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Need help deciding on colleges.
Old 12-24-2016, 09:53 PM   #1
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Need help deciding on colleges.

I am only 14 years old so I still have quite a bit of time to decide on them but I thought that I could start out by asking people that have more experience than me.

I live in southern California and I am looking for good engineering colleges with a medium+ reputation. Economy isn't a concern at this point in life and I can do research on that later.
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Old 12-24-2016, 11:05 PM   #2
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I am only 14 years old so I still have quite a bit of time to decide on them but I thought that I could start out by asking people that have more experience than me.

I live in southern California and I am looking for good engineering colleges with a medium+ reputation. Economy isn't a concern at this point in life and I can do research on that later.
The first issue to consider IMHO is will you want a graduate degree, because then you want to look at how good the undergraduate school is at assisting in getting in good grad schools. Now at 14 of course your career objectives may well change, so a school with a large choice of majors may make sense, implying one of the UC campuses. In a way until you take the PSAT it will be hard to judge which rank of schools to look at. Of course in Southern Ca there is UCLA, as well as UC San Diego, Riverside and Irvine. Also Harvey Mudd which is supposed to be the #1 school for engineering, although it does not break engineering down into disciplines like other schools. Also just to mention it there is if you are academically up to it Cal-Tech with only about 750 undergrads, and a very hard program. (typically for valedictorians and salutatorians) If your willing to go to N Calif there are Stanford and UC Berkley also.
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Old 12-24-2016, 11:29 PM   #3
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As his mother, I would prefer he goes to a UC or CSU college. UCSD, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo or Pomona, it even SDSU, (where I got my BSEE). The 529s are only funded for in state public schools.

His older brother took the PSAT this fall as a 10th grader and did well.... But that isn't necessarily a prediction of how konohrik will do.
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Old 12-25-2016, 05:56 AM   #4
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Pick an in state university with a good engineering program and other features of location etc. that you like. For me, a BS made the most sense. If you continue in school for a higher degree the lost income and work experience are not made up by the slightly higher starting pay.
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Old 12-25-2016, 07:03 AM   #5
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I just listened to the Malcom Gladwell Podcast called Food Fight which will provide an additional factor when selecting a university. In a nutshell, it discusses how a university directs its income to help students. Perhaps a factor you want to keep in mind in your final selection. Episode 05:: Revisionist History Podcast

BTW, what a great and mature question. I know you will make the right decision.
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Old 12-25-2016, 07:59 AM   #6
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Something to consider would be a school with a good Co-Op or intern program. It probably lengthens the duration to 5 years, but should greatly improve your job choices upon graduation.
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Old 12-25-2016, 08:21 AM   #7
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Something to consider would be a school with a good Co-Op or intern program. It probably lengthens the duration to 5 years, but should greatly improve your job choices upon graduation.
A great point. Once you have your foot in the door, the importance of which college you attended quickly diminishes and you are judged on what you, personally, deliver. An internship hastens that process and serves as an excellent indicator of your abilities.

If I had kids, I'd get have them get their basic college courses in AP courses in high school, then community college, then send them to a state school to finish off their degree.
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Old 12-25-2016, 08:58 AM   #8
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I have heard this before by Dave Ramsey , you go to the college that will give you the most money . As someone else has said the college you go to only really helps on your first job ......Although some regions of the country have these huge alumni groups . But once you get your foot in the door , it is you not the college. What do you call an Engineer from MIT ? or what do you call an Engineer from U Houston ? ( An Engineer )
One thing about colleges is who has the best looking girls and boys on the brochures . A lot goes into the advertising for colleges.
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Old 12-26-2016, 02:52 PM   #9
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I'm so cal kid and always had a passion for flying. I went to the Air Force academy, as did my wife and we graduated with 0 debt (every cadet gets school paid for). I'm now 36 and have over 1 million in net worth. The military is not for everyone but the service academies all have great engineering programs, and are absolutely free.
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Old 12-26-2016, 03:01 PM   #10
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The military is not for everyone but the service academies all have great engineering programs, and are absolutely free.
I'm in full agreement with you about great education at the service academies but there is no way that I'd call the commitment you take on at graduation to be "absolutely free".
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Old 12-26-2016, 07:35 PM   #11
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Don't rule out the expensive private schools such as Harvey Mudd. I'm need deep into this process with HS senior and at this point the most expensive private is looking like the least expensive option. I wouldn't have guessed that six months ago.
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Old 12-26-2016, 07:39 PM   #12
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Lots of good choices in Cali.

If I had to do it over I would probably go to SLO. Much more of a college town than UCSD or UCLA.

Check them all out to get a feel.

Also, I really like the idea of going to school in a place you think you might enjoy living in after college. Internships lead to jobs!

Good job on you thinking ahead!
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Old 12-26-2016, 11:30 PM   #13
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My whole family, myself, my kids, my siblings all went to California public colleges (UC Berkeley, UCLA, UC Irvine, UC Davis, San Francisco State) and several of us have computer science or engineering degrees. So we are big fans of public education. But there are pros/cons of these colleges.

