Colleges for STEM/CS kid - Overall rank or engineering/CS rank?

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psteinx
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Colleges for STEM/CS kid - Overall rank or engineering/CS rank?

Post by psteinx »

Daughter is rising HS junior, with a strong application profile, who at least has a SHOT at tippy-top colleges. Planning college visits and such, and prioritizing colleges.

She's rather STEM-y. Likes CS type stuff (various classes), and engineering type stuff (has been doing robotics for years, which is partly engineering, partly programming). Is very likely to start on either the engineering or the CS path, and *probably* end up within those areas, although of course young folks do change paths.

There are of course a lot of factors that go into a college choice and the "success" of that choice, and prestige, etc. is not the end-all. But I do think rankings measure something concrete. Harvard > SE Podunk state.

So, one thing I'm struggling with a little is that engineering (and CS) rankings are fairly different from overall rankings.

The top of the "overall" rankings of USNWR and others is typically Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, MIT and the like (not necessarily in that order). Big, well regarded flagships like Cal, Michigan, UVA, etc. start showing up on the lists from about rank 20 and downward. But engineering/CS focused lists are QUITE different. In my (paper) copy of USNWR 2018 rankings, among engineering programs offering a doctorate (but rankings for the undergrad level), Harvard is only #25. Yale is #34, Duke is #20. But there are 5 big publics in the top 9, including Illinois and Purdue. Illinois and Purdue are only #52 and #56 on the main (overall national universities) 2018 list. Similarly, for CompSci, ratings I've seen put U of I and Carnegie-Mellon very high. C-M is private and solid, but only #25 on the 2018 overall list.

Most programs don't provide as much detail on admissions stats, average test scores, etc. on a per-program basis as they do for the university as a whole (CDS), so one has to guess a bit, but average (overall) stats seem higher, admissions rates lower, etc., at, say, the Ivies, versus the Big 10 schools with strong engineering.

===

So I'm trying to reconcile this stuff. Will you really likely have as strong, or stronger career boost for CS or engineering, coming out of U of Ill, as you will out of Harvard or Duke or the like? Do the Big 10s pull, proportionate to their class sizes, a higher # of top job offers? Mid-career, after 10+ years, will the Big 10 degrees (at least of the stronger engineering Big 10s) carry as much clout as a Harvard/Duke degree? (or more?) How about research opportunities, internships, etc. during the undergrad timeframe?

(I realize there are further differences - notably that the publics are MUCH bigger and have a different overall vibe.)
Last edited by psteinx on Thu Jul 08, 2021 2:31 pm, edited 4 times in total.
fwellimort
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Re: Colleges for STEM/CS kid - Overall rank or engineering/CS rank?

Post by fwellimort »

My experience with CS in the work force is:
Most reputable degrees are grouped similarly and overall ranking seem to be more of a factor when it comes to 'wow'-ing recruiters.
In other words, a Harvard CS degree will get more attention than most CS degrees regardless of CS graduate ranking because it's "Harvard".
In that sense, Harvard CS degree will have just as much opportunities as a MIT CS degree in the work force. Whether that is fair is another story.

The 'top CS schools' in the country are: Stanford, CMU, UCB. For undergrad, especially Stanford and CMU.
Will you really likely have as strong, or stronger career boost for CS or engineering, coming out of U of Ill, as you will out of Harvard or Duke or the like?
I don't know anything about engineering. For traditional CS careers (working at Microsoft, Google, etc.), it's about the same. If you plan to get a job more firmware related (chips, etc.), then schools like UIUC will have a bigger advantage.
For software jobs at places like Jane Street, Two Sigma, Citadel, etc., a degree from Harvard will have a bigger advantage.

Most reputable schools (Duke, JHU, Northwestern, etc.) are seen in the same light as schools like UIUC for CS.
Mid-career, after 10+ years, will the Big 10 degrees (at least of the stronger engineering Big 10s) carry as much clout as a Harvard/Duke degree? (or more?) How about research opportunities, internships, etc. during the undergrad timeframe?
Once you attend a reputable school in the software industry, mid-career should all be similar. It's mostly dependent on whether the person wants to spend his time outside work studying Leetcode (and System Design).
School names tend to lose meaning after say 3 years to the workforce. Schools like Stanford, MIT, CMU, Harvard, etc. tend to have a halo effect but those schools are only a handful.
How about research opportunities, internships, etc. during the undergrad timeframe?
I don't know much about this.
For internships, I would assume the top schools like Harvard mostly because recruiters are wow-ed by brand names and it is the recruiters that filters out resumes.
But a talented student from either UIUC or Harvard will have basically identical opportunities in the workforce.
The only real benefits I see of a degree from a top school (Top half of Ivy League, MIT, Stanford, CalTech, UChicago) is potentially having an 'edge' when applying to high frequency firms like Jane Street or very specialized organizations like Google X. Just note that even these schools generally send like 0 to 2 students a year to these firms. So once you exclude that,... really not much different.
As for 'research opportunities', I have no idea. Maybe someone else might know better. I would blindly guess the top CS schools would have better 'research opportunities' if a student is expecting to do PhD.

I do know Stanford has a unique advantage by being in Palo Alto. It's much easier to get interviews at tech companies relative to other peer schools and there's a higher chance to work at a 'unicorn' (most 'unicorns' like Robinhood are incredibly selective out of college and to work there out of college, it's best advised to attend Stanford).
But if that's not a necessity, then students from other schools can work in other jobs for 2~3 years before joining those unicorns.

I assume though top privates can be more affordable for some people than the top publics due to financial aid.
UCB, UCLA, UCSD, Georgia Tech, UWashington are all top tier CS schools and recruiters know it. Problem is, most people don't have these schools as in-state. Also, don't underestimate the student body of CS students at top CS schools.
UIUC CS for instance: https://cs.illinois.edu/about/statistics
Incoming 2019 freshman average composite ACT score: 33.7
Considering a lot of the incoming students will change majors (give up), the self selection effect is there. I would assume the average graduating CS major at UIUC nowadays has average composite ACT score of 34.5+. The real difference is the students at UIUC will tend to be more lopsided than the students at schools like Northwestern (so average students would have 36/36 on Math for both schools). For employment purposes, you can see why recruiters don't differentiate as there are excellent CS students at both.
Last edited by fwellimort on Thu Jul 08, 2021 12:41 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Colleges for STEM/CS kid - Overall rank or engineering/CS rank?

Post by Jack FFR1846 »

Beyond rankings, does the school have focus in the things she's interested in. Do they offer a Robotics degree up to PhD?

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Re: Colleges for STEM/CS kid - Overall rank or engineering/CS rank?

Post by Ependytis »

For a stem degree, it doesn’t matter where you went to school. Please see attached link. Now if she can get a scholarship and you don’t have to pay for it, then I would go to the best school that I can get into.

https://www.collegefactual.com/parents/ ... ig-salary/
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Re: Colleges for STEM/CS kid - Overall rank or engineering/CS rank?

Post by warner25 »

I have a BA and MS in CS from two schools with admissions rates below 20%, but neither of which are especially renown for CS/engineering. I haven't tested the job market much myself, but my peers got hired at places like Google, Amazon, Microsoft, etc.

The nice thing was that I didn't experience crazy competition or a lottery system to get seats in the classes that I wanted to take, and I had easy access to the professors. CS rankings seem to reward places that have produced a lot of important research, mainly as a function of the size and age of their CS departments, so beware of getting sucked too far into the rankings. There are some highly ranked CS departments where a required algorithms class is done with a 500-1,000-seat lecture, which I think is crap.
Last edited by warner25 on Thu Jul 08, 2021 7:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Colleges for STEM/CS kid - Overall rank or engineering/CS rank?

