff.
After months of application process, filling out FAFSAs, Common Apps, IDOCs, etc., it comes down to: Waitlisted at Washington Univ in St. Louis; rejected outright at Yale and Princeton; accepted to UVA; Notre Dame; Univ of MD; Hopkins and Harvard.
Although UVA is a nice school, it doesn't quite light his fire. We don't expect much by way of financial aid (we live next door in Maryland, and UVA is kinda tight with aid to out-of-state residents). He visited Notre Dame and prefers not to go to a pseudo-Catholic school.
So, it's down to Maryland, Hopkins and Harvard.
Hopkins had been his favorite through the process. Great engineering school, great classics program, great campus feel for him (lots of nerdy kids having a blast studying their hearts out). He met one of the classics professors there and they quickly hit it off.
Maryland had been his "safe school." I hesitate to call it that, because Maryland is not the school it was when I was young (party school that took most folks with a pulse and respiration). Today, the median CR + M SAT of incoming freshmen is over 1300, much higher for their Honors College and school of engineering (to both of which he was accepted). So, I will say it is his safe school in a whisper.
Maryland has a great school of engineering. Their classics program is pretty good, but nowhere near what it is at Hopkins and Harvard.
Harvard, too, was a bit of a dark horse, for reasons with which many posters here would be familiar. But they have a decent engineering school and one of the top classics programs in the country. Plus, it's Harvard. As well, the folks just exude a happy, pleasant, non-bureaucratic competence. And have made him feel welcome and wanted. Which is something Hopkins has not done. However, they only have mechanical engineering, not civil.
Anyway, the money aspect is worth mentioning here. Hopkins is coming in with a decent financial aid package, but it leaves $22K to me to pay per year. Ouch. The loans that my son would need to take out are very modest - a total of $5K over four years. This all includes a modest amount of work study during the school year for my son.
Harvard came up with a substantially-better package - $16K per year to me. Which is nearly affordable, LOL. It includes no loans (unless I want to borrow what I'd owe them) and modest work study.
Maryland is offering a full merit scholarship including full tuition, room and board, books, and a small stipend for educational endeavors such as research, travel, conferences, etc.
So, what do you think? His original first choice with great engineering and classics for $22K per year with modest loans? Harvard (can't beat the brand name with a stick) with good, but not great engineering, phenomenal classics for $16K per year with no loans? Or Maryland, with great engineering, decent classics and, did I mention, absolutely FREE?
You need to talk to PieterCasparzen.
Excellent, excellent point. Thank you for reminding me.
You should strike up a conversation with achilles2000.
Here, you are talking about an undergraduate degree in civil engineering. I wouldn't call that a meal ticket, just the first step in earning a meal ticket.
Do you think an engineering company will be more impressed with an undergrad engineer degree from Harvard or one from MIT right up the street? Or GA Tech? Or Carnegie? or one of the military academies?
Look at the ranking of civil engineering schools- where does Harvard rank?
Harvard connotes prestigious degrees in poli sci/int’l relations, law, medicine and rich legacies majoring in liberal arts. Is your son going to enjoy socially keeping up with the Harvard elites? Clam bakes at the Cape during weekend breaks?
AS for the snob factor,those employers who are impressed with the snob factor of a Harvard undergrad degree may look at his total family pedigree ...does yours measure up? Who do yo know? And then they hire some kid whose family they know, or know of, or whose Dad they went to Harvard with ..
In civil engineering, doesn't a meal ticket for life require a masters degree or more? Perhaps even a dual major
on the other hand, if he is or becomes hooked on “the classics”, then he'll need a PhD to teach and a rich sponsor to fund and “endowed” chair for job security
I had a boyfriend who graduated Penn State and went on to Harvard for his Masters in Middle East studies- great prestige. He ended up managing a Sears store in his hometown on Long Island. But he had some great professors at Harvard and got good grades in arabic!
