Engineering Degree - MIT vs UW Madison

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities

Re: Engineering Degree - MIT vs UW Madison

Postby momar » Tue Mar 20, 2012 7:37 pm

rrosenkoetter wrote:I just hope that 30 years from now, rich and successful, she isn't obsessed about getting HER kid into MIT or Harvard, thinking that "state" schools just aren't good enough (Amazing how many successful people who went to state schools, ignore their own success and want to send THEIR kids to the Ivy League).

I think it's probably because looking around at other people like them, they see how much easier it was for people from the Ivies to achieve a similar level of success.

I say that as someone who went to a state university.
"Index funds have a place in your portfolio, but you'll never beat the index with them." - Words of wisdom from a Fidelity rep
User avatar
momar
 
Posts: 1359
Joined: Sun Nov 13, 2011 12:51 pm

Re: Engineering Degree - MIT vs UW Madison

Postby Steelersfan » Tue Mar 20, 2012 9:15 pm

I got a graduate engineering degree from a state university (Michigan) and was happy to send my kids to other state universities (no way they would choose Michigan - per their preference).

It's worked out well for all of them. They're happy with their college choices and successful in their careers.
User avatar
Steelersfan
 
Posts: 2544
Joined: Thu Jun 19, 2008 8:47 pm

Re: Engineering Degree - MIT vs UW Madison

Postby SheebaElwood » Tue Mar 20, 2012 11:35 pm

MIT all the way.
This is the one place you don't act like a miser.
It's not about the equivalent education.
MIT all the way.
SheebaElwood
 
Posts: 55
Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2012 10:17 am

Re: Engineering Degree - MIT vs UW Madison

Postby SheebaElwood » Tue Mar 20, 2012 11:39 pm

RJB wrote:
ram wrote:I can afford the MIT education.


I think you answered your own question.


Yup.
SheebaElwood
 
Posts: 55
Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2012 10:17 am

Re: Engineering Degree - MIT vs UW Madison

Postby HomerJ » Wed Mar 21, 2012 8:00 am

SheebaElwood wrote:MIT all the way.
This is the one place you don't act like a miser.
It's not about the equivalent education.
MIT all the way.


This is an old thread, and I may be re-hashing an old argument... but I do think there is merit in the "big fish in a small pond" theory.

The alumni association of the college of Engineering selected her as the best freshman entering the college of Engineering and gave her a one time scholarship. In 2011 she served as a judge and technical expert at Milwaukee for the 'Regionals" of the National Ocean Science competition
While working on her project of infant apnea monitor ( alarm device when breathing stops) she worked closely with the physicians at the UW med school. She did some research at the med school and a biostatistics class at the med school.


Would those things have happened at MIT? Maybe.

I know that I got a lot of individual attention from my professors when I went to state engineering school because I was one of the smartest in the class.

I wonder if it's better to be taught by a good professor with some individual attention (really nice when you're doing research projects) or to be taught by an excellent world-class professor in a group setting where you're just 1 of 20 equals (or worse, 1 of 19 equals, while a bona-fide 15-year-old supra-genius gets the extra attention).
User avatar
HomerJ
 
Posts: 7057
Joined: Fri Jun 06, 2008 12:50 pm

Re: Engineering Degree - MIT vs UW Madison

Postby SheebaElwood » Wed Mar 21, 2012 8:36 am

People who went to cheaper state schools are really not qualified to advise on this matter.
Sure, they're "fine", but they're not MIT. They never will be. This is an issue of lifetime branding.
Looks like OP cheaped out.
SheebaElwood
 
Posts: 55
Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2012 10:17 am

Re: Engineering Degree - MIT vs UW Madison

Postby goggles » Wed Mar 21, 2012 10:03 am

SheebaElwood wrote:People who went to cheaper state schools are really not qualified to advise on this matter.
Sure, they're "fine", but they're not MIT. They never will be. This is an issue of lifetime branding.
Looks like OP cheaped out.


You might want to read the thread before firing off.
User avatar
goggles
 
Posts: 744
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 8:38 am

Re: Engineering Degree - MIT vs UW Madison

Postby Dealmaster00 » Wed Mar 21, 2012 10:14 am

I had the choice of going to Penn State Honors college and Carnegie Mellon University for computer engineering. I ended up going to the latter but if I had to do things over, I would have went to PSU for undergrad, and a different school for grad. Would have saved a bunch of money, and for undergrad, the college choice doesn't matter as much, especially if you are vigilant about academics,
Dealmaster00
 
Posts: 105
Joined: Sun Jan 22, 2012 4:09 pm

Re: Engineering Degree - MIT vs UW Madison

Postby SpecialK22 » Wed Mar 21, 2012 11:04 am

SheebaElwood wrote:People who went to cheaper state schools are really not qualified to advise on this matter.
Sure, they're "fine", but they're not MIT. They never will be. This is an issue of lifetime branding.
Looks like OP cheaped out.


So what does that say about those of us who are going to for-profits? At 30 I only have a few hundred thousand saved up. I guess if I went to a state school I would be guaranteed a million by 30. If I went to MIT I would be guaranteed 2 million+ by 30.

Honestly, I only chose the for-profit because it is good for my situation. For most state schools are likely the best bet.

