Screw Ivy League. What should i do?
December 11, 2009 6:42 PM   Subscribe

Screw Ivy League. What should i do?

Im currently spending a year doing social work in a developing country and the time has come to start applying to universities.

Ive been working on my ivy applications ever since i finished high school (in germany) half a year ago, but somehow I lost sight of my old goals and do not wish to study in these institutions anymore.

Ive also come to doubt the effectiveness of studying there whilst spending approximately 30000 dollars per year.

I also believe that i dont need to study at university to create and build up businesses, but i have enough common sense to at least have a plan B if it all goes wrong.

So where should i study?

Im looking for types of institution or names of instutions (country doesnt matter, it can be in mexico, usa or japan) i should be looking at if princeton, duke and co dont work out.
They shouldnt be too expensive either.

If anyone has been in a similar situation and has relevant advice to give, im all ears for that too!

thank you.
posted by freddymetz to Education (27 answers total)
I'm not sure what you're looking for. Ivy League caliber universities without the price tag? Alternate kinds of universities? Schools with good _____ programs?
posted by kro at 6:54 PM on December 11, 2009

Response by poster: im looking for schools with good programs, without the price tag!
posted by freddymetz at 6:59 PM on December 11, 2009

What type of program are you looking for? Universities with good medical schools might be different from those with good business schools.

As an aside, your username always startles me a little because Metz is my maiden name.
posted by chiababe at 7:04 PM on December 11, 2009

Lots of schools have no-loan programs; many of these are Ivy League schools, but I know at least that Dartmouth, Brown, UVA and UPenn give out pretty generous grants. The minimum salary to qualify is shockingly high—one (UPenn?) will give large grants out to families with incomes of $120,000, and at Dartmouth (?) it's $75,000.

PS They have rankings for academics and financial aid.
posted by lhude sing cuccu at 7:08 PM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

I went to the Harvard Extension School... absolutely loved it, got an excellent degree and paid almost nothing compared to other schools (around $1,000 per credit compared to $4,000 per credit).

There are a few fine print details though.. it's night school only (which allows you to work full time during the day), it doesn't have as much of the "community feel" like other schools.. but if those aren't that important to you than it's really hard to beat. Tons of the classes taught during the day at Harvard College are taught at night by the same professors.

It's like if the best restaurant in the world offered a dollar menu but with a few caveats.
posted by pwally at 7:19 PM on December 11, 2009

If I could do it all over again, I would go to University of Hawaii or Hawaii Pacific. I woould also google "cheapest colleges in US" to find the lowest price schools.
posted by anniecat at 7:45 PM on December 11, 2009

This isn't the answer you want to hear : if you can get into an Ivy, even with the price tag, take it.

The Ivy's don't have a monopoly on education: at the large universities, you often get stuck with teaching assistants and large lecture classes. You miss out on the face time with the professors, and quality criticism from their review of your papers. Harvard is particularly egregious: the smaller schools like Dartmouth are much better. You can go to a smaller liberal arts college and arguably get a better education than you would at an Ivy.

But the Ivy's have a monopoly on networking. This is something you want after college, require even, and the networks that these schools employ and maintain blow everything else out of the water. The name brands are immensely powerful: they will open doors for you that no other school could. The alumni networks are huge, active, well-funded and well-maintained. With your degree, you can tap into a vast resource others simply don't have access too.

Prices for the top schools seem ridiculous right now, but remember that you will make your money back tenfold in future earning power. If you were asking for cheap alternatives to middle of the road private schools, I would say you were making a wise move. But if you've got a shot at the top, take it.
posted by HabeasCorpus at 7:52 PM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Start here, "Colleges that Change Lives." It has the exact mission that you seem to be describing. I went to one of these schools, and it was amazing.
posted by amelioration at 8:05 PM on December 11, 2009 [4 favorites]

I made good friends with a student from Germany during my undergrad time at Rutgers... He enjoyed it very much there, perhaps you might too. Rutgers, while it is a public school, was at one time approached to join the Ivy league, and some refer to Rutgers as a 'Public Ivy' if that means anything to you.

For what it's worth, since graduating, I have worked at an Ivy league school as well as a top tier research institute. Rutgers took good care of me.
posted by Geckwoistmeinauto at 8:08 PM on December 11, 2009

I agree that you should look into attending a public ivy. By enrolling in an honors program, and making an effort to get involved, network, and know your professors you can manage to do just fine. Grads from my alma mater managed to end up as CEOs of GE, GM, AT&T, etc. despite the "monopoly on networking" the Ivys hype up.
posted by washburn at 8:23 PM on December 11, 2009

Most of the top private liberal arts schools are extremely generous with financial aid. Apply to all of them and see what happens.
posted by sinfony at 9:00 PM on December 11, 2009

I go to one of the Public Ivies (specifically this one) and think it's pretty darned awesome. I get a big tuition break because I'm an in-state student, but even out-of-staters pay less than they would at a private school -- about $30K all told, as opposed to $50K or more. If you can establish Virginia residency, the price tag drops to less than $20K.

My school has a well-deserved reputation for being academically rigorous, but one of the things I like best about it is that there are lots of opportunities to do cool stuff outside of class. For instance, they just love it when students study abroad. They also are eager to hand out money for students to do summer projects (a recent example).

