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Full ride vs. great school. What would you do?


aulacrimosa

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Hi all,

So here's my quandary: I've been accepted to one amazing school with no scholarship, but tons of great networking opportunities and international prestige. However, I've also been accepted to another, smaller school in the same city (Chicago - lots of opportunities), with a full tuition waiver and a graduate assistantship totaling $1000 a month. That being said, it's a pretty unknown school. 

I've called the bigger school telling them my predicament and asking them to reconsider me for merit, but I'm not sure what to do if they don't get back to me with anything, or if the amount is very little (under $5000 for 60k tuition). 

So...what would you do?! Help me please, grad cafe!

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I think the most important things to consider right now is your financial situation. If you're planning on getting a loan to go to grad school, are you willing to go into debt for your degree? Also, if you're an international student like I am, you might not be allowed to take loans in the US. On the other hand, if money is not the problem, you already know what the answer would be: accept the offer from the large school. 

There are a ton of things to consider besides your financial situation, but it seems that it's your main concern right now.

I might not be the best person to advise you on this topic, but I hope this is sort of helpful.

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I wouldn't consider ever taking a unfunded offer over a funded offer. Chicago is an expensive city so you have to take out loans to live and pay for tuition and books. 

Only way I would consider it is if I was guaranteed an a high paying salary like 200k so I was able to pay my loans off right away. Do you think that your field/school is going to give you that opportunity so you won't have student loan debt for the next 25-50 years? 

The first time I applied to grad school it was either an unfunded program in a very expensive city or no school at all. I decided to decline the offer and reapply to funded programs. Great school but no school is worth being in a tremendous amount of debt unless I'm guaranteed to make a lot of money.

Just my opinion! 

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If you have the means to afford it, I would go with the better known school. But it also depends on which field you're in. If you're not going to be making a lot coming out of the program, it may not be worth it to spend so much on that degree. In the end, you can pay a small/reasonable loan back, but you will never be able to buy that recognition from the better known school.

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It depends a lot on what your field is. I'm in the humanities, and taking an unfunded offer would not be a good idea because the job market is rather dismal. Like others have said, only go into debt if you know for sure that you'll be able to pay it back quickly.

If you do end up going to the lesser known school with funding, there may be other ways to make a name for yourself (conferences, publications), but again this will depend on your field. Best of luck!

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Personally, I'd take the full ride without a second thought. But I don't know what your financial situation is. 

I will say that the prestige of a school matters less than people tend to think (but this can depend on what field you're going into). As long as you're confident you'll still have decent career opportunities in the future, I'd go with the funded option. 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 3/15/2016 at 2:17 PM, StephMSW said:

Personally, I'd take the full ride without a second thought. But I don't know what your financial situation is. 

I will say that the prestige of a school matters less than people tend to think (but this can depend on what field you're going into). As long as you're confident you'll still have decent career opportunities in the future, I'd go with the funded option. 

I agree although prestige of the school IS important. For example I keep getting correspondences from SBU (Southern Baptist University -->I think,) begging me to come to their school - I'm assuming because I checked that box that it was ok to list me in the database or whatever when I took the GRE. idk what the two schools he is referring to are, but I'd never ever go to a school that's reputation was questionable just because I got funding. I would however, take a "lesser prestigious" school with full funding over, say Harvard, as long as the lesser prestigious school was like, the University of Illinois or something.... definitely not for a school like  Southern Baptist that barely qualifies as an educational institute. 

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