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Old 09-29-2017, 01:34 PM
 
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I live in the Raleigh NC area and am an adult learner going to college at 30 years old. I am pursuing a bachelor's in Finance and I have the option to choose between two schools. I will be enrolled to take my classes through either school's distance education program so that I can stay home with my daughter. The degree I receive at the end won't indicate that it was earned online.

The first school is Pennsylvania State University. I would receive a quality education from a well-known, academically rigorous university and the classes would be slightly more tailored to what I want to do. The degree I would earn would be a Bachelor's of Science in Finance. The downside is that it would require me to take on about $35,000-$40,000 in student loan debt.

The second school is University of North Carolina Pembroke. The classes are a little less in line with my end goals, but not by too much. UNC Pembroke is accredited by the same agencies as Penn State (AACSB and the CFA). The degree I would earn would be a Bachelor's of Business Administration with a concentration in Finance. If I choose this school I would graduate with between zero and $10,000 in student loan debt.

As you can see, that is a rather large difference in end cost. If the programs where the same price, I would choose Penn State hands down.

My question is, does the name of the college, more rigorous education, and slightly more career aligned courses justify that big of a cost difference? I'm hesitant to take on that much debt if it won't make a difference in the long run. That money could go to a lot of other things. On the other hand, I would most certainly receive a better education at Penn State, and their reputation is better.

Thanks for the help!
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Old 09-29-2017, 01:39 PM
 
Location: Sandpoint, Idaho
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No question: Penn State. You will make up the extra debt in no time. Not even close in my opinion.

Good luck and Congrats for returning to school.
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Old 09-29-2017, 04:02 PM
 
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Thank you! I think you're right, the choice is obvious. I guess I'm just becoming a little more tight-fisted with my money as I get older. But the increase in income and employability due to going to a good school should more than make up for the expense.
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Old 09-29-2017, 04:35 PM
 
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I don't agree that Penn State is the obvious choice.

For overall school ranking, Penn State and UNC are both good schools overall. Their names have cache. But overall school ranking doesn't mean much to a hiring manager--because it considers a lot besides academics. Campus culture, health and safety, diversity, etc.

Hiring managers know what schools are top-ranked in their field and your alma mater is only likely to score you more interviews and offers. But Penn State's business school is only ranked 36 (depending on which list you look at). That's not great. It's better than UNC's unranked position but the difference between these two isn't that much. Certainly Penn State's business program is closer in the rankings to UNC than to any of the top-tier business schools.

And while a top-ranked school may earn you more interviews and offers, it's really unlikely to earn you more money. Again if you were talking about the #1 school in the country, that would be different. But even then, you wouldn't be offered an extra $40k to make up your extra tuition expenses. Maybe you'd get an extra $2-3k your first year. After a year or two out of school, no one's really looking at your alma mater. You've either proven yourself or you haven't, and that's what your income will be based on.

Also keep in mind that while you are in school and for a year or two after, GPA will have some impact. And a 4.0 at a lower ranked school will do more for you than a low GPA at a better school. So think hard about which school is likely to help you excel.

There are a lot of business schools out there. I'd take another look and see if there is a better option that offers both better reputation AND lower tuition.
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Old 09-29-2017, 04:41 PM
 
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Something to think about -- what do you want and intend to do with the degree? Do you plan to apply to New York or some of the big banking, finance, or consulting firms? Or will you be staying closer to home in a more operational position?


Trying to figure if the extra name cachet will have any bearing on the jobs you are intending to pursue.
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Old 09-29-2017, 04:51 PM
 
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Thank you for your input MarianRavenwood! A couple points: Again, I'll be taking the classes online, so things like campus life is not a consideration. And since I need to take classes online, my options for colleges are limited. If it was the UNC-Chapel Hill location offering the program, then I would choose that. But it's their Pembroke campus, which doesn't carry as much weight. I guess I still have some considering to do.
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Old 09-29-2017, 04:53 PM
 
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tnff - my goal is to become a Certified Financial Planner (CFP). I would like to work with individuals to plan their financial goals.
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Old 09-29-2017, 06:12 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adviceseeker09 View Post
Thank you for your input MarianRavenwood! A couple points: Again, I'll be taking the classes online, so things like campus life is not a consideration. And since I need to take classes online, my options for colleges are limited. If it was the UNC-Chapel Hill location offering the program, then I would choose that. But it's their Pembroke campus, which doesn't carry as much weight. I guess I still have some considering to do.
Sorry I didn't explain myself all that well. My point was....campus life doesn't matter to hiring managers either! So overall university rank is really meaningless to both you and your future employers. Comparing all of Penn State to all of...any other university...is useless, you really just need to look at how the business programs compare.

On another note, I noticed that Penn State actually claims that they have a high ranking for their 'online business program'. But as you said, an employer isn't going to know if you got your degree online or campus. So I'm not sure this ranking means much. To the extent that it does, it's sort of a 'big fish in a little pond' scenario. There aren't that many online programs, so it's pretty easy to achieve a high rank in that category.

I'm still not sure I'd take on $40k when I had the option of spending a fraction of that.

Last edited by MarianRavenwood; 09-29-2017 at 06:21 PM..
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Old 09-29-2017, 06:40 PM
 
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How would you advice client who had a choice between $40K or $10K? Would the client's desired end goals justify the extra expense up front?


From the information provided, it's had to say. Do you plan to advise tycoons on how to spend their money or the retired millionare next door who saved, or the young family who wants to put a couple kids through college and save for a decent retirement?


Will one help you do that better than the other? Will Penn State mean more to tycoons than to the young couple?
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Old 10-02-2017, 02:32 PM
 
Location: New York NY
4,135 posts, read 5,951,632 times
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Another possibility: Spend the lesser amount to get your bachelor's at UNC Pembroke, and the rest of that money to get an MBA at UNC Chapel Hill (if you have earned the high grades and test scores they like). Flagler has a highly-rated online MBA program and a national reputation that would almost surely enhance your employment prospects, especially if you chose to stay in NC.
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