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UMass vs WPI

IndianPwnerDudeIndianPwnerDude Posts: 628Registered User Member
Hey Guys....

So basically I am choosing between UMass Amherst and Worcester Polytechnic Institute. I am getting $17,000 from WPI (total cost is $31000) and well... the Dean Scholarship or Honors Engineering from UMass, which will cost me about $15,000. I am currently thinking about either Computer Science and Electrical and Computer Engineering.

I just got rejected from Cornell and was previously rejected from BU and rejected to the programs of my choice at CMU and accepted to some out of state private schools, largely due to a disciplinary incident and a bad senior year (I have 2160+ SAT/am in top 10% of class in a competitive public HS in MA and have decent ECs).

Which option would be better for me? Could you tell me about UMass and Commonwealth College and about accessibility of professors, willingness of faculty to write recommendations, reputation of computer science or engineering departments, availability of internships and recruiters, graduate school placement, possibility for transfer to a top school, quality of teaching, quality of students, and what you think are the differences in general student life?

From what I hear, UMass provides an excellent education. However, I want to know about how difficult and/or competitive it is to get research opportunities and to connect with faculty and to get an excellent education that will prepare me for a good future? I am kind of disorganized and am not a gunner, although I would like to be one and would also like good academic advising. I would also like to get the best value for the money and have a memorable and challenging experience. Describe a typical student who is able to get great internships and place into a great job or graduate school at UMass?

What do you enjoy about UMass and what do you think are the minuses. Similarly, what do you think of WPI (I will post on the WPI forums too)?

I am admittedly a nerd and would not be put off by the nerdy environment at WPI, although I am not necessarily put off by the large state school environment.
Post edited by IndianPwnerDude on

Replies to: UMass vs WPI

  • IndianPwnerDudeIndianPwnerDude Posts: 628Registered User Member
    bump10char
  • LergnomLergnom Posts: 6,273Registered User Senior Member
    Honestly, I don't think many people here know that much about WPI. But my reading of what you say is that the issue with success is you, and that may not really be an issue.

    WPI is going to be a more geeky place because it is a tech school. UMass is bigger, yes, and thus you have to fend for yourself some but then it sounds like you're well prepared and that will benefit you in a big school, particularly in the general requirements. As for talking to professors, they all have office hours - which are designed for students to come by to talk - and, depending on the department and the need, will spend more time with students. Most professors (anywhere, really) are looking for interested kids who take the time to seek them out. And frankly, with email, you have more contact with professors now than in the past - again, true most everywhere. Now a professor may send you a marked up draft of work or an email about it.

    I don't know which place would fit you and suggest you go to Worcester and Amherst and look, if you haven't. They both have lots of research opportunities, etc.
  • RoaringMiceRoaringMice Posts: 230Registered User Junior Member
    The Commonwealth College (honors program) at UMass is great. I remember, even in my freshman year, my honors classes only had about 6 other students in them, and they were very well taught, by professors who were really engaged in the material. I highly recommend it. You'll get to know those professors, and those in your major, quite well. You certainly won't have a problem getting them to write recommendations. That's not an issue.

    I consider UMass Amherst and WPI to be roughly comparable in terms of academic reputation in engineering, with perhaps UMass having an edge there, especially outside of Massachusetts. UMass Amherst, and UMass Amherst engineering, have a good rep in state, but an even better rep outside of the state, and with grad schools. I think that UMass's computer science is stronger than that of WPI.

    The two schools have entirely different feels to them, and the campus locations are vastly different. I imagine you've visited both. Which did you prefer?
  • IndianPwnerDudeIndianPwnerDude Posts: 628Registered User Member
    Thanks for your input RoaringMice.

    I think I prefer UMass because its CS department is slightly stronger, although the WPI experience (Closer Look) was great. I believe they push students to do projects at WPI while at UMass, students (esp. in Commonwealth) are pushed to do a thesis, which is IMHO more valuable in preparing students for graduate work.
  • LergnomLergnom Posts: 6,273Registered User Senior Member
    Interesting perspective. I hope you keep posting.
  • notrichenoughnotrichenough Posts: 5,104Registered User Senior Member
    RoaringMice,

    Were you in a RAP? Which one? It's looking like my S is going to go to UMass, he's debating between the Honors RAP and an Engineering RAP.
  • IVYGRAD2007IVYGRAD2007 Posts: 104- Junior Member
    Take WPI. It's a MUCH better Engineering school. Its not even comparable not by a long shot.
  • LergnomLergnom Posts: 6,273Registered User Senior Member
    Guys, this person is following me from the BU forum where he became utterly hysterical in a ridiculous and completely off point discussion in which he proved that a supposed Princeton graduate has little reading comprehension. He has no connection to UMass or BU and is just trying to ding places.

    (I'll bet he can't resist and starts posting immature rants about how I couldn't have gone to Yale, etc.)
  • 3togo3togo Posts: 5,265Registered User Senior Member
    edited April 2009
    I'm not sure what issues you had in high school but is one of these environments a better of worse match for you? UMass is pretty good school but is a big school with a fair number of kids who are not too focussed on their school work ... are you one prone to get drawn to this crowd? If so, a large state school may not be for you ... given the little background info we have that would be my concern about UMass.
  • IndianPwnerDudeIndianPwnerDude Posts: 628Registered User Member
    I am probably going to WPI... thanks for your advice.
  • erbbysamerbbysam Posts: 1Registered User New Member
    2 years ago I was asking myself the same question, and thought that I would weigh in on the issue.
    I got a decent sized scholarship for WPI, but it would have still cost more than UMass for me. And was accepted into both schools looking to end up in the ECE department.

    I ended up picking UMass for a few reasons(these were my reasons at the time):
    -I saw myself receiving a marginally better education from WPI and it wasn't worth the extra money/loans
    -The opportunity to do other things at UMass really interested me
    -The boy/girl ratio was a little off at WPI
    -The tour I took of WPI gave me the impression that everyone there just chills in there dorms all day and play couter-strike (I know that's false, but it certainly seemed that way at the time)

    And here are the reasons why I'm happy I choose UMass:
    -ComCol is a huge plus, even though it's rather confusing to deal with, it gives you the opportunity to do additional work within ECE and meshes well with the curriculum
    -I was afraid that I would never get to do anything hand's-on but since I've been here, they have started a ton of 1-credit labs which allow you to build/program some really cool things, and there's the senior design project and many lab portions of other classes
    -M5, huge ECE study/work area, they allow you to work on anything you want down there, even if you are a freshman they have many tutorials: UMass Amherst M5
    -They actually told my RAP floor(you can be surrounded by freshman engineers if you want to be, a huge plus to stay out of the crazyness that is normal freshman dorms) to try not to get over committed, because it's very easy at UMass to get involved with everything and anything and then not have time for it the next year. And if it doesn't exist, than it's very easy to create it through the RSO(registered student organizations) system(just need 7 people).
    -I've met some amazing people(some of whom are english majors etc) that I would not have met if I had gone elsewhere
    -The classes here are, for the most part, amazing, and pretty small within major (all of my math classes have been smaller than they were in my high school), the gen-ed's are large, but they are everywhere
    If you have any particular questions you can email me/ask them here.
    Thanks,
    Sam Erb (serb@student.uNO!SPAMmass.edu) (remove the NO!SPAM)
    UMass Amherst CSE/Math Sophomore
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