Then he should get his engineering degree from MIT and take classics classes at Harvard!
I would have preferred Princeton so that he'd have been able to take classes with the estimable Robby George, but they told him to go fly a kite. Oh, well. Also, they have civil engineering, Harvard doesn't.
Fortunately for all lovers of things Yale, my son is not especially athletic. He loves the outdoors, riding his bike, doing lots of physical things, but any delusions of sports scholarships ended at the level of county (middle school) baseball, LOL.
He would have liked to have gone to Yale, in fact, he preferred it over Harvard, but again, only Harvard took him. And this after the Yale interviewer told him he was practically a shoo-in! Oh, well. If he goes Ivy, he'll have to console himself with a Harvard degree.
Baltimore's not a great place, but if you stay on campus, Hopkins is very safe. As well, even off campus, if you know where to venture and where not to venture, I don't think it's worse than other big cities. I live in Anne Arundel County, and have been in and out of Baltimore countless times in my life (not to say I particularly enjoyed it).
MIT, Georgia Tech and Carnegie have no classics programs. That's a deal-breaker.
The schools to which my son applied all had to meet certain criteria. Two of those criteria were that they had to each have a decent engineering program and a decent classics program.
Hopkins is one of the best compromises between the two - very good classics, very good engineering. Harvard falls down a bit on the engineering, but one of the saving graces is that Harvard students may take courses at MIT. And their classics program is better than Hopkins.
Maryland has really great engineering (probably not quite as good as Hopkins, though, at least not overall), but doesn't have anywhere near the classics program of the other two, but DOES have a fairly competent program. We know folks who have graduated from the program at undergrad and graduate levels.
Each school of the original eight to which he applied had both programs.
The school which was probably the best, with regard to these two specific criteria, was Princeton. But, they didn't accept him, so that's not a choice to be made.
“Is your son going to enjoy socially keeping up with the Harvard elites? Clam bakes at the Cape during weekend breaks?”
Sure. He's pretty flexible, cleans up well, and really likes clams.
“AS for the snob factor,...”
There is some certain amount of “snob factor” to which you're referring. But the majority of folks who go to Harvard are from more modest backgrounds. They're there because they scored really, really high on bunches of standardized tests, got really great grades in high school, and did a bunch of cool things outside the classroom.
To be sure, legacies and rich kids are overrepresented, when compared to the general population. But legacies are still limited to 10% of the incoming freshmen class (70% of legacies are rejected for admission), and the very well-off are less than a third.
“In civil engineering, doesn't a meal ticket for life require a masters degree or more?”
I don't think so. My brother did fine in his engineering career with a bachelors. My cousin became president of a large civil engineering firm in a large southern city with only a bachelors degree.
But not to worry, a masters degree is part of the plan, anyway.
Grove City College does not offer Classics (Greek and Latin).
A nearby church is one thing, a CSM program is another, but. GOOD CSM program is something else again.
A nearby church is one thing, a CSM program is another, but. GOOD CSM program is something else again.
He can get his undergad degree with double major from Harvard then grad degree(s) if he stays with engineering from MIT. Friend of ours really hit the jackpot. Went to MIT for doctorate, but ended up after first year doing his actual study/research at Stanford.
I don’t think so.
You are facing an easy IQ test. Here’s a hint: the answer is neither “Maryland” nor “Hopkins”. ;-)
Your answers go a long way to confirming much of PieterCasparzen's rants.
Here's an easy IQ test for you. The single question is, "How do you persuade people of the merits of your arguments?" Hint: The answer isn't, “Insult their intelligence.”
I grew up and lived in Baltimore City for many, many years and graduated from HS there Western HS on Falls Road.
The area immediately around JHU is not all that bad compared to other areas (the area around Johns Hopkins Hospital is a different matter) or even Glen Burnie or Severna Park or Brooklyn Park :) , but its not totally safe either, as if any place is now days. I currently work in a small town in Lancaster County PA in the heart of Amish country and believe me, its not completely idyllic; there are drug problems, hold ups, muggings, armed robberies, home invasions, etc. If your kid has good common sense and some street smarts he should be fine where ever he decides to go to school.
