Where should I go to college? US or Argentina?

francal

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Hi guys,

I'm an 18 year old and I want to major in Biotechnology/Biological Engineering/Molecular Biology. My goal is to, after getting my bachelor's/licenciatura to do a PhD or a Master's degree in the US and work for a few years abroad. However, I am currently concerned with where it would be most convenient for me to complete my undergraduate studies.

On the one hand, in UBA (University of Buenos Aires, where I am currently enrolled) the Licenciatura in Biological Sciences takes a whooping 7 years and only offers Biotechnology/Molecular Biology as a concentration. Besides the (very) long time it takes to finish the Licenciatura, I am concerned as to how American schools regard the UBA title; do they look down on it, or are they familiar with this school? I am very interested in expats' opinions, because most Argentines tend to be extremely biased towards UBA and I am concerned that their view on the prestige of UBA might not reflect the view of foreign employers or universities.

On the other hand, I am also considering applying to the University of Minnesota in the US, which I might be able to afford if I am granted excellence scholarships. I got a 2140 in my SAT Reasoning test and I was the salutatorian and held a B+ average in high school, so I think my chances of getting in are quite good. The only potential obstacle is that I only have a dual Spanish/Argentine citizenship so, being an International Student, it might be harder to get in. Nonetheless, the big question that boggles me is if the quality of the education and the prestige of the title in the U of M is the same as in UBA. It seems odd that it only takes four years to obtain a B.S. from the U while in UBA it takes seven - and yet the U of M is ranked #53 in the world while UBA is rounding the 300's.

So what do you think Expats? Is it better to do my undergrad studies here or in the US? What do colleges and employers abroad think about UBA?

Thanks a lot!
 

withersdavis

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I would think that you are much better off going to school in the states. While UBA has a decent engineering department the time it takes to graduate is just crazy.

College in the US was one of the best times of my entire life, and from what I hear it is a totally different experience here.
 

Tangerine

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>It seems odd that it only takes four years to obtain a B.S. from the U while in UBA it takes seven -

:rolleyes: That is easy .... at UBA you be out on strike or enjoying 5 day weekends for 3 out of the 7 years.:p
 

syngirl

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francal said:
It seems odd that it only takes four years to obtain a B.S. from the U while in UBA it takes seven - and yet the U of M is ranked #53 in the world while UBA is rounding the 300's.

So what do you think Expats? Is it better to do my undergrad studies here or in the US? What do colleges and employers abroad think about UBA?

Thanks a lot!

The length of time to complete a degree has nothing to do with a school's ranking. Every country is different -- even within countries it can be different: ie in Canada some provinces have a 3 year Bachelor Degree, but in others it is 4. In a lot of countries a Law Degree can be completed without having to do a Bachelor's at all, whereas in North America it is a graduate programme that requires minimum of three years of undergrad before you can apply.

The method of study is very different in the US than it is in Argentina. In North America full-time students on average take 4-5 courses a semester and 2 semesters a year -- approx 8 months of courses and 15 hrs a week of lectures (study time is apart). In the approx 4 month break most students work either paying jobs or research and earn money at least towards their books or rent for the following semester. A student that is part-time will take approximately 6 years to complete the bachelor programme.

However, as an International Student you are usually not allowed to do part-time study, so you will follow the same 8 month curriculum as other local full-time students.

Scholarships are very competitive, I know that here in Argentina a B+ is considered very good, but I'm not sure if it will be enough to get you a scholarship with the school you have mentioned. I'm not familiar with this university so can't comment on what average GPAs are there and whether or not you would come in high enough above the average.

Another option for you that can be significantly cheaper than studying in the USA is Canada -- there are some very good schools and usually international tuition fees are much lower than the USA, though as I say I'm not familiar with Univ Minn so this may not be the case. For Biotech you couldn't do better than UBC in Vancouver -- UBC has a very good ranking and lots of job opportunities on campus in Biotech engineering -- however UBC ranks amongst the top 20 public universities in the world so if you need a scholarship to study you would be facing a lot of competition -- the school attracts a large Asian population and those students consistently submit top ranks in SAT scores and near perfect GPAs.

A question apart from ths is -- do you think you could suffer through Minnesota winters? They are HARSH. Why are you choosing this particular school? (Again, maybe naive on my behalf, perhaps it is an excellent programme).
 

texxaslonghorn

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Take any world rankings with a grain of salt. I just checked out a few sites, and some had Texas many spots ahead of Princeton, Yale, Rice, etc. While I am and always will be a Longhorn at heart, those rankings seem a little nutty.

Go wherever you want to spend the majority of your career.
 

jb5

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You have good enough grades for many US universities. Your problem, however, will be getting the scholarship money.

If you're already in college you will be considered a transfer student. Very few US colleges have much scholarship money for international transfer students. It's very hard for internationals to get much money at all, but it's especially limited for transfers. And state schools in general, like U of M, give very little money to international students, reserving the vast majority of their scholarship funds for their in state students.

