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College decision: Advice?

Marslyr

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I'm having difficulty finalizing my choice of school and was hoping that the SF hive mind might be able to offer some advice.

I'm currently torn between two very different schools. Small liberal arts school - Kalamazoo College vs Large state school UMass Amherst. And comparing the two is definitely apples and oranges.

Some differences:
Cost. Kalamazoo is about 2x as expensive as umass a year, and at Kalamazoo I would be looking at a little over a years worth of debt.

Location; UMass is (big surprise) in Amherst, MA, Kalamazoo is in Kalamazoo, MI.

I would consider Kalamazoo to be a stronger school academically (high % going on to grad school/phd) and it has a very streamlined plan for studying abroad (85% of their students do) and other similar opportunites.

On the flip side, at UMass you have the chance to study at the 4 other schools "in the valley" whcich include Hampshire college, and Amherst College.

As for me, I'm not looking for law, or med, or anyrhing super competitive like that, and I'm thinking to major in psych.

Thoughts?
 

bluemagic

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Go to UMass. Unless you're rich, only a few liberal arts colleges are worth going to, and Kalamazoo is not one of them.
 

MetroStyles

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Go to UMass, get a 4.0, and transfer to a Top 20.
 

alexwgoody

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I just had the same decision, but here on the west coast. It was tiny liberal arts schools, or humongous schools, and I found that a small school, for me, will not be nearly as fun. Academics are, of course, very important, but if you're constantly bored it's; not worth it. If you want to succeed academically, you don't need to go to a "better" school, just do more at the "lesser" school.
 

JoelF

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UMass has some good academic departments. Campus itself is not so great but the area is nice (lots of outdoors stuff if you're into that) and somewhat accessible to NYC & Boston.
 

Dakota rube

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There will be no jobs when you graduate, so why bother?
 

Davidko19

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take it from me, as a guy who went to the small college (2500 kids) in medium sized city in the wmidwest..., go to umass.

1. You get sick of a small campus VERY quickly. Neither are great party schools, but at least your not stuck in michigan in February.

2. My school had a great studyabroad program and almost all my friends went... but you can do it anywhere. I DEFINETLY recommend you spend a summer or semester abroad, but you dont necessarily need a school to do it for you

3. That cost is kind of crippling. Think about it. Do you REALLY want to pay an extra 20k+ for the privilege of going to a small schoool in freakin kalamazoo? Dude, I moved to los angeles and NO ONE has ever heard of my school, despite its good academic reputation. It has opened approximately ZERO doors for me (unless I was staying in the midwest, whcih...hell no)

4. Finally, Id encourage you to rethink your major if your not totally psyched about it (pun intended). Especailly if your gonna get in debt for it. As a communications major I realized what a joke it was and I coulda probably done more with just a generic business degree.
 

rjmaiorano

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UMass. Someone else said it earlier, a small liberal arts school is not worth it unless money isn't a problem. My sister went to Whittier College and has heaps of debt, I went to a state school with a far better rep and have no debt. Having no debt getting out of school is awesome, particularly as when you get out your job will pay next to nothing.
 

incastoutcast

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Having gone to a small school, (my Dad worked there, so no cost to me) and used the chance to study abroad, I have to agree - Go to UMass.

Reasons: State schools garner more trust across a wider range - I like the idea of small schools, but in the current system, they don't work as well.
Connections - My experience is that in the larger school, you can find a crowd that will suceed in your area. This will help you suceed, in fact, may be a prime factor. This won't always (or even necessarily) be true in a small school.
Connections - You have more of a chance (simply because there are more professors) to find a professor you like. Think about it - at Kalamazoo (and frankly, it's a silly name - do you really want that name on your resume?) if you have a couple of teachers you don't like, what can you really do? At UMass, you can probably find other teachers.

That said, I would be very surprised if UMass doesn't have some program for studying abroad. Look into it, take any opportunity you can.
 

leftover_salmon

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I say UMass. It's not a very good school but it is well-recognized in Massachusetts among common folk which will help you when applying for jobs. But yeah, as MetroStyles said, just lock yourself in your room, get a 3.8-4.0 and transfer. Hell, if you're half-bright you probably don't need to lock yourself in your room to get a 3.8 at UMass.
 

BP348

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Originally Posted by rjmaiorano
UMass. Someone else said it earlier, a small liberal arts school is not worth it unless money isn't a problem. My sister went to Whittier College and has heaps of debt, I went to a state school with a far better rep and have no debt. Having no debt getting out of school is awesome, particularly as when you get out your job will pay next to nothing.
I agree with this. I went to a smaller school that's part of the Texas A&M system because there were no bigger schools in my area. I was older when I went to college so the out of class campus life stuff didn't matter to me and my GI Bill paid for my degree. I will say that going to a smaller school I always had a Ph.D. teaching my classes and the classes were small enough so that everyone knew everyone we weren't just a number in a 300+ student class. But the biggest thing about the above I agree with is to get out of college with as little debt as possible.
 

Tarmac

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I had a similar decision back in the day, either Williams, Wesleyan, or go big with Northwestern, Columbia, XXXXXXX(censored to protect the reputation of my classmates), etc. I chose XXXXXXX. I visited both Williams and Wesleyan and they were great schools but just...too...small....

Also, money wasn't a deciding factor for me because both offered a similar amount of financial aid. I still chose the big school. I don't regret it a bit

The fact that you are in a position to have to pay more for Kalamazoo, I would choose Umass without a doubt.
 

leftover_salmon

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Originally Posted by Tarmac
I had a similar decision back in the day, either Williams, Wesleyan, or go big with Northwestern, Columbia, XXXXXXX(censored to protect the reputation of my classmates), etc. I chose XXXXXXX. I visited both Williams and Wesleyan and they were great schools but just...too...small....

Not that similar...Williams, in particular, is a very well-recognized school in circles where it counts. Kalamazoo isn't quite Williams.
 

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