If you're interested, send me a Mefi Mail, and I'd be happy to blather on even more about this place's various virtues (and faults). Based on your description of what you're looking for, I think this could fit the bill.
posted by Commander Rachek at 9:08 PM on December 11, 2009

Yale is another one that gives whatever financial aid is required for an accepted student to be able to attend.
posted by cmoj at 9:34 PM on December 11, 2009

Canadian schools are both often highly regarded and cheap, even for international students, since they are much more heavily subsidized by the government.

I graduated from McGill University, the top research institution in Canada and the "Harvard of the North" -- international tuition was around $16,000 a year, compared to 42,000 and up for comparable American schools. and you get to live in beautiful, bohemian, avant-garde Montreal!

I loved McGill -- I met my boyfriend and my best friends there and had such a great time. And I still miss Montreal . . . too bad that student visa ran out . . .
posted by chickadee at 9:47 PM on December 11, 2009

Williams is no-loan, as is Amherst. And Princeton.

You could also try something really nutty (but by all accounts AWESOME): Deep Springs College
posted by Joseph Gurl at 9:55 PM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Good education without the price tag? Public schools. Virginia, Michigan, Berkeley, UCLA... there are quite a few out there.
posted by consilience at 11:00 PM on December 11, 2009

But the Ivy's have a monopoly on networking.

Unless you're using a strange definition of monopoly, this simply isn't true. You can argue that the Ivies have the best alumni, but claiming they're the only ones where one can 'network' is silly.

Whether you choose to attend a public school, small liberal arts place, whatever - I simply suggest that you forget all preconceived notions of what a good school must look like. You might be surprised. Pick up a book about colleges that change lives, or just one of those big books of schools, and flip through it. You can be biased about, say, weather and types of programs but I'd stay opened minded about the rest.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 11:05 PM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

it's rather stupid to discount ivy league schools just because of the price tag—if you get a grant or a scholarship from them, they can end up costing less than state and public schools. apply everywhere with good programs, see who'll take you and what they're willing to give you, and then decide where you'll go.
posted by lia at 11:21 PM on December 11, 2009

You're in Germany; do you have EU citizenship? What languages can you study in?

After all, you could get the real Slim Shady in Germany (since American schools were modeled after German ones), or if you can find the right program/get in through exams get into a French grande école. Or go to a top UK university.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 11:42 PM on December 11, 2009

The tuition at Rice U. is up around $30K per year now, but something like 80% of their students get financial aid. I came out of there in 2001 with about $8K in loans; working full-time summers, scholarships, and need-based aid took care of the rest of the ~$80K tuition and ~$40K living expenses.

But need-based aid awards are based on your family's financial state, not just your own - if you've got wealthy parents who don't want to pay for your college, the financial aid system is unfortunately designed to leave you screwed.
posted by roystgnr at 6:49 AM on December 12, 2009

There are a lot of great public schools out there, but which university you choose should really be a product of what you want to study. I decided not to pursue further education at an Ivy League school, and I couldn't be happier with my choice. Though the name of my institution isn't likely to impress anyone outside my field, I think I'll get a much better education here than I would have an the Ivy that was an option for me. Really, it comes down to what you want to learn.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 7:48 AM on December 12, 2009

This question is almost too big to answer. In short, it depends on what you want to study. In the US, New College of Florida, Olin College of Engineering, and The College of New Jersey all come to mind.
posted by willpie at 8:02 AM on December 12, 2009

I also believe that i dont need to study at university to create and build up businesses

Think again. Those schools you mention are expensive for a reason: they open all kinds of doors. Old Boy Network doors. Do not ignore the built-in potential for success these schools will bring you.
posted by Zambrano at 8:43 AM on December 12, 2009

I graduated from an Ivy about year ago, and it's not a magic ticket to success and happiness as some here claim, but the schools do have excellent resources: professors who care, funding, and dedicated students. One guy I know who went to Dartmouth took a year off to keep doing social work in Africa and is now trying to do a startup around a technology to defeat prescription-drug counterfeiting in poor countries.

I'd suggest applying to a range of schools (not just 3 Ivies; 6-10 schools of varying selectivity), then comparing financial aid offers. Ignore the "tuition cost" until you see what the real price is after you get your financial aid offer with your acceptance. Also, complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Do you want to start up a social work business, or what? You probably want to go to undergrad to get time to study and turn your existing skill/interest into an exceptional and unique ability, otherwise it will be hard for you to do original work and easy for others to copy the business you create. If that's what you want, start helping people now and don't drop out until your business is ready to support you. Also, at college you can meet like-minded students and professors who can help you, and at an Ivy or other selective school the ratio of people who can help you to people who don't care will be greater.

Are you applying to programs starting next Fall? It's getting kind of close to the deadlines for many of these, as you're probably aware. Best of luck!
posted by sninctown at 9:20 AM on December 12, 2009

Apply for a selection of many schools, see what fits your budget, interest, cultural/educational needs, etc, then make the best of where ever you go. Repeat later if you decide to go to graduate school. It is what you make of it.
posted by NikitaNikita at 11:43 AM on December 12, 2009

I went to the Harvard Extension School... absolutely loved it, got an excellent degree and paid almost nothing compared to other schools (around $1,000 per credit compared to $4,000 per credit).

t's night school only (which allows you to work full time during the day),

And if you work *at Harvard*, you can take those extension school classes for $40 each. I don't know if that feasible for you, but I know several people who worked part time and got masters at Harvard Extension for < $500. Also, I hear you're allowed to just list it as Harvard (not Harvard Extension) on your CV/resume.
posted by shaun uh at 12:46 PM on December 12, 2009

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