Another college choice question

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greenman1
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Another college choice question

Post by greenman1 » Mon Apr 06, 2020 8:18 pm

Son is going to study undergraduate Computer Science. He has a full-ride (including room and board and study-abroad stipend) to the state school (University of Texas at Dallas - UTD). He will be in the Computing Scholars honors program which requires him to take advanced courses, only 30 of the nearly 1000 CS freshmen are admitted to the honors program. This program also sends him to industry conferences and cultural events at the University expense. He will also be in 2 other honors programs. He has visited couple of times and likes the school and sees himself a good fit there.

He is also admitted to Georgia Tech (GT) for Computer Science. We are out-of-state, and after limited scholarship, we are looking at 38K/year cost of attendance. Because of COVID-19, college visits were cancelled so only online information is available for research, so he is not sure about the campus life/fit etc.

He is wait-listed at Carnegie Mellon (CMU) where, with scholarships, the COA is about 33K/year. Again, no college visits. If he is admitted off the waiting list (first week of May), he will have 72 hrs to make a decision.

CMU is ranked #1 in CS in various lists, GT is also top-ranked (e.g. , https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-sc ... e-rankings though these are for graduate school).

UTD is not high-ranked as a whole, but their CS Major appears to be well respected:
Ranked #5 for best undergraduate colleges for AI
Ranked #5 in csrankings.org for software engineering research

Top companies, including from Silicon Valley, appear to recruit graduates from UTD. Dallas also has lots of companies that gives internships/hires UTD students.

We don't have much saved in 529 (only 3K), since our salaries only recently increased where we can max out the retirement plans.

Appreciate any thoughts/advice you can provide. Any GT or CMU alum's perspective most welcome. Are there chances of getting scholarships/internships/co-op opportunities that may pay for part of COA in these schools?

Thanks very much.

ETA: He is also wait-listed at Rice University, another top-ranked school. Have not received the Financial package yet, but we don;t expect much. The COA is about 50K/year.
Last edited by greenman1 on Mon Apr 06, 2020 8:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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F150HD
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Re: Another college choice question

Post by F150HD » Mon Apr 06, 2020 8:22 pm

I thought this was a repeat of the Princeton thread.

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush - take the UTD offer.

livesoft
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Re: Another college choice question

Post by livesoft » Mon Apr 06, 2020 8:25 pm

CMU never admits anyone off the wait list, but maybe this year will be different. OK not quite true, but only 3% in 2019 of the waitlisted folks were admitted. I cannot tell if any were CS majors.

It reads like he will be top-gun at UTD though and can write his own ticket if he wants interactions with faculty and local companies.

I'm surprised Rice is not mentioned in the OP if the state school is a Texas state school. Don't all the top students in Texas apply to Rice?

I know someone who was not admitted to Rice, but was admitted to Carnegie Mellon and matriculated there.
Last edited by livesoft on Mon Apr 06, 2020 8:37 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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keanoz
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Re: Another college choice question

Post by keanoz » Mon Apr 06, 2020 8:30 pm

I would not count on CMU. I would take GT in a heartbeat. I grew up in the bay and never met anyone that went to UT Dallas

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AerialWombat
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Re: Another college choice question

Post by AerialWombat » Mon Apr 06, 2020 8:33 pm

UTD all the way. Full ride? Extra industry exposure from Honors program? Heck yeah.

Plus, in the event that fall semester is canceled due to that viral thing, you wouldn’t have made plans and spent money for something more distant and lost out.

Normchad
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Re: Another college choice question

Post by Normchad » Mon Apr 06, 2020 8:49 pm

My advice would be UTD, all things considered.

Firstly, I think taking on a bunch of debt should be avoided if possible. Whether you or the kid is on the hook for the loans, it is a major burden.
Secondly, especially for CS, there are great opportunities out there for anybody going to a decent program.
Thirdly, Dallas and Texas is an appealing place to,live, and full of good high tech jobs. Apparently also has a reasonable cost of living. And likely close to family.

I have heard that is much easier to get into CMU as a grad student. I don’t have data to back that up though. So if he really wants to go to CMU, it might be a possibility as a grad student.

