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Old 02-27-2008, 05:32 PM   #61
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Originally Posted by Art G View Post
beldar and sam, just curious as to your dealings with U.T.? Of all the schools my daughter applied to, no one treated us with less interest than U.T. did. They never offered a penny, and in fact, the only info we received from them was regarding housing and how we had to procure it before the deadline. We received the letter in the mail the day before the deadline!!
From everyone I've talked to they felt as if U.T. could care less about your student (especially in their freshman year) as they are more of a "publishing university" and students were merely a necessary evil.
Both my kids wanted to go there until we visited. Of course I was thrilled as I've spent my share of time on 6th Street and have to wonder how any of those kids find time to study.
Just wondering if you both were happy with the university?
Art,

I think I agree with you. UT Austin is quite indifferent in their dealings. It's very impersonal. Here are the few things I'm not quite happy with this school:

- Room and board are expensive, about 30% higher than Texas A&M. Worse, they don't guarantee availability at all. My son and I signed up for dorm at the earliest possible time. We kept calling them asking when we could have a definite yes/no answer. They kept telling us we're still on the list. Eventually we gave up, and chose a private dorm instead. Same expensive price though.

- Parking is very expensive, about $100/mth. My son ended up not taking the car with him for the first year. He is moving out to an apartment next year. Lower cost, better facility, free parking. He will have to take the shuttle bus to school though.

- I believe UT Austin is the largest (in term of student head count) university in the nation. Thus paperwork takes longer to complete. Most things are computerized, and the feedback is minimal.

- It's also the school with the reputation of having the most parties. I have several friends whose studious kids fail miserably during the first year because they succumb to this tempting environment (my son is doing ok).

Not sure I agree with you on financial aids. My son got 2 scholarships for his first year from the school, 3K total. He's aiming for another K this coming year.

I don't "hate" UT Austin, but I think I like Texas A&M a little better. My son loves UT Austin though. He make friends, he enjoy the socializing, the partying. The only thing he doesn't like (I think) is my (almost) constant checking up on him. I had too, I'm a parent ;-)
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Old 02-27-2008, 05:42 PM   #62
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Art,

I think I agree with you. UT Austin is quite indifferent in their dealings. It's very impersonal. Here are the few things I'm not quite happy with this school:

- Room and board are expensive, about 30% higher than Texas A&M. Worse, they don't guarantee availability at all. My son and I signed up for dorm at the earliest possible time. We kept calling them asking when we could have a definite yes/no answer. They kept telling us we're still on the list. Eventually we gave up, and chose a private dorm instead. Same expensive price though.

- Parking is very expensive, about $100/mth. My son ended up not taking the car with him for the first year. He is moving out to an apartment next year. Lower cost, better facility, free parking. He will have to take the shuttle bus to school though.

- I believe UT Austin is the largest (in term of student head count) university in the nation. Thus paperwork takes longer to complete. Most things are computerized, and the feedback is minimal.

- It's also the school with the reputation of having the most parties. I have several friends whose studious kids fail miserably during the first year because they succumb to this tempting environment (my son is doing ok).

Not sure I agree with you on financial aids. My son got 2 scholarships for his first year from the school, 3K total. He's aiming for another K this coming year.

I don't "hate" UT Austin, but I think I like Texas A&M a little better. My son loves UT Austin though. He make friends, he enjoy the socializing, the partying. The only thing he doesn't like (I think) is my (almost) constant checking up on him. I had too, I'm a parent ;-)
You got money out of U.T. Congrats! What position does he play?
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Old 02-27-2008, 05:44 PM   #63
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Just my experience, but I think living on-campus in dorms is more expensive, and students have less control over their experiences (roommates, cafeteria food, etc.) But, on the other hand living off campus has its hassles too (subletting, utility payments, etc.)