At your age, focus on getting good grades and test scores, take as many honors and AP classes as you can. As you get older and later in high school, visit a variety of colleges, both public and private, large and small, urban and college town, with your grades and test scores, all these will help narrow down your list of colleges.

College confidential is good forum for all info related to college.
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Old 12-27-2016, 12:22 AM   #14
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Don't rule out the expensive private schools such as Harvey Mudd. I'm need deep into this process with HS senior and at this point the most expensive private is looking like the least expensive option. I wouldn't have guessed that six months ago.
The problem is the asset base of his parents....

My DS got accepted to Rice, which is a great school but expensive.... their rack rate is in the $60K per year and the degree he wanted was a 6 year program!!! They were willing to reduce that by $15K or so... still not affordable IMO...

He is going to Uni of Texas and doing good... their program is a 5 year one...

Still wish he were going for engineering though....
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Old 12-27-2016, 02:08 AM   #15
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A great point. Once you have your foot in the door, the importance of which college you attended quickly diminishes and you are judged on what you, personally, deliver. An internship hastens that process and serves as an excellent indicator of your abilities.

If I had kids, I'd get have them get their basic college courses in AP courses in high school, then community college, then send them to a state school to finish off their degree.
Our kids didn't take any high school AP classes, but otherwise based on our experience so far I think community college, a good value public school in a city with nice weather near the beach and paid internships plus a high demand major can be a pretty good combo. Paid internships are great for spending money, work experience on a resume, networking and possibly full-time job offers post-graduation.

For a name school, U.C. Berkeley is hard to get into out of high school but not as hard as a transfer student from community college, which also lowers the total cost of college.

The college scorecard site has all kinds of good stats, including lists of colleges with low costs and high starting salaries and also affordable colleges with good outcomes. The Job Outlook Handbook is also a good resource.
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Old 12-27-2016, 04:28 AM   #16
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I chose my undergrad college because it had an excellent program in what I knew I wanted to study, and I really liked the campus community. A year later, I decided I did NOT want to study the same subject, and I completely changed direction. (That happens in college to lots of students.)

My new area of interest at that time was one that my college did not have a major in, just a couple courses. As a result, I completed other majors. It never occurred to me to change colleges, I'm not exactly sure why. Probably it was because of my friends and how much I enjoyed campus life there.

When choosing a school, I wish I had thought about: what will I do if I decide to change my course of study drastically/how many fields are there to study? I went to a small liberal arts school and got a great education, but a huge university would have had more major choices. As it turns out, my career and life have been great and I don't regret attending and staying at that college at all, but I point out that I could have had a different field of study available elsewhere when my interests changed. I was very, very sure of my major when I started college, so that - being sure - is no guarantee where you'll end up.

And I should have considered finances. There was a sudden, major shift in my parents' financial situation just before I started college, causing me to have to pay for much more of my education myself than was planned. I could have chosen at least in part based on financial considerations or changed schools when the situation changed. But as I said, it just never occurred to me to change colleges. I ended up working while still in school, necessary at that point. And I took on student debt I hadn't planned on and maybe could have avoided. Not a lot by today's standards, but I worked two jobs for several years after graduating to satisfy the debt.

Along that line, I did get a full-ride offer at a university I had no interest in. But I didn't even visit before turning them down. I do wish I would have at least gone to visit and thought hard about attending that school.

I think those who advise you to look at the entire financial package have a good point . I am pretty sure I would have been happy at another school.
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Old 12-27-2016, 09:05 AM   #17
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An hour spent at "Niche" should offer everything one needs to know about any US College/University. Geared not only to success, but to student satisfaction and affordability. After all, the college years are not just about book learning education, but four important years of advancing personal and social skills.

https://colleges.niche.com/?degree=4-year&sort=best

I may be a little biased, as my own school... (some 62 years ago) is still the number one rated liberal arts college in the U.S. It also offers substantial scholarships from the alumni fund... based not only on need, but on potential performance. SAT's or ACT tests not required, but personal vetting a major part of the selection process. Broad opportunity policy.
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Old 12-27-2016, 11:51 AM   #18
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I read a paper that concluded that if you were middle class or above, lifetime earnings didn't improve with private colleges over state schools. They said that the reason that the less privileged got a boost from private schools was that they got dragged up in social class. The default, they said, was that students gravitate to what they are used to, and didn't get dragged as far up at state schools.
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Old 12-27-2016, 11:53 AM   #19
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Old 12-27-2016, 12:04 PM   #20
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It's rarely discussed in the brochures but your college experience is based not only on a school's facilities, degree programs, and professors, but also your fellow students. During college years you will learn as much from your fellow students, both the good and the bad, as you learn in classrooms. To see how typical students think you need to spend time on campus, some schools will let you stay overnight in student housing. Plus find some recent alums to talk to, such as previous grads from your high school.
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