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Picking an undergraduate school-help, please.

  1. Mar 30, 2013 #1
    My son has been accepted to Columbia Fu School of Engineering and also University of California Berkeley. At Berkeley, he is a regents scholar and would get priority registration and some additional benefits and we live in California about 90 minutes away from the school. At both schools, his major is mechanical engineering. Berkeley will cost ~$8K per year and Columbia will cost ~$3K plus travel expenses.

    Can anyone advise us as to which school he should pick? There are so many pros and cons to each school but none of us can overlook the fact that Berkeley is considered one of the top engineering schools but Columbia is Ivy League. You are the experts so I hope someone can guide us! Thanks in advance for your replies.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 30, 2013 #2


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    Congratulations! You have achieved a lot and your son has two wonderful choices.
    The economics are essentially a wash, maybe $3-4000/yr, irrelevant relative to his earnings power.
    I think the decision depends on personal issues as much as on the schools. Do you think your son would be more comfortable relatively close to home or do you feel that he would develop more breadth if at some distance. Does he have any connections with faculty or other staff at either place? Ivy League is a nice brand name, but so is Berkeley, so I do not think there is much to worry about there.
    Has he spent any time at either place? If possible, he should try to be allowed to audit a few classes, he might find one or the other more stimulating.
  4. Mar 30, 2013 #3
    etudiant, Thanks for your reply. I didn't realize that there was an academic advising forum so I will go repost the question there.

    He has no connections at either school. He has never been to NY, ever. He spent one night at Berkeley and loved it as part of the regents program. I scheduled a visit to NY for him and I'm sure he will love the city but we are from a tiny town so one never knows. After recalculating, the costs are identical.

    Berkeley is so much higher ranked but Columbia is well, Ivy, although lower ranked in Engineering than Berkeley.
  5. Mar 31, 2013 #4
    I don't know what your financial situation is like, but if you are on the somewhat lower end of the financial income spectrum I would suggest looking at the UC blue & gold opportunity.
  6. Mar 31, 2013 #5
    Thanks again, now I see that the costs are almost the same at around $7500 so that isn't an issue. For the UC, Regents $ pays most of his costs.

    It's just so hard to choose between these schools! He should go to both again and do what etudiant says and sit in classes and really try to investigate things more in person.

    Thanks again!
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