There are a small number of US schools that do give the needed money to international transfers. They include Harvard, Dartmouth, Yale, Princeton, Amherst. These are very hard schools to get into but would be worth a try with your grades. Others known to be generous, but with no guarantee, are MIT, Columbia, Colgate, Alabama, Williams, USC, and women's
colleges like Smith and Mount Holyoke if you're female.

Most money will be need based, meaning they will examine your family's income and assets to determine how much they think you can pay before offering you scholarship money. This number is often much higher than what a family is comfortable paying, US colleges believe everyone should sacrifice to send their kids to school. This is an unusual concept for most internationals.

Good US colleges provide a unique experience. I used to be a college counselor and worked with many international students. Most felt that strong colleges with small classes and a well rounded approach were worth going to the US for. The cost, however, has meant that the vast
majority of internationals studying in the US are from wealthy families.

Be aware that attending a US college does not mean you can stay in the US and work after college. The visa you'll be issued will stipulate that you get a 12 month training petted after graduating and then must leave the country. Stupid, but that's another story. With a masters you may be able to find an employer to sponsor you for an H1B work visa, but there's no guarantee.

A website that may interest you is collegeconfidential.com. There is a forum on the site for international students. You can see what grades and scores got students into different schools and ask questions. Argentina is a good place to be applying from, top colleges want representation from all over and there are fewer applicants from LAM than from other continents. Good luck!
 

francal

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Thanks to all of you!

jb5, I would most likely apply as a Freshman, since I am aware of the transfer problem and the CBC is like a lost year to me (it's a "nivelador," basically a 6th year where you go through 6 high school subjects all over again).

I have actually applied to the Ivies (except Cornell + Columbia) for the fall 2011 term and I did not get into any of them. The competition for this year was EXTREMELY fierce, and the fact that I asked for Financial Aid did not help at all; I found out much later that the need-blind policy is only for US citizens, permanent residents or (in the case of Penn) for Mexicans. I filled out the CSS PROFILE and all so I know the drill - as a matter of fact, I had to go through the Non-Custodial CSS PROFILE Waiver process (my parents are divorced and my father has erased himself from my life), so that was even worse. My best shot would be a merit scholarship, which would facilitate things much more. From what I read the U offers Global Excellence scholarships, with which tuition is paid at MN resident prices and a USD 4000 grant/year is given. The rest, however, I'd have to seek out somewhere else.

I am also aware of the limitations of the F1 visa, but I think that, coming from a US college, it would be easier for me to be admitted to a US PhD or Master's program than with an Argentine title.

The money issue is, however, significant - I could not afford more than USD 11,000/yr, so financing would be a significant obstacle to overcome. I heard, however, that there are scholarships awarded by Argentine organizations for students going abroad, so I would have to look into that.
 

starlucia

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The only potential obstacle is that I only have a dual Spanish/Argentine citizenship so, being an International Student, it might be harder to get in.

I doubt it. This may sound cynical, but most universities LOVE international students, because they have to pay higher tuition.

It seems odd that it only takes four years to obtain a B.S. from the U while in UBA it takes seven - and yet the U of M is ranked #53 in the world while UBA is rounding the 300's
.

Eh, to Americans, 7 years to complete a bachelor's is odd ;) Just different systems.

The pro of going to an American school is that if you do extremely well in undergrad, you can get a full ride into a PhD program. My best friend did a biological engineering B.S. at UF, who then paid for her biomedical engineering PhD. The downside of an American school is that you will almost certainly have to take on student loan debt. You have to decide whether going into debt is worth it, especially if you plan to come back to Argentina to work (since you would owe dollars but earn pesos.) At my college, all of the international students came from wealthy families who could easily afford the tuition; I'm not sure the price tag of an American degree would be worth it otherwise.

I second Syngirl's advice about looking into Canadian schools. I remember a guidance counselor telling me that many Canadian colleges are "like a Harvard education at a state school price."
 

francal

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Syngirl and starlucia, would you kindly suggest some Canadian options? I will look into UBC. I was also considering McGill, what do you think? I sincerely have NO idea about Canadian schools
 

HeyBA

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Keep in mind that university (college) education in the US has changed in recent years to be almost openly a profit-making industry. Admissions counselors encourage students to go into massive debt. They also rig the stats about post-graduate employment. Keep in mind that you are talking to a sales person when you are talking to an admissions counselor. If you can avoid going into debt, I would do so. The worst would be to rack up a ton of debt in dollars and then not get a job in the US. Yikes!

The importance of undergraduate education varies sector by sector. A degree from continental Europe would be highly regarded in the humanities in the US. A degree in medicine from any other country besides the US would be invalid. I've known people that have had to redo medical and law school.

I'm not sure how it is with the biological sciences. A good way to find out might be to contact those departments at the schools you are considering or look on a web forum for professionals in those sectors.
 
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