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Berkeley VS Stanford -- which is better and why :)

jlm382jlm382 Posts: 21Registered User New Member
I know you're all biased towards Berkeley, but I'm interested in figuring out where to go. I'm currently leaning towards Stanford because of the smaller community and class sizes, but I'm unsure.

I'd be transferring as a junior, majoring in computer science. Money is not an issue. Quality of life matters a lot. All comments appreciated!
Post edited by jlm382 on
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Replies to: Berkeley VS Stanford -- which is better and why :)

  • fijeeboifijeeboi Posts: 543Registered User Member
    I think many would agree that Stanford is better for undergrad.
  • furgessonfurgesson Posts: 47Registered User Junior Member
    Since money is not an issue for you, I'll bet you the sum of money you'll save going to Berkeley that you aren't going to get into Stanford as a transfer. :)
  • realestaterealestate Posts: 185Registered User Junior Member
    Ooooooooooooooooo
  • RedTapePatrolRedTapePatrol Posts: 253Registered User Junior Member
    You already heard back from Stanford as a transfer? That's interesting, they usually don't release decisions until the 15th.

    Congrats, Stanford would be a better undergraduate experience if they give you enough money to balance out the costs.
  • ethancc2ethancc2 Posts: 325Registered User Member
    Congrats on Stanford! If you decide to go there I might see you around since I live in Palo Alto, but go to Berkeley.

    I'm not sure if you visited either school yet, but I'll give my comments about the quality of life in Berkeley and Palo Alto.

    Palo Alto:
    A moderate sized suburban city located in Silicon Valley. Although located right next to Stanford, Palo Alto is NOT a college town. Everything from housing to dining is expensive in this town. Many restaurants in downtown Palo Alto are reservation-required and formal dress only. An average dinner bill of $40-80 per person is anything but surprising. The housing meltdown has not even touched Palo Alto... the average median home price is $1.6 million and still climbing. Good reasons why 96% of Stanford students decide to stay on campus.

    Transportation without a car in suburbia will be difficult. Stanford provides a local bus service, but only goes so far. My friends at Stanford said they rely upon upperclassmen to carpool to entertainment and other activities in adjacent cities such as Mountain View/Menlo Park.

    Stanford knows how Palo Alto is lacking in needs for college students, so the University provides many of the essential services Stanford students will need.

    In all the years I've lived in Palo Alto what I've noticed is the small amount of crime. Violent crimes (murders, rapes, assaults) are very rare in Palo Alto. Petty crimes are common though, so locking doors and not going down dark alleys is still recommended. Homeless people do not venture onto the Stanford campus, but still have a presence in downtown Palo Alto.

    Berkeley:
    It's urban, so the roads and sidewalks have more cracks and potholes than Palo Alto. Compared to Palo Alto, homelessness has a heavy presence on campus and on Southside. But as an urban area, public transportation is more frequent and goes more places.

    Crime can be common in Berkeley... armed robberies, rapes, assaults, and generally more violent crimes occur. Common sense about safety can prevent this. Just don't withdraw ATM money at 3am or walk through People's Park at night and you'll mitigate your chances as a victim of crime.

    A lot of stores and eateries cater to college students in Berkeley. With most dorms located off-campus and in Berkeley, students end up shopping and eating more at local businesses. So there's definitely a college town for Berkeley.

    Whatever school you end up going to I hope you enjoy your college experience. Best of luck for your academic and future career!
  • undecidedundecided Posts: 2,029Registered User Senior Member
    Berkeley is an urban college town. Stanford/Palo Alto is not. Pretty much anything else I say about either campus boils down to this.

    Berkeley is massively overrun with students, and their interests take center stage for much of the immediate area. There are plenty of venues for cheap, late night food. Life on campus can be exciting, but there's easy access to options off campus as well. The BART station is a couple blocks from one side of the university, and with it you can get to SF and most other major parts of the Bay Area for relatively cheap (it's about ~$7 to go to SF and back).

    Stanford is a private university and my experience with it lead me to believe it's run a lot more like a country club than a university. The campus is beautiful in an almost Stepford Wife-ian way (the lawns are immaculate and green, the architecture is clean and updated and uniform or else complementary -- and honestly? it's a good thing, it just gave me the creeps sometimes). The campus is also HUGE and a little spread out, so a bike is a good idea and well supported with bike racks and roads. You can get to SF, but it involves a bit of a walk to the CalTrain. I vaguely recall that the walk + train ride took a lot longer, but then that makes sense since it's over twice as far away as Berkeley is.