And lastly, the job placement and recruiting pipelines have changed very dramatically in the last ten years. Every student and every company is online. Staffing agencies are hyper aggressive. So it’s not the case that you need to be at a top tier school, or go go school in Seattle go get recruited by Microsoft, for example. Obviously all companies do go to the local college fairs, so if you really want to live in the Bay Area, it is advantageous to go to school there, but not strictly necessary.

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greenman1
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Re: Another college choice question

Post by greenman1 » Mon Apr 06, 2020 8:56 pm

livesoft wrote:
Mon Apr 06, 2020 8:25 pm
I'm surprised Rice is not mentioned in the OP if the state school is a Texas state school. Don't all the top students in Texas apply to Rice?

I know someone who was not admitted to Rice, but was admitted to Carnegie Mellon and matriculated there.
Sorry, forgot add that he is on the wait list at Rice too. I will edit the OP.

oldfort
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Re: Another college choice question

Post by oldfort » Mon Apr 06, 2020 8:58 pm

greenman1 wrote:
Mon Apr 06, 2020 8:18 pm
UTD is not high-ranked as a whole, but their CS Major appears to be well respected:
Ranked #5 for best undergraduate colleges for AI
Ranked #5 in csrankings.org for software engineering research
As an undergrad, I wouldn't put too much stock in these major sub-specialty rankings. It's a little like a college advertising they have the best history department in the field of American history between the War of 1812 and the Civil War. Focus on the best CS program overall for undergrad. What college is best in some very specialized niche may be more relevant for selecting a grad school.

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greenman1
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Re: Another college choice question

Post by greenman1 » Mon Apr 06, 2020 9:01 pm

AerialWombat wrote:
Mon Apr 06, 2020 8:33 pm
Plus, in the event that fall semester is canceled due to that viral thing, you wouldn’t have made plans and spent money for something more distant and lost out.
Thank you, that is good point. Something to think about.

SemiTech11
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Re: Another college choice question

Post by SemiTech11 » Mon Apr 06, 2020 9:05 pm

Firstly, congratulations on your son being accepted to these schools! Georgia Tech CS is extremeley competitive and just to be waitlisted for CMU CS is an honor.

I have been in a hard core computer-related field for the past 30 years. Also, because of the nature of my job I interact with computer science departments across the country including the ones that you mentioned. In addition, my son is a senior who is making a college choice right now (physics major - probably CS minor).

Georgia Tech and CMU are clearly superior choices. Given the stunningly high compensation for CS graduates your son would recover the entire cost of his undergraduate eduction in a couple of years. (In your post you have not mentioned his preferences.)

While there are several factors to distinguish schools, a major factor for CS-like majors is the difference in remuneration and career trajectory post-graduation. One of the main differences between a top 10 and top 50 CS school is the choice of employers and graduate schools (if he is so inclined). The top tech recruiters (FAANG) can be quite snobbish in this regard. At the top tech companies a $250K+ annual compensation for good performers within 10 years of graduation is fairly common. Much higher for top performers.

If affordability is a serious issue, UT Dallas CS Honors is a great choice. He is going to have a great career with any of his choices.
Last edited by SemiTech11 on Mon Apr 06, 2020 9:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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WWJBDo
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Re: Another college choice question

Post by WWJBDo » Mon Apr 06, 2020 9:17 pm

Don't discount the value of the honor's status at UTD either.
One problem at excellent, but state related schools can be the difficulty in getting the courses you want. Priority is given to honors students, atheletes and other, obscure rules sometimes limit what courses you can actually take. If your son is in the honors programt UTD and it is a half way decent school (which it is), then go for it. You might offer to give him a regular spending stipend of 500-1000 a month at school because you are saving money. That spending money makes a big difference as a student.

Save that money, let him graduate without debt and go to CMU for grad work. Done.
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gr7070
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Re: Another college choice question

Post by gr7070 » Mon Apr 06, 2020 9:38 pm

These questions always come down to the same thing: are you/child a Prestige U person, or a high-quality no-debt State U person. Decide and be that.

A degree from GT or CMU guarantees nothing. No doubt it's an advantage.

A friend's child had a full ride to Texas A&M in their honors program. They were a high end performer in high school, obviously.