I know people who graduated with engineering degrees from both MD and JHU both good schools for engineering. But Maryland has a well deserved reputation as a party school; not to say that all kids who go there are part of that scene or that it doesnt happen at JHU, but its something to consider.
Personally if Hopkins is offering a good package Id seriously consider it. An engineering degree or any degree for that matter from Hopkins opens a lot of doors and offers many post grad networking opportunities that a lot of schools cant quite match.
OK. He’s social.
In that case, you all need to investigate the crime and party stats, as well as the prevalence of club culture, if you haven’t already.
Are you investigating the reputations of the faculty or the library size and contents of the U of M? Or the ongoing research in his field of interest?
I have this theory that the size and contents of the library and the research ‘stable’ of projects/faculty indicate the strength of the program. If that’s satisfactory, as a student, you then can get what you want out of the education - and become the owner of your education and the institutional resources available to you for the time you partake. What you do with that is your own responsibility.
Having gone to my grad school during a period when it had become a party school, I was upset to wade through the beer bottles on the sidewalk. So, I grabbed myself a carrel and holed up in the library, went to conferences, made contacts and, in general, made a nuisance of myself to those profs who appeared to have a lot on the ball and projects going on. Access to unpublished dissertations and draft articles in magazines were key to my own work as I moved forward.
Fortunately, I didn’t have to live around the university. I think I would have had to become a black belt had that been true.
On the safety issue, you'll get no argument from me. I don't think Hopkins is much worse than a school in any other large city. And the on-campus security is frighteningly (and creepily) good.
“I know people who graduated with engineering degrees from both MD and JHU both good schools for engineering. But Maryland has a well deserved reputation as a ‘party school’; not to say that all kids who go there are part of that scene or that it doesnt happen at JHU, but its something to consider.”
When I was young, Maryland was possibly the single largest potential AA group in the world, with 40,000 drunks. I exaggerate. But not by much.
But it isn't really a party school anymore. It started working on this issue, and the related issue of its academic quality, within a few years of my own graduation from high school in 1978. By the mid-1980s, they were already doing many of the right things to become a better school.
It's a big place - 27,000 undergrads and another 10,000 or so grad students. I imagine the number of hard partiers still numbers in the few thousands.
But it just isn't that sort of place, overall, anymore. For one thing, it's academically a lot tougher than when I graduated high school. Median CR + M SAT is about 1325 for undergrads as a whole. For the Honors College, which comprises about 25% of incoming freshmen, it's about 1410.
As well, Hopkins ISN'T offering a good package, and Maryland would be free. Tuition. Room. Board. Books. Plus a stipend for “educational opportunities.” In fact, Hopkins is considerably more expensive for us than Harvard.
My son can understand taking FREE over Harvard, but is having a tough time understanding paying a PREMIUM not to go to Harvard, LOL.
“In that case, you all need to investigate the crime and party stats, as well as the prevalence of club culture, if you havent already.”
I don't think so.
By “social,” I mean that he's outgoing, gets along well with others, is often well-liked, is often selected as the group leader, has an easy manner. By “social,” I don't mean that he is a deviant.
Maryland has very large libraries with lots of books and periodicals. In the millions. We know. My son has done research there on more than one occasion.
As well, Maryland's faculty are well above average in the quantity of per-member peer-reviewed research, and the school actually has its own peer-reviewed journal.
“I don’t mean that he is a deviant.”
By no means did I intend that. If he has been homeschooled, you have a watchful eye that won’t be there if he lives on campus. That’s all.
The campus culture is important.
Having seen the hangars on around various campuses, it is HE who would be at risk from those who do not have his best interests at heart. Such people and personalities can be hard to recognize if a person is unaccustomed to them.
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