Post by Beehave »

Ependytis wrote: Thu Jul 08, 2021 1:22 pm For a stem degree, it doesn’t matter where you went to school. Please see attached link. Now if she can get a scholarship and you don’t have to pay for it, then I would go to the best school that I can get into.

https://www.collegefactual.com/parents/ ... ig-salary/
Interesting article-link and meaningful regarding the OP's daughter. This student sounds extremely bright and hard-working. With a technology degree she will be snapped up, and her higher education (master's, doctorate) will be paid for in full or at least in large part by whoever hires her. As far as I know, women in STEM get hired.

The linked-artical suggests that for STEM careers, the reputation of the school does not matter much, but that for careers outside of STEM the school does. As the OP mentions, kids change their minds about majors. This student may decide to specialize in some other field and then maybe use her tech skills to amplify her impact (e.g., in biological science). In that case, to me, it would seem that a school like Harvard would be an outstanding choice for the following reasons:

(1) With a STEM degree she'll get hired most anywhere (pretty much true though whether Harvard or not. However, if she decides she wants to go high (like CEO) in business or perhaps in government, the Harvard-credential will be a help.

(2) If she switches out of STEM, she won't have to transfer out of the engineering college, and she may decide as mentioned above to split her skills in some other discipline but hopefully apply her tech skills to become outstanding in that field.

My thoughts, and by all indications this is a young person who will do very well. If one school stands out to her (especially if you can do visits), maybe best simply to trust her judgment.

Best wishes.
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Re: Colleges for STEM/CS kid - Overall rank or engineering/CS rank?

Post by quantAndHold »

I was a hiring manager for a FAANG. I interviewed hundreds of kids for internships and entry level software development jobs. Over that time, I think I hired 10 kids from Georgia Tech and five from Waterloo, and even one from a programming boot camp, but never once hired anyone from Harvard. Nothing wrong with Harvard at all, but it isn’t necessary for that kind of job.

To get hired, your kid needs a degree from a “good enough” school, but a “top” school doesn’t really have any real advantages for a typical software job. The main differentiator for a lot of those jobs is their ability to do the leetcode type problems well, which does take some knowledge of algorithms and data structures, and some basic social skills to be able to explain what they’re thinking to an interviewer. Kids from better schools tend to do better on those kind of problems, I think partly because they were stronger students to start with, and partly because the basic CS education they get is a bit better.

My recommendation is if your kid wants a job in tech, to find out what companies recruit at the schools your kid is interested in, then shop by price among the schools that get a lot of recruiters. Five years after graduation, nobody will care where the kid went to school, but a good grounding in CS basics from a better school will get their foot into the right door immediately after graduation.

When my kids were in the same situation, one went to Harvey Mudd, and the other went to Cal Poly. Harvey Mudd was definitely a more intense, concentrated experience, and I’m sure the Harvey Mudd kid got a somewhat better education, but both ended up at Google right after graduation. So I’m not sure it really mattered in the end.
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Re: Colleges for STEM/CS kid - Overall rank or engineering/CS rank?

Post by mhc »

This is just my opinion. I have been an engineering manager for 20+ years.

I went to a state school, but not the flagship school. I got a good education and have done very well. I have one employee who went to U of I. I believe his education was higher quality than mine. I recently spoke to an intern who goes to Michigan. I was very impressed with what they do. All schools are not the same in quality of education. I would rather hire someone from a big name engineering school if everything else was the same.

Ivy league schools not known for engineering mean nothing to me.

How well one does in a career has a lot to do with the individual and the opportunities that arise. Great schools will not overcome personal short comings or lack of opportunity.
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Re: Colleges for STEM/CS kid - Overall rank or engineering/CS rank?

Post by chipperd »

Another consideration: since your daughter's interests may not fit neatly into any one major (robotics engineering certainly exists, but not at all schools and some top robotics engineering schools don't crack the top 50 overall https://www.gradschoolhub.com/best/robo ... g-schools/ ,
https://www.collegetransitions.com/data ... s-robotics ), is to take a look at how a particular school would handle that type of interest when it comes time to choose a major(s).

Real world example: I know an individual, extremely bright, currently at MIT for undergrad (actually gets paid, after all expenses, to attend). Wants to specialize in artificial intelligence, but no such major exists at MIT. So, this person is double majoring in neurology and computer science.

Something to consider if robotics specifically remains a strong interest for your daughter. I'm sure there are many schools that can handle robotics engineering as a primary area of study, but how each school handles may be slightly, or more than slightly, different in terms of class choices, hands on vs theoretical and potentially, majors.

Congrats to her and you for her high level of performance.
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Re: Colleges for STEM/CS kid - Overall rank or engineering/CS rank?

Post by Watty »

(Background, I have an ancient BS in CS from a small regionally well regarded but not top tier state university. My son has a recent BS in CS from a large second tier state university that has a credible program but is a notch below a state flagship university.)

When I was helping my son pick out a college one quote that stuck with me was,

"Picking a college for your kid is not about picking the best college, it is about picking the college that is the best fit for your kid."

There is a lot of truth to that.

If she can get into one of the top tier prestige schools one thing she may run into is that she may in the bottom third of her class and struggling to keep up. Often students that have always been at the top of their class in high school have a real hard time adjusting to a below average struggling student in college. If she is not a top student she may find that she also does not get a lot of attention from her professors and they may barely know who she is.

Of course some students will thrive under pressure and she could love that environment.

Depending on her personality she might fit in and thrive in a different environment like a well regarded state university or a small college somewhere.

It is all about finding the best fit so listen a lot to what she wants and as long as she picks a strong college that should be fine.

Many colleges will have a summer program as a recruiting tool where top high school students can spend a week or two living on campus to get a college experience and hopefully get sold on going to college there. She should look into doing that next summer.

Many colleges and companies are actively recruiting female STEM students because there is such a gender imbalance in the field. I do not know much about them but even as a high school student there is a possibility that she could get a summer internship with a FAANG type company next summer or the summer after she graduates from high school. Getting involved with women's STEM groups would also be a good idea.
psteinx wrote: Thu Jul 08, 2021 12:08 pm Is very likely to start on either the engineering or the CS path, and *probably* end up within those areas, although of course young folks do change paths.
Some CS programs are very hard to get into. To work around this some people would get admitted to some other degree program then try to transfer into CS after a year or two. Some universities really clamped down on this and made it even more difficult to transfer into CS than it is to get admitted to CS as an incoming freshman.

If she starts out in engineering she may find that she cannot transfer into the CS program, at least at that university. It might be better to start out in CS if she can and transfer to engineering later if she changes her mind.

Be sure to check out how hard it is to switch majors at the universities that she is considering.
psteinx wrote: Thu Jul 08, 2021 12:08 pm (I realize there are further differences - notably that the publics are MUCH bigger and have a different overall vibe.)
A few sort of random points to keep in mind.

1) The gender ratio can be extreme at some STEM universities. I went to a large state flagship university for the first two years then changed majors and transferred to the small STEM state university campus that was something like 85% male back then and still about 75% now. That can no doubt be intimidating for the female students but one weird side effect is that many of the male STEM students were a bit nerdy and did not have a lot of social skills so they often had more or less given up on dating. It was really odd but on any given weekend maybe half the woman I knew did not have dates or a boyfriend and that was really depressing for some of them to be alone on a Saturday night when outnumbered by men by something like 6 to 1. I was hardly Don Juan, and still a bit nerdy, but since I had spent two years at the flagship university I at least clue about how to have a college social life. I had a girlfriend most of the time so I did not date a lot of different women but it was a bit bizarre to see that many available women when there were so many more men around.