Plus many large universities now have security staff (even campus police) that wander dorm halls and hand out underage drinking violations to students. (I am not stating if I think this is good or bad). Under age minors violations can certainly add to the cost of college (and of course this can happen if the student lives off campus as well)
Living off-campus will be slightly higher. This is based on my daughter's current finding. A one-person room on campus is cheaper (about $2000/semester), but you are required to take the meal plan which is quite expensive (about $1600 per semester). A 2-BR off-campus apartment is more expensive (about $700 per person per month or $8,400 per year). It might be cheaper if you can sublet it out for the summer months or find more people to share the rent. The total cost to live on campus is $7,200 per year (2 semesters), while the cost to live off-campus is about $9,200 per year ($8400 + 8 months of grocery @$100/month).

Even though the cost of off-campus living is higher, an apartment offers better amenities: private bathroom, living room, kitchen, appliances, etc. The big thing is that you do not have to get stuck with eating the crummy food at the university cafeteria.
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Old 02-27-2008, 05:45 PM   #64
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I'd be very interested to hear if people have had success getting financial aid for their children if they have low income but significant assets. There are very conficting views on this: the standard line is that "assets don't really matter," but the formulas suggest that you will be expected to pay 5% of your assets - so if you have, say, a million dollars then you are out of luck. For the federal formulas there are exclusions for retirement assets and for all assets if your income is below $50k. So, that would suggest that children of an ER could qualify for a lot of financial aid. On the other hand, some things that I have heard and read suggest that colleges actually ask about retirement accounts and will not give aid to people with significant assets even though the federal rules suggest they qualify. One financial aid officer specifically said in a book something like, "the federal formulas may give you a lot of money, but if you have a million dollars we're going to give it to someone who needs it."
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Old 02-27-2008, 05:46 PM   #65
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You got money out of U.T. Congrats! What position does he play?

Ha ha. No, he's not on an athletic scholarship. Both were merit based.
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Old 02-27-2008, 05:54 PM   #66
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..., while the cost to live off-campus is about $9,200 per year ($8400 + 8 months of grocery @$100/month).
Spanky, are you underestimating grocery? $100/month/person is extremely tough for even an LBYM aldult. We're are talking about college students here. I think I would be very happy if my son asks for $200/month for grocery next year (he's moving out to an apartment).
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Old 02-27-2008, 06:06 PM   #67
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Off campus vs on campus living cost redux

If I can be so bold, on campus costs are usually quite fixed, they are hard to reduce.

off-campus - costs can be reduced (eat less, bathe less, skip cable, shiver, sublet, get 6 guys to share a 2 bedroom apt, domesticate vermin)

So again, with the general frugal nature of this forum's members - I am amazed that so many progeny of the posters live on-campus.
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Old 02-27-2008, 07:27 PM   #68
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Spanky, are you underestimating grocery? $100/month/person is extremely tough for even an LBYM aldult. We're are talking about college students here. I think I would be very happy if my son asks for $200/month for grocery next year (he's moving out to an apartment).
Sam, you are probably right - $100 per month is pretty low. This is the number that was given by my daughter's friend who wanted to rent an apartment with her. Obviously, she wanted to make the number look good to justify moving out of the dorm. However, she may be telling the truth since she does eat out quite often.
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Old 02-27-2008, 07:39 PM   #69
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.. the standard line is that "assets don't really matter," but the formulas suggest that you will be expected to pay 5% of your assets - so if you have, say, a million dollars then you are out of luck.
Assets do matter except for retirement assets and primary residential home since they will be excluded from the calculation.