    Stanford knows that Palo Alto is not exactly a student's dream town, so a lot of the activities happen on campus. The summer camp-y feel actually makes it really easy to get cosy with your fellow students, and with nothing better to do, you might find yourself joining a lot more activities than you had planned. Berkeley is much more for the self-motivated and independent student, as it takes constant drive to get yourself involved in things.

    I think the basic difference comes down to this: do you like the city or the country?
  • CastelCastel Posts: 1,767Registered User Senior Member
    For computer science, sadly, Stanford is better than Berkeley. If money really is not a problem, I would recommend Stanford. *pains*
  • PassionateOperaPassionateOpera Posts: 91Registered User Junior Member
    Stanford's computer science isn't that ahead of Berkeley to use that as a distinction between the two. Both are located in good places but Berkeley has more jobs in the surrounding area. It's your choice..but unless you've got the dough..I'd base it on money at this point.
  • santabantasantabanta Posts: 553Registered User Member
    okay there is no way CS and/or EE at Stanford is better than UCB. Trust me, in the industry, a EECS from UCB is far superior to one from Stanford...
    rankings, corporate hiring, etc etc all CLEARLY reflect that...
    go bears
  • StudentStudent Posts: 733Registered User Member
    okay there is no way CS and/or EE at Stanford is better than UCB. Trust me, in the industry, a EECS from UCB is far superior to one from Stanford...
    rankings, corporate hiring, etc etc all CLEARLY reflect that...
    Can you cite a source for this? I've heard that Google recruits most actively at Stanford (after all, the school was its birthplace) and I don't doubt that just as many top companies recruit at Stanford than they do at Berkeley.
    Both are located in good places but Berkeley has more jobs in the surrounding area.
    Palo Alto is closer to the headquarters of Apple, HP, Google, etc. than Berkeley. Many of the top tech companies are located in Santa Clara, San Jose, or Milpitas. San Francisco is notable for the high quantity of startup companies, but if you want long-term jobs, Palo Alto appears to be a more convenient location.
  • middsmithmiddsmith Posts: 1,005Registered User Member
    Palo Alto is closer to the headquarters of Apple, HP, Google, etc. than Berkeley. Many of the top tech companies are located in Santa Clara, San Jose, or Milpitas. San Francisco is notable for the high quantity of startup companies, but if you want long-term jobs, Palo Alto appears to be a more convenient location.
    Many of the top tech companies come to Berkeley to recruit. They even charter bus to drive Berkeley students to their campus, provide entertainments and offer jobs to Berkeley students in horde.
    In most companies in the SV, the number of Berkeley graduates = number of Stanford graduates. Salary range are about the same for both school.
  • Shah Rukh KhanShah Rukh Khan Posts: 287Registered User Junior Member
    If the average joe was to compare Berkeley and Stanford; the average joe would think of Stanford as being better. You are in a good situation in where you will get a great education regardless. It is just a matter about where you will succeed, at which campus will you have a better chance to be a better student. Money isn't a problem, you will be there for two years so location won't be as much of a factor in comparison to a Freshman. it seems like Stanford is the way to go!
  • Jhg888Jhg888 Posts: 135Registered User Junior Member
    As far as computer science is concerned, there is little, if any, distinction in terms of quality between the two. Both are CS powerhouses, and it'd be a lie to suggest one as really being better than the other.

    I think it boils down to the quality of life criteria. In that sense, I prefer Stanford. But this will vary greatly from person to person. Some people can't stand the stagnant suburbs of Palo Alto (though I like it). Others find Berkeley far more vivid and interesting.
  • sakkysakky Posts: 14,759- Senior Member
    San Francisco is notable for the high quantity of startup companies, .

    Uh, San Francisco is noted for its high quantity of startup companies? San Francisco? I assume, by the context of this thread, that you're not talking about, say, restaurants or nightclubs, but rather about technology startups. Hence, I think you meant to say that San Jose/Silicon Valley has a lot of tech startups - in fact, arguably the greatest such concentration of entire world. Let's face it. Silicon Valley is the world's preeminent dynamo of high-tech entrepreneurship. Nowhere else is even close.
    but if you want long-term jobs, Palo Alto appears to be a more convenient location

    Ha! If anything, I would actually argue that the opposite is true - that San Francisco is probably a better place to find long-term stable jobs compared to Silicon Valley, simply due to the large profusion of relatively stable firms in financial services, retail, tourism, media, etc. - all of which are more stable than high-tech startups, most of which will die. {Not that that really matters, because if your Silicon Valley startup dies, who cares, you just join another one, as startups are constantly being created in Silicon Valley all the time.}
    Trust me, in the industry, a EECS from UCB is far superior to one from Stanford...
    rankings, corporate hiring, etc etc all CLEARLY reflect that...
    go bears

    I'm with Student on this one, in that I would dearly love to see a source that states that rankings "clearly" reflect that Berkeley EECS is better than Stanford EE/CS. If anything, the rankings show that they are either tied or that Stanford is (slightly) ahead.
    Many of the top tech companies come to Berkeley to recruit. They even charter bus to drive Berkeley students to their campus, provide entertainments and offer jobs to Berkeley students in horde.

