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Northeastern Vs. UMich: Computer Science

UzernameUzername 18 replies1 threads Junior Member
Hello Everyone! I am a senior from Massachusetts and I need help deciding between these colleges for Computer Science.

I was accepted into:
The Northeastern Honors program with a hefty (114k) scholarship.
Boston University Honors College (KHS)
Tufts
UMass Amherst (2k a year scholarship)
Georgia Tech
UMich

I think I've narrowed my options down to Northeastern and UMich and need help deciding between the two schools.

If anyone has any insight into the computer science programs, dorms, social scene, food, culture, networking, etc. and would be willing to share I would greatly appreciate it.
Thank you!
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Replies to: Northeastern Vs. UMich: Computer Science

  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 82833 replies738 threads Senior Member
    Net price and debt at each?

    Northeastern has a co-op focused curriculum. For you, do you consider that a good or bad thing?

    Other colleges may have optional formalized co-ops, and some other colleges may have lenient withdrawal and readmission policies that can make it easier to do an informal co-op lasting longer than a summer. But you need to check policies on each college individually.
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  • ultimomultimom 248 replies3 threads Junior Member
    My son is at Northeastern studying EE and computer science.

    My son is enjoying the fundamentals of CS class and is taking other CS/engineering math classes. In the fundamentals of CS class, he works with a partner and has had at least two partners. NEU has a good proportion of women in both engineering and CS in comparison to some universities.

    Dorms - freshman dorms are usually pretty standard two to a room although my son had nice windows and a view. After first year there are many suite options with kitchens. With all the restaurants and other food options close by, many students go low on the cafeteria swipes and eat elsewhere. My son said dorm food is okay but gets boring. He happy to be in a suite with a kitchen next year.

    My son doesn’t likely share the full extent of his social life with me. He is active in a few clubs including Ultimate and chess . His friends are from both clubs and classes. The Ultimate team travels to tournaments and has social get togethers.
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  • UzernameUzername 18 replies1 threads Junior Member
    edited March 29
    @ucbalumnus

    Northeastern Honors: 43k
    BU Honors: 77k a year
    Tufts: 76k
    Georgia Tech: 49k
    UMich: 67k
    UMass Amherst: 28k

    For the schools that I didn't receive any merit-based scholarships, my family will be paying full price.
    (All prices per 2 semesters)


    I really enjoy the idea of the co-op curriculum. I think it's great to gain actual CS experience and earn some money to pay off the debt. However, I also see the benefits of having a curriculum not focused on co-op. I can see benefits in both, and one style experience does not really stand out as "superior." I certainly like that according to a lot of rankings, Northeastern has the #1 co-op in the country. I think that must carry some weight in the way the university builds connections with co-op partners.

    The only other school on my list with Co-op is GT. The others have summer internship opportunities outside of school.
    edited March 29
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  • UzernameUzername 18 replies1 threads Junior Member
    @ultimom

    Thank you for sharing!

    Did your son have any kind of CS experience before going to NEU? If not, has he shared if the curriculum helped him start from the ground up and learn?
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  • PengsPhilsPengsPhils Forum Champion Northeastern, Forum Champion Math/Computer Science 4225 replies34 threads Forum Champion
    @Uzername Northeastern's CS program is specifically designed to focus on the ground up :)

    https://felleisen.org/matthias/Thoughts/Developing_Developers.html

    For these schools, I'm surprised Michigan beat out GT as a finalist and a top CS program, arguably better than Michigan. I'm guessing UMass isn't very enticing being from the state but it's a quite solid CS program as well and is also a very good deal comparatively.

    At nearly 100K less I'd say Northeastern is a steal, as these are both very good CS programs quite close in rank (as is GT). Honestly I would be surprised to see significantly different outcomes for the 4 schools I highlighted in either direction.

    I guess my only question is what's holding Michigan in contention given the price, as fit is also of course important and the situation would imply to me that it might be in play here.

    Based on CS + value alone, for me it would very much be this: UMass > Northeastern >= GT > UMich. So I guess in order to really help it'd probably be good to understand how much cost is factoring in + how and what you're looking for fitwise.
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  • ultimomultimom 248 replies3 threads Junior Member
    My son did have 3 years of programming in high school including the AP class and the college credit intro class. Because of the double major, he is taking the first semester of the fundamentals class this spring.
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  • UzernameUzername 18 replies1 threads Junior Member
    @PengsPhils

    Thank you for your feedback!