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For the federal formulas there are exclusions for retirement assets and for all assets if your income is below $50k.
I am not sure if this is true.
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Old 02-27-2008, 07:41 PM   #70
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So again, with the general frugal nature of this forum's members - I am amazed that so many progeny of the posters live on-campus.
I keep telling my daughter that she should move back home since the university is only 15 miles away.
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Old 02-27-2008, 08:00 PM   #71
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beldar and sam, just curious as to your dealings with U.T.? Of all the schools my daughter applied to, no one treated us with less interest than U.T. did. They never offered a penny, and in fact, the only info we received from them was regarding housing and how we had to procure it before the deadline. We received the letter in the mail the day before the deadline!!
From everyone I've talked to they felt as if U.T. could care less about your student (especially in their freshman year) as they are more of a "publishing university" and students were merely a necessary evil.
Both my kids wanted to go there until we visited. Of course I was thrilled as I've spent my share of time on 6th Street and have to wonder how any of those kids find time to study.
Just wondering if you both were happy with the university?
UT was a perfect fit for my son (more on that in a moment) and they couldn't have been more helpful through the application process. In the interest of full disclosure, we live in Austin a few blocks from campus (close enough to hear the bands playing at frat parties some nights)
so we were able to visit several times and meet with admissions people and counselors.

The most effective thing we did was to meet with an undergraduate academic counselor in the school he was applying to. This guy went so far as to offer to critique my son's application essay (we took him up on that). The counselor gave tips as to which program to apply to, as the UT admission process is based on the comptetiveness of the applicant pool of the particular major you're applying for. He steered us to the exact programs with the best chance of acceptance. (The guy remained my kid's counselor for his four years there) Anyway, I'm conviced that went a long way to help my kid get in, as he was top 50% in his HS class, in other words, a real long shot.

Why perfect? Well, my kid is a sports junkie and went in as a sports management major, and became a manager of the men's basketball team for three years. Big time college sports experience: chartered jet travel, NCAA tournament appearances, several of his friends play in the NBA. Led to a great internship with the Charlotte Bobcats. Now if he could just land a job....

Finally, I'm of the opinion that making one's way around a large campus like UT is good preparation for life...the need to be assertive dealing with bureaucracies, etc. And as I said, if you seek out help and are persistent, the people there are very forthcoming. I understand, though that a place of 50,000 students isn't for everybody.
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Old 02-27-2008, 09:25 PM   #72
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jIM, What are your thoughts on Co-op'ing? My daughters school highly recommends it for their engineering students. Would you say it was worthwhile, or in retrospect, would it have been better to get out of school faster?
Also, what's your outlook for the future of mechanical engineers? In your opinion, do you think a college freshmen will have any problem finding work in the field in four or five years, or is the market getting saturated ala computer programmers?
At Kettering, co-oping is NOT an option. It is a requirement. Need 5 semesters of co-op, 3 of which must be byond Junior year. I was in school for 6 years, and had 3 years of experience added up when I graduated. Co-oping- whether optional or required- is a good thing.

Here is what I learned
Xerox (91-93) did not like manufacturing
Walker (94) did not like automotive (or so I thought)
Mantech (95-96) liked acoustics, did not like the government. Being on submarines grows old after a while. Loved Washington DC too.
Ford (97). Learned not to make rash judgements, learned CAD rules.

The Ford job led directly to the software job I have now- Ford was the biggest customer of SDRC (first full time job I had) when I was hired.

My point was I learned what I did not like 3 months at a time. In some cases I stuck with it- Xerox was where my father worked, and I lived at home while co-oping, keeping costs down. Other times I moved on and rebuilt my career/ My job hopping took place when I was 18-23, not 23-28. I think this saved me much time because I found what I wanted without being committed to any place, any company, any boss.

Once I stopped living at home I learned a lot more (about life-money, spending time with friends, travel). I also learned that the boss you work for makes the job. My first job I ever lasted more than 15 months at is the one I have been working for 11+ years now- and my boss rocks.

The top co-op programs I am aware of:

1) Kettering University (Flint, MI)
2) UC (University of Cincinnati)
3) RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology)

I am sure there are many many more. If a student knows they want Engineering, then I think Kettering deserves a serious look. If Engineering is a maybe, do not do Kettering, because the choices there are all technical.

