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UCSD vs. UCSB vs. Cal Poly SLO

eng2014eng2014 Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
I'm planning to major in Computer Science, and have been accepted into all three of these schools. I'm having a lot of trouble deciding between the three, and wondered if anyone had any insight into the social and academic experiences at these schools. Any input is appreciated.
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Replies to: UCSD vs. UCSB vs. Cal Poly SLO

  • PhyzikPhyzik Registered User Posts: 5 New Member
    I'm a parent of a Cal Poly CS student who is finishing his third year. I'm also a CS Engineering Director with 30 years experience, so I think I am in a good position to evaluate the Cal Poly CS program. It is a state of the art program ... for 1995. The Cal Poly CS student *will* work his/her ass off, but so what if the material that they are learning is out of date? I know Cal Poly CS has a huge reputation, supposedly because the CS grads make more money than grads of any other college, except for Berkeley. Based on what I have seen of the program, I am not impressed. I would hire a Cal Poly grad just because they have to be extremely smart and hard working to get through the program, but I know they would require *a lot* of training so they can be useful in today's CS world.

    Let me be more specific.

    ASAIK, no CS student is taught anything about web programming. I think even in SLO they must have the internet, yes? But, no Python, Ruby, web architecture, nothing. Why isn't Python taught in every intro class, like at Berkeley. At Cal Poly, you get to learn Dr. Racket, a LISP derivative. Hello 1985?

    And, don't point to the catalog which lists all these cool courses - they are not taught! They don't have the talent.

    In the hellish 357 class, there is a big emphasis in writing code in the minimum number of lines and saving a few bytes of memory. Great stuff when computers had only 1 MB of memory, but I think we have moved past that. No emphasis on code being readable and maintainable, which is what the real world is all about.

    How about the networking class, where the students have to write program after program based on incomplete specifications? The students gets to spend hour after hour trying to guess what the spec is - now how is that like the real world? Oh well, in the 1995 world networks are not all that important, so I guess it is ok if we do not teach them very well.

    To top it off, my son is actually doing well in these classes, but he has not been able to find an internship. I'm starting to get skeptical that the Cal Poly reputation is really all that it is supposed to be, and maybe for the reasons I have mentioned here.

    I spoke to the Dept Chair about my complaints, and he said that the root of the problem is that it is difficult to attract talent to a sleepy little town in the middle of nowhere. I don't care, I'm not impressed. This is not acceptable.

    No rant about Cal Poly would be complete without mentioning the highly stupid registration system, which gives freshmen the same priority as seniors for access to the classes. There is nothing like going term after term and not getting your class because you are just not high enough in the registration rotation. No wonder why virtually no one graduates from Cal Poly Engineering in 4 years!

    I would love to hear from parents whose students are in CS programs in other universities. Tell me the other programs suck so I don't feel so bad!
  • LecterLecter Registered User Posts: 85 Junior Member
    Can't comment on the CS issues, but saw recently that Cal Poly is taking steps to address the registration issues ....

    http://mustangnews.net/registration-system-to-be-revamped-office-of-registrar-says/
  • nutthinsnutthins Registered User Posts: 43 Junior Member
    My son's friend majored in cs at calpoly slo and graduated in 2011. He now works at Google.
  • DrGoogleDrGoogle Registered User Posts: 11,047 Senior Member
    Here is a career survey for Cal Poly SLO for 2013
    https://www.careers.calpoly.edu/search.php
    Check out under Computer Science
    Showing both undergraduates and graduates who graduated in Computer Science in the 2012 - 2013 school year
    Search returned 74 result(s).

