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Getting into MIT, Stanford, Berkeley, Cornell, Princeton for CS

Skorpius7Skorpius7 Registered User Posts: 322 Member
edited November 2012 in Graduate School
Hey guys, I'm currently a freshman at Georgia Tech and my dream grad schools for CS would be the ones in the title- I know I have 4 or 5 more years until I make grad school decisions, but I was wanting to know a few things as far as preparation-

First, GPA:

I know GT has a reputation for deflating GPAs because it is a very hard school- So what GPA should I be aiming for here?

Would 3.4-3.6 be a bit low or enough, given the circumstances?

Second, GRE:

When should I start preparing and what should I do? Is it basically the same kind of study as SAT?

Third, Research/Internships:

How much research and how many internships should I be aiming for?

Thanks in Advance!
Post edited by Skorpius7 on

Replies to: Getting into MIT, Stanford, Berkeley, Cornell, Princeton for CS

  • b@r!umb@r!um Registered User Posts: 10,130 Senior Member
    So what GPA should I be aiming for here?
    As high as you can, really.
    When should I start preparing and what should I do? Is it basically the same kind of study as SAT?
    There are two version of the GRE: the general GRE and the subject GRE. The general GRE is basically like the SAT and you could take it now if you wanted to. It's generally required for admission but doesn't carry much weight, unlike the SAT for undergraduate admissions. The GRE subject test in computer science is not always required but will affect admission decisions when provided.
    How much research and how many internships should I be aiming for?
    As much as you can. Ideally, you'd have 3 strong letters of recommendation from people you've worked with outside of the classroom. If you could be a co-author on at least one publication, that would help too.
  • ab2013ab2013 Registered User Posts: 1,756 Senior Member
    Wait ... you're a freshman? Whoa

    Well, the GRE General is very similar to the SAT; verbal and math are a bit more difficult though. I took the GRE General at the beginning of my sophomore year, and grad schools accept GRE scores for 5 years after your test date. GRE General is a computer-based test, so you do get your results the same day, with the exception of your Writing/Analysis score.

    The GRE Subject Test for CS is a different animal. That test covers ALOT of material; the breadth of the test is so vast that most people will not learn it all, even in their final year, because some of the questions will contain specialty that you did not take classes in. Examples for me were circuits and computer architecture, as I did not take those classes at my school. I had to skip those questions on the test. And, you will need to continuously study for that test because you will forget a few things here and there as you advance through your curriculum ...even though CS is one of those fields that tends to build on top of what you learned.

    Good luck! I'm actually ending my undergrad in that GPA range ... my major GPA is at the lower end of that range and my undergrad overall GPA is at the upper end of the range (thanks to math) ... which is quite a ways down from my GPA at the end of 1st year, which was a 3.89. My school is also known for grade deflation (a couple of CS classes stabbed my GPA, though I've never had a C); however, if you're aiming for a top-tier PhD program, you will need to get that GPA up, which gets harder as your classes get more difficult and your competition becomes more intense.

    Also, lastly, make sure you're involved with research (a couple of published papers will improve your chances in CS) ... and try to get a couple of good internships, especially if you're on the MS track. I am not applying to a PhD program; however, I still did research through most of my undergrad just so that I could get to know professors a bit better and try to be apply my skills outside of the classroom in a more creative way (without being pressured to make actual deliverables ... more in an exploratory way) ... and I've never published any papers (it's hard). It's also very difficult to know professors on a personal level in a large lecture, even if you do sit in the front row.

    One more advice: One mistake I made in undergrad is that "how much" does not actually matter that much (as opposed to high school). It's "how well" you know your stuff and "how deeply" you dive into the stuff that you work with that really matters.
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