    For more insight, UMich beat out Georgia Tech because I have only had limited Computer Science experience through my school. I really enjoyed every experience I have had with basic CS and want to pursue it more. However, as a student, I am all over the place when it comes to academic interests and I didn't think I could see myself at a "Tech" school. Whereas the culture and well-rounded academics of UMich really appealed to me. I also love theatre and want to pursue it at the school I attend, and I saw that UMich had a relative abundance compared to Tech.

    UMich is still in contention due to the fact that attending the school is still financially possible for me, even with the massive price difference. In a vacuum, I would choose UMich, because I feel as if it is academically and socially a tier above Neu for me in the opportunities that are available. (Although Neu is still fantastic).
    For example, UM, with its 30,000 undergrads is housing so many resources of a top research university. Northeastern is also a research university, but from your knowledge, does it compare?

    UMich was one of my favorite schools when I was applying, through, it would seem almost wrong to turn down such an amazing scholarship at a school so close to home!

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  • coolguy40coolguy40 2891 replies8 threads Senior Member
    Programmer here...With CS, it literally makes no difference where you go to school. And it's just not worth the money going to an exotic private or OOS university. After 3 years of experience, employers won't give a rats butt as long as you're a qualified candidate. Just choose a decent school and get your degree. 99% of what you learn will be on the job. BTW, a $114k scholarship at Northeastern still sucks. You still have $200k left to pay for, which still comes out to be more than an OOS school. I vote for Amherst.
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  • PengsPhilsPengsPhils Forum Champion Northeastern, Forum Champion Math/Computer Science 4225 replies34 threads Forum Champion
    I didn't think I could see myself at a "Tech" school.

    Makes sense, that's a solid fit reason. So that'd narrow it to UMichigan, Northeastern, or UMass Amherst.
    For example, UM, with its 30,000 undergrads is housing so many resources of a top research university. Northeastern is also a research university, but from your knowledge, does it compare?

    Look at the CS research output (the only thing this ranking shows, it doesn't inherently correlate with CS strength) for all of these schools in play here. It's quite close. I think you're imagining this difference a bit here when it comes to research.

    http://csrankings.org/

    Beyond that, are you actually planning to do research in CS? If not it's unlikely you'll even notice this difference as class offerings will be similar at all three.
    I would choose UMich, because I feel as if it is academically and socially a tier above Neu for me in the opportunities that are available.

    Academically I don't think that's true, but socially is something to dig into. What are you looking for socially that UMich offers, but not Northeastern or UMass Amherst?
    Programmer here...With CS, it literally makes no difference where you go to school.

    I would disagree with this strongly as a software developer as well. While there is general truth that it's not quite as important where you go to school and that the name of your degree won't mean anything, the level of work, the level of peers around you, and initial companies recruiting you does change with significant differences in CS programs. The reason school name doesn't matter is because experience is the #1 factor. That's partially affected by where you go to school. I think there's an argument to be made that the student has more to do with it than the school, and top students tend to go to top schools. But that doesn't discount the effect of the school you go to entirely IMO.

    It's certainly too highly focused on generally though, and a difference between the #10 and #30 CS school is negligible at best. But if you're looking at #15 vs #100/#150/#200, yeah there's a difference, though not night and day. But for the 3 highlighted schools, as mentioned, there will be virtually no differences.
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  • sushirittosushiritto 5224 replies20 threads Senior Member
    I would choose UMich, because I feel as if it is academically and socially a tier above Neu for me in the opportunities that are available.
    Academically I don't think that's true, but socially is something to dig into. What are you looking for socially that UMich offers, but not Northeastern or UMass Amherst?

    Out here in Silicon Valley, IMO, Michigan is considered tier above academically. Also, here's an 2017 article about Silicon Valley companies and what colleges they're hiring from:

    https://qz.com/967985/silicon-valley-companies-like-apple-aapl-hires-the-most-alumni-of-these-10-universities-and-none-of-them-are-in-the-ivy-league/

    Northeastern doesn't make the list of the Top 25. And if you switch majors, which many do, then the breath and depth of Michigan's offerings in almost every department is far better, since 40-50 of their programs are in the Top 10 in the US.
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  • UzernameUzername 18 replies1 threads Junior Member
    @PengsPhils

    Socially, the culture at UMich that revolves around their excellence at football and academics is great. They seem to work hard and play hard there more than any other school. However, is the addition of this great culture worth the extra 100k? Also, are you familiar with the role of how the co-op program and the time spent away from campus affects overall culture and the feeling of community?