2) Be sure to look into what the situation is with fraternities and sororities is at the universities she is looking at. Be sure to talk it over with your daughter if you are OK with her joining a sorority or not and if you are will to pay for once since some of them may be expensive when you add in all the "optional" costs.
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Re: Colleges for STEM/CS kid - Overall rank or engineering/CS rank?

Post by RickBoglehead »

Engineers rarely get doctorates.
Where you go for your doctorate would very likely be different anyway.

Parent of mechanical engineer (masters). Got both degrees in 5 year program, basically undergrad then apply for grad and do 1 year for grad. He'd probably tell you he didn't learn much in year 5 due to the limited amount of courses he had to take due to credit for undergrad courses coupled with independent study (that wasn't learning).

He got a great job with a top secret clearance that an undergrad wouldn't get. He says no one goes for their doctorate.

Ranking matters in the specialty they pick. A good ME school may not be as high as CS. Some schools now have Robotics specialty with an entire building. Hail to the Victors. :beer
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psteinx
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Re: Colleges for STEM/CS kid - Overall rank or engineering/CS rank?

Post by psteinx »

FWIW, I'm not so sure she wants to go into robotics, per-se. It's just been a good activity of interest for her for many years. There are not a lot of hands-on engineering type activities available widely available for adolescents/HSers...
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Re: Colleges for STEM/CS kid - Overall rank or engineering/CS rank?

Post by KlangFool »

OP,

Which state are you in?

A) If you are in Texas, it is hard to beat University of Texas at Austin.

B) If you are in Virginia, it is hard to beat Virginia Tech.

C) If you are in Georgia, it is hard to beat Georgia Tech.

And so on..

If you are in one of those states without the schools in the top 25, then, the answer would be different.

If the kid is smart, the employer will pay for the graduate degree at the Ivy league.

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Re: Colleges for STEM/CS kid - Overall rank or engineering/CS rank?

Post by psteinx »

Missouri.
adestefan
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Re: Colleges for STEM/CS kid - Overall rank or engineering/CS rank?

Post by adestefan »

I read a lot about where you’d liked her to go, what does she want to do?

I hire a lot of CS folks out of school and I look more at what classes they’ve taken than what school they went to. I’ve also found a few folks stretching the truth on their degrees based upon their transcripts.
Last edited by adestefan on Thu Jul 08, 2021 5:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Colleges for STEM/CS kid - Overall rank or engineering/CS rank?

Post by psteinx »

She hasn't thought about it as much as I have. (I've been through this myself, years ago, and then with her two older sibs, and yes, have jumped on the research angle for her before she has.). One of her tasks for this summer is to read up on colleges. I think she wants a good (well ranked) school, leans towards mid sized (i.e. not a jumbo Big 10), not too cold school. Also, she likes a pretty campus. But she's open to looking at a lot.

We'll likely do a Midwest tour, in any case, to get a feel for parameters, if not schools (big schools like UMich/UIUC/Purdue vs. smaller schools). But the degree to which we'll jump on a plane to go to the Bay Area, Houston, Atlanta, Boston, etc. is unclear, as of yet...
Last edited by psteinx on Thu Jul 08, 2021 11:27 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Colleges for STEM/CS kid - Overall rank or engineering/CS rank?

Post by fwellimort »

I just want to point out Computer Science is a science (e.g.: like physics is a science).

There are schools that have Computer Science in the liberal arts. There are schools that have it in both liberal arts and engineering.
There are schools that have Computer Science in only the Engineering department. And then there are schools that have its own department just for Computer Science.

Schools like Harvard have a strong undergrad CS program.
https://www.edx.org/course/introduction ... ardx-cs50x
CS50 is THE online course (free in edX) to take for those who are interested in picking CS or not.
Maybe your child can try the course (it's just recorded video lectures with assignments) for a few days and then get back to you on whether CS is of interest or not.

Also, the other poster about Engineering schools having very male heavy male:female ratio in class. (this ratio can extend to CS too)
I will agree with this. Not everyone wants this environment. Schools like Columbia Univ in NY for instance have a relatively even ratio for male:female in many of its CS courses. In comparison, some schools like UT Austin might basically be 1 female for every 10+ males in a CS course.
It might not be fun and encouraging to be one of the four to six females in a class of 150 and have that experience repeated 4 years straight. (This is a very extreme example.)

As for Robotics.. robotics is an interdisciplinary field.
For those who are interested in 'programming' robots, that's Computer Science. Most likely, students won't be able to learn about robotics in Computer Science until junior or senior year as Robotics generally requires further study (grad school).
Now, if the field is far more specialized inside robotics (e.g.: programming autonomous vehicles), then the child either needs to do well in a reputable school or attend a school that does research in these fields (Stanford, UCB, UCLA, Georgia Tech, MIT, etc.).

In general, I say, as long as the school is reputable, there really shouldn't be hindrance to employment in CS.
Entry level software development jobs in the industry is all about passing the interview by grinding leetcode and sounding like a nice human being who is 'curious' and 'willing to learn'. Of course, 'getting' the interview is a totally different matter. There's a lot of luck involved but as long as the school is reputable, I don't want to sound sexist but women do get high priority for interviews out of college. I think practically every women in CS at my school got interviews at Google and Facebook unlike the men in CS (only like a third of them).

As for the publics:
Some publics like UIUC make it very very difficult to transfer into CS. Expect if your child does not get into CS that your child won't be majoring in CS. Other publics like UW Madison lets anyone major in CS.
Same idea with privates. Good luck breaking into CMU CS as a non-CS major. Meanwhile, schools like Brown and Columbia lets anyone major in CS if he/she wants to.

And learning environment matters too.
Some schools are in the middle of nowhere surrounded by corn fields. Other school is inside a forest. Some schools are hard core breathe day and night on Computer Science (e.g.: CMU). Some schools love to force all students to take Calculus using Apostol's book and Modern Physics (e.g.: CalTech).
Some students might get depression from stuffs like this.
Personally, if I could redo college, I would look into Brown. CS students there do very well out of college and it is a top tier school that happens to have rampant grade inflation. Grade inflation only helps students when it comes to grad school programs (and writing the GPA on the resume). Whether grade inflation is good for 'education' is a different matter.

In general, I think for undergrad, overall ranking is most important. If the student ever decides to switch out of majors, it's a much better scenario to switch out of majors from a school that is reputable overall than a school that is only good in 1 field.
Last edited by fwellimort on Thu Jul 08, 2021 5:46 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Colleges for STEM/CS kid - Overall rank or engineering/CS rank?

Post by adestefan »

Since she’s undecided on what type of school she’s like to go to you should step away from the rankings and help her in that area first.

I will admit my bias in that I have a math and CS BS from a small, rural liberal arts school. A few years later I got my MSc from a very well know school in a large east coast city. I vastly preferred my time in my undergraduate years and a lot of that was due to the setting and the liberal arts tradition. Having general requirements classes with only 25 students and upper level classes with 10 people is pretty damn nice from an “I’m here to learn things and not just get a degree” angle.

