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Schools Which is better? Famous university with little scholarship or little university?

  1. May 28, 2007 #1
    Hello, I am wondering which I should choose for universities. I applied to the top university in canada for mathematics - waterloo for acturial science. They offer very little scholarship. Maximum of $2000 over 4 years but the program I applied to is co-op.

    I am also getting an offer for honors mathematics and stats from Windsor with a $30,000 scholarship. It would cover basically my tuition since it is $5000 per year x 4 years. = $20,000. The problem is, University of Windsor is hardly known.

    I wish to get into the acturial science stream since it is the best paying job and it is something I like to do. Windsor claims on their website that they are a better choice since they are right beside Detriot and have access to big firms there. They do not offer any acturial science program.

    I can't decide which one to go.. Does reputation matter for undergrad school? Waterloo has alot of connections so it would be easier to find a job after graduation but the competition there is pretty big. It would be hard to distinguish myself there. Windsor's big scholarship does seem very attractive. Just wondering what you thoughts are on this matter. thanks.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 28, 2007 #2
    I'm still an undergrad myself, but if I could start over I would choose a small school with a generous financial aid package. The benefits of attending a "name" school are outweighed by the benefits of having the personal attention of your professors.
  4. May 28, 2007 #3
    I can't give definitive advice, but I can tell you what I know based on my experiences thus far (I'm a first year physics grad student). If you're going to grad school, your undergraduate institution doesn't matter that much. What matters is what kinds of grades you got, and what research you did. The grad school you go to, however, does matter. People who graduate from Harvard or Caltech are likely to get quick professorships, whereas the rest of us have to go through a postdoc or two first. But if you're going straight from undergrad to a job, then a big name school on your degree does help somewhat. I guess what I'm trying to say is that the last school you go to before getting a job is what ultimately matters. Again, this is just based on my own experiences thus far (as well as what I've heard), and I could be wrong. So in regards to your case: you need to look at your financial situation and ask yourself if you can afford to go to the better school. Are your parents well-to-do? Or will you have to take out loans? If you have rich parents, then perhaps you should go to the better school. But if you'll need to go into debt, the better school isn't really worth it.

    Finally let me stress that while big name schools certainly can't hurt, your grades will matter a lot more than what school you went to. If you get bad grades, the most prestigious alma mater in the world won't get you a good job or a good grad school offer. Going to a prestigious school is good, but it won't substitute for bad grades anymore than an exquisite desert can substitute for the main course. So if you're a good student, this will more than compensate for whatever you lose by going to the cheaper school.
  5. May 28, 2007 #4
    Waterloo isn't exactly as famous as your thread implies... Sure it's a good school for math but it certainly isn't Ivy League or MIT famous. By the way, isn't the deadline... today?
  6. May 28, 2007 #5


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    Your co-op terms will most likely cover your tuition (and make you more employable upon graduation).
  7. May 28, 2007 #6
    I would pick Waterloo.

    Windsor is a hole. If you really are a strong student, it's much better to make a good showing at a big university than to be a star at a small one. If you take an honours program at Waterloo the courses will have reasonably small enrolments anyway.

    You may also decide in university that you don't really want to be an actuary - and if you're at a big school there are more options if you want to change. You'll meet a wider variety of people at Waterloo.

    If you do the co-op program at Waterloo you'll probably get better jobs than you would by going to Windsor. These jobs will be good experience AND they will probably pay better than the summer jobs you would get at Windsor. Plus, you will be working a few 8 month co-op terms and that will give you a chance to earn more money than you would by just working summers.

    Are you from Windsor? If you're concerned about money you could also do a year at Windsor and then transfer to Waterloo. Is there a co-op coordinator in the math program at Windsor? Maybe you can find out how many undergraduate students are placed in summer jobs. You should also ask yourself whether you would really want to work in Detroit. That is one screwed up city.
  8. May 29, 2007 #7


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    would you rather have a bmw for $30,000 or a ford for $15,000?
  9. May 29, 2007 #8


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    I agree with mathwonk. In the grand scheme of things, a college education is not really much more expensive than a nice car. Unlike a car (which depreciates), your education is the wisest investment you'll ever make in your entire life. Don't skimp on it. Student loan debt is really not a big deal.

    - Warren
  10. May 29, 2007 #9
    Hurm. I guess I'm just not that interested in cars, so I got the exact opposite message... :smile:
  11. May 29, 2007 #10
    Same here.
  12. May 29, 2007 #11
    I'm admittedly not familiar with either of the mentioned schools, but why is going to a less well-known institution necessarily skimping?
  13. May 29, 2007 #12
    I think it depends on what he plans on doing with his degree as well.

    If he plans to go out and get a job at some private industry I don't think the school name really matters but if he wants to go to grad school I would say choose the school with the bigger name.
  14. May 29, 2007 #13
    Funny, because I have been told numerous times the exact opposite....the ugrad school you went to matters very little to grad schools, whereas your ugrad school matters a bit more for industry.

    For ugrad you will get a solid education anywhere you go and the main thing is what you make of your education....not where you went.
  15. May 29, 2007 #14


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    It isn't necessarily skimping. Price and quality of education are not strongly correlated, but they are not uncorrelated. Choosing a school simply because it gives you a scholarship is a very bad idea. Dismissing a school simply because it won't give you a scholarship is an equally bad idea.

    - Warren
  16. May 29, 2007 #15

    I never knew. Your more knowledgeable on the subject so I'll go with your advice :D
  17. Jun 2, 2007 #16
    Go To Windsor

    Listen, I was born in, raised in, live in Windsor and I go to the University of Windsor as well. Let's not use "ifs" or "buts" in this problem. I'm a math and stats student at the U here and I'm very satisfied. Windsor is very underrated, besides you would be a moron to settle for just an undergrad, go for a masters atleast. Undergrad is the new highschool diploma man, besides the $28,000 difference in scholairships is ****in huge! after interest that numbers is likely to double, trust me I work at H+R block, I see all the ex-student losers that roll in. Plus the parties here are better. The downtown is ridiculous especially on new years or st. pattys day. If your bored skip the class and go down to the casino. We are 10 minutes away from watching a Red Wing, Lions or Tiger game. The Professors are all pretty good too, lots of help man. You would have to be either a moron or a real big nerd not to want to come here for an undergrad. Best decision I've made so far.
  18. Jun 4, 2007 #17
    Also note that there is nothing stopping you from doing coops/internships at Windsor, although you will have to be one of the better students, since there will be less companies recruiting than at Waterloo.

    I recently made the same decision as you, passed on Waterloo with little to no scholarships/financial aid and accepted the full ride to Windsor (except I'm in engineering, not math). From checking, for example, the degree requirements, course reqs, etc. of the programs at both schools, you'll find that most undergrad programs are essentially the same courses, with bigger schools probably offering more specialized courses in 4th year.

    You mentioned actuarial science. Isn't liscencing the most important thing in that field? I assume any rigorous math education combined with doing well on the exams would be sufficient to land you a good job after grad? I mean, it's not like we have this vast supply of unemployed actuaries sitting around...
  19. Jun 4, 2007 #18


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    I'm from Ontario, and I vote that you go to Windsor.

    If you really want to go to Waterloo, you can just go to Waterloo for one year. You take a full year on letter of permission from Windsor. So that way you get to go to Waterloo for one of the 4 years and still get $30,000.
  20. Jun 4, 2007 #19


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    Exactly, and if he wants to take those, he can just go up there for the summer since Waterloo offers lots of courses all year round.
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