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Just curious-- you want to name names on these schools? (I'd never heard the term suitcase school before... and I'm wondering what school she thought was up to her standards.)

The visit is key to making a meaningful decision. One of my few regrets is not visiting Stanford when I was an undergrad. I'd have loved the Bay Area at that point in my life. Princeton, I visited twice-- spent a weekend, got grilled by my guidance counselor, told him I hated it, he made me go for another weekend-- at the end of which I was convinced to give up on my #1 school choice all through high school, which was MIT...

Scholarships are tremendous, but sometimes no amount of free money is worth the compromises you make. Columbia-- an excellent school, of course-- was free for me because my mother was on the administrative staff and that was one of the perks at her level. But it didn't seem to be as good of a fit. I walked away from that without any regrets (though it helped that I had significant aid for other schools).

The money ain't everything.
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