D.N. of Hewlett Bay Park, NY writes:

The popularity with New Yorkers with other state's public universities seems to grow every year. What's wrong with New York's public universities?

The College Whisperer responds:

Ahh, the grass always appears greener on someone else's state university campus!

I am reminded of a student whose dream college was the University of Wisconsin (Madison). I asked whether he had a certain affinity for cheese (clearly, he was not lactose intolerant) or particularly enjoyed long, coooooold winters. "No," he replied. "All my friends are applying there."

For some, the lure of familiarity provides reason enough. And after all, Madison is rated as one of the best college towns.

Still, one has to ask -- and you did -- why choose Delaware, Maryland or Indiana, for that matter, state colleges all, over one's own top-notch (and consistently highly-ranked) public universities?

If we were talking Michigan or the University of Virginia (and you planned appropriately for footing the bill), we'd have a conversation starter. But Indiana over Albany? Delaware over Binghamton? [Assuming you could get in to Binghamton, where, last year, only 35% of applicants were accepted.]

Why would anyone pay two or three times the tuition rate for in-state students (and often quadruple the NY rate for in-state students) to go to another state's school?

Yes, some schools offer programs that others do not, though you'd be hard-pressed to find a program or curriculum that isn't offered in one or more of SUNY's colleges and University Centers.

There are those who want to get away from home -- far away. Try Buffalo, Fredonia or Alfred State.

Others have fallen prey to the lack of marketing by NY's state colleges, beset by funding cuts and Albany's short shrift of education, on all levels.

Don't be fooled. While other state college systems, including Maryland, Delaware, Wisconsin and Indiana (California, as well, until the recent near-bankruptcy of the Golden State), offer exceptional educational opportunities, there are none better [I repeat, none better] than New York's public colleges and universities. And I include among them both SUNY and CUNY campuses. [If you can work your way into the CUNY Honors Program, you're set.]

From Brooklyn College (often acknowledged as having the most beautiful campus in America) to Binghamton University (the "public ivy"), New York's public colleges and universities offer not only great value, but a first-class education as well. [In The College Whisperer's house, the running joke is, "Smart kids go to Cornell. Smart kids with smart parents go to Binghamton." (Or one of the land-grant colleges at Cornell ;-)]

Yes, consider Delaware, Maryland, Indiana and Wisconsin, among other fine public universities. Do so, however, for all the right reasons. The programs. The cost versus private. The location. The "I could probably get in there" factor. Do not, on the other hand, overlook New York's public colleges and universities. They are, consistently, among the nation's best and, even with recent tuition hikes, still among the most affordable. [Yes, bang for the buck rules!]

Wherever you decide to apply, be reminded that the competition is keen, perhaps even more so in these tough economic and post 9/11 times, at public colleges. Consult with a college planning counselor early in the game and give yourself the competitive advantage. Plan. Prepare. Prevail!

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of The College Whisperer.
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