Getting out of school faster is not what I would emphasize. I would emphasize taking time when a person is 18-19-20-21 with any decision. I jumped to conclusions often at that age... learning about life and making hard decisions. I would recomend co-oping and getting at least 2 different 6 month assignments before graduating.
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Old 02-27-2008, 09:28 PM   #73
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Just curious what the comment about kids living in dorms means. Are you surprised they lived in dorms as long as they did, or that they didn't live there so long? I'm wondering what to expect out of my daughter. Most of the schools she is looking at require at least the first year in a dorm. Not sure what she'll do after that. I doubt she is either.
First year in dorm appears to be the norm. My biggest suggestion would be to see what off campus housing options exist.

In my case
dorms
fraternities
rent a house with other students

There were few apartments available.

After I gratuitated, the campus built some nice upper class off campus housing across the street- central air and similar.
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Old 02-27-2008, 09:37 PM   #74
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I keep telling my daughter that she should move back home since the university is only 15 miles away.
I have no kids yet (wife is pregant with twins now), but if they choose college, I will insist they live on or around campus and not at home.

More expensive, yes. But half of college is coming home late from parties and not answering to anyone every day. Part of being single, part of college.

Maybe you are the coolest parent in the world, but I would question whether a person living at home gets the "true" college experience.

I lived on campus or around campus. Wife lived at home. Our college experiences are quite different. We seem to both believe I had more fun.
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Old 02-27-2008, 10:07 PM   #75
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Maybe you are the coolest parent in the world, but I would question whether a person living at home gets the "true" college experience.
That's the biggest regret I have about college. I kind of wish that I lived on campus even though it was just 4 miles from home. Of course, for the first year and a half I wasn't old enough to drive and getting dropped off by your grandma just isn't as cool as it sounds. Still, I should have at least done it for the last year.
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Old 02-27-2008, 10:26 PM   #76
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I had to cough up $1500 in 1982 at USNA and that was it. My college fund was dumped into my brother's account and community college/Local U became the best eight years of his life. I don't begrudge the funds he's received nor the choices he's made, but I don't think he's going to be retiring before his SS eligibility either.

West Point wanted a couple thousand bucks on admission day in 2003 and that was it. However the Association of Graduates mercilessly hounded the parent for a $6000 "donation". (To add insult to injury, her son had been in the Army for over three years by that point and had entered his class directly from Iraq.) I've never heard of this "donation pressure" happening at USNA but I bet there's someone in a Bancroft Hall think tank right now trying to implement a similar program.

While 529s do give you flexibility over the beneficiary, it's a little tougher to get flexibility over the purpose-- for example a kid who doesn't use any of the fund (full scholarship, military academy) or who doesn't go to school at all yet needs seed money to fund the next FedEx. So I guess you have to balance the tax savings against the flexibility.

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If I can put on my "whiney hat" for a minute, I guess I'd like to end up in a situation where I have neither undersaved nor oversaved. I don't expect to have saved exactly the right amount or within $100, but it'd be nice to be within $10K or so. Unfortunately, the dispersion on costs is simply too wide for my desire to be reality -- between various college sticker prices, scholarships, loans, grants, aid, travel, tax benefits, extras, inflation, investment returns, student work study, their mother's contributions (ha!), pocket money, pizza, and beer, it seems like the cost can easily vary between $5K and $50K a year.
I'd want to be equal/fair to the three of them, so it doesn't seem fair to say to the eldest that he can go wherever he wants and then put the youngest on a budget (because I'd be retired on a fixed income by then).
Back in 1992, before 529s and when UTMAs were about the only college-saving game in town, we ran a spreadsheet on the College Board's numbers and decided to save $5000/year. That was painful enough for one kid, but between Berkshire Hathaway & Tweedy Browne Global Value it's kept up with the website's surveys of college-cost inflation.

You're doubly (OK, triply) screwed challenged by not only saving enough for whatever college but by having to do so equitably for all the kids, who will persecute you (and each other) for the remainder of their lives over the slightest perceived inequities.