    As part of the Honors program at Northeastern I would be able to easily take part in research or start my own projects. Both of which I am actively looking to do. I am not sure how easy this would be at UMich.
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  • PengsPhilsPengsPhils Forum Champion Northeastern, Forum Champion Math/Computer Science 4225 replies34 threads Forum Champion
    edited March 30
    @sushiritto If you actually look at the study, Northeastern is #21 for new grads being hired there. Also, that study doesn't account for volume (UM produces quite a few CS grads each year), and of course is focusing on just one region of the US. I would suspect a higher percentage of UM grads choose Silicon Valley since Northeastern grads are probably more likely to stay in Boston or go to NYC for example, simply based on locality of the schools. Still, quite a few friends of mine are out in the bay working in the CS world.

    That's not to say UM isn't greatly respected in SV, but I don't think there's a massive night and day. Especially not one worth paying 160K more for over UMass Amherst or 100K for over Northeastern on CS reputation alone.

    It's behind a paywall now that wasn't there a year or two ago, but here's the data:


    The 25 Most Wanted New-Grad Alumni in 2017 Tech

    "Top alma maters were determined by volume of hires made by the top 25 Silicon Valley companies in the past year."

    1. UCB
    2. Stanford
    3. CMU
    4. GT
    5. USC
    6. SJSU
    7. Waterloo
    8. UT-Austin
    9. UIUC
    10. UCSD
    11. Cornell
    12. ASU
    13. NCSU
    14. Cal Poly SLO
    15. MIT
    16. Purdue
    17. Michigan
    18. Texas A&M
    19. UCLA
    20. Washington
    21. Northeastern
    22. Santa Clara
    23. RIT
    24. UCF
    25. UT-Dallas

    Again, 17 vs 21 is not a significant difference, especially again considering size/locality factors. The presence of other schools highlight those flaws in the survey as well (ASU, UCF, NCSU on program size, SJSU on locality)
    edited March 30
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  • sushirittosushiritto 5224 replies20 threads Senior Member
    edited March 30
    @PengsPhils That's why I said "Out here in Silicon Valley." I've lived in this region all my life and before joining this website, I literally never even heard of Northeastern, nor have I run into one grad here. It's a limited subset and anecdotal, for sure.

    OTOH, I won't say the numbers are anywhere near approaching Stanford or Cal alums, but there are a whole lot of Michigan alums out here. Just a quick example, I went to the track yesterday to work out in this period of shelter-in-place and someone yelled "Go Blue" to my D. They were both wearing Michigan garb, of course.

    OP said:
    I think I've narrowed my options down to Northeastern and UMich and need help deciding between the two schools.

    I'm just taking the OP at their word. The OP stated Michigan is a tier above NEU academically and socially. I just agree. Value to me is in the eye of the beholder.
    edited March 30
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  • PengsPhilsPengsPhils Forum Champion Northeastern, Forum Champion Math/Computer Science 4225 replies34 threads Forum Champion
    As part of the Honors program at Northeastern I would be able to easily take part in research or start my own projects. Both of which I am actively looking to do. I am not sure how easy this would be at UMich.

    You should be able to get plenty of research opportunities at both, I wouldn't be weighing that heavily. Northeastern Honors won't make professors magically want to work with you more, it will be reaching out to people via classes/connections at both schools to get involved with research.
    Socially, the culture at UMich that revolves around their excellence at football and academics is great. They seem to work hard and play hard there more than any other school. However, is the addition of this great culture worth the extra 100k? Also, are you familiar with the role of how the co-op program and the time spent away from campus affects overall culture and the feeling of community?

    I think you've got your question highlighted there, though I think only you and your family can answer that.

    As far as Northeastern culture, it's certainly different from Michigan. It's very much a nontraditional college experience, for better or worse depending on your preferences. I personally liked it for it not being focused on sports or greek life (only 10% of the student population) and loved having Boston around to explore over a college town feel that Ann Arbor has (one of the best of that type of course though). So again it really just depends what you want.

    Specifically with co-op everyone is on campus for the first 3 semesters and many stay in Boston, especially for their first co-op. Those first 3-5+ semesters lay the social groundwork and people understand that you go on co-op and all, and often people make more of an effort to stay in touch as a result. I think in that way friendships at Northeastern do sometimes require more effort but more closely resemble how socializing works in your mid 20's where you make the effort for the people who matter to you. Happy to elaborate more as needed!
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  • PengsPhilsPengsPhils Forum Champion Northeastern, Forum Champion Math/Computer Science 4225 replies34 threads Forum Champion
    edited March 30
    @sushiritto
    I'm just taking the OP at their word. The OP stated Michigan is a tier above NEU academically and socially. I just agree. Value to me is in the eye of the beholder.