I’ve never once felt that my undergraduate degree from a small school ever held me back. I’ve turned down offers from Google twice because I didn’t want to move to California (and they knew that going into the interviews and promised I could stay on the east coast; fool me twice, etc.) And the overall placement directly into graduate/professional programs is also pretty stellar from my undergraduate school (86% overall, 92% to med school, and 98% to law school)
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Re: Colleges for STEM/CS kid - Overall rank or engineering/CS rank?

Post by quantAndHold »

psteinx wrote: Thu Jul 08, 2021 5:28 pm I think she wants a good (well ranked) school, leans towards mid sized (i.e. not a jumbo Big 10), not too cold school. Also, she likes a pretty campus. But she's open to looking at a lot.
That kinda sounds like Georgia Tech to me.
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Re: Colleges for STEM/CS kid - Overall rank or engineering/CS rank?

Post by Watty »

psteinx wrote: Thu Jul 08, 2021 5:10 pmMissouri.
I may be biased but it would be worth at least taking a hard look at Missouri S&T (my alma mater) as part of your due diligence.

It would be unreasonable to compare Missouri S&T to places you mentioned like Sanford, MIT, Carnegie-Mellon, etc since they are in a totally different league but in your original post you also mentioned flagship universities like Michigan.

If she would be paying out of state tuition to go to a college that is not in the top 10 or even top 20 for whatever degree that she chooses then Missouri S&T could be a viable choice.

For example in Engineering USNWR ranks Missouri S&T #63 and Michigan State #48 which may not be a real significant difference especially when you consider that the USNWR ranking is just based on peer assessment and Michigan would be better known because it is a lot larger.

https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/ra ... Technology

https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/ra ... University

With instate tuition and things like transportation Missouri S&T could cost maybe $100K to $200K less than some of the colleges you are looking at if you do not get a lot of financial aid or a merit scholarship.

If she would not be going to a top school that money might be better used to pay for graduate school or for her to use for a house down payment or retirement savings.

If she gets a graduate degree then where she got her undergraduate will not matter.
psteinx wrote: Thu Jul 08, 2021 12:08 pm In my (paper) copy of USNWR 2018 rankings,
This is a big decision so if you are going to be using USNWR it would be worth paying the subscription fee to get access to their current online rankings.
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Re: Colleges for STEM/CS kid - Overall rank or engineering/CS rank?

Post by Watty »

quantAndHold wrote: Thu Jul 08, 2021 7:42 pm
psteinx wrote: Thu Jul 08, 2021 5:28 pm I think she wants a good (well ranked) school, leans towards mid sized (i.e. not a jumbo Big 10), not too cold school. Also, she likes a pretty campus. But she's open to looking at a lot.
That kinda sounds like Georgia Tech to me.
I am in Atlanta now and Georgia Tech is in downtown Atlanta so at least once you get a block off campus it is not that pretty and with around 20k students I doubt that it would qualify as mid sized.
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Re: Colleges for STEM/CS kid - Overall rank or engineering/CS rank?

Post by TexasPE »

Ependytis wrote: Thu Jul 08, 2021 1:22 pm For a stem degree, it doesn’t matter where you went to school. Please see attached link. Now if she can get a scholarship and you don’t have to pay for it, then I would go to the best school that I can get into.

https://www.collegefactual.com/parents/ ... ig-salary/
Agreed, with the proviso that the program is ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) accredited.

https://amspub.abet.org/aps/name-search ... nstitution
At 20: I cared what everyone thought about me | At 40: I didn't give a damn what anyone thought of me | Now that I'm 60: I realize that no one was really thinking about me at all | Winston Churchill (?)
quantAndHold
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Re: Colleges for STEM/CS kid - Overall rank or engineering/CS rank?

Post by quantAndHold »

Watty wrote: Thu Jul 08, 2021 8:05 pm
quantAndHold wrote: Thu Jul 08, 2021 7:42 pm
psteinx wrote: Thu Jul 08, 2021 5:28 pm I think she wants a good (well ranked) school, leans towards mid sized (i.e. not a jumbo Big 10), not too cold school. Also, she likes a pretty campus. But she's open to looking at a lot.
That kinda sounds like Georgia Tech to me.
I am in Atlanta now and Georgia Tech is in downtown Atlanta so at least once you get a block off campus it is not that pretty and with around 20k students I doubt that it would qualify as mid sized.
True about it being in downtown Atlanta, but 20k is about half the size of the actual big schools. The only actual mid-sized schools with good programs that pop into my head are CMU and MIT, but they fail on “not cold.”

Harvey Mudd has a fantastic program and passes the “not cold” test, but it’s definitely small, and it’s in Claremont, which is an acquired taste. If I were coming all the way to California from Missouri, I’d want to be further from the cows and closer to the beach.
Yes, I’m really that pedantic.
Yarlonkol12
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Re: Colleges for STEM/CS kid - Overall rank or engineering/CS rank?

Post by Yarlonkol12 »

I would just go with the school your Daughter is the most interested in and feels would be the best fit for her. At least for "CS" type work, I wouldn't really worry about how the university is perceived by others, no one has ever cared in this field as far as I can tell.

For what it's worth, I only applied to one school, it was a small state school next to my hometown and it was only $1,200 a semester (early 2000s). I was also an unmotivated student with a low GPA though I did complete my "BS" degree in 4 years. My degree was totally unrelated to CS yet my entire working career has been spent doing software development and related activities, I've also interviewed with all of the big tech "FANG" companies, currently work at one of them, and previously worked at another. Have also served on interview panels at a few companies, big tech interviews tend to be heavily based on interview performance with little regard given to the individuals prior work experience or education.
jbdiver
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Re: Colleges for STEM/CS kid - Overall rank or engineering/CS rank?

Post by jbdiver »

Your daughter should follow her dreams and attend a school which can feed her passions. Look for a school that will help her graduate in 4 years without breaking the bank.

She will compete in a marketplace where her degree and her school won’t matter to most people outside of a few coastal VC’s, some big traditional engineering companies, and maybe some government contractors.

I’d be surprised if even half of the hundreds of software engineers I’ve worked with over several decades had CS degrees. Some of the best coders didn’t even have a college degree. Some of the worst coders had PhDs in CS.

Software development is a trade with an extremely low barrier to entry. Your daughter will compete with talent globally, and she is at a disadvantage living in a high cost country despite being a member of an underrepresented group in tech.

Most CS programs don’t teach students how to build software, so your daughter will have to be motivated to learn these critical skills on her own. Successful software engineers almost treat it like a hobby. Coincidentally, I teach software engineers at a graduate engineering school.
MMiroir
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Re: Colleges for STEM/CS kid - Overall rank or engineering/CS rank?

Post by MMiroir »

psteinx wrote: Thu Jul 08, 2021 12:08 pm Daughter is rising HS junior, with a strong application profile, who at least has a SHOT at tippy-top colleges. Planning college visits and such, and prioritizing colleges.......So, one thing I'm struggling with a little is that engineering (and CS) rankings are fairly different from overall rankings.
Instead of rankings, look at average salaries as a proxy for for how good a CS program is. You can check these by school and major at College Scorecard. Find the school you are interested in, click on "Salary After Completing Degree", and then click on "All Fields of Study." Computer Science should show up as one of the categories.

https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/

You will find that there is a wide range of starting salaries for CS majors. For example, here are some results for a range of quality schools:

Stanford: $136,499
Yale: $122,038
Purdue: $85,981
Missouri S&T: $69,140
Missouri: $68,333

Another ranking of CS schools is as follows:

https://www.ivyachievement.com/computer ... -rankings/

Unlike other rankings, they go into detail as to what factors they considered as important and how they graded the schools. Their conclusion was that there was a big difference between the results at the top schools and those lower on the scale, and as one went down the scale, the differences between the schools diminished rapidly. While I don't agree with thier rankings at least they explain their methodology and show their math which is alot more than USNews does.