Congrats to the OP's daughter; sounds like she is doing well and UW-Madison is working out great.
User avatar
SpecialK22
 
Posts: 774
Joined: Tue Sep 01, 2009 3:16 pm

Re: Engineering Degree - MIT vs UW Madison

Postby The Wizard » Wed Mar 21, 2012 11:20 am

SheebaElwood wrote:People who went to cheaper state schools are really not qualified to advise on this matter.
Sure, they're "fine", but they're not MIT. They never will be. This is an issue of lifetime branding.
Looks like OP cheaped out.

Actually, on the previous page of this thread, lwfitzge reported the opposite situation: recent grads advising against it.
I didn't totally believe it...
Attempted new signature...
The Wizard
 
Posts: 6713
Joined: Tue Mar 23, 2010 1:45 pm
Location: Reading, MA

Re: Engineering Degree - MIT vs UW Madison

Postby stoptothink » Wed Mar 21, 2012 11:29 am

SheebaElwood wrote:People who went to cheaper state schools are really not qualified to advise on this matter.
Sure, they're "fine", but they're not MIT. They never will be. This is an issue of lifetime branding.
Looks like OP cheaped out.


Wow, really? Sounds like the OP's daughter will have plenty of fully-paid for graduate work opportunities, so I am not sure at all how it matters. Nobody is going to care where her undergrad degree is from.
stoptothink
 
Posts: 1367
Joined: Fri Dec 31, 2010 9:53 am

Re: Engineering Degree - MIT vs UW Madison

Postby livesoft » Wed Mar 21, 2012 11:40 am

It's not too late to transfer to MIT. :twisted:

I imagine if your daughter read this thread, she would be rolling her eyes. Best of luck to her! (But you can't tell her that some anonymous person on the internet wished her luck. That's way too creepy.)
This signature message sponsored by LadyGeek.
livesoft
 
Posts: 35144
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:00 pm

Re: Engineering Degree - MIT vs UW Madison

Postby kenyan » Wed Mar 21, 2012 11:56 am

Well, I didn't read the whole thread, but think I got the gist of it. I received engineering degrees from a top-tier graduate school (not MIT, though I was accepted there) and a second-tier undergraduate school. Once you're in grad school, your undergraduate school doesn't matter very much. There is a bias at first from those who don't know better, but most people eventually realize that the top students are often basically equivalent between the 'name' schools and state schools. Sure, the average student is much more impressive at the top schools, but for exceptional students it doesn't matter much.

Once you have a job, your school matters even less. Now, getting that initial job might be easier with the name recognition (again, if you went to grad school the undergraduate program matters very little), but if you distinguished yourself at a state school it can be just as impressive. At the job, your performance matters far, far more than your undergraduate degree. There might be the occasional 'ooh' and 'aah' over an MIT background, but typically that is not the case.

MIT might get your foot in the door, but beyond that the person has to perform. I've met unimpressive MIT graduates and (many, many) impressive state school graduates. Now, if you have a student who is not likely to distinguish himself/herself, MIT might be the better choice.
Retirement investing is a marathon.
User avatar
kenyan
 
Posts: 2480
Joined: Thu Jan 13, 2011 12:16 am

Re: Engineering Degree - MIT vs UW Madison

Postby porcupine » Wed Mar 21, 2012 11:56 am

The Wizard wrote:[...]But I agree that if you go for a doctorate, aiming high is good...

... and now you are telling me! I went the reverse direction all the way ... :(

- Porcupine
porcupine
 
Posts: 1267
Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2010 11:05 am

Re: Engineering Degree - MIT vs UW Madison

Postby The Wizard » Wed Mar 21, 2012 12:09 pm

Much of the logic here is well thought out, but when you're 17-18 years old and not sure just what you want to major in, sometimes it's better to go somewhere with a lot of options in science/engineering.
EVERY MIT undergrad takes two semesters of math and two of physics (at a minimum) plus one of chem and bio, so a freshman doesn't have too much trouble getting help on something in his living group...
Attempted new signature...
The Wizard
 
Posts: 6713
Joined: Tue Mar 23, 2010 1:45 pm
Location: Reading, MA

Re: Engineering Degree - MIT vs UW Madison

Postby porcupine » Wed Mar 21, 2012 12:26 pm

livesoft wrote:It's not too late to transfer to MIT. :twisted:

I imagine if your daughter read this thread, she would be rolling her eyes. Best of luck to her! (But you can't tell her that some anonymous person on the internet wished her luck. That's way too creepy.)

How is MIT for prospective doctors? :wink:

- Porcupine
porcupine
 
Posts: 1267
Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2010 11:05 am

Re: Engineering Degree - MIT vs UW Madison

Postby ram » Wed Mar 21, 2012 11:12 pm

livesoft wrote:It's not too late to transfer to MIT. :twisted:

I imagine if your daughter read this thread, she would be rolling her eyes. Best of luck to her! (But you can't tell her that some anonymous person on the internet wished her luck. That's way too creepy.)