He opted for Texas instead, no scholarship. He ended up graduating with a low end degree - one of those common degrees with little application.

No matter what happens $0 for tuition and room/board is incredible! I'm taking that all the way. It'd be one thing if this was a lesser (than typical) school, but apparently it's not.

As another posted the preferential treatment of honors would be a nice positive, as well.

Graduating school, even from an excellent one with an excellent degree, with basically a 30 year mortgage is not appealing.

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Re: Another college choice question

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Mon Apr 06, 2020 9:47 pm

UTD will be highly respected by Texas employers. He can then go on to a highly rated grad school in his exact specialty and likely get a research assistant job to both pay for the school and expand his learning based on expected performance. If he is looking for a job outside of Texas, his grad work in specialty will open the doors. Highly rated in specialty grad schools will have him publishing.
Last edited by Jack FFR1846 on Mon Apr 06, 2020 9:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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student
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Re: Another college choice question

Post by student » Mon Apr 06, 2020 9:48 pm

I think taking the offer from UTD is good.

Bfwolf
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Re: Another college choice question

Post by Bfwolf » Mon Apr 06, 2020 9:57 pm

Did your son apply to UT-Austin, which has a highly ranked CS program?

epilnk
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Re: Another college choice question

Post by epilnk » Mon Apr 06, 2020 9:58 pm

So full ride, 3 honors programs, lots of perks, paid industry conferences, study abroad stipend, AND he can see himself there and thinks it's a good fit? What was the question again? Because I'm not seeing any downside here, as long as the program is respected and he will get a good education there. Alternatively he can pay $150K to attend a school that he has never seen, but has a higher rating from a magazine that went belly up but turned its most popular issue into a stand alone cash cow.

Employers don't hire colleges, they hire college grads. Preferably with experience, and the best internships go to the best students. He enters as one of the top 3%, which means he's starts at the top with good odds of staying there. If he gets into #1 ranked CMU that's impressive, but instead of the school considering him among the top 3% of incoming freshmen, the waitlist suggests that they consider him closer to the bottom. Of course he's still the same student either way, and college is mostly what you make of it. But while some school names have more cachet than others, many brilliant students attend their state universities for a whole range of different reasons - there's no stigma to that. While there's a lot to be said for being the guy who gets the best mentors and internships and opportunities and letters of recommendation.

Full disclosure: my son turned down higher rated schools to attend a state school's honors program. He has no regrets - it is a perfect fit, it is well regarded in his major, and he is killing it on every level. So I'm biased.

absolute zero
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Re: Another college choice question

Post by absolute zero » Mon Apr 06, 2020 10:28 pm

While I wouldn’t dismiss UTD, I would not pick it based on an honors program.

I went to a university where I was in their honors program. While there were a few perks, overall I felt the program was more of a recruiting tool than anything else.

For most of my college experience I had no idea nor did I care whether my peers that were majoring in my same field were also in the same honors program. It just didn’t matter. What mattered was cranking out a high GPA, and using that GPA to gain competitive internships prior to graduation.

Within a few years of graduation I removed any mention of the “honors program” from my resume. I still have “cum laude” on my resume though. That matters a lot more in my eyes - an honors program just reflects that you were a good high school student, whereas graduating with honors reflects your collegiate achievements.

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Re: Another college choice question

Post by Valuethinker » Tue Apr 07, 2020 5:42 am

greenman1 wrote:
Mon Apr 06, 2020 8:18 pm
Son is going to study undergraduate Computer Science. He has a full-ride (including room and board and study-abroad stipend) to the state school (University of Texas at Dallas - UTD). He will be in the Computing Scholars honors program which requires him to take advanced courses, only 30 of the nearly 1000 CS freshmen are admitted to the honors program. This program also sends him to industry conferences and cultural events at the University expense. He will also be in 2 other honors programs. He has visited couple of times and likes the school and sees himself a good fit there.
CMU is probably the most highly ranked CS school in the world. But does that really matter? GA Tech is also well known.

He would be at the bottom of a very tough pool - given he is wait-listed. In a place which is pretty miserable in winter - and it's a long winter (I grew up in Canada). His classmates will likely include a large percentage of foreign-to-the-US or east coasters. So post college they will migrate back home (or to California).

