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The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

Top Students Opt to Stay In-State

After living in Maryland for the majority of their lives, many seniors find they will do anything to escape the state for their college years. However, because Maryland public universities offer many excellent academic options, and due to the current economic crisis, over one-third of the 2009 senior class chose to attend Montgomery College or a public university in Maryland next year. Many of these seniors are top academic students. In fact, Ivy League worthy students have been declining their acceptances at their prestigious $50,000-a-year universities for the more economical alternative of going to a state school.

Senior Tiffany Lin had a tough decision to make when she received 11 college acceptance letters in the mail, including top universities such as Cornell University, University of Pennsylvania, Johns Hopkins University, Duke University, Carnegie Mellon University and University of Virginia. Ultimately, Lin decided to enroll in the Gemstone Program at the Clark School of Engineering at University of Maryland-College Park.

“While the University of Pennsylvania and Cornell University have the top-ranked engineering programs among the Ivies, the Ivies are not renowned for their engineering departments,” said Lin. “The University of Maryland offers nine undergraduate engineering majors compared to four at Duke and six at Penn, and Maryland offers so many options and opportunities to explore interests both inside and outside of engineering through internships, study-abroad opportunities, and more.”

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Like Lin, senior Norena Beaty decided on the University of Maryland over the more prestigious University of Notre Dame. Although she received a $25,000-a-year scholarship from Notre Dame, she found that Maryland would be cheaper and had a better program for her intended major of engineering.

“These days, if you can get about as good an education for a smaller price tag, people will jump at the chance,” said Beaty. “I did, anyway. That myth that you have to go to Harvard or Princeton to be successful is kind of being debunked as people from all sorts of backgrounds are becoming more prominent in our society.”

The trend of attending state schools has extended to even the Top 5% of the class of 2009. Six of the 25 students that comprise the Top 5% have chosen to enroll at a Maryland public university. Lin, a member of the group, speculates that more “Ivy League worthy” students chose to attend state schools for the large scholarships they receive and for the possibility of attending a more prestigious grad school.

“Going to a prestigious graduate or medical school makes for a much more impressive résumé than a prestigious undergraduate,” said Lin.

“Graduates who enter the job market after they finish school do not boast about their high schools or colleges, but highlight where they received their continuing education.”

Attending a less expensive undergraduate program and a more expensive and more prestigious graduate school is a new way students are escaping from the build-up of student loans and coping with the economic crisis.

“If I want to go to medical school, it can cost up to $70,000 a year, and it would be more economical to stay in state for my undergraduate school,” said Lin.

Another way top academic students have been saving their college funds is by enrolling at Montgomery College in the Montgomery Scholars Honors Program.

“I decided to attend the [Montgomery Scholars Honors Program] because it provides me with a two year full tuition scholarship, the opportunity to travel to Cambridge, England all expenses paid, and the…personal attention that I am looking for,” said senior Diane Lameira.

The MC scholars program is designed for Montgomery College students who intend on transferring to a four year college at the end of the two year program. Twenty-five Montgomery County high school seniors are invited into the program. Three WJ seniors will be attending the program next year.

“By attending [Montgomery Scholars Honors Program], I am able to stay home and save money at least for 2 years,” said senior Neydyn Gomez.

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