Another complication is that the cost doesn't matter as much as the kid being able to feel that they're in the right place. Eight years at State U with no degree is more expensive than four years at Harvard, and we know several kids who've had a few false starts.

So perhaps the real problem statement needs to account for your ER goal (primary) followed by saving as much for the family college fund as you feel is appropriate (secondary). If it's enough for all three to attend their dream schools, great. If it's not then it's their problem. However this approach might not make all parents feel that they're getting their kids off to a good start.

As far as equal shares goes, I'd make a public family policy that you'll pay for eight semesters at State U (which gives you the additional advantage of only having to know the costs for the one school) with anything else being their personal funding problem. That way each kid gets a "fair" share and it neatly avoids the issue of paying for grad school, doctorates, law school, MBAs, or apprenticeship training programs. If your investments are successful enough to forecast that you'll have more funding available then change the policy to "State U plus another $10K tuition for whatever you want" and let them figure it out.

Other incentives: Spouse also graduated from USNA. Spouse's father made it clear to her that he was paying for her brother's State U degree because he was a much poorer student (true) and easily distracted (very true). Her parents had to work a lot harder to get her brother to go to college in the first place, let alone graduate. To assuage his concerns, he also bought each of them a good used car. At the time no one felt that anyone had been treated unfairly, and this has never been an issue during subsequent family disharmony.

Whenever our kid's asked questions about college costs, we've told her that we think we have enough to afford to send her wherever she wants to go. (The truth is, that's what we think!) She just wants reassurance, not a budget analysis. We want her to choose a college that she's excited about and feels that she belongs to, not something that's affordable despite its bad fit. Hawaii kids are also notorious for only breaking the apron strings by going to a Mainland school, not to UH Manoa.

We've told her that we'll deposit half the $$ value of every scholarship she wins straight into her checking account for her personal use. (Now she's motivated to write essays and to interview, since she can determine how many hours of effort might yield how many $$.) We've also told her that when she graduates in four years, there will be some form of (as yet unspecified) profit-sharing to be used for a home down payment or toward grad school. Again she's just looking for reassurance, not an audited financial statement. We're trying to fan a spark of motivation into a raging flame...

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Too many variables. I guess I'll just take it as it comes and know that if I make good decisions that my kids will probably be able to get a very good college education.
Here's a couple additional costs that might be worth funding BEFORE college:
- College trips (if the kid can't see it then they can't feel ownership, let alone ask the right questions)
- Kumon or other after-school study/tutorial programs
- School field trips like Washington Workshop or other "good student" trips
- SAT/ACT prep software and prep courses
- Application fees, if applicable

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Being on submarines grows old after a while.
Yeah, but we always envied you rider guys for your triple-overtime sea pay...
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Old 02-27-2008, 10:26 PM   #77
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I tracked two through a public university in California very accurately in Quicken - older one was $60K for 5 years, and last one through was $80K for 6 years (included one year abroad). Was definitely more than the "guidelines" put out by the colleges, but I tracked everything I had to shell out. This was an 11 year period ending in 2005. After the 11 years ended, I got a raise by not having to pay college bills! My retirement savings have increased dramatically after finishing up with these bills!
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Old 02-27-2008, 10:32 PM   #78
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One went to private school (engineering) one to state U.
They were in simultaneously. We paid about $12,000 each per year average, and they graduated four and five years ago. A semester abroad was included for each.

How we handled it was to tell them we would finance up to room, board and tuition at public school. State U kid was very happy there, and is a successful professional.
Private school kid ended up with some loans, but felt the engineering degree helped him with contacts, he is also a successful professional. They both had a great time but also got great educations academically and in life.

this probably delayed our RE a few years, but who cares? If all we wanted to do was not work we should not have had children. I have no regrets pitching in as much as we did. It took spouse 10 years to pay off the loans, luckily my father felt there was no better use on earth for his money than to educate his kids.

