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Dream School or Free School?


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So I got an offer from my "reach" school yesterday, but won't know about funding until August. At the same time, I could take a Graduate Assistantship at the local private school which would cover tuition and give me a monthly stipend. After doing the math, it'll cost me about 100,000K to move (including out of state tuition, rent, gas in my car, food in my belly etc) while I could stay in town for literally half that. There's of course a chance I would get scholarships/assistantships but no guarantees.

 

The out of state school has an ideal program for me, focusing on language disorders in bilingual children. After 4 years in Japan teaching ESL and working with kids who weren't fluent in either English or Japanese, I'm pretty passionate about the topic and really would love to work in the bilingualism lab and specialize in this area. My home school offers no electives, and in my state there are no similar programs.

 

Thoughts?

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Money can't buy happiness! Go where you think you have the best opprotunities and where will most impact your future. Although money is a big portion, you'd rather be happy! If you can justify spending the money (is the program really worth the tuition cost), then go for it!

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Money can't buy happiness! Go where you think you have the best opprotunities and where will most impact your future. Although money is a big portion, you'd rather be happy! If you can justify spending the money (is the program really worth the tuition cost), then go for it!

 

I agree. If it's really a dream school to you, and you can choose to make the dream come true, uhhh.....duhh! Hopefully you will be a well-compensated SLP someday with no trouble paying back the loans! Money is only as valuable as what you can get with it, and I can't think of anything more valuable than an awesome education =)

 

....which is easy for me to say since I won't be the one paying back your loans......

 

Tough decision but go with what feels right!

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I usually would say take the money, but the out-of-state school sounds like a better overall opportunity for you. However, even if your in-state program doesn't offer specific electives or a bilingual lab, there may still be chances for you to work with bilingual populations or other ways to integrate your interests into your education there. You may want to find out if that's possible.

 

Have you had a chance to visit either of the programs in person?

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I am in a similar predicament: Tuition + assistantship from my local University compared to my dream school. 

 

This is a very personal choice, but for me, I chose my dream school.

 

I don't want to compromise my education for anything, even though it will cost a few extra paychecks out of school. In my case, and after doing my research on all the programs I applied to, I believe this is the best choice for me, given my current/future goals.

 

Obviously, money is a factor, but if I remind myself why I'm going into this field, and what I want to achieve with respect to my life-long goals, I want to make sure that when I look back 10 or 20 years, I want to know that I gave myself the best opportunity to be successful. This does not mean that my local university won't give me a great a education, I just want to go for what I think is 'the best' without compromise. I (and you) have worked hard to get to this point, and any type of 'dream' acceptance is a gift.

 

Lastly, I can't help but think of the definition of 'luck'. Where, preparation and hard work collide. I consider myself 'lucky' to have an acceptance at a dream school, And again, this luck was based on my (your) own merit.  

 

Good luck with your decision.

Ee.  

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Looks like i have the unpopular opinion, but from where I stand (under a mountain of debt with no outside aid), I'd take the free school in a heartbeat. Are your parents involved?  Would you be able to present your case for the dream school to them and potentially get some support to offset the difference?

 

If not, I try to live by the "no student debt higher than your future salary," rule, and SLP's make good money, but I don't know if it's that good.

 

 

What if you went to your "free," school and search all over the country for a bilingual place to do your (paid) CFY?

 
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It sounds like your dream school is the right fit for you, so I would say go for it. However, how reasonable is that debt? Do you have parental support perhaps to cover living expenses? Do you think you will be able to pay of your debt in the long run without an enormous amount of financial strain? If you plan it out and it is doable, I think you may regret not attending your dream school.

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I too am in the same boat, and have been wracking my brain over the last few weeks. I was between fellowship, assistantship, stipend at a program that is ranked much lower, doesn't have as many research opportunities (but still is doing some very interesting things), and seems to have a really strong program. I also got into my dream program, which has just about everything I could want (except funding at this point). It is hard to look at the money details and not feel uncomfortable about making a more expensive choice, but I finally was able to make a decision after considering these major points:

 

1. Research opportunities- I love research, and have always considered going on to get my PhD at some point. I felt this program will better set me up for this option if I ever decide to go that route. 

 

2. Location- Big city with little outdoor interest, expensive cost of living, and hellish traffic vs. a moderately sized city in an outdoor mecca with lower cost of living. Clearly the second option won, mostly because it is somewhere I would be thrilled to work/ make connections beyond the two year program. 

 

3. I am blessed to have 0 debt from my undergrad and post bac, so I feel like I have some room to take on a little debt if need be . This is made easier by the fact that the more expensive is really not that expensive compared to other schools (like Northwestern, YIKES). 

 

4. Dream school. I have worked SO incredibly hard over the past three years to create this opportunity for myself, so I am motivated to stretch in order to make it work. I feel like taking the best experience will justify all of the sacrifices I have made in order to get to where I am. 

 

5. And last but not least my favorite logic in all facets of life: Spending the next two years somewhere I already have been will never, ever have as large as an impact on my self development and life-long memories than will taking a risk and trying something new. 

 

Clearly everyone has so many personal things to consider when making such a big decision, which is why it is so hard and exhausting to get through. If all else fails, you can trick yourself into loving your choice if you commit to a program and throw out the possibility to decide differently (decline other schools). Your brain will force you into loving your decision. Isn't psychology the best? 

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@Makin Choices: i'm sure both of your options are great and would prepare you to be a wonderful SLP :) A few more things to consider:

 

1- Does Dream School research a variety of bilingual kids, or just English/Spanish? I know some bilingual labs prefer or even require interested students to be fluent (near-native level) in Spanish, if that would make a difference to you.

