I would consider the following factors if I were you:
Which one will prepare you better for the career that you want to enter?
Does one school have a better reputation than another among prospective employers? Although it’s unlikely in this situation, there’s also the possibility of reverse discrimination where some people feel threatened by someone who went to a better school than them.
This is related to the first two items. Do you intend to go to graduate school as well? If so, does one university have a better reputation than the other in the field that you want to pursue? Generally speaking it’s a better idea to save your money for grad school than spend it all for an undergraduate degree.
UNLV is obviously much cheaper. If SDSU is $36K/year and you’d graduate with $20-30K of debt, then your parents are obviously picking up most of the cost. How big a sacrifice is this for them and how does it affect their retirement objectives?
On the other hand, $30K may sound like a huge amount of debt right now, but put it in perspective with your earning potential after graduation. Will you have more earning potential by attending one school over another? Another way to look at this is that the monthly payment on a $30K student loan after graduation may be similar to the lease payment on a new car. Would you be happier and better off attending SDSU and driving an old beater car for a few years after graduation, or attending UNLV and getting a shiny sports car or a brand new truck once you start working.
SDSU seems to be the winner here. At SDSU you’ll also have the beach culture, not to mention all the hot girls in bikinis. At the beach you’ll also be able to walk around with your shirt off without looking like a show off. It seems silly now, but sex played a huge part in any decision I made as a college student. I didn’t pursue a year abroad option, because I had a girlfriend at my university. Back then I saw it as a decision between getting laid almost every night for sure, or taking my chances with the foreign babes. Of course, we broke up shortly after graduation and I missed out on the whole year abroad experience.
On the other hand, UNLV may be a commuter school, but you’ll probably be studying or working out most of the time during the week anyway. The fact that most students don’t live in the dorms doesn’t mean you can’t still make friends and do things with them during the evenings or on the weekends. Also with your family just an hour away, you’ll have more opportunities to see them as well.
There’s also probably a few other considerations that I haven’t thought of. If it were me, I would think carefully about the issues I outlined above, determine which ones were most important to me and then make a decision.
To be honest, I really don’t think you could go wrong either way.
I’m an Economics major, and as far as I can tell, neither SDSU or UNLV have programs that are well known as far as an employer taking notice of your school. I think both their business programs are on the rise. SDSU does have better social life I’m pretty sure. But I plan to be involved at UNLV.
As far as earning potential after graduation, as of right now Economics majors have the second highest pay rate out of college behind engineering. I think I’ve made up my mind. I’ll transfer to UNLV, and although it’s not a college town, I’ll have to put forth the effort to get what I want out of it. I definitely would feel bad having my parents pay so much, because even though they said they can handle it, I know for a fact it puts a strain on them.
My sister will be in college in about 3 years so I’m not trying to put that kind of strain on them. Most of my family on my mom’s side lives in Las Vegas so I’ll be close to family. I have a part time job in San Diego, but the hours are not as flexible as where I work in Las vegas and the pay is not as high.