Should Your High School Student Focus on Price or Prestige in a University?

The topic entering many homes during junior and senior years of high school is price versus prestige.  Universities with attractive price tags aren't prestigious to employers. Likewise, prestigious universities are crazy expensive.  It's rare to mix prestige with affordability without including scholarships, grants, and loans in the conversation.  

The sad part is parents and friends are just as invested in the college choice as the student.  As students, friends, and schools accentuate the famous colleges, the parents' pressure of choosing their alma mater or attending a recognizable school for job placement add on to the stress.  What needs emphasis is the financial disaster picking the wrong college will do to everyone's wallet.

Prestige is Paramount

Students recognize the famous universities: they're on every list of the top 100 colleges.  The school embraces certain local colleges and rejects others to influence students as well.

There's a reason for that: most students attending these colleges had a successful career in return.  A famous university creates job opportunities.  The fame comes from countless successful students who attended the same college.  Students believe these colleges will provide the same opportunities the previous students received.  Therefore, many apply and few earn acceptance letters. 

Most famous colleges are private universities, and they are expensive for local and out-of-state students because finances don't come from the state.  However, some public colleges qualify as 'prestigious' (U of Penn, U of Chicago, etc.).  Student loans (must be repaid) are the main resource to offset the cost, yet the loans aren't deterring many students from applying and/or attending the prestigious schools.  The dilemma then becomes whether the university's prestige is worth ignoring the price tag.

Price is Paramount

Out of the 5,000 colleges in the United States, most 4-year and 2-year public universities fit this category.  Still, both unfamiliar private and public schools make up for its lack of recognition with lucrative price tags.  The affordability stems from two prices titled "in-state" and "out-of-state."  In-state prices are for residents who choose to attend college in the same state.  The state government funds the university, and the prices are lower to tempt students to stay here during college.  The pricier out-of-state costs are for non-residents who choose to attend college anywhere else but their home state.  Non-residents feel the pinch from public universities more than residents do because the state isn't paying for them. 

The conundrum is whether students like the college choices in the state.  Students staying here must sacrifice recognition.  Students who choose to attend a public university in another state must focus on saving money.  Ways to do this include reciprocity, academic exchange, neighboring county/state discounts, and earning scholarships with in-state tuition attached.  Unfortunately, a student's stigma is he or she must work twice as hard to receive the same recognition as their prestigious counterparts due to lack of prestige.

Students must weigh price and prestige carefully.  Try to select universities everyone can agree on.  If no one agrees, understand that students get the final say regardless of what everyone else thinks.  Base the final decision on family finances, college aid, distance, weather, and college environment.  In closing, success depends on the student's effort, not the college.

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