As the OP I am amazed at the discussion that this thread has generated and I am thankful to all contributors.
No. She has no plans of transferring to MIT at this point. Has been very happy with Madison.
Livesoft- I will tell her that it is not 'any' internet person who is wishing her luck but Livesoft, the leader of Bogleheads forum with 20,000 + entries who is doing so. Anyway I did show her the advice from you (or was it Nisiprius) stating that she should explore all opportunities at Madison. She seems to have benefited from that advice.
With a son who will be going to college this fall I remain interested in the replies to this thread. Thanks again.
Ram
User avatar
ram
 
Posts: 504
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2008 10:47 pm
Location: Midwest

Re: Engineering Degree - MIT vs UW Madison

Postby dewey » Wed Mar 21, 2012 11:38 pm

Lots of graduates from fine state universities across the country stand their ground (bad timing for that phrase--the Florida event sickens me) with graduates from the more elite institutions. MIT is the best--without question. But not all the best attend the best institution(s). There are so many variables as many posts have stated. Let's ask where Einstein went. My older daughter is very bright--she was in the top 10 of her high school class, a very good and large suburban school in Minnesota, and she had very high test scores. She was interested in Madison but then considered some well known private schools because of friends. I told her I'd pay for the entire cost of her college degree at a state university. If she wanted to attend a private school I'd pay the state-school level dollars and she would have to provide the difference (we had another daughter on the college runway just a year later). She decided on Madison and absolutely loved it. Her education was first rate, including a highly regarded and innovative general education experience. I later helped with her graduate degree because I didn't exhaust all resources in the quest for the bachelor's degree holy grail.

I've taught and been an administrator at public research universities since 1980. I think every situation is different. We all want to give our children the very best educational opportunities but it's a complex equation in determining what institution is the best fit for each individual student. No simple or easy answers on this one. But there can be a number of correct answers as opposed to either one 'right' answer or one 'wrong' answer.
“The only freedom that is of enduring importance is freedom of intelligence…”
dewey
 
Posts: 231
Joined: Fri Feb 24, 2012 11:42 am

Re: Engineering Degree - MIT vs UW Madison

Postby cheapskate » Thu Mar 22, 2012 12:01 am

SheebaElwood wrote:People who went to cheaper state schools are really not qualified to advise on this matter.
Sure, they're "fine", but they're not MIT. They never will be. This is an issue of lifetime branding.
Looks like OP cheaped out.


Very classy !

You sound like someone who went to MIT, but hasn't done anything since graduating from MIT, hence feel the constant urge to trumpet the fact that you graduated from MIT and disparage other fine public institutions.

It doesn't really matter much what you think. UW-Madison is a top class university - near the very top among public universities. The kind of opportunities a student would get at UW-Madison is unparalleled (UC Berkeley would be among the few schools that rivals UW-Madison). I work with many engineers who got their undergrad or grad degrees at Madison. They stand shoulder to shoulder with grads from MIT.

The OP (and many others who posted here) who went to UW-Madison or have kids going to UW-Madison should be very proud. (No, I am not from UW, and I don't have any kids there, but would certainly consider a state school like UWM as first choices for my kids).
cheapskate
 
Posts: 578
Joined: Thu Apr 26, 2007 1:05 pm

Re: Engineering Degree - MIT vs UW Madison

Postby fareastwarriors » Thu Mar 22, 2012 12:51 am

cheapskate wrote:
SheebaElwood wrote:People who went to cheaper state schools are really not qualified to advise on this matter.
Sure, they're "fine", but they're not MIT. They never will be. This is an issue of lifetime branding.
Looks like OP cheaped out.


Very classy !

You sound like someone who went to MIT, but hasn't done anything since graduating from MIT, hence feel the constant urge to trumpet the fact that you graduated from MIT and disparage other fine public institutions.

It doesn't really matter much what you think. UW-Madison is a top class university - near the very top among public universities. The kind of opportunities a student would get at UW-Madison is unparalleled (UC Berkeley would be among the few schools that rivals UW-Madison). I work with many engineers who got their undergrad or grad degrees at Madison. They stand shoulder to shoulder with grads from MIT.

The OP (and many others who posted here) who went to UW-Madison or have kids going to UW-Madison should be very proud. (No, I am not from UW, and I don't have any kids there, but would certainly consider a state school like UWM as first choices for my kids).


There are many variables to "success" than some BA/BS degree from x college versus y university. In the end, it is all about the person, the person with the drive, intellect, some networking, some luck, and lots of hard work will thrive and "succeed."
fareastwarriors
 
Posts: 629
Joined: Tue Feb 14, 2012 12:31 pm

Re: Engineering Degree - MIT vs UW Madison

Postby robocop » Thu Mar 22, 2012 5:36 pm

Congrats to your daughter. I am a UW alum and have such fond memories of my time at Madison. One thing I loved about the place is that it is not only excellent at science and engineering, but is excellent in most disciplines. Thus, changing majors is not a big deal, and you also have the added benefit of running into people who have different perspectives and personalities. Lessons learned from a diverse group can assist one's success in many of the non-technical aspects of jobs (tolerance/respect for different views and ideas, effective communication with non-engineers, the importance of writing well, etc.).

While I am sure your daughter would have succeeded wherever she went, I am positive she will be immensely helpful that you will be able to assist her with medical school expenses. Medical school debt can be a great burden on young doctors. Best of luck to her!
robocop
 
Posts: 181
Joined: Fri Jan 27, 2012 9:44 pm

Re: Engineering Degree - MIT vs UW Madison

Postby livesoft » Thu Mar 22, 2012 6:00 pm

ram wrote:Livesoft- I will tell her that it is not 'any' internet person who is wishing her luck but Livesoft, the leader of Bogleheads forum with 20,000 + entries who is doing so. Anyway I did show her the advice from you (or was it Nisiprius) stating that she should explore all opportunities at Madison. She seems to have benefited from that advice.

