Between a top-20 (US News Ranking) college costing little over $20K per year more and a small liberal arts college, what would you choose? Location and field of study are not an issue.

3 Answers

Jeff Williams Points0

Great question.  A few pieces of advice come to mind - 

1. Schools of all rankings produce successful graduates, and just because you go to a school that is highly ranked does not mean you get a golden ticket in life. One important factor not necessarily considered in rankings is the quality of career services and accessibility of internships / co-ops. Nearly all employers now expect graduates have professional work experience BEFORE they graduate, and many students get their first job from a connection they made while a student. Even graduate schools prefer students who have had these types of "real world" experiences. So it's worth investigating, because a smaller, lower ranked school may have better career services than a larger, highly ranked research-based universtiy.  

2. A good rule of thumb is for students to graduate college with student loan debt no more than their first salary out of college. If picking the "brand name" school will set the student back $80,000 in loans, I do not think it's a worthwhile investment, since it is very unlikely their first job will pay that much. This is especially true if the student plans on continuing to graduate school, where they will likely accumluate more debt. 

3. Of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't suggest the student goes on a tour of both schools to get a sense of the community - both the academic and social environment. After the visits, the student will likely develop a preference for one or the other and make the decision very easy.

Jon Semcer Points0
Interesting question. A liberal arts college will expose the student to a wide range of academic offerings. Among those will be required courses in history, writing, science, literature, philosophy, a world language and math. Typically, liberal arts colleges offer small classes, a small campus ( compared to state universities), a more " family" type of dorm set up, everyone knows everyone, you have academic adviser who usually stays with you for four years. A liberal arts education will train you for nothing but prepare you for everything. Brand name schools are the campuses that everyone has heard of and if asked to name 20 colleges/ universities in the U.S. they most likely would be on that list. Students get a good education there. Of course, you can get a good education anywhere because it depends on how much effort the student put into their education. Students who attend brand name schools have instant name recognition when asked" where do you go to school Some liberal arts schools draw a blank when a student from there is asked " where do you go to school?". Financial aid is a consideration too. Brand name schools can be costly but so can liberal arts schools. It comes down then a couple of basic questions--- how do you want to be educated? What type of education are you looking for? What is your idea
Jon Semcer Points0
Interesting question. A liberal arts college will expose the student to a wide range of academic offerings. Among those will be required courses in history, writing, science, literature, philosophy, a world language and math. Typically, liberal arts colleges offer small classes, a small campus ( compared to state universities), a more " family" type of dorm set up, everyone knows everyone and you have  an academic adviser who usually stays with you for four years. A liberal arts education will train you for nothing but prepare you for everything. Brand name schools are the campuses that everyone has heard of and if asked to name 20 colleges/ universities in the U.S. they most likely would be on that list. Students get a good education there. Of course, you can get a good education anywhere because it depends on how much effort the student put into their education. Students who attend brand name schools have instant name recognition when asked" where do you go to school "?Some liberal arts schools draw a blank when a student from there is asked " where do you go to school?". Financial aid is a consideration too. Brand name schools can be costly, but so can liberal arts schools. It comes down then a couple of basic questions--- how do you want to be educated? What type of education are you looking for? Does it matter to you if you attend a school that perhaps few have heard of but you are happy and successful there. You only get one shot at your undergraduate years -- if money is an issue , make you decision based on money. Better to use the saved money for graduate school. No matter where you attend make the most of the opportunity. Good luck to you>

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