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State schools do not equal safety schools, Minnesota student argues

Posted by: Jenna Ross Updated: March 23, 2012 - 2:21 PM

State schools do not equal safety schools, a Minnesota student argues on the New York Times website.

Abigail Hansen, a student at Minnetonka High School, has been chronicling her college application process for the New York Times blog "The Choice." In her latest entry, she explains why although she's a strong student with a high ACT score, she's not applying to Cornell University.

Or, in fact, any Ivy League school.

She has been impressed, she says, with the University of Minnesota -- its honors program, its research, its study abroad program. 

Here's the crux of her entry:

A few weeks ago, I was engaged in the expected and obligatory “so where are you going next year?” conversation. However, this time, one of my good friends made an intriguing remark. When asked the usual question he responded with “I’ll either be somewhere on the East Coast, or at the University of Minnesota in shame.”

All the other participants in the conversation looked at one another and nodded knowingly, while I sat there shocked. Then I started to wonder: What is it that makes people so ready to discount their state school as merely a safety? And why do so many think that the prestige that comes with the name of a university automatically guarantees a superior education?

Now, I do not mean to bash all East Coast schools, or even all expensive schools, as I am sure they offer a wonderful education. I just do not know if you learn anything more groundbreaking or life-changing when you’re paying $40,000 a year far away versus $10,000 in your home state.

Many of the comments on her entry begin with a congrats. "Kudos to you, Abigail!" writes one woman, who says she completed her Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota.

I wonder what you make of her argument. Should Abigail and other students opt for the Ivy League? Do too many students look past their state schools? What advantages does one kind of school have over the other? Leave your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

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