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Cal Poly is Top Choice for Top Students


Replies to: Cal Poly is Top Choice for Top Students

  • ickglueickglue Registered User Posts: 283 Junior Member
    So we can see that the only CA public university that ranks higher than Cal Poly in terms of graduates' pay is UCB.
  • jakd59jakd59 Registered User Posts: 145 Junior Member
    I will add to my earlier post the the starting and mid career salaries.
    Cal Poly
    53,400- 97,900
    The starting salaries at Cal Poly are higher than any other California public University.
  • OsakaDadOsakaDad Registered User Posts: 1,200 Senior Member
    ickglue - you say that Cal Poly is a B+/A- school (true) and Geohud662 you say that the top 5% go to MIT, Cal Tech, Stanford and Berkeley (not always). My kid was absolutely qualified for the aforementioned schools, but had zero interest in them. We had several confrontational discussions about his school choices and finally I backed off and let him be in the driver's seat. At the end of the day he chose to apply to 5 UCs, both Cal Polys and Harvey Mudd.

    With regards to grades and test scores he was clearly competitive for MIT, Cal Tech, Stanford and Berkeley. Culturally, he was a complete mismatch for all these schools and most of the UC's that he was accepted to. He chose Cal Poly because he loved their presentation and teaching methodology and felt 100% comfortable there. Basically, my kid wanted to get into a machine shop as quickly as possible and get dirty in addition to all the theory and book learning that is needed to be an expert engineer. He is a hands on guy and has little patience or interest in intellectual elitism.

    He is not alone either. Several of his buddies turned down Berkeley and other top UCs for Cal Poly. Although I haven't heard of anyone turning down MIT, Cal Tech or Stanford yet for the school, I am sure that a few of them exist.

    My point is that there are top performing kids that really fit at Cal Poly and the school is getting better and better all the time. I also agree with ickglue that Cal Poly should be in its own niche like Harvey Mudd and not care about these comparisons.
  • slolearnerslolearner Registered User Posts: 146 Junior Member
    For the Engineering School I suspect describing "Cal Poly is a B+/A- school" may not do it justice. True the SAT scores are not in the stratosphere but I bet the number of AP courses taken would compare well with some of the more elite schools.

    Preliminary New Freshman Profile Fall 2012
    Engineering 11,082 3,402 3.98 30 1346
  • Yomama12Yomama12 Registered User Posts: 257 Junior Member
    This is an interesting thread - my husband and cousin both went to Cal Poly to study engineering. They enjoyed the school atmosphere and local area very much. After graduation, along with my husband's roommate, they went to Stanford for master's degrees (the cousin eventually got a Phd there).

    Cal Poly provides a great undergraduate education for a CSU price. The student competition teams from Cal Poly, such as ASCE or IEEE, frequently win the top awards in the western region, even against UC's, Stanford and Cal Tech.
  • OsakaDadOsakaDad Registered User Posts: 1,200 Senior Member
    Yomama12 - Cal Poly is all about performance in the real world. That is my conclusion. In my kid's freshman year, his Supermileage team took 3rd place nationally in the Shell Echo marathon in Houston. I see the value of getting a hands on education for undergrad and then getting a masters at a research university like your husband and cousin. Possibly my kid will do the same.
  • geohud662geohud662 Registered User Posts: 7 New Member
    First, let me say that neither I nor any of my kids are Berkeley engineering grads, so I have no axe to grind here. But let's move beyond the cheerleading and try to inject some objectivity into the discussion. Ickglue, you say that UCB engineering is not on par with MIT, Caltech, and Stanford. According to US News 2013, the top undergraduate engineering programs are as follows:

    1) MIT
    2) Stanford
    3) Caltech, UCB (tied)

    This comes from a publication that uses criteria that favors private institutions, so unless you are privy to some information that I'm not aware of, I would say this ranking is pretty accurate. Some of you out there also like to point to the Payscale Midcareer Salary Survey as proof that Cal Poly is "better" than UCB. Well, the latest Payscale survey shows UCB in 31st place, Cal Poly in 60th. Now I know you have to take rankings and surveys with a grain of salt, but there are those of you out there who use survey results when it bolsters your argument but conveniently ignore them when they don't.