That was definitely Nisiprius's advice and not something I wrote, but I am flattered that you might confuse a post of his with mine. Thanks! Plus I may lead in post count, but that may be more a distraction than leading. However, when I review what I wrote in this thread, it seems that some of what I wrote has been borne out. And no, I did not go to MIT nor UW-M.
This signature message sponsored by LadyGeek.
livesoft
 
Posts: 35144
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:00 pm

Re: Engineering Degree - MIT vs UW Madison

Postby stoptothink » Thu Mar 22, 2012 6:22 pm

cheapskate wrote:
SheebaElwood wrote:People who went to cheaper state schools are really not qualified to advise on this matter.
Sure, they're "fine", but they're not MIT. They never will be. This is an issue of lifetime branding.
Looks like OP cheaped out.


Very classy !

You sound like someone who went to MIT, but hasn't done anything since graduating from MIT, hence feel the constant urge to trumpet the fact that you graduated from MIT and disparage other fine public institutions.


Found that kind of funny. A good friend of mine completed his undergrad at MIT and then business school at Chicago; he(and his wife, also an MIT alum) haven't exactly been successful members of the workforce. He actually had a bit of influence in my choosing of Houston instead of Cornell for my MS.
stoptothink
 
Posts: 1367
Joined: Fri Dec 31, 2010 9:53 am

Re: Engineering Degree - MIT vs UW Madison

Postby The Wizard » Thu Mar 22, 2012 6:54 pm

stoptothink wrote:...He actually had a bit of influence in my choosing of Houston instead of Cornell for my MS.

Well you know, the problem is, whether undergrad or graduate school, most of us only go that way once. So we can't try it and report back same as we do with Ford vs Chrysler.
So how much cred are we to ascribe to college ratings in Business Week or whoever's rating colleges this month?
As much cred as investment advice on CNBC or Money mag?
And how much does the student's drive and intelligence matter?
I'd say something like 80% student intelligence and 20% college-you-go-to...
Attempted new signature...
The Wizard
 
Posts: 6713
Joined: Tue Mar 23, 2010 1:45 pm
Location: Reading, MA

Re: Engineering Degree - MIT vs UW Madison

Postby quiet_morning » Thu Mar 22, 2012 7:09 pm

I went to a big 10 school AND MIT for engineering degrees. Pick MIT, you'll make more money.
quiet_morning
 
Posts: 13
Joined: Tue Jun 21, 2011 5:36 am

Re: Engineering Degree - MIT vs UW Madison

Postby getRichSlower » Thu Mar 22, 2012 7:58 pm

rrosenkoetter wrote:
This is an old thread, and I may be re-hashing an old argument... but I do think there is merit in the "big fish in a small pond" theory.


That theory doesn't make any sense to me. You want to go to a top college because that's where all the top companies go to recruit both for jobs and for summer internships. You want to go to a top college because that looks good when you're applying to grad school. You want to go to Standford or MIT because that's where the action is for startups and students have a strong history of getting VC funds. You go to a top school so that if an employer gets fifty resumes for one position, you'll at least rise to the top five and get an in person interview. Discussing where you might get the best education is completely missing the point.
getRichSlower
 
Posts: 274
Joined: Tue Aug 16, 2011 6:40 pm

Re: Engineering Degree - MIT vs UW Madison

Postby gabbar » Thu Mar 22, 2012 8:03 pm

Can you throw more light on your friend family from MIT+Chicago. I just wanted to know what in your view made them unsuccessful. I work in software at a large multinational and the top talent does seem to come from top universities at least for engineering. Stanford, MIT, CMU, etc. But engineering folks from flagship state schools from Washington, Texas, Illinois, Cal, Michigan, Maryland, etc. are all excellent as well.

The point I am trying to make is I have seen the Stanford/MIT guys being at least as good as the folks from top state schools. Your friend seems to be an aberration.

[/quote]

Found that kind of funny. A good friend of mine completed his undergrad at MIT and then business school at Chicago; he(and his wife, also an MIT alum) haven't exactly been successful members of the workforce. He actually had a bit of influence in my choosing of Houston instead of Cornell for my MS.[/quote]
gabbar
 
Posts: 46
Joined: Fri Aug 13, 2010 1:41 pm

Re: Engineering Degree - MIT vs UW Madison

Postby The Wizard » Thu Mar 22, 2012 9:38 pm

The friend could've been a course XIV (economics) major.
Can't expect the dismal science to yield a top paycheck, can we?
Attempted new signature...
The Wizard
 
Posts: 6713
Joined: Tue Mar 23, 2010 1:45 pm
Location: Reading, MA

Re: Engineering Degree - MIT vs UW Madison

Postby HomerJ » Fri Mar 23, 2012 8:42 am

getRichSlower wrote:
rrosenkoetter wrote:
This is an old thread, and I may be re-hashing an old argument... but I do think there is merit in the "big fish in a small pond" theory.


That theory doesn't make any sense to me. You want to go to a top college because that's where all the top companies go to recruit both for jobs and for summer internships. You want to go to a top college because that looks good when you're applying to grad school. You want to go to Standford or MIT because that's where the action is for startups and students have a strong history of getting VC funds. You go to a top school so that if an employer gets fifty resumes for one position, you'll at least rise to the top five and get an in person interview. Discussing where you might get the best education is completely missing the point.


That's a pretty sad way to look to it. Realistic maybe, but sad.
User avatar
HomerJ
 
Posts: 7057
Joined: Fri Jun 06, 2008 12:50 pm

Re: Engineering Degree - MIT vs UW Madison

Postby stoptothink » Fri Mar 23, 2012 10:32 am

gabbar wrote:Can you throw more light on your friend family from MIT+Chicago. I just wanted to know what in your view made them unsuccessful. I work in software at a large multinational and the top talent does seem to come from top universities at least for engineering. Stanford, MIT, CMU, etc. But engineering folks from flagship state schools from Washington, Texas, Illinois, Cal, Michigan, Maryland, etc. are all excellent as well.

