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Cal Poly is Top Choice for Top Students

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Replies to: Cal Poly is Top Choice for Top Students

  • slolearnerslolearner Registered User Posts: 146 Junior Member
    @ geohud662 Are you referring to UCB or Cal Poly? I'm hearing cheers from both sides.
  • DunninLADunninLA Registered User Posts: 4,272 Senior Member
    Cal Poly vs. Ph.D. oriented Universities

    In a way this is a rehash of the arguments comparing LACs such as Williams, Pomona, Swarthmore, and Top 10 Research Universities.

    I say "research Universities" because the bulk of their funding, research and reputation is derived from faculty and PhD students-- and undergraduates might if lucky get 5% of the faculty's attention vs. 95% to graduate students. This then begs the question: how would these Universities compare with LACs solely considering the effectiveness of their UNDERGRADUATE programs. For a time, say 50 years ago until about two years ago when the last peer study came out, Berkeley was tied with Harvard as the best university in the world, by taking the rankings for the 50 or so PhD disciplines, from English to Chemisty, and summing them together. Of late I think Berkeley occupies around the #4 spot for Ph.D. programs. Yet, looking solely at the undergraduate experience, Berkeley might not crack the top 30.

    I have a nephew currently at MIT finishing his Masters in Aerospace/Aeronautical Engineering, who did his undergraduate at the Naval Academy. He got more face time and mentoring from full Professors in Annapolis as an undergrad than at MIT as a graduate student. So would it have been better for him to go to Berkeley or MIT as an undergrad (leaving aside the fighter pilot aspect)? One will never know, but he and those around him think he made a wise decision in turning down Berkeley for Annapolis.

    Which brings us to Harvey Mudd and Cal Poly SLO. They are both oriented toward producing graduates who can jump right into industry and contribute sooner than 12 months in. Industry know this, respects this, and at least in the case of Mudd, pays them exhoribant amounts of money right out of school... last I looked more than MIT undergraduate engineering alums. Mudders aren't particularly attracted to Masters programs, inasmuch as a lot of people agree that the Mudd curriculum is equivalent to a undergrad plus one year of Masters at Berkeley or MIT, yet done uber intensely in four years.

    Cal Poly occupies its own niche... much like Mudd, but with fewer geniuses. It just doesn't make sense to compare Cal Poly with Berkeley, just as it doesn't to compare Mudd and Berkeley.
  • OsakaDadOsakaDad Registered User Posts: 1,200 Senior Member
    "Cal Poly occupies its own niche... much like Mudd, but with fewer geniuses."

    Hilarious! We toured Harvey Mudd and we did meet a few geniuses. Many kids were totally cool, quirky and fun. Some were a bit like autistic savants and made us feel really weird. Overall it was a great school with a tiny unkempt campus. However, we did arrive just after the campus wide Rube-Goldberg experiment. So, the campus was totally trashed and had large burn holes in the grass where some of the Rube-Goldberg stages caused flames and explosions..... There was a fire still smoldering in a dorm courtyard. Honestly, I think that my kid would not have done well there. Too intense. Cal Poly is just his style. Also, I was very happy to have dodged the bullet of having to pay over $55K a year in tuition only. Whew!!
  • slolearnerslolearner Registered User Posts: 146 Junior Member
    @geohud662 You make a very good point. There are too many variables to make a simple choice based on one or two rankings. One size does not fit all. Have you heard the comparison between an choosing an engineering school and choosing a pair of jeans? Some people can only afford basic Levis, some people can afford the really snappy designer pair. Some feel the more they spend the better they look. Some people look pretty darn good in either, and some people don't cut much of a figure no matter which they wear. They say that (engineering) schools are like that, some of the kids will shine coming from any good school and some should have saved their (parents) money. The fit should be more important than the style.
  • collegeboundkid2collegeboundkid2 Registered User Posts: 19 New Member
    Understand both are excellent schools and Purdue has a 5 year program I believe where students can work to gain the hands-on experience. Given this which would be a better choice. Who would make more money straight out of school a Cal Poly or a Purdue graduate?
  • OsakaDadOsakaDad Registered User Posts: 1,200 Senior Member
    collegeboundkid2 -- Both schools are great and will put you in a position for a fantastic job. Which school will allow you to make more money? The honest answer is that it depends on your major, personal negotiation skills and the value that the employers place on you. Another factor is location. California grads tend to make more money because of the higher cost of living here. The answer is not as simple as you would think! Both schools are top notch and will position you for a good starting salary.
  • lawlkinglawlking Registered User Posts: 1,418 Senior Member
    ^^I agree with OsakaDad. The one who becomes successful regardless of the University they went to are those that are passionate in their careers which allow others to see their drive. Going to a college for the sake of hoping its reputation will land you a job isn't going to help you THAT much if you don't have the key important ingredient that lands you the job--people skills and passion. Even though you go to a great school, it doesn't make you the only one that's graduating from that school--hundreds of other people are graduating with the same degree as you are. What makes you stand out during the job interview? It's your people skills and ambition that lands you the job. This is an extroverted world and puts many introverts and shy people at a disadvantage in landing careers because they can't be likable compare to a charismatic, extrovert "people person" can. The people skills allow you to effectively communicate and lure people to like you. Passion also allows them to see that you have fire.