 

2- Do you have any parental support/savings, or the ability to work part-time at Dream School? My goal is to take out loans only for tuition, and use savings/work part-time to cover living expenses and books.  Even working three 4-hour shifts per week would put a dent in the expenses.

 

Good luck with your decision!! :) 

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My decision making factors would include:

1. Location (being closest to home)
2. Tuition (I will be taking loans because my parents have paid for my undergrad and pre-requisite coursework- so I rather take on a less expensive school)
3. Availability of externships with children and bilingual populations (schools, clinics)

 

-I am not expecting a great starting salary..I know that salary will increase gradually throughout the years. So, to me, taking the local choice would be more beneficial in the long run. I don't think you would have applied there if you did not like anything about the school anyway.
-Dream schools tend to have larger class sizes, and local schools tend to have smaller class sizes. I think i'd be more focused in a more local school.

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I have to agree with Speech Kelly. 100,000 dollars in loans is a lot, and like she said, SLP's make a good living but it's not that much. With that kind of debt, you would be paying it off for years to come at a high rate every month, and it would likely affect the quality of other parts of your life. Midnight Streetlight had a great suggestion - figure out if there are opportunities at the cheaper school in bilingual speech therapy. You may be able to complete a practicum at a bilingual-focus school or your clinic might have opportunities to work with bilingual patients. If you seek out bilingual opportunities, I'll bet that you could also get a great clinical fellowship having to do with bilingual clients.

 

I know it sounds amazing to attend your dream school, but remember that just because you're paying more doesn't necessarily mean that you'll be happier there. Nor does going to the more expensive school (potentially more well-known?) guarantee a larger salary in the end. I don't mean to sound like such a debbie downer, but I'm a pretty practical lady. Good luck with your decision. I'm sure you'll figure out what's right for you :)

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I think I will regret it if I go to the local school. It's smaller, less prestigious, much lower ranked, and the same place I went for undergrad. I'm also pretty sure I won't leave my hometown after graduation if I stay. The other school offers assisanceships which would get me a stipend for living expenses and in state tuition. I'm hoping that locals won't want those, bc the benefits aren't great unless you need in state tuition.

My parents have let me live with them this year rent free, and at 28, that's all the support I can hope for from them! I don't have undergrad debt thanks to their generosity and good scholarships, so I figure I'm starting out in a better position than some. Hopefully the assistanceship will work out!

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I'm in a similar situation. I want to go to an out of state school, but after crunching the numbers I would have over $100k in student loans. I would only have about $45k if I go to an in state school. I looked up the interest rate for the grad school loans and it's pretty high and I would probably end up paying about $10k extra on the $100k loan. It breaks my heart, but I don't want to have that much debt when I graduate and really start my life. 

Also, I talked to some professors at the grad school I will be attending and they gave some good advice. They said you really can pave your own way, no matter where you go. I want to concentrate in Neuro disorders, but the school I will be going to doesn't really do that much research in it. However, I can pick Neuro disorder electives, request practicum spots where they have a lot of neuro clients, and maybe be a GTA for one of the Neuro professors.

 

This is just my two cents and how I reasoned through my decision. Good luck with everything!

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I was dealing with the same thing. I just accepted my admission at my local university where I did my undergrad. It's a great program but I really wanted to go elsewhere and experience something new. That said, I couldn't justify the cost. There was one program in particular that I was really excited about but it would have been more than 2 times the cost of my in state university. Also, unless you plan to go on for a phd, I don't think that a slightly higher ranked program is really going to make a difference in your job opportunities.

Long story short, I want to be able to take the jobs I want, not just the jobs that pay more. In order to have that freedom, I need to keep my loans down. Also, I very very much want to move to a different part of the country but I figure I can do that upon graduation/during my CFY.

It's a personal choice. I just personally wouldn't want huge student loans hanging over my head if I could at all avoid it.

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Reading about this topic is bitter-sweet. I've just turned down a scholarship to my dream school to attend my local city university. I am currently a student at the City U and have come to adore the professors who are renowned in the field. This particular program only accepts a handful of applicants each year and offers a unique mentoring experience. Highly understated program. I am delighted and relieved to have been accepted. Although it would have been a dream come true to attend the Dream school, I could not justify the cost. Even with the scholarship! Could the name and ranking really make much difference when looking for a job? Can't help but wonder if I'm making a huge mistake and if I am sacrificing quality for the lower tuition.

Sorry for the rant....had to get it off my chest and reassure myself in writing!

So Long Dream School  :(

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I would take the free school! When I crunched the numbers for 100K of debt with a 70K salary living in a big city, I would have to make hard choices - either live comfortably (pay off loan, save for retirement, save for short term - emergency fund, car, down payment, vacation etc) or I could pay off the loan, have a kid, and have no savings / depend on my husband to provide entirely for the kid and the down payment. Of course, if you live somewhere cheaper, i'd imagine making 60K would go a lot further. Run the numbers!

 

Also, exactly how bilingual are you? At the one bilingual certification program I researched, you had to be fluent - not only to hold conversations with the parents, but to have a thorough knowledge of typical language development.

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Agr

 

I would take the free school! When I crunched the numbers for 100K of debt with a 70K salary living in a big city, I would have to make hard choices - either live comfortably (pay off loan, save for retirement, save for short term - emergency fund, car, down payment, vacation etc) or I could pay off the loan, have a kid, and have no savings / depend on my husband to provide entirely for the kid and the down payment. Of course, if you live somewhere cheaper, i'd imagine making 60K would go a lot further. Run the numbers!

 

Also, exactly how bilingual are you? At the one bilingual certification program I researched, you had to be fluent - not only to hold conversations with the parents, but to have a thorough knowledge of typical language development.

my thoughts exactly about the financial details. But the dream school has a Bilingual program (which is my goal) and the other school has an unbelievable diversity among clients....

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