The point I am trying to make is I have seen the Stanford/MIT guys being at least as good as the folks from top state schools. Your friend seems to be an aberration.



Found that kind of funny. A good friend of mine completed his undergrad at MIT and then business school at Chicago; he(and his wife, also an MIT alum) haven't exactly been successful members of the workforce. He actually had a bit of influence in my choosing of Houston instead of Cornell for my MS.[/quote][/quote]

My buddy is absurdly intelligent, but despite the MBA from Chicago his business acumen isn't exactly keen. He's worked for countless start-ups which weren't fruitful and tried his hand(unsuccessfully) at day-trading. He'd like to think he is a quant, but he is now a salesman for test-prep(LSAT,MCAT, ACT...) software, and not a very good one at that. His wife is a professor in some hard science, but has had difficulty finding work the last few years. I guess his situation is different, he hasn't exactly utilized his education, but I don't think he is alone in this and he stressed to me several times how the hundreds of thousands of $ in school debt had crippled him and his wife. Then again, my best friend is a graduate of maybe the top undergrad business school in the nation(Notre Dame's Mendoza) and his working career has been a complete disaster as well. He's now a struggling real estate agent. I think we all have similar anecdotal stories. Sounds to me like the OP's daughter would be successful anywhere, and I highly doubt standing out(at one of the top) public universities as an undergrad is going to hinder her future...but that extra 6 figures out of her father's retirement might sting a little.
stoptothink
 
Posts: 1367
Joined: Fri Dec 31, 2010 9:53 am

Re: Engineering Degree - MIT vs UW Madison

Postby ErekS » Fri Mar 23, 2012 11:51 am

First, I think the primary factor of success lies with the person and not with the university.

On the other hand, I think MIT offers various advantages which might give an average person advantages over if they had gone to a normal university.

1) There is a greater percentage of people who care about academics and are reasonably intelligent. A lot of state schools tend to be massive and are attended by people who are only there to fulfill some perceived obligation. An average person surrounded by influences such as these may be more likely to stray off course. At MIT, there were far more 'partiers' than I expected and I was a bit disappointed but almost everybody is either brilliant or studious and your more likely to be pressured into doing something great.

2) MIT has a higher default bar. A driven person can find a way to challenge themselves anywhere. In contrast, at MIT I think you'd have to be pretty creative to find an easy path. I think most people agree that MIT is a difficult university and if you take the default path you will be challenged. I think this has benefits in character development and skills development. I did all my internships in research but I've had friends who did internships in industry laugh about how much easier it is and how they're given summer projects that they finish in a few weeks.

3) MIT attracts top rate professors. This might vary across majors, but at least in Computer Science it's pretty exceptional to access primary sources of theory and practice. These people wrote the books that the state universities are using, or even more importantly teach material so new that no text book exists.

4) Someone mentioned this but your chances of being recruited out of school are higher. Just having MIT on your resume will make you stick out. You still have to perform well but that's what the rest of the education was for. Also, many of the engineering managers I meet also graduated from MIT, and I have internal references at many top companies because of networking/friends.

Again, any individual person can overcome all of these things and for many people quality of life is worse at MIT (why have 3 people killed themselves/died this year?). To be fair, when I came to MIT I was a bit disappointed because I was hoping to escape normal people who enjoyed parties and socializing, but it's a much better experience than I personally would have had at the State universities I experienced. Also, I thought people would be smarter, so there's definitely variance. So you'll find MIT people out there who are not as good as you expect and you shouldn't generalize. Having taught MIT students for several years, sometimes they even make me wonder.

A lot of people talk about intangible MIT ways of thinking but stuff like that probably varies a lot person to person. The reasons above are pretty concrete in my mind at least.
ErekS
 
Posts: 17
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2012 4:48 pm

Re: Engineering Degree - MIT vs UW Madison

Postby Rodc » Wed Mar 28, 2012 9:38 am

I think MIT offers various advantages which might give an average person advantages over if they had gone to a normal university.


MIT does not accept average people. :)

I am surrounded by people at work from the MITs, Stanfords, Cal Techs of the world. I am surrounded by the same people in the town I live in. I am also surrounded by people from very good state Us, both at work and in the town I live in.

You can't really tell one from the other.

If there is an advantage to the top schools it does not seem to last once people are in jobs where performance is what counts.
We live a world with knowledge of the future markets has less than one significant figure. And people will still and always demand answers to three significant digits.
Rodc
 
Posts: 10519
Joined: Tue Jun 26, 2007 9:46 am

Re: Engineering Degree - MIT vs UW Madison

Postby kenyan » Fri Mar 30, 2012 12:42 am

Rodc wrote:
I think MIT offers various advantages which might give an average person advantages over if they had gone to a normal university.


MIT does not accept average people. :)

I am surrounded by people at work from the MITs, Stanfords, Cal Techs of the world. I am surrounded by the same people in the town I live in. I am also surrounded by people from very good state Us, both at work and in the town I live in.

You can't really tell one from the other.

If there is an advantage to the top schools it does not seem to last once people are in jobs where performance is what counts.