    Of course you can do that. I'm just highlighting that the study you linked to doesn't show what you're claiming. I do suspect the number of Northeastern grads has increased over time though, as #9 vs unranked for the total population compared to #17 vs #21 for new grads implies that the increase in Northeastern grads in the bay is recent, which makes sense to me as Northeastern's CS program underwent a big transformation starting in the early 2000's. If you've been there a significant portion of time, that would track with your anecdotal experience as well.
    edited March 30
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  • UzernameUzername 18 replies1 threads Junior Member
    @sushiritto

    I mentioned earlier that my CS experience is very limited. Aside from the ability to switch majors, is the Michigan CS program tailored for students to learn from the ground up. It seems that NEU has a program in place that helps with that. Additionally, what is it, in your opinion that allows Michigan to be so high in the ranks? What is it that Michigan is doing different from other schools that makes them such a "name brand" especially in CS. (to the best of your knowledge of course)
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  • sushirittosushiritto 5224 replies20 threads Senior Member
    edited March 30
    PengsPhils wrote: »
    @sushiritto
    I'm just taking the OP at their word. The OP stated Michigan is a tier above NEU academically and socially. I just agree. Value to me is in the eye of the beholder.

    Of course you can do that. I'm just highlighting that the study you linked to doesn't show what you're claiming. I do suspect the number of Northeastern grads has increased over time though, as #9 vs unranked for the total population compared to #17 vs #21 for new grads implies that the increase in Northeastern grads in the bay is recent, which makes sense to me as Northeastern's CS program underwent a big transformation starting in the early 2000's. If you've been there a significant portion of time, that would track with your anecdotal experience as well.

    1 University of California, Berkeley
    2 Stanford University
    3 Carnegie Mellon University
    4 University of Southern California
    5 The University of Texas at Austin
    6 Georgia Institute of Technology
    7 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    8 San Jose State University
    9 University of California, San Diego
    10 Arizona State University
    11 University of Michigan
    12 University of California, Los Angeles
    13 North Carolina State University
    14 California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo
    15 Cornell University
    16 University of Waterloo (Canada)
    17 Texas A&M University
    18 University of Washington
    19 Purdue University
    20 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    21 Santa Clara University
    22 University of Phoenix
    23 University of California, Santa Barbara
    24 University of California, Davis
    25 Penn State University

    Do you see NEU here? I don't.

    So, yes, what I claim is true. Please don't infer I'm lying. NEU is NOT in the top 25. You're arguing about and highlighting "new hires" in one year time frame or "the past year." I'm highlighting the main article. Maybe the past year was some sort of anomaly of NEU grads. Who knows?

    Transformation in the early 2000's? Great, that's almost 20 years now.

    I made my point and moving on.
    edited March 30
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  • PengsPhilsPengsPhils Forum Champion Northeastern, Forum Champion Math/Computer Science 4225 replies34 threads Forum Champion
    edited March 30
    Please don't infer I'm lying.

    I directly mentioned that list in my post, I didn't infer you were lying. The "main article" you're referencing is simply a summary of a full report. The list I quoted is the exact same source and based on the same data, just looking at a more recent scope. Neither is listed as a more impactful or important in the study, that first list is just the one that QZ picked. They are listed side by side in the full study.
    edited March 30
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  • UzernameUzername 18 replies1 threads Junior Member
    @PengsPhils

    I did actually have a bunch of questions about Neu's co-op.

    Are most co-ops found right in Boston? If so, can you commute straight from campus?

    Additionally, for co-ops that are across the United States, how are students expected to find housing?

    I'm assuming 2 co-ops takes 1 year complete. Does that mean that we're only in class for 3 years?
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  • sushirittosushiritto 5224 replies20 threads Senior Member
    edited March 30
    Uzername wrote: »
    @sushiritto

    I mentioned earlier that my CS experience is very limited. Aside from the ability to switch majors, is the Michigan CS program tailored for students to learn from the ground up. It seems that NEU has a program in place that helps with that. Additionally, what is it, in your opinion that allows Michigan to be so high in the ranks? What is it that Michigan is doing different from other schools that makes them such a "name brand" especially in CS. (to the best of your knowledge of course)

    My D is studying STEM in LSA. She has a major and two minors. At Michigan, you can earn your CS degree in LSA or the CoE, which you may know already. If you decide to switch majors, or double major, or add minors, which many, many students do, Michigan has many, many top 10 or 15 programs. Here's a 2017 article:

    https://lsa.umich.edu/lsa/news-events/all-news/lsa-in-the-news/forty-lsa-programs-in-the-top-ten--says-new-u-s--news-rankings.html

    Of course, that doesn't take into account the CoE, Nursing, Kinesiology, SMTD, etc. You just won't get that kind of breath and depth of programs at NEU that you would at Michigan, which is why Michigan is a tier above NEU academically.
    edited March 30
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