Image

Finally, since the OP has a daughter interested in CS, this will be seen as a "hook" by the schools and will help her in admissions. For example:

https://www.collegetransitions.com/blog ... ions-edge/

Worry not, young women—your admissions journey is not necessarily fated to be a harsh, uphill climb. If you have an interest and talent in anything to do with computers, engineering, or the hard sciences, then the tables turn completely.

Not surprisingly, many of the schools that favor female applicants have “Tech” in their name; Worcester Polytechnic Institute (63% v. 44%), Georgia Tech (28% v. 17%), and Caltech (11% v. 5%) all have a much higher acceptance rate for young women. MIT’s acceptance rate for women is more than double that of male applicants (11% v 5%).

Other top schools without the official “Tech” designation that grant favor to female applicants include Carnegie Mellon (21% v. 12%) and Harvey Mudd (24% v. 9%). Of course, all of these schools are known for their strengths in the same, and typically male-dominated areas of concentration mentioned above.


Although the article does not state it, there will be a strong admissions bump for women studying engineering at any school, particularly CS.
HereToLearn
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Re: Colleges for STEM/CS kid - Overall rank or engineering/CS rank?

Post by HereToLearn »

fwellimort wrote: Thu Jul 08, 2021 5:29 pm I just want to point out Computer Science is a science (e.g.: like physics is a science).

There are schools that have Computer Science in the liberal arts. There are schools that have it in both liberal arts and engineering.
There are schools that have Computer Science in only the Engineering department. And then there are schools that have its own department just for Computer Science.

Schools like Harvard have a strong undergrad CS program.
https://www.edx.org/course/introduction ... ardx-cs50x
CS50 is THE online course (free in edX) to take for those who are interested in picking CS or not.
Maybe your child can try the course (it's just recorded video lectures with assignments) for a few days and then get back to you on whether CS is of interest or not.

Also, the other poster about Engineering schools having very male heavy male:female ratio in class. (this ratio can extend to CS too)
I will agree with this. Not everyone wants this environment. Schools like Columbia Univ in NY for instance have a relatively even ratio for male:female in many of its CS courses. In comparison, some schools like UT Austin might basically be 1 female for every 10+ males in a CS course.
It might not be fun and encouraging to be one of the four to six females in a class of 150 and have that experience repeated 4 years straight. (This is a very extreme example.)

As for Robotics.. robotics is an interdisciplinary field.
For those who are interested in 'programming' robots, that's Computer Science. Most likely, students won't be able to learn about robotics in Computer Science until junior or senior year as Robotics generally requires further study (grad school).
Now, if the field is far more specialized inside robotics (e.g.: programming autonomous vehicles), then the child either needs to do well in a reputable school or attend a school that does research in these fields (Stanford, UCB, UCLA, Georgia Tech, MIT, etc.).

In general, I say, as long as the school is reputable, there really shouldn't be hindrance to employment in CS.
Entry level software development jobs in the industry is all about passing the interview by grinding leetcode and sounding like a nice human being who is 'curious' and 'willing to learn'. Of course, 'getting' the interview is a totally different matter. There's a lot of luck involved but as long as the school is reputable, I don't want to sound sexist but women do get high priority for interviews out of college. I think practically every women in CS at my school got interviews at Google and Facebook unlike the men in CS (only like a third of them).

As for the publics:
Some publics like UIUC make it very very difficult to transfer into CS. Expect if your child does not get into CS that your child won't be majoring in CS. Other publics like UW Madison lets anyone major in CS.
Same idea with privates. Good luck breaking into CMU CS as a non-CS major. Meanwhile, schools like Brown and Columbia lets anyone major in CS if he/she wants to.

And learning environment matters too.
Some schools are in the middle of nowhere surrounded by corn fields. Other school is inside a forest. Some schools are hard core breathe day and night on Computer Science (e.g.: CMU). Some schools love to force all students to take Calculus using Apostol's book and Modern Physics (e.g.: CalTech).
Some students might get depression from stuffs like this.
Personally, if I could redo college, I would look into Brown. CS students there do very well out of college and it is a top tier school that happens to have rampant grade inflation. Grade inflation only helps students when it comes to grad school programs (and writing the GPA on the resume). Whether grade inflation is good for 'education' is a different matter.

In general, I think for undergrad, overall ranking is most important. If the student ever decides to switch out of majors, it's a much better scenario to switch out of majors from a school that is reputable overall than a school that is only good in 1 field.
+1 to all of the above and your earlier post in this thread. Except maybe the part about Brown, but for my son, not the world at large.
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Re: Colleges for STEM/CS kid - Overall rank or engineering/CS rank?

Post by tigermilk »

KlangFool wrote: Thu Jul 08, 2021 5:00 pm Which state are you in?

A) If you are in Texas, it is hard to beat University of Texas at Austin.
Oh boy. You are going to upset a bunch of Aggies. Personally, I got my advanced degrees at Rice, so I have now dog in the fight between UT and A&M.

Can't speak to CS, but for engineering (aero undergrad and mechanical grad) at work we have a mix of colleges, ranging from a large share of Aggies and Longhorns to big name out of state schools. But we also have some "lessers" (think state school affiliates, like University of Texas Small Podunk Town).

What matters more than where you get your undergrad degree is your experience. I would rather hire a kid from a podunk university who interned quite a bit, picking up valuable engineering experience, than one who didn't. No matter where you go, in my field, the undergrad degree ill-prepares you for life in the trenches. But a kid who spent a year or more cumulative in the trenches getting hands on experience while a student is gold. So look for a school with STRONG intern/coop programs (places like UT, A&M, Georgia Tech, Purdue, Illinois).

I am trying to think if I have any colleagues who went to Ivy League schools, but I can't think of any. I know some folks at outside companies who did (Cornell). I do know quite a few who got their undergrad and/or grad degrees at top tier non-Ivy, such as MIT, Rice, etc.

When we (well known federal government organization) hire, we basically have choices of

1) critical hires - look for engineers who have been in the field for years and are experienced. Usually they comefrom our contractor force and we know their skills already. These types of hires are always difficult to get and in my 30 year career we have only had about a half dozen or so in my group.

2) student conversions - those who participated in our agency intern/coop programs. The majority of our workforce was hired this way, including myself.

If I were hiring from the student population I would separate the piles into those with no intern experience and those with intern experience in my field. I would be hard-pressed to look at the former pile. For the latter pile, bonus points for those who worked with us as we would have already evaluated their development and capabilities.

My OJT as a student and topics I studied in grad school made me the engineer I am today, not the basic curriculum I took at a top 5 undergrad program.
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Re: Colleges for STEM/CS kid - Overall rank or engineering/CS rank?

Post by Northern Flicker »

psteinx wrote: There are of course a lot of factors that go into a college choice and the "success" of that choice, and prestige, etc. is not the end-all. But I do think rankings measure something concrete. Harvard > SE Podunk state.
Harvard is not top-10 in CS. I don't think it even is top-20.

For CS, in no particular order, MIT, Stanford, Carnegie-Mellon, Berkeley, and Cornell are often listed as top-5, with say UCLA, U of Wisconsin-Madison, U of Texas, U of Washington, and U of Illinois-Urbana, in no particular order rounding out the top-10.
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Re: Colleges for STEM/CS kid - Overall rank or engineering/CS rank?

