Summer School vs. Working For Extra Cash

by Judge Josh on March 15, 2011

Adam’s situation is much better than a stick in the eye. He’s been accepted to his dream school, but they want him to pack up and leave pronto. If he waits, he might make more cash at a summer job, and who knows, maybe even get a fat scholarship — at a less competitive school.

Hi Judge Josh, I’m a senior in High School and I’ve been accepted to a school that I’ve always wanted to go to and that I’ve heard has an excellent computer program, which is good since I’m planning to major in Computer Science.

summer school

Every single one of you is way too young to understand this picture reference, but that's just too damned bad. I'm using it anyway.

Congrats!

The problem with this is that they told me I had to start in the Summer term to be able to reserve a place for me in the Fall term which I applied to. This didn’t really make sense to me but as I was looking around apparently they do that to quite a few people and don’t let you defer until the term you applied.

Interesting. I guess that’s their way of securing an earlier commitment from you.

I’ve also submitted an application to Utah State University, a less prestigious college but near the same cost and a possibility that I’ll get a decent scholarship as well, though I haven’t heard back yet. I’m pretty sure I’ll be accepted since they tend to accept around 90% of the people who apply (according to Cappex anyway) and I’m well above their required ACT/GPA.

In that case, I’d tend to agree with you. Sounds like there would a very, very slim chance you’d get rejected. 90% acceptance rate is about as automatic as you can get outside the community college system.

The problem I’m facing is that I was planning on working full time this summer to raise a bit of money for college, but I obviously can’t do that if I go two weeks after I graduate High School. What should I do?

Well, if you really want to go there and it’s a great program, I’d go. And if you need cash, do as much part-time work as you can while you’re going to summer school. That’s the short answer anyway, but let’s explore it further.

My parents have saved me a little bit of money, so I should be good for a semester or so, and I’m doing alright as a freelance web developer at the moment, so I could do that part time to possibly pay for the rest. Should I go with my first choice even though they require me to go in the Summer, or go with my alternative and have a little bit more money and time to get ready?

OK, a couple things here:

As for the summer thing — it’s only three(ish) months earlier than you’d be going for the fall semester, so unless you’ve got some super lucrative gig lined up for the summer, you’re probably not going to accumulate that much more cash by staying home at working. Especially given the fact that you can certainly still work part time while you’re going to summer school (and especially-especially since you’re apparently already doing freelance web development, in which case, you don’t even have to leave your house to do that work).

A bigger factor in the decision that you haven’t mentioned, I think, is the difference in the financial aid packages that both schools offer you. I mean, if you worked full time all summer long, you MIGHT be able to sock away and extra $2-3k, and that’s if you’re super-frugal and live like a monk and squirrel it all away.

However, Utah State could easily come back and offer you, say, $10,000 more than Prestigious University (or so we’ll call it for the purposes of this discussion) in financial aid. Or, who knows, they may give you a full ride for all we know, and in those cases, you’re talking about big-money savings of the magnitude that might make a guy reconsider his dream school.

All that said, I don’t know what Prestigious University is offering you already, and how much it costs vs. Utah State. If the offers are comparable, I’d say go with your dream school. If Utah State’s coming with a giant or full-ride financial aid package, then you’ll have to weigh the costs a little more carefully. I’d never take the offer of a free education lightly.

However, I most definitely wouldn’t hold back from your no. 1 school based simply on having an extra summer of work. The difference in the cash you’ll pocket is going to be so small that you’ll barely notice it in the grand scheme of things — nowhere near the added benefit you can realize from a prestigious and rigorous CS program.

Good luck, and let us know how it goes!

— What do you guys think? Should he wait it out and see what Utah State offers, or should he hitch his wagon to Prestigious U? Let us know in the comments below.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous March 15, 2011 at 2:13 pm

If this is your dream school, go ahead and go. You can make money doing part time work and you’ll start classes early so you’ll get out earlier.

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Max Olsen March 15, 2011 at 3:51 pm

But then again USU is a really good school to. And give very good scholarships. I’m there now doing a computer science degree. There a few scholarships just for CS majors.

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Ed March 15, 2011 at 6:39 pm

I would tell you that you should get in contact with Utah State about your financial aid package ASAP. If Utah State is interested in you as a student, they would offer you information quickly. If Utah State is not interested, go to your dream school. When I was a grad student, I attempted to negotiate the best package I could. I suggest you try that contacting Utah State as soon as you are accepted.

In addition, you should have no problem working as a web developer anywhere. If you can’t, that is tough luck.

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Jessica March 15, 2011 at 10:43 pm

Although USU has its benefits, BYU is a better school in most aspects. I agree with Josh here, that you could just get a job while going to summer term at BYU. It tends to be very laid back during the summer, and since theres not as much competition during that term, you could probably get a very good on-campus job that you could hold for a long time, longer at least than the three months of summer. Also, you are correct about the excellent computer program, it is one of the best. Good luck!

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LC April 2, 2011 at 10:39 am

I’d say go with your dream school. My senior year of high school I was accepted into a number of schools. Among them was my dream school. Also among them was one university that offered me 75% coverage in financial aid and another university that offered me a Full Ride for simply being Valedictorian of my high school graduating class. (My high school was partner school with a few educational institutions in-state, thus making it easier for students to get into state schools.) So, despite the fact that my dream school was out-of-state, I chose to go it. They also, due to a new initiative my dream school was in, ended up covering a significant amount of my tuition. However, the only issue with me choosing that school was after 3 weeks from graduating from high school, I had to attend a summer program for Multicultural Students (which was the school’s attempt to unite the multicultural population as well as give us an introduction to the campus and our possible majors). So, I had give up my other summer plans in order to secure my spot at my dream school. Now I am junior and still going strong. Looking back, it was the right decision to make because like your dream school has an excellent CS program, my dream school has an exceptional Architecture program, and trust me going to the school that has the best program for your major is always worth it. There is a reason why they are the best in that area and you shouldn’t pass up that offer, especially if it’s being offered to you.

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Joseph Longino May 17, 2011 at 9:37 am

Working for extra hours while you are in school is an added advantage since you will obtain some working experience and also building your financial capability so that you can finance your daily expenditure.

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