    Next, let's look at the top reasons given as to why Cal Poly is "better" than UCB:

    1) "My son/daughter/nephew/friend/husband/etc. goes there AND THEY JUST LOVE IT."
    Yeah, so..... what does that prove?
    2) The Payscale survey (or at least the previous one) somehow proves Cal Poly is "better" than UCB. Well, let's for now ignore the fact that the latest Payscale survey places UCB ahead of Cal Poly. Let's examine the Payscale survey itself. Mudd is ranked 2nd while MIT is ranked 6th. Does this mean Mudd is a "better" school than MIT? Lehigh is ranked 6th while Harvard is ranked 13th. Does this mean Lehigh is a "better" school than Harvard? If you answer yes, very few people would agree with you.
    3) "Cal Poly attracts top students over UCB." Yeah, I'm sure you can point to a small number every year, but as an informed and involved dad I'm well aware of what goes on in California high schools. Fact is, very few, and I mean very few, of the top 5% of any high school graduating class chooses Cal Poly over UCB for engineering.

    Next, let's look at what's never talked about among Cal Poly cheerleaders:

    1) How many Cal Poly faculty are in the National Academy of Engineering? How many UCB faculty? I know, some of you will say, "but they don't teach undergrads." Fact is, Berkeley's faculty is stronger from top to bottom. That has to have an impact on what students learn.
    2) Endowment size. If Cal Poly grads and parents are just so happy with their school, and with how successful Cal Poly grads are, why is their endowment a paltry $170 million? The school has been around since 1901, that's long enough to build a healthy endowment.
    3) UCB sends a lot of its undergraduate engineers to top grad schools. Any school that's "better" than UCB should do likewise. Fact is, very few Cal Poly grads are at the nation's top graduate engineering programs. Now I'm not saying there aren't any, just very few. Since some of you like to use anecdotes, let me give you one - my daughter is MIT Engineering, and she has met several grad students from UCB but not one from Cal Poly.

    And Osakadad, I want you to know that I truly wish that anyone attending Cal Poly is successful, because if they are successful, then California is successful, and I have a vested interest in California being successful. But saying a student is "qualified" or "competitive" for MIT, Stanford, Caltech, and UCB is not the same as saying they were actually admitted but declined the offer and chose Cal Poly instead.

    Finally, don't get me wrong, I have nothing against Cal Poly. It's a fine school for the role it plays. But to constantly compare it to and say it is "better" than UCB is wishful thinking and simply self-serving.
  • ickglueickglue Registered User Posts: 283 Junior Member
    I will just concentrate on answering you UCB question. I know how UCB engineering stack up against MIT/Caltech/Stanford because I am in senior management in a Silicon Valley private equity firm and I have to hire graduates from MIT/Caltech/Stanford/Ivies quite often.

    We, in the industry (Silicon Valley/Northeast US region), don't go by USNWR or any newspaper rankings. On a whole, we are pretty familiar with what each engineering programs are doing and the quality of the programs, and also because so many of our colleagues came from the various engineering schools, we can just ask.

    So whether you agree with it or not, UCB (a great university) is not viewed on par with MIT/Caltech/Stanford for its engineering at least in the industry circle. As another example, Google's hiring process (a notoriously selective company) ranks the various engineering schools, and UCB, by their internal ranking, is solidly lower than MIT/Caltech/Stanford. This is also true for Facebook's hiring and to a certain extend Apple's. I supposed you can say that at the very high end of the hiring spectrum in the tech industry, it mimics the hiring practices (and perceptions) of Wall street and the management consulting industries.

    As for Cal Poly, I think I have already addressed my point of view in my earlier post. Interestingly enough, Cal Poly is viewed very favorably by Google's ranking. This is not my personal opinion, but rather their HR executive shared with me his company's ranking for CP. Also, Google's Marissa Mayer, prior to her jumping ship to Yahoo, made it a point to visit Cal Poly engineering for mentorship reasons from time to time. I don't think she would have made those trips if she didn't have a high regard for CP engineering. But this is not to say CP is better than UCB.