Post by hunoraut »

what are you optimizing for?

if it's for employment, look at where employers recruit - look on school calendars

if it's for "quality" of [undergrad] education - nobody can say this. nobody has sampled the curriculum across schools. its wooly.

if it's for [eventual] research / graduate education - follow the researchers.

the rankings are a bit meaningless. its a popularity metric that roughly works for tier classification. theres no sense in trying to justify what is #14 vs #17.
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Re: Colleges for STEM/CS kid - Overall rank or engineering/CS rank?

Post by fwellimort »

Northern Flicker wrote: Fri Jul 09, 2021 2:42 am
psteinx wrote: There are of course a lot of factors that go into a college choice and the "success" of that choice, and prestige, etc. is not the end-all. But I do think rankings measure something concrete. Harvard > SE Podunk state.
Harvard is not top-10 in CS. I don't think it even is top-20.

For CS, in no particular order, MIT, Stanford, Carnegie-Mellon, Berkeley, and Cornell are often listed as top-5, with say UCLA, U of Wisconsin-Madison, U of Texas, U of Washington, and U of Illinois-Urbana, in no particular order rounding out the top-10.
You are confusing grad school for undergrad.
Also, CS is NOT like engineering fields. CS is 'Computer SCIENCE'. Please stop confusing the two fields.
Job market for traditional engineering fields require stuffs like ABET. CS doesn't. It's very different and the top tier schools for CS like UCB don't even have ABET.

In the entry level software developer market, brand name or known CS schools are the 'top tiers'.
This is VERY different from traditional engineering fields. Unfortunately, companies like Boeing are not the 'top tier' in the software development world; instead it is companies like Google and Facebook.
Also, Harvard CS undergrad will have in average more opportunities than CS undergrads at Berkeley, Cornell, UCLA, UW Madison, UTexas, etc. in the job market. It just is.
I really wouldn't get fixated on these CS rankings. They are for grad school and the software development industry is NOT like traditional engineering fields.

Also, Harvard is a top 16 CS school according to US News. I don't know much about Harvard CS to comment but I just wanted to point that out.
Harvard CS for UNDERGRAD purposes when it comes to JOB MARKET is at the tier with MIT and the like.
The only real difference is there is a far smaller CS graduates than CS graduates at tech schools so most recruiters won't go through resumes with CS degree from Harvard. But trust me, most recruiters WILL give a student from Harvard an interview in this field.

After a certain threshold in the quality of the school, there really isn't much benefit of attending a more expensive school for most software development careers. The interview process has a luck of randomness and the results are mostly based off just Leetcode + System Design.
The ones today that get jobs at companies like Google out of college are mostly people who started studying Leetcode right away. That's really just it. And maybe use Pramp to have some mock interviews online.
Last edited by fwellimort on Fri Jul 09, 2021 6:47 am, edited 4 times in total.
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bhwabeck3533
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Re: Colleges for STEM/CS kid - Overall rank or engineering/CS rank?

Post by bhwabeck3533 »

quantAndHold wrote: Thu Jul 08, 2021 7:42 pm
psteinx wrote: Thu Jul 08, 2021 5:28 pm I think she wants a good (well ranked) school, leans towards mid sized (i.e. not a jumbo Big 10), not too cold school. Also, she likes a pretty campus. But she's open to looking at a lot.
That kinda sounds like Georgia Tech to me.
My son went to Georgia Tech, undergrad through PhD (Mech Engr). Perfect fit for him, and parents too (in-state with HOPE scholarship). Not sure about male:female ratio at other highly rated engineering programs, but GT was heavy toward males when he was there. Is this a factor for your daughter?
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Re: Colleges for STEM/CS kid - Overall rank or engineering/CS rank?

Post by kleiner »

Watty wrote: Thu Jul 08, 2021 8:05 pm
quantAndHold wrote: Thu Jul 08, 2021 7:42 pm
psteinx wrote: Thu Jul 08, 2021 5:28 pm I think she wants a good (well ranked) school, leans towards mid sized (i.e. not a jumbo Big 10), not too cold school. Also, she likes a pretty campus. But she's open to looking at a lot.
That kinda sounds like Georgia Tech to me.
I am in Atlanta now and Georgia Tech is in downtown Atlanta so at least once you get a block off campus it is not that pretty and with around 20k students I doubt that it would qualify as mid sized.
May I respectfully disagree about a couple of points?

Georgia Tech has a class size of 3450 so there are about 14000 undergraduates. This is still smaller than many other state flagship public schools.

My daughter is starting at Georgia Tech this fall majoring in math. We were not able to able to visit the campus earlier due to covid so we decided to make a four day trip to see the campus in June and do some sightseeing in Atlanta. We loved both the campus and the area around the campus. The area we stayed (midtown 10th street) was a wonderful neighborhood, right across the highway from the university. It was far from run down and was a very pleasant walkable urban area. In fact, we liked almost everything about midtown Atlanta.
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Re: Colleges for STEM/CS kid - Overall rank or engineering/CS rank?

Post by celia »

When we were looking at the top CS schools 10 years ago, they were: (no particular order)
Stanford
Berkeley
Carnegie Mellon
MIT

Note that in at least one of these, the average SAT Math score for accepted CS majors was 800.
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Re: Colleges for STEM/CS kid - Overall rank or engineering/CS rank?

Post by KlangFool »

tigermilk wrote: Fri Jul 09, 2021 2:28 am
What matters more than where you get your undergrad degree is your experience. I would rather hire a kid from a podunk university who interned quite a bit, picking up valuable engineering experience, than one who didn't. No matter where you go, in my field, the undergrad degree ill-prepares you for life in the trenches. But a kid who spent a year or more cumulative in the trenches getting hands on experience while a student is gold. So look for a school with STRONG intern/coop programs (places like UT, A&M, Georgia Tech, Purdue, Illinois).
...

My OJT as a student and topics I studied in grad school made me the engineer I am today, not the basic curriculum I took at a top 5 undergrad program.
tigermilk,

I worked part-time at the University Computing Center while I studied for my BSEE and MSEE. At the same time, I did part-time programing consulting work. I had 5 years of working experience after I graduated with MSEE. No one look at my degrees at all when I was looking for a full-time job. I was never a fresh graduate. My first job was a job for someone with 3 to 5 years of experience.

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Re: Colleges for STEM/CS kid - Overall rank or engineering/CS rank?

Post by bhwabeck3533 »

kleiner wrote: Fri Jul 09, 2021 6:55 am
Watty wrote: Thu Jul 08, 2021 8:05 pm
quantAndHold wrote: Thu Jul 08, 2021 7:42 pm
psteinx wrote: Thu Jul 08, 2021 5:28 pm I think she wants a good (well ranked) school, leans towards mid sized (i.e. not a jumbo Big 10), not too cold school. Also, she likes a pretty campus. But she's open to looking at a lot.
That kinda sounds like Georgia Tech to me.
I am in Atlanta now and Georgia Tech is in downtown Atlanta so at least once you get a block off campus it is not that pretty and with around 20k students I doubt that it would qualify as mid sized.
May I respectfully disagree about a couple of points?

Georgia Tech has a class size of 3450 so there are about 14000 undergraduates. This is still smaller than many other state flagship public schools.

