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Undergrad in Germany or $152,000 in the US?

  1. Jun 13, 2015 #1
    Hello and other pleasantries Physics forum fellows, I have an interesting dilemma that hopefully your experience could help me solve. I am a recently graduated International Baccalaureate student and I now have the choice to face either $152,000 of debt at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign or to go to the University of Leipzig's International Physics Studies Program for little to no cost (http://www.uni-leipzig.de/~physik/bachelor-physik-ipsp.html [Broken].) I understand that it is generally where one finishes their graduate degree that matters the most but would going to Leipzig hinder my future in Physics or related fields? Is this European Bachelor credible and would it be accepted by graduate universities in Europe (ETH Zurich) and the US? Thank you for any and all advice.

    P.S. There is a third option; I was granted conditional admission to Georgia Tech meaning if I maintain a 3.3 at USF (or anywhere in the US but USF is the least expensive) I will be granted admission as a transfer student my sophomore year but with financial aid in the form of loans (160,000.)
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
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  3. Jun 13, 2015 #2
    Id go to the German school even if it wasn't cheaper. Though I don't understand why you have to set this up as a dilemma, you even call it that way, between two places on the other side of the world.

    150.000? You have to work for that for 3 years. With expenses probably 10 years or more.
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2015
  4. Jun 13, 2015 #3
    For a German the question about the credibility of the program is a bit strange. But obviously one cannot expect everyone to be familiar with the German system. If an institution in Germany is allowed to hold the title "university" then their programs are credible and recognized - at least for institutions older than ~20 years. In fact, a German university is what you seem to call a "graduate university".

    Out of curiousity: In which part of the world do people wonder whether the European education system is credible or not?
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2015
  5. Jun 13, 2015 #4


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    Unsecured debt is pretty much the inverse of freedom. If, for some reason, being free to choose what's next after you graduate (or fail to graduate) is not important to you, then decide simply on the basis of predicted quality. But with a good option that's pretty much free, I'd say it's obvious what to do.

    Is there some reason for you to have serious doubts about Leipzig's program?
  6. Jun 14, 2015 #5
    I wouldn't go to an ivy league unless it was paid for or you had very rich parents.
  7. Jun 14, 2015 #6
    $150000 or nothing for a good degree? I think the choice is clear...
  8. Jun 14, 2015 #7


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    College can be ruinously expensive or fairly reasonable in the US; it depends on how hard and how long you look to find the best deal. UIUC or GT are both good schools, but are they the best value for the money invested?

    It's like buying a house (to which it certainly comparable, in terms of the financial investment): You can buy a million dollar bungalow in San Franciso or a million dollar McMansion in Dallas or some other less trendy spot. It's up to you how much house you want to buy and what you are willing to pay for it.

    I don't know what your academic experience is, nor what goals you desire besides obtaining a degree. Student life at college in the States is quite different from student life at college on the Continent. There, professors lecture. They won't become your pals and may not even offer an opportunity for visits outside of class to discuss assignments. You're expected to be prepared by your previous education to jump into college course work immediately; there's no remedial classes for students who are not adequately prepared.

    Life in student housing there is no-frills to the extreme. Want a hot shower after class? Better check where you'll be staying while a student, because the hot water may be optional.

    You don't get a choice to take a lot of electives unrelated to your field of study, so if you have any interests besides physics, you're out of luck.

    While tuition may be "free" in German universities, they are still permitted to charge students fees for various things, which can add up to a sizable sum. You should check with the U of Leipzig about what fees must be paid.

    In Sweden, where college is "free", many students still graduate with some debt:

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