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Ivy League with no funding vs. some other university with 60-100% funding


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On 3/4/2018 at 3:34 AM, applicantx said:

Yes. And by the way, the other universities are pretty much doing nothing in my research area (compared to the ivy league university).

Um, why did you apply to these schools if they are "doing nothing" in your research area?

OK, so I think the I know the answer to this question based on your other posts. Let me start off by answering your initial question - $50,000 for Columbia is worth it for YOU and and YOUR SITUATION.

So here's my guess (and if I am significantly off, disregard the above advice). Since you are an international student who is not particularly interested in pursuing a career in research in the US (why else would you apply to schools "doing nothing" in your research area and salivate over Columbia which is pretty mediocre for Mech E), your primary goal is to get a prestigious sounding degree . Now, there is nothing wrong with this. A lot of foreign countries (well, companies in foreign countries) are overly fixated on "IVY!" and it makes sense to play to your eventual employers. Plus, there is the added social capital the accrues to someone with an Ivy League degree in Asian countries.

Thankfully, a lot of the lesser Ivies (not Harvard, Yale, Princeton) have noticed the opportunity to lend their prestige for a price of $50,000-$100,000. This is usually a good deal for the schools because it doesn't truly water down their reputations. Most of the people getting these degrees do not usually end up pursuing a career in pure research and ruining the school's reputation among academics and researchers. A good chunk of the students entering these programs already have their sights on management, finance, or the field-of-they day (data science/machine learning). Furthermore, the schools bank tens of millions each year in exchange for handing out glorified participation trophies (Columbia makes $50-100M/yr from its Masters students). The way you know a school fits this category is that they graduate 10 times as many masters students as they do PhD students. Columbia is something like 10:1 (1366:142, link). If you're a masters student looking to get an RA or a TA to defray your costs, you are competing with a ridiculous number of students who are in the same boat.

If the transaction Columbia is offering makes sense given your goals (prestige for foreign employers or employers outside your major field), go for it. Just don't plan on getting too much money out of them. I mean, look how they are treating you - you get two weeks to make a huge decision and have to pay a $1,000 deposit. No student on a research track is treated like this. They usually get funding, pay no deposit, and usually have months to consider their decision (April 15 deadline).

p.s: With a little digging, Penn (9:1 MS:PhD ratio) appears to also be offering similar M.S degrees and to a lesser extent Cornell (6:1). Harvard (0.5:1) and Princeton (0.3:1) are definitely not yet open for business.  Hope this helps.

Edited by DiscoTech
p.s
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On 3/7/2018 at 7:12 PM, DiscoTech said:

Um, why did you apply to these schools if they are "doing nothing" in your research area?

OK, so I think the I know the answer to this question based on your other posts. Let me start off by answering your initial question - $50,000 for Columbia is worth it for YOU and and YOUR SITUATION.

So here's my guess (and if I am significantly off, disregard the above advice). Since you are an international student who is not particularly interested in pursuing a career in research in the US (why else would you apply to schools "doing nothing" in your research area and salivate over Columbia which is pretty mediocre for Mech E), your primary goal is to get a prestigious sounding degree . Now, there is nothing wrong with this. A lot of foreign countries (well, companies in foreign countries) are overly fixated on "IVY!" and it makes sense to play to your eventual employers. Plus, there is the added social capital the accrues to someone with an Ivy League degree in Asian countries.

Thankfully, a lot of the lesser Ivies (not Harvard, Yale, Princeton) have noticed the opportunity to lend their prestige for a price of $50,000-$100,000. This is usually a good deal for the schools because it doesn't truly water down their reputations. Most of the people getting these degrees do not usually end up pursuing a career in pure research and ruining the school's reputation among academics and researchers. A good chunk of the students entering these programs already have their sights on management, finance, or the field-of-they day (data science/machine learning). Furthermore, the schools bank tens of millions each year in exchange for handing out glorified participation trophies (Columbia makes $50-100M/yr from its Masters students). The way you know a school fits this category is that they graduate 10 times as many masters students as they do PhD students. Columbia is something like 10:1 (1366:142, link). If you're a masters student looking to get an RA or a TA to defray your costs, you are competing with a ridiculous number of students who are in the same boat.

If the transaction Columbia is offering makes sense given your goals (prestige for foreign employers or employers outside your major field), go for it. Just don't plan on getting too much money out of them. I mean, look how they are treating you - you get two weeks to make a huge decision and have to pay a $1,000 deposit. No student on a research track is treated like this. They usually get funding, pay no deposit, and usually have months to consider their decision (April 15 deadline).

p.s: With a little digging, Penn (9:1 MS:PhD ratio) appears to also be offering similar M.S degrees and to a lesser extent Cornell (6:1). Harvard (0.5:1) and Princeton (0.3:1) are definitely not yet open for business.  Hope this helps.

Thanks for your reply.

The thing is, I am an international student. This whole process of applying to American Universities is new to me. When I applied to Columbia,  I had no idea that their master's program was course-based (cashcow, like some people call it). I simply went to their website, studied the research they were doing (which seemed interesting) and applied there. I was like ... They are offering MSc in Mechanical Engineering ... and they are IVY LEAGUE ... and the research they are doing is also interesting .... well, what could possibly go wrong? ... Let's apply. All the other universities I applied to (in the US), I took a lot of time to explore their website, study the programs they were offering, the research they were doing ... everything. But, in case of Columbia, I just --- I didn't. I didn't feel the need to "VET" a university of this stature.

Anyhow, it's my negligence.

Now, I am waiting for admission decisions from other US universities (so far, I've heard from Columbia only). If I am offered admission in any other US university, I will decline Columbia's offer.

By the way, the other university I was taking about, it's in Europe. I applied their because they had no application fee. They have given me a scholarship, but to be honest, I don't want to go there. My priority is US, and I hope I will get admission here.

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