My daughter is starting at Georgia Tech this fall majoring in math. We were not able to able to visit the campus earlier due to covid so we decided to make a four day trip to see the campus in June and do some sightseeing in Atlanta. We loved both the campus and the area around the campus. The area we stayed (midtown 10th street) was a wonderful neighborhood, right across the highway from the university. It was far from run down and was a very pleasant walkable urban area. In fact, we liked almost everything about midtown Atlanta.
+1 to Kleiner. My wife and I lived in Va-Highlands for four years. My son went to Ga Tech. Midtown is great. There are places in every major US city that should be avoided. Midtown Atlanta is not one of them.
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Re: Colleges for STEM/CS kid - Overall rank or engineering/CS rank?

Post by Elysium »

This topic is very popular on the forum, especially of late due to the high interest in tech, mainly because of the high salaries. As someone who started in tech for the love of it and still stays current, who has a kid that recently went through CS admission, I will say this.

Rankings do matter for CS as in other fields, but less so, there are tiers of rankings instead of individual schools rankings to focus on. They are not your traditional elite schools like Harvard, Yale, Princeton that stands out when it comes to CS, instead the schools that contributed most to innovation in the field.

In the early period, Berkeley was the school that contributed most to computing, with several free and open source contributions that led to the tech revolution later. Especially in collaboration with other research institutions like Xerox PARC and AT&T Bell labs led to precursor to almost everything we use today, including the Mac OS and UI which weren't original Apple innovations. Berkeley therefore will always have a top place in CS, the legacy of people who created things and rubbed shoulders at the school. Then there is CalTech, which has similar profile though not as legendary, they are top of the top right along Stanford, coming to which of course Stanford always stands at the top in it's unique way and even harder than getting into Harvard. If anyone can get into Stanford and afford it, then they should. After that of course on the other side of the country is MIT and CMU, which are modern powerhouses that contributed to computing.

The top 5 that matters in my view then:
Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, CMU, MIT

If any student interested in CS can get into these schools then they should.

After that it doesn't matter, for CS people and techies, but it matters for others who go by USNWR rankings, as many other schools known for Business, Law, and Medicine carries name recognition. To me, they don't when it comes to Tech.

Then there is another tier of really great CS & Engineering schools like Georgia Tech, Purdue, U-Mich, UIUC, etc. If anyone can get into these schools as well, they should, as they all give a solid education and background building.

After that it doesn't matter what rankings says, you will still get a great education at almost anywhere if the student puts their mind, and I would advise to ignore starting salaries based on school names. An individual student with passion for the subject can standout and earn a greater salary with a degree from a school ranked #50 than a student who just went to a top 20 school. It's the pursuit of knowledge and interest in tech that matters in CS, since we know tech is always changing every 5-10 years, and it doesn't matter what you learned in school 10 years back by the time you are 5 years out of school. Develop skill sets and keep it up and always think about solving problems facing us, that is the advice I gave to my son after he didn't get admission to any of the top 20 schools. A student who can show confidence in subject and talk about solving complex problems, and learn the techniques/skills on how to do that, will always go places in tech. This isn't Law or Business where school name and the connections you made is what matters ultimately.
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Re: Colleges for STEM/CS kid - Overall rank or engineering/CS rank?

Post by Watty »

One thing I have not seen mentioned is that you should give your daughter links to the two threads you have about colleges so she can read them herself.

It would be good to also encourage her to setup a Boglehead account so she can ask her own questions.

Some of the responses here have been amazing and she might get some very good information to help her figure out what she should do.

One other thing you might mention to her is to also consider having a very strong minor or even work on a double major. Students often don't think much about their minor. I was working on a major in Geology with a very strong minor in Computer science and those work very well together. It turned out that I was not very good at Geology and a periodic oil bust hit around my sophomore year so there were not good job prospects for Geologists. I ended up changing my major to Computer Science and that worked out well for me. If I had not already been working on a strong major in Computer Science then I would have been in a real bind.
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Re: Colleges for STEM/CS kid - Overall rank or engineering/CS rank?

Post by Marylander1 »

The candidate is far more important than the school, especially big-name schools known for sky-high tuition but not for their STEM programs. I've interviewed candidates with STEM degrees from big-name schools who couldn't answer basic intro questions sophomores learn at state schools.

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Re: Colleges for STEM/CS kid - Overall rank or engineering/CS rank?

Post by gips »

I think you'd do better asking/researching on college confidential than bogleheads. OP, it's unlikely your D will find her way to a top 5 CS school, even with the advantage of being female, just from a probability pov (here's hoping I'm wrong!). it's important to identify a range of schools that work for her, usually divided into safeties, targets and reaches.

I have a cs degree, held a senior position at a silicon valley company, worked in startups and co-founded a startup. I have interviewed 1000s of candidates. My best hires have not been from top schools and that makes sense since there are so many more candidates from other schools. The silicon valley company I worked for refused to hire software engineering graduates unless they were from a top school. However, they hired the best experienced talent they could find, regardless of school brand. For my own company, resumes with top brands got shuffled to the top of the interview pile but we were much more interested in experience, communication skills and the ability to solve interesting, real world problems during an interview.

My advice would be to find schools that are a good fit for your daughter in terms of size, location and culture. and cost. At this stage, identifying safeties and targets schools that your D loves should be your highest priority. We're believers in visiting schools prior to application...it's difficult to write a "why MIT" essay without visiting the school and your D needs to walk around campus, take a tour, talk to students...overnights help but may not be possible due to covid. we live in NY, didn't really want to pay for the plane ride, but a trip to CA helped eliminate UCB...a potential disaster in the making if we hadn't visited.

good luck!
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Re: Colleges for STEM/CS kid - Overall rank or engineering/CS rank?

Post by Vulcan »

gips wrote: Fri Jul 09, 2021 10:33 am it's difficult to write a "why MIT" essay without visiting the school
Luckily, MIT has no such requirement
If you torture the data long enough, it will confess to anything. ~Ronald Coase
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Re: Colleges for STEM/CS kid - Overall rank or engineering/CS rank?

Post by Vulcan »

Elysium wrote: Fri Jul 09, 2021 7:36 am The top 5 that matters in my view then:
Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, CMU, MIT

If any student interested in CS can get into these schools then they should.
...
Then there is another tier of really great CS & Engineering schools like Georgia Tech, Purdue, U-Mich, UIUC, etc. If anyone can get into these schools as well, they should, as they all give a solid education and background building.
This is where it gets tough. Schools from the bottom list may cost as much, if not more, than schools from the top list, depending on family financial situation.

DS applied to some schools from both lists, and I honestly do not know what we would do if, say, Purdue and GT were his only OOS options. In fact, we excluded CMU, Berkeley, UIUC, and UMich early on because we would be full pay at those, and they are all $70K/yr schools. We just did not feel the value proposition was there.

For illustrative purposes:
Image
If you torture the data long enough, it will confess to anything. ~Ronald Coase
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Vulcan
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Re: Colleges for STEM/CS kid - Overall rank or engineering/CS rank?

Post by Vulcan »

psteinx wrote: Thu Jul 08, 2021 12:08 pm I do think rankings measure something concrete. Harvard > SE Podunk state.
...
So, one thing I'm struggling with a little is that engineering (and CS) rankings are fairly different from overall rankings.
I would agree that for undergrad overall ranking is probably a better proxy for "something" than program-specific ones (which, particularly in the case of CS, are graduate school quality measures).

So, Harvard BA in CS > UWM BS in CS.
If you torture the data long enough, it will confess to anything. ~Ronald Coase
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psteinx
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Re: Colleges for STEM/CS kid - Overall rank or engineering/CS rank?

