I recently graduated from high school. I was a decent student and graduated with highest distinction (basically equivilant to valedictorian).
I’m going to assume for our purposes that it’s more like top 5% of Kacie’s class, rather than valedictorian. Valedictorian is pretty cut-and-dried — it’s the highest-ranking person in the class.
The Univ of Nebraska at Lincoln offered me a Regent’s scholarship paying for all tuition and another scholarship that would pay for most of my books. Basically all I would have to pay for would be cost of room and board.
Congrats! That’s outstanding. God, I hope my kids get something like that.
In addition, the Colorado School of Mines offered me a scholarship that would bring my tuition down to about $8,000 per year. My father lives near Mines so I figured that I could save on room and board by living with him if money was tight. Since living in Lincoln would be at least $8,000 per year, in my mind I placed them on nearly equal ground financially. I ended up deciding on the School of Mines. Do you think I made a good decision there? Was my logic flawed?
Judging by this whole email, I would say no, I don’t think you made the right decision, and I do think your logic was flawed. But that’s OK. Read on, we’ll figure it all out.
First of all, it sounds like if you want that room-and-board situation between the two schools to even out, you’ll need to live with Dad right from the get-go — not just if money gets tight. And remember, you may still have some expenses there even if you have a free roof over your head: food, gas, fun money, etc. Same as you’d have at Lincoln.
I really do not want to end up with a lot of debt after college. Eventually, I want to go to Law School at an Ivy League which I expect to be quite expensive.
You better believe it will be. But first, let me tell you that law school aspirations, especially among high school students, frequently change once you’re in college and have taken a variety of other courses. Maybe you’ll make it all the way through undergrad school and still want to go to law school, but I think it’s definitely possible that you’ll change your mind. And even if you don’t change your mind, then there’s an additional extreme possibility that you’ll change your mind about the Ivy League part.
So don’t write Ivy League law school into your plans as a dead certainty just yet. Make your initial plans based on the here and now, which is undergrad school. I would also add, though, that if you DO want to go to law school, an engineering school like Colorado School of Mines is an odd choice of undergrad schools.
My parents will be able to help me with my first two years, but beyond that I may be paying for school on my own. Just as extra info: Mines is an engineering focus school. Honestly, I am not absolutely sure of what I want to do as a career so I’m a little worried about being trapped with engineering.
Then don’t go to an engineering school! At least Nebraska is a large university with the widest possible variety of courses of study. You’ve got a lot more options there than you do at Mines.
Engineers make pretty good money, though, so that’s always a positive.
Agreed, but there are many professions that pay lots of money but you may not have the desire to pursue. Trust me, the last thing you want is to get to Mines and feel locked into an engineering career that your heart isn’t in, just because you feel like you’ve painted yourself into a corner and have to chase the money.
I chose Mines because I liked the location, campus, and the fact that it is very academically rigorous.
The location and campus factors aren’t completely unimportant, but they should definitely be secondary. The most important factors are, in my humble opinion: the options that both schools afford you, the quality of the education (Mines is good there, but narrowly focused), and of course, the cost.
It was very different from UNL in almost all aspects it seemed, which made my decision difficult because I like certain things about both schools. I could always stay put for a year to work and raise a bit of money or get an intership.
Internships are great and I advocate for them wholeheartedly — but you’ll have plenty of time for them during college. I don’t recommend delaying college just so you can do an internship before you even start college at all. And sure, you can work, but if you’re 18, your work options are somewhat limited, and I don’t see you raising tons of cash over that year to the point that it’d materially affect your college costs. I admit I could be wrong about that, because I don’t know your specific situation.
Honestly, though, it doesn’t sound like you’re in a terrible pinch financially just yet. I do get questions all the time from students who want to know whether they should stay put and work for a year — but those questions never come from students who have been offered full-tuition scholarships. That scholarship, I would say, more than offsets any need you’d have to take a year off and work for extra money.
I know of at least one law office that would let me intern and I could look for something engineering related as well. After a year I could reapply to schools, but then I don’t know if I would be able to get as much money in scholarships as before. Would it be crazy to wait to go to college for a year?
Well, I wouldn’t normally say this, but — yes, it might be crazy. 🙂 I can’t really tell if you have any interest in being an engineer. I mean, you’ve chosen an engineering school but only because it’s hard and you like the area. And like I said above, it’d be rare to see a student take a year off to accumulate more money when she’s already got a full-tuition scholarship.
Sorry I asked so many questions, but I am very lost right now as to what I should do.
Do not be sorry for asking me questions. If you guys didn’t ask me all these questions, I’d have no website. 🙂
Overall, it sounds like you’re still pretty confused about what you want to do with your life — and that’s completely normal. In that situation, I normally advise that you take the route that gives you the most options at the lowest cost. That’s clearly Nebraska in this case. Tuition’s paid for, and it’s a big school with lots of choices about what you end up studying.
Is it renowned for its academic rigor? No. But that doesn’t mean YOU can’t take rigorous course loads, study hard and learn a lot.
Thank you for any advice in advance,
That’s my advice for the day. What about you guys — what do you think Kacie should do? Let us know in the comments below.