    I also neglected to mention, Apple pretty much made it a point to hire mostly (not exclusively) from the Ivies, MIT/Stanford/Caltech, even for their entry level gigs. And Cal Poly is also one of their target school, I suppose this is because Apple's CFO is a Cal Poly graduate.
  • ickglueickglue Registered User Posts: 283 Junior Member

    From looking at your other posts on this site, you have almost exclusively stuck to the CP vs UCB threads. My personal observation is that I think you do have an axe to grind.

    As a person who already fully accepted your position that UCB is better than Cal Poly, I think you are bit touchy on this issue as a bystander.
  • geohud662geohud662 Registered User Posts: 7 New Member
    ickglue, as I stated in my post, neither I nor any of my kids have Berkeley engineering degrees so I, unlike so many other posters, have no vested interest in being a cheerleader for or against any school in particular. As I said earlier, my daughter is MIT Engineering, but I have at no time written any superlatives about that institution, nor do I need to point out every competition they have won or placed in. Its reputation and standing in the engineering community speaks for itself. Again, read my last paragraph. I think Cal Poly is a fine school for what it does. But consider this - doesn't the constant cheerleading betray some other underlying issue here?
  • slolearnerslolearner Registered User Posts: 146 Junior Member
    @ geohud662 I should be careful not to beat a dead horse here, there is surely a spread in applicants qualifications as there will be a spread in graduates achievements. What interests me is how well SLO grads perform in the work place. How well do they perform in graduate programs? What would be the best brass ring a graduate could expect to grab? Many successful small business owners earn far more than any academic. The salary of every State of California employee is public information. The big State of California checks go to coaches and surgeons not engineers. I'm sure Stanford and Cal Tech pay their top people more than a professor at any CSU or UC. Most of the owners of modest machine shops, fab shops, forge shops heat treat shops, etc., etc. beat any of us who draw a paycheck hands down. Academic merits are interesting to debate but it's what you do after you finish school that really wins the prize. We all know that the most valuable lessons are not learned in any ordinary classroom.
  • OsakaDadOsakaDad Registered User Posts: 1,200 Senior Member
    Cal Poly is awesome just because it is awesome!
  • ickglueickglue Registered User Posts: 283 Junior Member
    Yea you know what, I think so too

    I think it is cool that so many people here are cheerleaders for the university.

    No apology or excuses necessary.
  • slolearnerslolearner Registered User Posts: 146 Junior Member
    That is what I hear from every person I talk to who goes to or went to Cal Poly.
    The things that make Cal Poly a great school are not measured by USNEWS or anywhere else. You have to experience the place to understand. Learn by doing.
  • vballmomvballmom Registered User Posts: 3,135 Senior Member
    UCB sends a lot of its undergraduate engineers to top grad schools. Any school that's "better" than UCB should do likewise. Fact is, very few Cal Poly grads are at the nation's top graduate engineering programs.

    One reason for this is self-selection. Students who attend Cal Poly are those who prefer a hands-on, practical approach to learning. Cal Poly is not a research institute and as such does not emphasize theory the way the UCs do. Students who love theory but find building a circuit, a robot, a solar house or an electric car to be unappealing are not going to choose Cal Poly. Likewise those hands-on, practical students are not going to be happy studying theory in the depth that the students at UCs do. As a result, Cal Poly students are going to gravitate towards working in industry with an undergraduate or master's degree, and aren't going to be the ones most likely to go on for a PhD.

    I've seen both sides of this in my son (CPE 2013) and his friends; they made choices based on the theory/practice split, and they ended up at very different colleges. It's not a question of right or wrong, better or worse. It's simply a different choice based on interests and goals.

    A couple of interesting Google anecdotes: a Cal Poly student a couple of years ago parlayed his senior project into a company that Google bought for a couple of million dollars. He became a Google employee on graduation and is still there. He and his colleagues mentor current Cal Poly students. My son's Capstone project is funded in part by Google using hardware they have supplied. Google is well-represented at career fairs on campus.
This discussion has been closed.