Pretty much spot on with my experience. The only people I've met who really think MIT gives you that extra something over everyone else are people who went to MIT. Smart people go to all sorts of schools. MIT and other top tier schools may give you a leg up initially, but from that point on you've got to make your own way.
Retirement investing is a marathon.
User avatar
kenyan
 
Posts: 2480
Joined: Thu Jan 13, 2011 12:16 am

Re: Engineering Degree - MIT vs UW Madison

Postby Dave76 » Fri Mar 30, 2012 8:31 pm

ErekS wrote:
3) MIT attracts top rate professors. This might vary across majors, but at least in Computer Science it's pretty exceptional to access primary sources of theory and practice. These people wrote the books that the state universities are using, or even more importantly teach material so new that no text book exists.



But what is the average teaching load? Top professors love to farm courses out to the TAs so they can spend more time on arcane research interests.
Dave76
 
Posts: 564
Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2012 9:05 pm

Re: Engineering Degree - MIT vs UW Madison

Postby ErekS » Fri Mar 30, 2012 8:47 pm

I know that's a common trope with TAs teaching courses at universities, but MIT is not one of those schools. At least in CS, all courses are taught by a Professor, with the large classes having a main professor lecturing and then smaller sections of around 30 people also taught by a full professor. TAs only teach the smallest sections were the focus is practice and review.

As for teaching load, I've never seen a professor with more than one class a term. They do like research but at least in the popular majors there are plenty of them to go around. :)
ErekS
 
Posts: 17
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2012 4:48 pm

Re: Engineering Degree - MIT vs UW Madison

Postby VictoriaF » Fri Mar 30, 2012 8:56 pm

ErekS wrote:First, I think the primary factor of success lies with the person and not with the university.

On the other hand, I think MIT offers various advantages which might give an average person advantages over if they had gone to a normal university.

1) There is a greater percentage of people who care about academics and are reasonably intelligent. A lot of state schools tend to be massive and are attended by people who are only there to fulfill some perceived obligation. An average person surrounded by influences such as these may be more likely to stray off course. At MIT, there were far more 'partiers' than I expected and I was a bit disappointed but almost everybody is either brilliant or studious and your more likely to be pressured into doing something great.

2) MIT has a higher default bar. A driven person can find a way to challenge themselves anywhere. In contrast, at MIT I think you'd have to be pretty creative to find an easy path. I think most people agree that MIT is a difficult university and if you take the default path you will be challenged. I think this has benefits in character development and skills development. I did all my internships in research but I've had friends who did internships in industry laugh about how much easier it is and how they're given summer projects that they finish in a few weeks.

3) MIT attracts top rate professors. This might vary across majors, but at least in Computer Science it's pretty exceptional to access primary sources of theory and practice. These people wrote the books that the state universities are using, or even more importantly teach material so new that no text book exists.

4) Someone mentioned this but your chances of being recruited out of school are higher. Just having MIT on your resume will make you stick out. You still have to perform well but that's what the rest of the education was for. Also, many of the engineering managers I meet also graduated from MIT, and I have internal references at many top companies because of networking/friends.

Again, any individual person can overcome all of these things and for many people quality of life is worse at MIT (why have 3 people killed themselves/died this year?). To be fair, when I came to MIT I was a bit disappointed because I was hoping to escape normal people who enjoyed parties and socializing, but it's a much better experience than I personally would have had at the State universities I experienced. Also, I thought people would be smarter, so there's definitely variance. So you'll find MIT people out there who are not as good as you expect and you shouldn't generalize. Having taught MIT students for several years, sometimes they even make me wonder.

A lot of people talk about intangible MIT ways of thinking but stuff like that probably varies a lot person to person. The reasons above are pretty concrete in my mind at least.


I agree with your reasons. The intangibles of a high-caliber peer environment create significant, long-lasting effects. Those who have not had this experience tend to downplay it, perhaps modeling it over the top students in a party school who were lonely in their studiousness. There is also an element of self-preservation ("sour grapes"), just as those who had inferior grades downplay their GPA, and those who have not attended college brag about being well-off without a degree.

Victoria
Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)
User avatar
VictoriaF
 
Posts: 12888
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 7:27 am
Location: Black Swan Lake

Re: Engineering Degree - MIT vs UW Madison

Postby HomerJ » Fri Mar 30, 2012 9:05 pm

VictoriaF wrote:The intangibles of a high-caliber peer environment create significant, long-lasting effects.


But how do we know that's true? Impossible to go back in time to tell if a smart person who went to State U would be a very different person or more or less successful if they went to MIT instead or vice-versa.
User avatar
HomerJ
 
Posts: 7057
Joined: Fri Jun 06, 2008 12:50 pm

Re: Engineering Degree - MIT vs UW Madison

Postby SpecialK22 » Fri Mar 30, 2012 9:39 pm

rrosenkoetter wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:The intangibles of a high-caliber peer environment create significant, long-lasting effects.


But how do we know that's true? Impossible to go back in time to tell if a smart person who went to State U would be a very different person or more or less successful if they went to MIT instead or vice-versa.


Even more pressing of a question: Is paying more than four times as much for the high-caliber peer environment a good purchase? Per the OP the cost was $60k for UW and $250k for MIT.
User avatar
SpecialK22
 
Posts: 774
Joined: Tue Sep 01, 2009 3:16 pm

Re: Engineering Degree - MIT vs UW Madison

Postby livesoft » Fri Mar 30, 2012 9:41 pm

But what else is the OP gonna spend the money on?