    Nobody is saying that Berkeley is a bad place to go. Indeed, Berkeley is undoubtedly one of the very best places to be for EECS. The career prospects are indeed excellent.

    But that's not the question on the table. The question on the table is, is it better to go to Berkeley rather than Stanford for EECS? To that, I would probably have to say that the edge goes to Stanford. That doesn't make Berkeley bad. It just mean that Stanford seems to have the edge.
    In most companies in the SV, the number of Berkeley graduates = number of Stanford graduates. Salary range are about the same for both school.

    I'm not sure it's really true that the number of Berkeley grads = the number of Stanford grads in most SV companies, but even it if were true, I doubt that that's a point in favor of Berkeley, given the vastly larger population of Berkeley students compared to Stanford students. Berkeley people ought to be dominating SV due to its sheer size alone, and if the ratios are actually even, then I would actually say that that shows that Stanford is the better choice.

    But more importantly, I strongly suspect that the ratios are not even, and if anything, are almost certainly weighted in favor of Stanford. This is, again, due to the heavy startup activity that characterizes Silicon Valley. The fact is, the vast majority of startups don't engage in formal hiring practices, because they can't. When your company is just 2 guys in a garage somewhere, you don't have the time or resources to engage in a deep and formal talent search. Instead, you just end up hiring your friends, because that's really all you can do. For example, much (probably most) of the early engineering team at Google were basically old Stanford buddies of Larry and Sergey. Much of the early team at Yahoo were old Stanford buddies of Jerry and David. Much of the early team at Cisco were old buddies of Len and Sandy.

    Now, were all these guys really 'the best' engineers available? Almost certainly not. I'm sure that somewhere out there in the world including, yes, around Berkeley - there were probably quite a few engineers who were better than some of the early guys hired at Google. But that didn't matter, because the latter guys happened to know Larry or Sergey and the former guys did not. Hence, the former guys never even had the chance to get the job. The same can be said for the other firms mentioned. And clearly, getting in early is precisely when you want to get into these companies. Those early Google engineers are all multi-millionaires now from the IPO stock options. You're not going to become a millionaire by joining Google now.

    I think a far more interesting question from a public policy/macroeconomic standpoint is why did Silicon Valley grow up around Stanford rather than Berkeley? To that question, quite a bit of ink has been spilt, most notably by Saxenian and other sociologists. But what is undeniable is the fact that more entrepreneurship occurs around Stanford than around Berkeley.
    I think it boils down to the quality of life criteria. In that sense, I prefer Stanford. But this will vary greatly from person to person. Some people can't stand the stagnant suburbs of Palo Alto (though I like it). Others find Berkeley far more vivid and interesting.

    To this, I agree. It does boil down to a matter of quality of life, and the city of Berkeley is a much more interesting city for a college student than is Palo Alto (but, frankly, that's not saying much, as Palo Alto is arguably the most boring college town in the country).

    But I would say that the QoL issue extends beyond just the environs of the town. It is my opinion (and shared by many others) that Berkeley EECS/CS is simply too hard. It's too hard in general, and it's too hard relative to Stanford. By that, I mean that Stanford offers a far more forgiving environment for CS. It's still quite difficult to get A's, but as long as you do the work, you're basically assured of passing. The same cannot be said of Berkeley.

    Now, some of you will surely be thinking that that extra rigor must be a point in favor of Berkeley. To that, I would have to emphatically disagree. The truth is, the extra rigor is simply not necessary. Employers don't value it, and neither do grad schools. Stanford CS grads seem to suffer from no disadvantage relative to Berkeley CS grads when it comes to employment and grad school admissions, despite the 'less rigorous' program. As one Berkeley EECS grad once told me, the program forces you to consume time learning things that you don't really need to know and that don't help you in your career.

    {In fact, perhaps this is one reason why Silicon Valley was fostered around Stanford rather than Berkeley - as Stanford students spend less time having to learn things they don't need to know, and hence have more time to accomplish things that are actually practical, like starting companies.}
  • jlm382jlm382 Posts: 21Registered User New Member
    Thanks for the input! Yea, one reason why I'm not a big fan of EE/CS at Berkeley is because they have so many requirements to fulfill... Stanford is much more lenient, which allows students to pursue their own independent projects.
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