Carnegie Mellon University Visit Report by morvoren
Visit to Carnegie Mellon University in March 2008 by morvoren(Parent of Student, HS Class of 2008)
(Member since November 19 2008 with 64 posts)
13 of 13 people found this visit report helpful
Information Session: Yes
Campus Tour: Yes
Friendliness/Courtesy of Students:
Friendliness/Courtesy of Staff:
Appearance of Campus:
Overall Campus Impression:
Area Immediately Around Campus:
Campus Visit Notes for Carnegie Mellon University
Carnegie Mellen is an amazing place that merges art and technology. Also seems like a place where you work your butt off. The first thing we noticed was that there was this huge construction site - an enormous hole - for a huge new computer science building funded by Bill Gates. Our son is interested in Computer Science and there an entire computer science college. It may be the only place where CS has its own college. Also I had forgotten how much of CMU was dedicated to the arts, to music and drama. Our tour was big and had four tour guides. One of the guys was from Queens and had gone to HS of Bronx Science. He was a slightly hippy looking guy who had started in architecture and then switched to drama and now was majoring in chemistry. He said that despite changing majors three times he was going to graduate on time. They said that they mostly had about two to three hours of HW a night, except when papers were due, a big difference from the engineering schools and from places like Rose Hullman, MIT and even WPI. Do we believe it? No. Seems like people work really hard here.
The campus is rather amazing, there is a totally kitschy statue of students climbing up to the sky near the admissions building, Warner, but there are many very old and beautiful buildings with murals on the ceilings. There are frats and sororities. Apparently they comprise about 20% and don’t dominate social life, but there were plenty of silly trads, and one frat was out with a huge ball bigger than a person where they were collecting signatures and they got a dollar toward muscular dystrophy for every signature.
Most of the tour was historical and unfortunately more about the buildings and less about the students. In the arts building we heard an opera singer singing. I felt it was a big campus, and there were parts of it that were very far apart. We never got to the entertainment and technology center. There is a main academic quad, and a park. It definitely feels more like Columbia U. than any place I have been. It has a bigger and more spread out campus, but there are old and gorgeous buildings and it is right in the city. And it is a big college town because Pitt, the University of Pittsburgh is literally a couple blocks away with 20 thousand students and a huge towering old building, so you feel you are in college central when you are walking the streets. Carnegie Mellon has about five thousand undergrads, but also it is a big graduate school. Many of the references by the tour guides were things that my son knew and loved, like the movie “fight club” so I think he felt pretty at home, and there was clearly loads of money being given for technology. There was also a sense of cross disciplines everywhere.
There are food courts everywhere – but no central community dining room. So there is definitely less of a feeling of community as a whole. At the end of the tour we went into a student center building and there were all kinds of food possibilities from sushi to Mexican to burgers. There was also a store and coffee shop downstairs that led out to a patio with tables and umbrellas and it was already 50 degrees, the sun was shining and people were eating outside. We were also told that some of the best food was in the Tepper business school. On the down side, there are classes with 200 kids, although most are 20-30, and there are TA’s teaching some of them, or at least leading the study sessions.
After the tour we went to the info session which was definitely the slickest presentation we have seen - almost too slick a presentation, but it did give you a sense of the power of the place. The admissions director had graduated from there in fine arts. Her name was Kathrine Sitter. The slogan of the school is Choose your College, Change the World, and it went through each college, the fine arts, the CIT, which is the engineering school, the Mellon School of Science, and the Computer Science school. There is also information technology which seems to combine computers and business. And there are special programs that combine things, like human-computing which seems to combine entertainment and computing. Also one interesting fact was - that in the College of Computer Science, you have to minor in something else, so psychology would be fine, which is in another college. Or you could choose animation in the arts, or something like that. You can also take one class a year, or a semester, forget which, at Pitt – there is, again, some kind of college consortium. Why would you want to? Well, Carnegie offers 12 foreign languages, and at Pitt they offer 40… so if you want Swahili, etc. you take it at Pitt. Then there was a video of all the successful people who went there, with a large focus on famous actors and TV creators, but also computer system designers and a statement from Bill Gates and also Condoleezza Rice. Then came the nuts and bolts.
20,000 applications, 1500 go (what was not clear was how many accepted, since probably a lot of people who apply to Harvard, MIT, might go there instead. Interested in GPA and trends… if you are getting better, and they realize that there are some schools where a B is an A elsewhere. For the school of computer science they want two SAT 2 tests, one in math and one in a science. They also went on and on about extracurricular activities and leadership. ( I am so sick of everyone expecting all students to have built yurts in Mongolia! Only half kidding!)There were also many collaborative projects between the colleges, like a solar powered house. Bottom line: a powerful exciting place, kids work hard, hard to get in, seems pretty interesting, but maybe better for grad school.