If someone saves $150K on a college education and then goes out and buys a Bentley, is that a better use of the money? :twisted: I know a number of families where $250K for a college education is practically a round-off error in their financial situation. Should such families really care if junior saves money by going to Flagship U? Sure, if you are hurting for cash, save money on college. But if you are not, then why not use your money?
This signature message sponsored by LadyGeek.
livesoft
 
Posts: 35144
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:00 pm

Re: Engineering Degree - MIT vs UW Madison

Postby Wolkenspiel » Fri Mar 30, 2012 9:50 pm

Dave76 wrote:
ErekS wrote:
3) MIT attracts top rate professors. This might vary across majors, but at least in Computer Science it's pretty exceptional to access primary sources of theory and practice. These people wrote the books that the state universities are using, or even more importantly teach material so new that no text book exists.



But what is the average teaching load? Top professors love to farm courses out to the TAs so they can spend more time on arcane research interests.


I can't speak for all departments at MIT, but in my department (one of the bigger ones) there are ZERO courses for which the main lecture is taught by "TAs". For the core classes, even recitation sections are taught by faculty and TA's are the third or fourth line of defense ("arcane" research interests or not). FYI, the average teaching load for faculty in my department is lecturing one major class per semester or teaching two recitation classes for junior faculty/three recitations for senior faculty.

If anyone is really faced with an MIT vs State U choice, I hope they don't base the decision on the N=1 sample size anecdotes thrown around here. Some of the posters clearly have a sense of humor ("average people should go to MIT to at least get a fancy diploma"), but a good fraction of the thread seems colored by inferiority or superiority complexes.
Wolkenspiel
 
Posts: 450
Joined: Wed Sep 30, 2009 7:45 am

Re: Engineering Degree - MIT vs UW Madison

Postby Wolkenspiel » Fri Mar 30, 2012 10:04 pm

SpecialK22 wrote:
rrosenkoetter wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:The intangibles of a high-caliber peer environment create significant, long-lasting effects.


But how do we know that's true? Impossible to go back in time to tell if a smart person who went to State U would be a very different person or more or less successful if they went to MIT instead or vice-versa.


Even more pressing of a question: Is paying more than four times as much for the high-caliber peer environment a good purchase? Per the OP the cost was $60k for UW and $250k for MIT.


That makes the OP somewhat unlucky, as only 8% of MIT undergrads pay the full "sticker price". Furthermore "Thirty-four percent of all undergraduates received scholarships from one or more sources greater
than or equal to the cost of tuition" in 2010/11. For the OPs numbers even I would have a hard time deciding for MIT - but in the majority of cases the tuition math will look quite differently, and for "low income" families the sign might actually be reversed.
Wolkenspiel
 
Posts: 450
Joined: Wed Sep 30, 2009 7:45 am

Re: Engineering Degree - MIT vs UW Madison

Postby SpecialK22 » Sat Mar 31, 2012 1:24 am

livesoft wrote:But what else is the OP gonna spend the money on?

If someone saves $150K on a college education and then goes out and buys a Bentley, is that a better use of the money? :twisted: I know a number of families where $250K for a college education is practically a round-off error in their financial situation. Should such families really care if junior saves money by going to Flagship U? Sure, if you are hurting for cash, save money on college. But if you are not, then why not use your money?


For something like $250k to be a rounding error I would say you know some extremely wealthy people; probably at least nine figure net worth. But I do agree that there are far worse things to blow money on than a high-priced education. Given the false dilemma of putting money towards a child's education or a new Bentley, I would also choose the college education. Still, is there any private university which offers such a quality education as to be worth more than four times the cost of a flagship state university?
User avatar
SpecialK22
 
Posts: 774
Joined: Tue Sep 01, 2009 3:16 pm

Re: Engineering Degree - MIT vs UW Madison

Postby Diogenes » Sat Mar 31, 2012 5:00 am

Dealmaster00 wrote:I had the choice of going to Penn State Honors college and Carnegie Mellon University for computer engineering. I ended up going to the latter but if I had to do things over, I would have went to PSU for undergrad, and a different school for grad. Would have saved a bunch of money, and for undergrad, the college choice doesn't matter as much, especially if you are vigilant about academics,



Ditto. Can't speak to Engineering, but I attended a top private Business School. Helped interviewing for the first job, no help after that. Thankfully I did not have excessive loans.

_D_
Truth and clarity are important in all things...
User avatar
Diogenes
 
Posts: 300
Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2012 3:58 pm

Re: Engineering Degree - MIT vs UW Madison

Postby HomerJ » Sat Mar 31, 2012 7:35 am

livesoft wrote:I know a number of families where $250K for a college education is practically a round-off error in their financial situation. Should such families really care if junior saves money by going to Flagship U? Sure, if you are hurting for cash, save money on college. But if you are not, then why not use your money?


I know zero families like that, and I'm guessing they are in top 0.01% of families in this country. But yeah, I guess for them it doesn't matter... "hurting for cash" is a bit flip when you're talking about $190,000. Per kid.
Last edited by HomerJ on Sat Mar 31, 2012 8:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
HomerJ
 
Posts: 7057
Joined: Fri Jun 06, 2008 12:50 pm

Re: Engineering Degree - MIT vs UW Madison

Postby The Wizard » Sat Mar 31, 2012 8:02 am

rrosenkoetter wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:The intangibles of a high-caliber peer environment create significant, long-lasting effects.


But how do we know that's true? Impossible to go back in time to tell if a smart person who went to State U would be a very different person or more or less successful if they went to MIT instead or vice-versa.

