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D (suddenly) feeling intimidated by "tough" schools


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In a nutshell, my daughter (currently an undergrad) applied to 6 grad schools. Got into 6 schools. The area is diplomacy/public policy.  The best of the batch (in her mind and I agree with her) is Hopkins SAIS.  But after a trip to DC last week, now she's turned to the easier schools because she fears that the emphasis on economics (the degree includes 4 mandatory courses in micro and macro) is "not right for her" and "not something she wants to do in the future."  But here's the thing....it's not like she has to go work at the World Bank....she can use that economics background to greatly enhance anything she does in international affairs.  

So here's where i get involved (and this won't paint me in a good light but, hey, we're all strangers), I simply don't see a reason to pay tuition at this level for a school that's not transformational.   I would define that as a Hopkins (and, maybe also Fletcher at Tufts...another acceptance) as students spend a year in Italy, a year in DC, and then graduate into a very good potential job market.  Instead, she'd like to attend GW...it doesn't feel intimidating to her.  After fellowships from Hopkins, the price of the two will be nearly identical.  She works 2 jobs and will continue to work in DC....and will take out loans...but I have said that I will underwrite the other half (she had free tuition for undergrad).  I'm not sure what to do here...I mean, what I am going to do is let her decide....its her life...but I'm just not sure this money outlay is worth it. 

Edited by southernhope1
rethinking
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It's her decision, not yours. If she's graduating from undergrad now, that means she's probably 21-22 and old enough to make that decision for herself (whether you agree or not). In all actuality, a degree from a top-name institution doesn't mean that much after you get a bachelor's. Work experience trumps a degree in many instances. Worldly experiences look good on a resume but do not determine your intellectual ability or how much you retain from such experiences. I'm currently a fourth year graduating senior at one of the most popular and largest institutions in the nation (also on a policy track). It's a hard school to get in to, the academic rigor is tough, all of that jazz. I can personally say that if she hates economics, she shouldn't be forced to do it. Micro is easy, macro is an awful crime against humanity. You should feel confident in your daughter's decision-making skills. The majority of students (myself included) will graduate with mountains of debt no matter what (even if we had fellowships from Hopkins). Let her go where SHE wants to go, not where you want her to go. She's lucky to have you to "underwrite the check", but that doesn't mean you get to decide where she goes to school (or even influence her one way or another).

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Are you sure she's actually "intimidated"? Because it doesn't sound that way to me. She's not worried it's going to be a hard program, she's worried it will be a poor fit for her. And I think she's right to do so.

It's normal to take classes you hate in undergrad, but this should not be the case for grad school. If you hate 4 of your classes (which is a LOT in a program that only requires 3 courses per semester), then you've picked the wrong program. Each of your daughter's courses should be preparing her for her career -- otherwise you're not spending your money wisely.

I know you're trying to look out for her, but she's probably done way more research on these programs and their alumni outcomes than you. She may still be young, but she's the expert.

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Yeah, I'm going to agree with the above sentiments - it doesn't sound like your daughter is shying away because it's too hard; it sounds like she is not interested in economics and doesn't want the emphasis on economics at JHU. The economics won't 'enhance' her career if she doesn't want to do anything economics-related.

I'm also kind of curious about your thoughts on what makes a school "transformational". International experience alone doesn't do that. George Washington has one of the best and most well-respected public policy programs in the world. I certainly wouldn't characterize GW as "easier". I do not agree that a top-notch institution doesn't matter after undergrad (on the contrary, your graduate degree matters a lot more than your undergrad degree, especially in certain fields), but GWU is definitely top-notch in this area.

 
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What’s transformational is not the school, but the work your daughter has done to be able to get into some of the top programs in her field. She’s going to succeed because she’s already shown her ability to determine what she wants and work toward it. Neither of these things are easy. I’m a mom, too. I know it’s stressful, but you can rest now. Let her make this choice and feel that you truly trust her to make it. She’s going to do great, and make the most out of wherever she goes.

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1 hour ago, southernhope1 said:

Hey you guys, OP here. 

I'm an idiot. Your comments helped though.  All calmed down here....and D is happily heading towards the school of her choice....

I'm glad you two were able to see eye-to-eye. Admitting to your misjudgement doesn't make you an idiot. It shows respect for your daughter, and I'm sure it means a lot to her. Congrats to you both!

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  • 2 weeks later...

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