    F M Total
    Employed Full-Time 2 31 33
    Employed Part-Time 0 0 0
    Graduate School 0 2 2
    Seeking Employment 1 0 1
    Not Seeking Employment 0 0 0
    No Response to Survey 3 35 38


    Total 6 68 74




    Median Salary = $80,000


    Job Title Gender Annual Salary
    Engineer M ----
    Software Engineer M ----
    Systems Engineer M ----
    Software Developer M ----
    Software Engineer M ----
    Software Engineer M ----
    Entry Level Developer F $50,000
    Software Engineer M $60,000
    Software Engineer M $60,000
    Software Engineer M $64,000
    Software Developer M $65,000
    Software Engineer M $67,500
    Software Engineer M $67,500
    Software Engineer 1 M $70,000
    Software Engineer M $70,000
    Firmware Engineer $78,000
    Software Engineer M $80,000
    Associate Software Engineer M $80,000
    Associate Software Engineer M $80,000
    Associate Software Engineer M $80,000
    Software Engineer M $80,000
    Software Engineer M $82,000
    Associate Software Developer M $85,000
    Associate Software Developer M $85,000
    Associate Security Engineer M $85,000
    Software Engineer M $90,000
    Software Engineer M $90,000
    Associate Web Developer M $90,000
    Software Engineer M $92,000
    Software Developer M $95,000
    Software Development Engineer M $95,000
    Software Engineer F $96,000
    Software Developer M $100,000


    Employer Location
    Amazon San Luis Obispo, CA
    Appbackr Palo Alto, CA
    Apple Cupertino, CA
    BMT Scientific Marine Services Escondido, CA
    Cisco Systems Milpitas, CA
    CrowdFlower San Francisco, CA
    DMV Glen Burnie, MD
    Gaine Solutions San Luis Obispo
    Gaine Solutions Arroyo Grande, CA
    General Atomics San Diego, CA
    HGST San Jose
    HTP Dynamics San Francisco, CA
    Hathway Technology Group San Luis Obispo, CA
    LinkedIn Mountain View, CA
    Microsoft Redmond, WA
    Microsoft Mountain View, CA
    Microsoft Corporation Redmond, CA
    Mindbody San Luis Obispo, CA
    NetApp Sunnyvale, CA
    NetApp Sunnyvale, CA
    NetApp Sunnyvale, CA
    Principal Development Group
    Symantec San Francisco, CA
    Tapestry Solutions San Luis Obispo, CA
    The Camera Center San Francisco, CA
    TransUnion San Luis Obispo, CA
    Veeva Systems Pleasanton, CA
    Veeva Systems Pleasanton, CA
    Veeva Systems Pleasanton, CA
    Workday Pleasanton, CA
    Workday Pleasanton, CA
    Workday Pleasanton, CA
    Workday Pleasanton, CA

  • DrGoogleDrGoogle Registered User Posts: 11,047 Senior Member
    I did see 2011 survey with Google as employer but not 2012 and 2013. I would have thought Apple hire a lot more of Cal Poly SLO but apparently not.
  • r77r77r77r77 Registered User Posts: 253 Junior Member
    You do realize the sample size is about 20 people, that's very tiny in the scheme of things.

    If you look at the median salary, $80,000, it's higher than apple's low end salary of $74,000.
  • wayoldwayold Registered User Posts: 47 Junior Member
    Phyzip Your post interests me a lot as I have a son who is a freshmen CS major at Cal Poly.When I visited Cal Poly I had some question about the quality of the CS program.The professors at Cal Poly did not have the qualifications or Education background of better schools I looked into.I also noticed the facilities and lab quality seemed dated.My son really liked the school and location so he gave it a try..He has made many friends as he was not as social type person in high school.He has said the program seems VERY difficult, even with the basic classes he has taken.I wonder if he has made the wrong choice reading your post . Quaters seem to make it much harder than semesters.As far as internship I am somewhat surprised to here that your son can not get one.That however is not of great concern to me as I think there are many opportunities for any student that graduates with a CS degree from most colleges.I am surprised with your expertise your son son choose Cal Poly over others.Can you tell me why he did so
  • RogersFamilyRogersFamily Registered User Posts: 1 New Member
    Phyzik - I, too, have a great deal of experience in the area of Computer Science. I I have managed staff in many of the largest computer corporations in the world. I have also hired many graduates and have always been impressed with their knowledge and hands-on training.