It sounds like the school above is reasonably ranked. It sounds like he knows the university and campus and would enjoy studying there.

4 years is a long time to be stuck piling up debt in a freezing cold town in a legendarily tough university programme (up there with Berkeley MIT).

4 years is a lot of your life to sacrifice happiness for academic reputation. If he is motivated, he will use the UTD time to work with profs, etc.

If he really takes to computer science, he can do his MSc & PhD some place like CMU, Berkeley etc.

megabad
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Re: Another college choice question

Post by megabad » Tue Apr 07, 2020 6:16 am

Firstly, I strongly believe son should make the choice. If he really wants to go to a certain school, he will have to make plans for how to acquire the funds as necessary and these costs should factor into any intelligent students decision.

But, objectively, there is no comparison in the schools you mentioned. GT and CMU are at a different Recruiting tier entirely (I recruit in this and closely connected industries). This doesn’t mean that you can’t get a good value degree from UTD though. Additionally, I would think it would be easier to stand out at UTD than at the other two schools as well (where you will be surrounded by tons of the top CS students). If student plans on going to grad school anyway, I think this is probably a good case for UTD.

I have spent time on all of the campuses and I would say that a social person would do much better at UTD than at the other two. CMU seems to be ok for those with very specific interests as there were a lot of like minded students socializing in and around campus there on my past trip. Georgia tech seemed to have very little socialization when I was there. The business and academic community seemed more observable on campus than the students but just my observation (as a business/academic visitor). That said I personally enjoy Pittsburgh and Dallas more than Atlanta, so I am quite biased.

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Re: Another college choice question

Post by bryansmile » Tue Apr 07, 2020 8:03 am

With CS programs at schools like GT and CMU, cost is a less important consideration since, as others have noted, the insanely high compensations of multiple internships and a full time job will more than make up for it. You'll have to decide if your son will be competitive attending these top programs. Or if he'd rather have a relatively more relaxed college life where he'll be the top performer.

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Re: Another college choice question

Post by stoptothink » Tue Apr 07, 2020 10:54 am

epilnk wrote:
Mon Apr 06, 2020 9:58 pm
So full ride, 3 honors programs, lots of perks, paid industry conferences, study abroad stipend, AND he can see himself there and thinks it's a good fit? What was the question again?
You forgot that they have very little in 529s and it appears this might be a financial burden. +1, trying to see the question here.

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Re: Another college choice question

Post by Murgatroyd » Tue Apr 07, 2020 11:13 am

Hard to turn down a strong offer. However, as a counterpoint, I worked at a major corporation in Dallas for 10 years. I can’t say I ever heard much about UTD. It seems to be viewed as a stepchild school. Just being honest. That doesn’t mean its graduates don’t find good jobs.

My advice is to get info from the UTD placement office on prior graduates employed by Dallas based tech companies, and which ones recruit there. Let that guide you on whether UTD provides a strong path.

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Re: Another college choice question

Post by cheapskate » Tue Apr 07, 2020 1:19 pm

If he gets off the wait list at Rice that would be a much more compelling option than either CMU or GaTech. Rice has a fantastic CS program, it is an elite engineering and sciences school, but most importantly, he will have a great experience at Rice, both academically and socially. Rice grads are well respected and heavily recruited by Silicon Valley MegaTechs as well as startups. Assuming you can afford Rice, it is well worth the price tag. I don't have any affiliation with Rice, but I visited Rice with my son last year, and we really loved everything about it. Everyone was super friendly. My son applied but withdrew his app after he got in via the Early admission round at another college.

UTD, given all the perks, would be the wiser pick over GaTech. GaTech for undergrad CS has a sink or swim reputation. Very large classes, very smart but competitive student body. It is very difficult to justify paying out of state tuition to attend GaTech (an argument that can be applied to almost all OOS public colleges).