Post by psteinx »

Vulcan wrote: Fri Jul 09, 2021 11:08 amIn fact, we excluded CMU, Berkeley, UIUC, and UMich early on because we would be full pay at those, and they are all $70K/yr schools. We just did not feel the value proposition was there.
Yeah, I'm on the fence about that one.

If we lived in, say, Michigan, and paid in-state rates, that's one thing. But to pay >~90% of top-tier private COA at a public rankles.

Of course, there's nothing INHERENT about a public or private that makes one or the other a good value. But at a top tier private, a pretty big % of the kids are paying full cost, plus there's usually a big endowment. At a public, most kids are paying low-ish in-state costs, and endowments tend to be lower, so institutional spending per kid is likely to be lower, but the charges facing the out-of-state parent are almost the same (in some cases).

Also, there tends to be two tiers for admission and stats. One benefit of sending your high stats kid to a top tier is that they're likely to be surrounded by other high stats kids, which I think has various beneficial effects. While the in-state kids at UMich and UIUC are no slouches, they're not, I think, on average, of the same academic caliber as the student body at the top 10 or top 20 privates.
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Re: Colleges for STEM/CS kid - Overall rank or engineering/CS rank?

Post by psteinx »

Vulcan wrote: Fri Jul 09, 2021 11:21 am
psteinx wrote: Thu Jul 08, 2021 12:08 pm I do think rankings measure something concrete. Harvard > SE Podunk state.
...
So, one thing I'm struggling with a little is that engineering (and CS) rankings are fairly different from overall rankings.
I would agree that for undergrad overall ranking is probably a better proxy for "something" than program-specific ones (which, particularly in the case of CS, are graduate school quality measures).

So, Harvard BA in CS > UWM BS in CS.
Yeah, basically the choice for us comes down to:

Top 15-20 private, but with lower engineering rating, that we really like for other reasons (Wustl)

vs.

Publics that are more in the 20-60 range overall, but with very good engineering and/or CS rankings, but that are bigger and probably have less resources (per student) overall (Ga Tech, UMich, UIUC, maybe Purdue)

vs.

Aiming for top 5-10 tier privates that are hard to get into but are also somewhat lower ranked in engineering

vs.

CMU - kind of a special case - super elite for CS but not as much for other stuff.

vs.

The 2-3 special cases that are pretty elite across the board for STEM+CS, and well ranked overall (Stanford, MIT, maybe CalTech). I'm not a fan of CalTech for this kid generally (think it's probably a poor fit). Stanford *might* be a good fit (hard to say without visiting), but is SOOOO reachy, for just about anyone. MIT doesn't thrill me (sorry Vulcan), in part because it doesn't seem offer as much of the traditional college experience. But I'd maybe be open to visiting it. But visits are hard (see my other college thread)...
Last edited by psteinx on Fri Jul 09, 2021 12:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
KlangFool
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Re: Colleges for STEM/CS kid - Overall rank or engineering/CS rank?

Post by KlangFool »

psteinx wrote: Fri Jul 09, 2021 11:34 am
Also, there tends to be two tiers for admission and stats. One benefit of sending your high stats kid to a top tier is that they're likely to be surrounded by other high stats kids, which I think has various beneficial effects. While the in-state kids at UMich and UIUC are no slouches, they're not, I think, on average, of the same academic caliber as the student body at the top 10 or top 20 privates.
psteinx,

That only works if your kid is smart enough to be the top 1/3 of the class at those schools. If not, she will feel like the dumbest kid in the class over that 4 years. So, the relevant question is are your daughter smart enough to be the top student at those schools?

A) Too be a little fish aka bottom 2/3 of the class at top school A

B) To be a big fish aka top student of the class at state school B

Is your daughter a National Merit Scholar? How does she ranked against the whole country?

KlangFool
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Re: Colleges for STEM/CS kid - Overall rank or engineering/CS rank?

Post by slicendice »

gips wrote: Fri Jul 09, 2021 10:33 am
My advice would be to find schools that are a good fit for your daughter in terms of size, location and culture. and cost. At this stage, identifying safeties and targets schools that your D loves should be your highest priority. We're believers in visiting schools prior to application...it's difficult to write a "why MIT" essay without visiting the school and your D needs to walk around campus, take a tour, talk to students...overnights help but may not be possible due to covid. we live in NY, didn't really want to pay for the plane ride, but a trip to CA helped eliminate UCB...a potential disaster in the making if we hadn't visited.


Curious what you thought would make UCB a potential disaster. Personally I'm skeptical about UCB for undergrad ed. While it is a great place for grad school/research, undergrad ed seems like the 4th tier or lower priority of the institution. Yet, it is much sought after for admission. I bet this true of other prominent state flagships as well.
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Re: Colleges for STEM/CS kid - Overall rank or engineering/CS rank?

Post by psteinx »

Klang - I'm fairly confident that she would be top third, by relatively objective criteria (as opposed to the floof that constitutes so much of college admissions) at pretty much any undergrad school in the country, barring perhaps CalTech and MIT.

That's at the school level. There may be particular programs (CS at CMU) where she would also be median or below.

FWIW, as you probably know, 25th/75th percentiles on ACT/SAT are available on CDS (Common Data Set) for most colleges. ACT/SAT are not perfect measures, but they're probably better than other widely available metrics, and fairly easy to understand.
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Re: Colleges for STEM/CS kid - Overall rank or engineering/CS rank?

Post by FireProof »

KlangFool wrote: Fri Jul 09, 2021 11:46 am
psteinx wrote: Fri Jul 09, 2021 11:34 am
Also, there tends to be two tiers for admission and stats. One benefit of sending your high stats kid to a top tier is that they're likely to be surrounded by other high stats kids, which I think has various beneficial effects. While the in-state kids at UMich and UIUC are no slouches, they're not, I think, on average, of the same academic caliber as the student body at the top 10 or top 20 privates.
psteinx,

That only works if your kid is smart enough to be the top 1/3 of the class at those schools. If not, she will feel like the dumbest kid in the class over that 4 years. So, the relevant question is are your daughter smart enough to be the top student at those schools?

A) Too be a little fish aka bottom 2/3 of the class at top school A

B) To be a big fish aka top student of the class at state school B

Is your daughter a National Merit Scholar? How does she ranked against the whole country?

KlangFool
One of the perks private schools provide is that everyone gets to feel above average - grades are very high and class ranks are fuzzy. Obviously CS will be less forgiving, but I doubt CS at, say, Yale will be much more intimidating than in a big class at a state school with little hand-holding, with failure a possibility. Don't forget that students in engineering are a cut above the average student, and their shortcomings compared to Yale students may not give much comfort in terms of pond size - even at a school like UCLA or Michigan, average math SAT for CS will be close to 800 - they'll just have lower verbal SAT scores and fewer hours of community service and squash scholarships.
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Re: Colleges for STEM/CS kid - Overall rank or engineering/CS rank?

Post by KlangFool »

psteinx wrote: Fri Jul 09, 2021 11:56 am Klang - I'm fairly confident that she would be top third, by relatively objective criteria (as opposed to the floof that constitutes so much of college admissions) at pretty much any undergrad school in the country, barring perhaps CalTech and MIT.

That's at the school level. There may be particular programs (CS at CMU) where she would also be median or below.

FWIW, as you probably know, 25th/75th percentiles on ACT/SAT are available on CDS (Common Data Set) for most colleges. ACT/SAT are not perfect measures, but they're probably better than other widely available metrics, and fairly easy to understand.
psteinx,

<<That's at the school level. There may be particular programs (CS at CMU) where she would also be median or below.>>

Then, it may not be a good idea to go there.

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