OT: Anyone have undergrad experience with Brown and Penn? Compare vs Ross?

Submitted by chuck bass on September 19th, 2017 at 5:02 PM
Son is applying to colleges right now -- he loves UM and is applying early, but I think he'd prefer to get away from home. He’s aiming for Ross -- if out east, likely economics.
He’s going to try his luck at quite a few schools, inc. Harvard, Princeton, Yale (why not try) -- but since they seem impossible he’s fixating on Penn (arts & sciences, probably not Wharton), Brown and Duke. He has a college trust from grandparents, but not knowing grad school plans, is undergrad at say Brown worth it over in-state UM?
Wife and I are UM grads (met in Ann Arbor) with limited exposure to private colleges outside of taking him to a few summer camps.
Appreciate any insights. Hope this is okay as an OT thread during college admissions season.



September 19th, 2017 at 5:16 PM ^

If he is considering Brown and Penn but not Wharton, then I am not sure why he is applying to Ross.  The coursework at Ross is much more typical of an MBA program vs. a liberal arts degree from an east coast school.  Economics at UofM would be a better fit.


September 19th, 2017 at 5:44 PM ^

he is 100% desperate to move and work on the east coast, more spefically finance / banking I would say your better off to save the expense and suggest michigan.

I know you said money was set aside, but hopefully it can be used for a masters, or if in a non education account can provide for a jump-start post college


September 19th, 2017 at 5:27 PM ^

I studied econ at a private liberal arts school and would not choose Brown. My cousin went there and she loved it, but she was an English major. I'd probably do Penn if those were my choices and wanted to study econ, but would have more fun and a more rewarding college experience at UM (not Ross).


September 20th, 2017 at 4:42 PM ^

since you gave no information about why you wouldn't choose Brown, especially since you didn't go there:

I have several friends that work in finance that went to Brown and they're doing very well for themselves.  I understand this is also anecdotal, but if you get an Ivy League econ degree, and get decent to good grads, you should be able to have a lot of options in finance, i.e. i-banking, real estate, asset management, etc.  The job placement numbers very much support that.

I would say that's also the case for Ross BBAs, but not necessarily the case for Michigan econ majors. 



September 19th, 2017 at 5:27 PM ^

a parent is posting the opposite of a humblebrag.

My son is applying to colleges right now... he spent most of high school smoking weed and playing Halo with his Cheeto-munching friends. He finished 282nd out of 288 students in the class and his only extracurricular is "Keg Club."  He's choosing between our local community college and Eastern Mississippi CC. (Please note, he does not play football, he saw EMCC on "Last Chance U" and wants to go there for the academics).  What do you guys think? Is the out of state tuition worth it?

True Blue Grit

September 19th, 2017 at 6:34 PM ^

My main rememberance about Brown was via a fraternity brother at Michigan in the late 70's.  We'd come back to the house after the football game and watch the college football highlights on TV, and whenever the Brown score would come up, he'd stand up and yell "What's the color of horse shit.... Brown, Brown, Brown!"   I can't forget it to this day.  In retrospect, the only way he came up with that is one or both of his parents went to Ivy League schools.  

chuck bass

September 19th, 2017 at 8:26 PM ^

I don't know Brown's current ethos or post-grad surveys, but glancing at most recent SAT averages, they're right there with Northwestern Duke Penn. Just a single percentile point lower than Harvard Yale Stanford -- 97 vs 98 percentile average -- pretty darn indistinguishable in admissions.

Most recent acceptance rates: Brown 9%, Harvard 5.8%, Penn 12%, Princeton 7% -- they're all a crap shoot, basically.


September 19th, 2017 at 5:29 PM ^

Sounds like he wants to go business.  

One of my wife's friends went to Penn; do not know if she was Wharton v. their Arts and Sciences, but she went to work for a boutique private equity company in Silicon Valley straight out of undergrad, made partner, and retired early at 35. 

UMich v. Penn (small school in Philly) v. Brown (small school in a small city, but near Boston) are so different, your son's feelings as to where he would fit in should be the deciding factor.

Robbie Moore

September 19th, 2017 at 5:32 PM ^

the Ivy League is not worth the premium. At least at the undergraduate level. He can go to UM for sooooo much less as an in-state student. And the quality of education will be as good as your son chooses to make it. Work hard and you can get a great education in Ann Arbor. Work hard and you can get a great education in the Ivy League. It is highly likely he will go on to graduate school. That's the time to focus on exactly what he wants to do in life and get into the school which will train him best.

Autocracy Now

September 19th, 2017 at 7:14 PM ^

I tend to agree, but IF the grandparents' trust covers all expenses it makes this a bit of a tougher choice. 90% of people love college and end up sure they picked the right school. Why? Because college is awesome! There's no bad option here, but I think it's worth looking at the non-Michigan options.

Also, personal plug here: Pyongyang State offers great international meth smuggling and counterfeiting opportunities.



September 20th, 2017 at 5:33 PM ^

For business, don't undersell the importance of who you meet while in school.  This is underrated and not something I appreciated until later in life.  If you go to an Ivy league school, your friends parents are more likely to be very wealthy CEOs, executives, etc. who might hire you or do business with you or invest in your company or whatever.  For business, connections are more important to your success than whatever you learned and will soon forget in school.

And yes, Michigan is called a "public ivy" for a reason and it's still relatively expensive so the level of familial success and wealth is still very high, but it's not Ivy League level.

For professional services like Medical, Law, etc. your undergrad matters a lot less.  Just get good grades, kill your graduate entrance exams, and go to the best graduate school as you can and no one will ever care where you went to undergrad.  Those careers are far more meritocratic than business.

Duke of Zhou

September 19th, 2017 at 5:31 PM ^

I went to the University of Michigan, and that's a very good school. He can get a fine education and save some money for grad school, if he is so inclined. Either way, one tends to get out of college what one puts into it.

Swayze Howell Sheen

September 19th, 2017 at 5:37 PM ^

you'll get a real sense of the HUGE differences between Brown, Penn, and Duke simply by visiting. All are also still VERY hard to get into these days, so getting into any would be great.

As for whether it's "worth" it as compared to Michigan, that is VERY hard to say. You do develop quite a different peer network. Also, I think at Michigan (because of its size), you have to work a little harder to find the right peer groups and stand out for professors; at privates, the professors cater to you a lot more. Personally, I think it's great training for the real world to go to a big public, but it depends a lot on your kid; some kids can use the extra attention privates tend to give their students/future donors.

All in all, let your kid decide. They will pick what's right for them, and make it work.

Good luck !

Blue In NC

September 19th, 2017 at 5:41 PM ^


Good question and I am interested because my son is applying to Duke, UNC, Brown and likely UM (I went but we are now in NC so UNC makes a ton of sense).  He is likely looking at science but may also consider econ/business.  I can tell you that Duke's campus and programs are impressive, we toured Brown and also liked the campus and programs but it's VERY unstructured/flexible (depending on your point of view).  I am not sure that anything would be "worth it" over instate UM (I am thinking the same of UNC) but Brown and Duke have such a different campus feel than UM (much smaller/intimate) that it may be a question of feel and comfort (and distance?) rather than academics or program strength.  Not sure if that helps but I understand the dilemma.