There is more to life than having a pile of money to sit on. Wasting money is one thing but education in today's world?? I wouldn't even question it, however setting limits is reasonable for both child and parent.
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Old 02-28-2008, 08:46 AM   #79
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UT was a perfect fit for my son (more on that in a moment) and they couldn't have been more helpful through the application process. In the interest of full disclosure, we live in Austin a few blocks from campus (close enough to hear the bands playing at frat parties some nights)
so we were able to visit several times and meet with admissions people and counselors.

The most effective thing we did was to meet with an undergraduate academic counselor in the school he was applying to. This guy went so far as to offer to critique my son's application essay (we took him up on that). The counselor gave tips as to which program to apply to, as the UT admission process is based on the comptetiveness of the applicant pool of the particular major you're applying for. He steered us to the exact programs with the best chance of acceptance. (The guy remained my kid's counselor for his four years there) Anyway, I'm conviced that went a long way to help my kid get in, as he was top 50% in his HS class, in other words, a real long shot.

Why perfect? Well, my kid is a sports junkie and went in as a sports management major, and became a manager of the men's basketball team for three years. Big time college sports experience: chartered jet travel, NCAA tournament appearances, several of his friends play in the NBA. Led to a great internship with the Charlotte Bobcats. Now if he could just land a job....

Finally, I'm of the opinion that making one's way around a large campus like UT is good preparation for life...the need to be assertive dealing with bureaucracies, etc. And as I said, if you seek out help and are persistent, the people there are very forthcoming. I understand, though that a place of 50,000 students isn't for everybody.
beldar, you should write a book on "How to get into U.T." It would be a best seller in the state.
BTW, ever give any thought to renting out your house to college kids and buying a new one away from campus? When my daughter was considering UT, I went down there to seek out a duplex I could buy. I figured I'd have my daughter in one side and rent out the other, and pay her to manage the place. I figured I could use 529 money to buy the house. When she changed her mind, all that fell apart, although I looked at some apartments across the road from St. Ed's that I think could really do well if renovated and rented as student housing.
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Old 02-28-2008, 08:53 AM   #80
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At Kettering, co-oping is NOT an option. It is a requirement. Need 5 semesters of co-op, 3 of which must be byond Junior year. I was in school for 6 years, and had 3 years of experience added up when I graduated. Co-oping- whether optional or required- is a good thing.

Here is what I learned
Xerox (91-93) did not like manufacturing
Walker (94) did not like automotive (or so I thought)
Mantech (95-96) liked acoustics, did not like the government. Being on submarines grows old after a while. Loved Washington DC too.
Ford (97). Learned not to make rash judgements, learned CAD rules.

The Ford job led directly to the software job I have now- Ford was the biggest customer of SDRC (first full time job I had) when I was hired.

My point was I learned what I did not like 3 months at a time. In some cases I stuck with it- Xerox was where my father worked, and I lived at home while co-oping, keeping costs down. Other times I moved on and rebuilt my career/ My job hopping took place when I was 18-23, not 23-28. I think this saved me much time because I found what I wanted without being committed to any place, any company, any boss.

Once I stopped living at home I learned a lot more (about life-money, spending time with friends, travel). I also learned that the boss you work for makes the job. My first job I ever lasted more than 15 months at is the one I have been working for 11+ years now- and my boss rocks.

The top co-op programs I am aware of:

1) Kettering University (Flint, MI)
2) UC (University of Cincinnati)
3) RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology)

I am sure there are many many more. If a student knows they want Engineering, then I think Kettering deserves a serious look. If Engineering is a maybe, do not do Kettering, because the choices there are all technical.

Getting out of school faster is not what I would emphasize. I would emphasize taking time when a person is 18-19-20-21 with any decision. I jumped to conclusions often at that age... learning about life and making hard decisions. I would recomend co-oping and getting at least 2 different 6 month assignments before graduating.
Thanks jIM, some good thoughts in there. I am a proponent for my daughter to co-op. It's not mandatory at her school, but they highly recommend it and will help place you if your GPA is high enough.
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