College Choices Relating To Tuition

bruhbruhbruv's picture
Rank: Chimp | 14

Hi WSO,

This is yet another post on college decisions, but with a personal twist that I was unable to find answers for. I recently got into UPenn Engineering (SEAS), Columbia College, Cornell Engineering, Duke Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, Dartmouth College and Berkeley L&S. I am interested in both CS/Engineering and Finance (IBD) with a lean toward IBD and I am looking for a school that has good programs in both fields. Due to their lack of checking my non-custodial parent's (Dad's) income, Berkeley is offering me a full-ride. All of the private schools that I got into are full-pay at $60k/year. Although my Dad makes enough for me to not qualify for any financial aid at any of these schools, we are of just solidly upper-middle income, and the fact that my Mom is an early retiree and that my parents are divorced (two separate households) sometimes complicates things financially (but not seriously so).

At Berkeley, I'd be interested in studying CS or Data Science in the L&S College. For UPenn, I'd be happy to study CS at SEAS, however I'm unsure if it's worth the $240k premium just for the Ivy name recognition and no Wharton on my degree. Columbia is probably my top pick of the Privates that I got into but I am also not sure about the premium being worth it there either. Looking back I should have applied to Wharton because I could probably justify the spending for that (or HYPSM if I got in) but I'm finding it hard to pass up a full-ride at Berkeley given my current choices. Duke and Dartmouth are great but I think that Duke is less worth the premium than Penn and Columbia, and Dartmouth has a weaker Eng'g department than the other schools (it doesn't even have an EE program, which is usually paired with CS programs). I'm throwing out Cornell since it is the most similar to Berkeley of the Ivies from an administrative standpoint. I applied to a mix of regular college and Engineering programs at the Privates, and I think that I should be able to transfer between programs relatively easily should I choose to, with the exception of trying to transfer into Wharton from Penn SEAS.

My main reason for looking at the Privates is their setup for the IBD path; I'm not sure the STEM/CS opportunities at those schools are going to be significantly different than the opportunities at Berkeley. In fact, Berkeley might even have better CS opportunities due to its location and the rigor of its department. However I am more interested in IBD so I'm not giving that aspect too much attention. Anyone have any opinions to offer about my thought process? Any advice? I guess my main question is if the alumni networks of these schools are worth the premium and how much of a "plug" the school's brand name is. Additionally, I have a friend who is debating between Berkeley L&S at $28k/year and UPenn CAS at $60k+/year for the same interests that I have (CS & IBD) and am wondering whether any of you would recommend spending the extra $120k+ net difference for UPenn CAS over Berkeley L&S. Thank you.