Seniors in high school must make the important decisions of choosing a college and career. As a senior, I will decide whether I will attend Mississippi State University (MSU) or The University of Central Florida (UCF), and I will major in mathematics. I will base my decision on the quality and curriculum of the department, and the costs of attending the college.

MSU and UCF are both major universities. They both have good departments in mathematics. Both have good professors, a variety of courses, and are thorough in this major.

The total curriculum at MSU for a B.S. in Mathematics requires 136 hours. There are two types of curriculum required for this degree. There is a College Core curriculum and a Major Core curriculum.

The College Core requires a student to take 6 hours of English Composition, 3 hours of Public Speaking, 4 semesters of Foreign Language, 6 hours of Humanities, 6 hours of math, 3 hours of Fine Arts, 15 hours of Natural Science, and 6 hours of Social Studies.

The Major Core requires a student to take Calculus I, Calculus II, Calculus III, Calculus IV, Introduction to Linear Algebra, Introduction to Modern Algebra I, Differential Equations I, Numerical Analysis I, Advanced Calculus I, Advanced Calculus II, 6 hours of Math Elective at a senior level, 3 hours of Math Elective at a junior level or above, Math Writing, Computer Science I, 36 hours of General Electives.

The total curriculum at UCF for a B.S. in Mathematics requires 120 hours to be taken. The curriculum at UCF is broken down differently from MSU, but the same basic courses are required. The curriculum at UCF is broken down into General Education Program, Program Prerequisites, Core Requirements, Restricted Electives, Departmental Exit Requirements, Foreign Language Requirements, and University Exit Requirements.

The General Education Program requires a student to take 9 hours of Communication Foundations, 9 hours of Cultural and Historical Foundations, Calculus I, Computer Science I, 6 hours of Social Foundations, General Biology, and Physics for Science and English I.

The Program Prerequisites are General Biology, Calculus III, and Physics for Science and English I with lab.

The Core Requirements are Physics for Science and English II with lab, 3 hours of writing (Technical Report Writing, Magazine Writing, or Advanced Expository Writing), Statistical Methods, Logic and Proof in Mathematics, Differential Equations, Linear Algebra, either Combinatorics and Graph Theory or Vector and Tensor Analysis, Application of Complex Variables, Application Boundary Value Problems II, Computer Science I, Statistical Theory II, Advanced Calculus I, Numerical Calculus, and Mathematical Modeling.

The Restricted Electives require a student to choose ten semester hours from several categories. The student must have 3 hours of an Applied Elective, 4 hours of Upper Division Restricted, and 3 hours of Biological and Physical Science Restricted.

The Departmental Exit Requirements are that a student must earn a 2.0 GPA in each class and participate in an "exit interview."

The Foreign Language Requirements are that a student must have either had two years of Foreign Language in high school or have completed one year of Foreign Language at UCF.

The University Exit Requirements are that a student must have a 2.0 GPA, 60 semester hours earned after a CLEP is awarded, 48 semester hours of Upper Division credit, 30 of the last 36 hours must be completed while the student is in residency at UCF, and a maximum of 45 hours of extension, correspondence, CLEP, Credit by Exam, and Armed Forces credits permitted.

The cost of education at MSU is $1,937 per semester. The cost of living in a dorm adds $1,270 per semester to the total. Finally, books will anywhere from $200-$400 per semester. The total college cost without including food is $3407-$3607 per semester.

If I go to MSU, I will be able to live at home. If I live at home, I will not have to pay the $1,270 per semester, which brings the cost down to $2,137 per semester. I could also choose to live in an apartment. Apartments on average are approximately $250 per month, so for four years of college that would cost $12,000.

If I live at home, the total cost for college at MSU could be as low as $17,096. If I live in the dorms, the cost would be approximately 27,256 dollars. If I lived in an apartment, the cost would be approximately $29,096.

The cost of education at UCF is a great deal higher because I will have to pay out-of-state tax. The out-of-state fee is $350.10. This fee is place on top of the normal fees a student has to pay for each semester hour. This brings the total up to$462.02 per semester hour. With a 120 hour major, the price for going to this college is $55,442.40 in tuition. There also health fees of $180 per year to be added to tuition. The cost of being in the cheapest dorm room at UCF is $3,700 per year. The cost of going to UCF is $70,962.40 without including meals.

If I stay in Starkville and attend MSU, I will be near home and near many of my friends who will also be attending MSU. Also, I will not have many of the expenses that I would at UCF. I would also have the choice of living at home, which would keep me from having to pay for dorms, apartments, or meals.

If I go to UCF, I will be in a new environment. I've got a friend who is going to UCF and knows his way around the campus. He could help me out with any information that I would need to survive there. UCF is located in Orlando, Florida, which is a much bigger city than Starkville. I want to live in a big city for a while to find out what it is like, but I'm not sure that during college is the best time. Big city life might cause me to lose focus on my studies.

Each of the colleges has the same basic curriculum, and with the exception of out-of-state tax, the college prices are about the same. However, after taking into account all the costs of living at each of the colleges, I will probably choose to save money, stay in Starkville, and attend MSU.

Works Cited

Bulletin of Mississippi State University, 2003-2004; Mississippi State University Registrar's Office.

The Mississippi State University Official Website, www.msstate.edu/

The University of Central Florida Official Website, www.ucf.edu/