    Not sure where you have received your information but I did a little research myself and found that Python is indeed taught in the Introduction Computer Science class. http://users.csc.calpoly.edu/~akeen/courses/csc101x/#handouts
  • eduparenteduparent Registered User Posts: 124 Junior Member
    Phyzik: When your student graduates, with a job at hand before graduating, I hope you will thank Cal Poly’s computer science department for giving your student the knowledge and skills needed to be successful in industry, despite the department not teaching computer science your way.
  • ralph4ralph4 Registered User Posts: 393 Member
    FWIW: My son's former roommate is a CSC major at Cal Poly and was offered a job at Microsoft at a 6 digit salary last fall before his graduation (June 2014) with a signing bonus and stock options!
  • iulianciulianc Registered User Posts: 126 Junior Member
    @Phyzik, I work for one of the big companies mentioned in this thread. I interviewed hundreds of candidates in my career and I know how interviews go at other big companies. For college hires it does not matter the language or technology they learned in college. What really matters in interviews is having a good grasp of computer science concepts, especially algorithms, critical thinking, good common engineering sense, good communication. Big companies hire college candidates for potential not for knowledge, there is no expectation such a candidate will be very productive in the first few months anyway. Heck, having a masters does not even matter. We're not paying masters CS/CE graduates more than BS graduates out of college. That is true in general for the industry these days, such is the demand.

    The company I work for has dozens of CalPoly SLO graduates working for it (they have internal mailing lists I can see) I know some of them personally, and does regular recruiting trips on campus.

    My daughter was admitted for CE and will be a freshman in the fall. We have visited a number of UCs and other top 10 colleges for CE she was admitted to. I attended the open house days at all colleges and talked to professors. I was extraordinarily impressed by how well CalPoly SLO is run compared to anything else I've been to. What sealed the deal for my daughter and for me was the fact that this is a not a research university. All other colleges had cookie cutter and uninspiring open house sessions where they trumpeted their rankings and research prestige, which matters more for a graduate student in my mind. CalPoly made a sincere effort to appeal to the undergraduate. They had multiple sessions, professors and head of departments were available over the course of two days to actually talk to us. You could see they actually cared for undergrads. Not surprising, since they don't have PhDs and research to publish.

    Academic staff focuses on teaching at CalPoly. There is nothing wrong with research or research universities, if that's what you want to do. I just think that for someone set on the CE/CS field, who wants a job at graduation where they can be successful relatively quickly, the most effective way is to go to a college that actually makes a sustained effort to give you knowledge that is relevant and matters. That would not block your future prospects for a masters if that's what you want, but at least you have a really good bird in hand.

    It also did help that CalPoly is half the price for OOS compared to any UC, which almost matches the cost for any prestigious flagship Uni for in state. Add to that the great weather, great campus, good connections with the industry, proximity to both Bay Area and So Cal and it really becomes a no brainer, for the right student.
  • OsakaDadOsakaDad Registered User Posts: 1,200 Senior Member
    @iulinac -- Great post!! @Phyzik -- If you are so dissatisfied with Cal Poly go do something tangible about it. Get more involved with the school and press for the changes that you desire so badly. Join the endowment campaign drive and raise funds to make improvements specifically where you perceive that the school is lacking.
  • FarWestCoastFarWestCoast Registered User Posts: 117 Junior Member
    @Phyzi You forgot to drink the Kool-Aid before posting in this forum!
  • jack2011jack2011 Registered User Posts: 373 Member
    UCSB has a good program too I think. I went there for two years and I have a friend who recently graduated and is making like 70-80k doing some type of computer work for a hotel company in SF...probably can't go wrong with either. If money is a concern then probably just go with SLO since its 10k cheaper.
  • lawlkinglawlking Registered User Posts: 1,418 Senior Member
    edited May 2014
    All of them have very strong computer science programs, I highly recommend visiting each campus and see which one you will like and fit in the best.

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