He is going to kill it at UTD, and be one of the top students in his class at UTD CS. That is going to open up many doors for him. I doubt he will disadvantaged in any way.

cheapskate
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Re: Another college choice question

Post by cheapskate » Tue Apr 07, 2020 1:27 pm

Also, Rice has one of the most generous scholarship programs around. Full tuition scholarships to families making under 130K, half off tuition to families making under 200K.

https://news.rice.edu/2018/09/18/rice-u ... e-class-2/

MarkBarb
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Re: Another college choice question

Post by MarkBarb » Tue Apr 07, 2020 1:46 pm

I'd go UTD all the way. I've got one son majoring in CS there and another at Texas A&M. Both programs are fairly equivalent. My A&M son is an honors student and had no problems getting interviews with top tech companies and offers from them. I doubt that your son will have any problem at UTD.

One caveat not mentioned is that UTD is in the 'burbs and is working on outgrowing a reputation for being a commuter school. If he's expecting a robust off-campus college lifestyle, it isn't going to happen there. It's the only school I've seen with virtually no nightlife bordering the campus. On the other hand, the dorms are excellent. The worst of them is better than all but the best dorm at A&M. Each student gets there own room with 3 grouped together with a shared bathroom, kitchen, and family room.

Another issue with UTD, is that it is very focused on CS and closely related fields. It grew from a Texas Instruments funded graduate school to a full spectrum 4-year school. In CS, it is one of the top schools in the state. Outside of CS, things drop off quickly. If your son decides to switch to biomed, or nuclear engineering, or architecture, or something wildly different, he's going to have a problem staying at UTD.

It's also not a sports school. If having a robust sports program is something he wants as part of his college experience, he won't get it there. Of course, that applies to CMU, Rice, and GT as well.

You'll definitely have regionally focused recruiting at UTD and GT than CMU. If he wants to live in Texas, UTD is great option. GT will set him up well to be in the south. Most CMU grads are smart enough to leave the Pittsburgh area. :happy

Mrvtmn
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Re: Another college choice question

Post by Mrvtmn » Tue Apr 07, 2020 2:03 pm

UTD for sure then have him get the best work experience he can before he graduates.

SemiTech11
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Re: Another college choice question

Post by SemiTech11 » Tue Apr 07, 2020 9:57 pm

cheapskate wrote:
Tue Apr 07, 2020 1:19 pm
If he gets off the wait list at Rice that would be a much more compelling option than either CMU or GaTech. Rice has a fantastic CS program, it is an elite engineering and sciences school, but most importantly, he will have a great experience at Rice, both academically and socially. Rice grads are well respected and heavily recruited by Silicon Valley MegaTechs as well as startups. Assuming you can afford Rice, it is well worth the price tag. I don't have any affiliation with Rice, but I visited Rice with my son last year, and we really loved everything about it. Everyone was super friendly. My son applied but withdrew his app after he got in via the Early admission round at another college.

....
Completely agree! Rice would definely be better than GT if he gets in. Also, they have a generous tuition assistance program.
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huskerfan1414
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Re: Another college choice question

Post by huskerfan1414 » Tue Apr 07, 2020 10:30 pm

UTD, to me, seems like the obvious choice. I wish I had this choice myself and hope my kids have it...free ride with perks to a school they like?! Jackpot

Heres the deal: no matter where your son goes if he works hard and makes connections, gets a degree and increases his utility, he will get a great job that is fulfilling and pays well.

If he goes to UTD, he will get the above at zero financial cost to you now or to him in his future. College debt is horrible, plain and simple. He will have such a head start on life compared to his peers entering their early careers with debt.

He visited and he likes it there? This might be a problem of over-analyzing and you are walking a fine line between important and serious inquiry in a major decision vs. trying to talk yourselves out of something.



But thats my .01, because my advice isn't worth 2.
The more I learn, the dumber I feel.

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Re: Another college choice question

Post by Sunshine8 » Wed Apr 08, 2020 11:11 am

My daughter is in a similar situation. She’s accepted into the UTD cs program with honors and the computing honors program with class size of 30 and full ride scholarship as a national merit finalist. She visited the school in february and loved it. Now she is admitted to Carnegie Mellon SCS and Cornell engineering. Both of those schools give good grant fist yr as she has brother in college and rest of the yes near zero financial aid. We haven’t heard much about UTD undergrad program and how successful it is.

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