I was getting ready to say this.
Thx for stealing my idea... :happy
Attempted new signature...
The Wizard
 
Posts: 6713
Joined: Tue Mar 23, 2010 1:45 pm
Location: Reading, MA

Re: Engineering Degree - MIT vs UW Madison

Postby The Wizard » Sat Mar 31, 2012 8:39 am

Wolkenspiel wrote:That makes the OP somewhat unlucky, as only 8% of MIT undergrads pay the full "sticker price". Furthermore "Thirty-four percent of all undergraduates received scholarships from one or more sources greater
than or equal to the cost of tuition" in 2010/11. For the OPs numbers even I would have a hard time deciding for MIT - but in the majority of cases the tuition math will look quite differently, and for "low income" families the sign might actually be reversed.

Correct. This is a true statement for MANY expensive private colleges, not just MIT. So the process comes down to:
1) get admitted to the various colleges that you choose
2) get/compare financial data from all colleges you get admitted to based on your FAFSA details
3) accept offer from college that appears to offer most lifelong rewards...
Attempted new signature...
The Wizard
 
Posts: 6713
Joined: Tue Mar 23, 2010 1:45 pm
Location: Reading, MA

Re: Engineering Degree - MIT vs UW Madison

Postby stan1 » Sat Mar 31, 2012 9:29 am

Top tier state research universities are still great choices for undergraduate engineering: California (Berkeley, LA, San Diego); Virginia (Charlottesville); Illinois; Wisconsin (Madison); Michigan (Ann Arbor); Washington (apologies if I've missed a few).

Engineering seems to have less degree-bias than some other fields (medical and legal come to mind). Engineering is a career field where its easy to show results (what you've designed, what you've built) so experience quickly trumps academic qualifications. The MIT graduate degree does help for a career in intellectually elite academia/think tank environments (e.g. less than 1% of engineering jobs).

MIT or Caltech are certainly a great choice if they are within reach, but I don't think I'd sacrifice a secure retirement to pay for an undergraduate degree for my child at a private engineering school. Undergraduate at other private schools (including Stanford) -- I'm much less sure about the value proposition over the great public universities listed above. To be honest I think undergraduates learn great life skills like personal responsibility and accountability at large public universities where they have to develop their own drive and initiative to succeed. The use of teaching assistants is often cited as a negative at large engineering schools, but most professors ARE available and accessible during office hours and other times when students take the initiative to approach them.
stan1
 
Posts: 3595
Joined: Mon Oct 08, 2007 4:35 pm

Re: Engineering Degree - MIT vs UW Madison

Postby cheapskate » Sat Mar 31, 2012 10:50 am

stan1 wrote:Engineering seems to have less degree-bias than some other fields (medical and legal come to mind). Engineering is a career field where its easy to show results (what you've designed, what you've built) so experience quickly trumps academic qualifications. The MIT graduate degree does help for a career in intellectually elite academia/think tank environments (e.g. less than 1% of engineering jobs).


Having worked in silicon valley, in both startups and large companies, I can personally attest to this. At least out here, the culture is very much that of - "can you code ? can you produce work ? can you work with others, as a team ?", when it comes to hiring. Candidates in most companies have to go through fairly intense, grueling coding interviews. The hiring decision really boils down to the candidate's performance in the interview.

I think one area where the MITs and Caltechs may have an advantage over a lesser State U., is that most employers will have career fairs and on-campus interviews in the top 20 schools. They won't bother to go to a lesser UC school (for example). So a candidate who went to UC Davis or UC Irvine (random examples, both are fine State U's in my opinion - have worked with excellent people from both) would need to make the extra effort to get himself/herself into the door.

Another thing in engineering is that, it is not hard to get into a name-brand engineering school for graduate work, after doing well in a lesser university. So one can always get a masters degree (and spend less overall - easy to get assistantships/tuition waivers for engineering masters programs). For most families, a 200K difference per child is pretty major - that's a down payment on a home even in most of silicon valley !

Law and Business seem to be 2 areas where the school matters a lot ? I don't know if it matters that much for medicine (I don't know what medical school my primary care doctor or our pediatrician went to and don't care). When we had to get surgeries, the only thing that mattered is "how many surgeries does this surgeon perform, and how experienced (s)he is".
cheapskate
 
Posts: 578
Joined: Thu Apr 26, 2007 1:05 pm

Re: Engineering Degree - MIT vs UW Madison

Postby lightheir » Sat Mar 31, 2012 11:10 am

If the $250k will cut into your essential finances, I think UW is the way to go.

If the $250k really cuts only into luxury fianances, or wouldn't significantly hurt you in the long run (talking decades here), MIT is probably still well worth the premium.

College is crazy expensive nowadays - it was already bad when I was there, but it's really out of hand now. I don't know how I can justify paying these sort of prices for my daughter if it's not an elite school in the future. At the same time, private schools and even daycare isn't cheap as well, so it's not like there's a huge difference between a lot of these elite colleges and other costs of child education.
lightheir
 
Posts: 1352
Joined: Mon Oct 03, 2011 11:43 pm

Re: Engineering Degree - MIT vs UW Madison

Postby livesoft » Sat Mar 31, 2012 12:46 pm

cheapskate wrote:For most families, a 200K difference per child is pretty major - ....
I will not dispute that, but most families are not posting at Bogleheads. Indeed, it seems to me that half the posters here are MDs and the other half are graduates of MIT. :)
This signature message sponsored by LadyGeek.
livesoft
 
Posts: 35144
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:00 pm

PreviousNext

Return to Personal Consumer Issues

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: rakornacki1, Rexindex and 43 guests