    Steven Spielberg went to CSULB, Tom Hanks went to CSU-Sacramento, and many other successful people didn't go to prestigious universities and became successful because they had passion on the stuff they do.

    So, what do you do when thousands of people all over this nation are graduating with the same degree and GPA while they compete for the same job as you? What are you going to do to make yourself stand out? Passion will make you stand out. What makes you more favorable to the interviewer out of the competition? People skills will make you more favorable. Let's be realistic here, people will be bias and favor those they like more--hence the reason why people encourage you to "network".
  • collegeboundkid2collegeboundkid2 Registered User Posts: 19 New Member
    Thank you both (OsakaDad and lawlking) for your replies. Son was rejected from Cal Poly so I guess Purdue it is. It is a shame living in California, paying the high taxes and being well qualified for entering a top Calif school and having to go out of state to attend a top school paying the out of state tuition fee. This is ridiculous, unfair and a joke.
  • OsakaDadOsakaDad Registered User Posts: 1,200 Senior Member
    I am sorry to hear of the rejection. I can understand your frustration. Nevertheless, Purdue is one of the best schools in the country and you and your kid should be very proud.
  • GunnerDadGunnerDad Registered User Posts: 60 Junior Member
    This week was decision week at our house for son headed to CA from the Midwest for materials engineering and for twin daughter staying closer to home (Miami University).

    To the OP's point, our son has chosen Cal Poly (MATE) over UCB, UCLA and UCSD.
    Also turned down GaTech, Purdue Honors (our instate flagship) and Northeastern Honors.
    He was able to visit SLO twice, as a HS junior and then again this month. We weren't able to make it to Open House which I understand was amazing.
    Quite frankly, we were surprised when he got into Cal. I know he struggled a bit with the "prestige" factor of UCB vs CP. He completely likes the vibe at CP and feels much more at home there. SLO is a great college town. Berkeley would have been a culture shock to some extent and we have been turned off by the many descriptions of the ultra-competitive academic environment there. Whether that's fair or not, I don't know, but the opinion is pervasive on CC... I've seen the term "cutthroat" used often to describe UCB.

    Although we are a long way from CA, son has wanted to go to school there since middle school. He even managed to attend COSMOS at UCD last summer.
    For future applicants, his stats are CP GPA: 3.95 SAT I: 1440/2120 ACT: 32
    SAT II: Math 2: 800 Physics:790 Biology:790
    He also finished the engineering math sequence in HS including Lin Algebra & DiffEq.

    We feel very blessed that our son has found the perfect place for him. Also, a big thank you to all the contributors in these threads who share their experiences and their opinions about Cal Poly and others. We found it extremely useful, especially being from OOS.
    @OsakaDad... Cal Poly should have a position for you in their Development Office if ever you should need one.
    Good luck to all struggling with that final decision over the next ten days. See you in SLO.
  • ocmomof3ocmomof3 Registered User Posts: 31 New Member
    @gunnerdad.... Congrats to you and your family's decision.
    @osakadad.... I want to also thank osakadad for his input. I actually met your son at open house at his club booth. What a nice young man! I mentioned to him how your insight had helped our family's decision to send our D to Cal Poly. Stats are not as stellar are some of these other posters here on CC but we feel our D will be a good fit at Cal Poly too. The school as a whole (hands on, accessible profs, top notch labs, opportunities for internships), the community (the small town feel, local activities, the support of the area), .... It fit the bill for our D.
  • irisssirisss Registered User Posts: 80 Junior Member
    There are two sets of number.UCDavis has the highest Cross- Admits with SLO. What conclusion can one draw from that? Average salary comparison is not very meaningful considering how big each UC is. It would be interesting to see only engineering major.
  • OsakaDadOsakaDad Registered User Posts: 1,200 Senior Member
    @ocmomof3 -- Wow, thanks for the compliment about my kid. Yeah, he is a keeper. Always helpful when he can be. I am very happy that you are excited about Cal Poly for your daughter.
  • SLOHappySLOHappy Registered User Posts: 18 Junior Member
    Hello OsakaDad - I just joined College Confidential to read up on the chatter on some schools we are considering for an upper division transfer from ME into AE. We are thrilled with what we have seen (visited SLO 2x's already), heard and read about SLO.

    What is your son's major? What year is he? Seems that you (and he) are very happy with SLO.

    Being honest, what would you say are your son's biggest challenges going to SLO and what, if anything, would you change if you could? Would so much appreciate hearing the pro's and con's so a final decision can be made. SIR's for UC transfers are not due until 6/1, so still have a few weeks. Thanks much!
  • WYLMOMWYLMOM Registered User Posts: 1 New Member
    Very grateful to see so many interesting and in-depth discussions here, they are very helpful to a junior's parent like me. As you know, engineering and architecture are excellent programs for Cal-SLO, and how about the biological science? My son is interested in premed program, though any major can be "premed", we are not preparing(qualified) for engineering or architecture in tests, curriculum and extracurricular activities. If my son is lucky to be able to attend SLO biological major in the future, will he have good chance to apply medical school? GPA: 3.9; SAT 1890. Thanks for sharing opinions or advice.
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