PLEASE HELP THIS POOR GIRL WITH NO TIME LEFT!
I was taken off the waitlist from Tufts University a few days ago, and I really don't know what to do. I'm choosing between Tufts and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). I'm OOS for both since I live in PA, and in the end, the tuition at these two schools is about the same after financial aid. So please, do not ask about whether I've discussed the finances with my parents, because yes, I DID. (Sorry for the attitude. I just see a lot of people respond with crap like this that really isn't helpful).
But anyways, I'm majoring in Civil Engineering for both schools, and I'm 99% sure I will stay in this field since I've loved highways and streets my entire life and never lost interest in the subject after numerous summer programs and internships. And as that suggests, I'm specifically interested in Transportation within Civil Engineering.
I love UIUC. When it comes to engineering, UIUC is spectacular. Its undergrad engineering is ranked #6 according to USNWR, and I was able to confirm this upon my campus visit; UIUC has the biggest engineering library (Grainger) in the country, an engineering quad, and brand new buildings for ECE and CS. I also heard that the startup culture is huge at UIUC, and that Intel has built its own fabrication lab on campus or something. Well if that's all true...wow. BUT, when it comes to Civil Engineering, UIUC kicks even more butt; it's consistently ranked #1 on USNWR. CivilE has it's own building with huge labs and brand-new lecture halls, its own career fairs, and about 10 research areas, one of which is Transportation. The CivilE major I shadowed has gotten an internship every single year since she was a freshman, and told me that companies come after her and that all of her friends find it really easy to find a job. Sooo yeah, pretty much UIUC academics is unbeatable for CivilE, I would say. However, not everything is perfect. Champaign-Urbana is about 2 hours from Chicago and is not a very big city in itself. The campus definitely provides plenty of opportunities to socialize and have fun since it's supposedly a "party school", but I don't know; living in the middle of cornfields for 4 years might get old after a while.
I also love Tufts. Mainly because, unlike UIUC, it's right next to a city (Boston). I've always wanted to go to a school where I could independently take the train into the city to shop for clothes and look at museums, which Tufts definitely allows for. Plus, Boston is absolutely beautiful AND student-friendly with all the other schools like Northeastern, BU, BC, MIT, and Harvard. Its overall ranking is also higher than UIUC (#27 vs #44), and the school has fewer students, which means smaller class sizes and more opportunities to talk with your professors. But on the down side, Tufts' undergrad engineering is ranked #58, and undergrad Civil is not even ranked.... (lol). And to me, it seems like a fair assessment. I saw that all the engineering majors are clumped into a single building, there is no engineering library, and there are only 4 research areas, none of which is Transportation. And when I surf all over CC and Quora to find out about Tufts' engineering program, I see both ends of the spectrum. One person said that all of his classmates were able to find a good job, while another (an actual employer) said that Tufts Engineers are really not prepared for the workforce when compared to the Northeastern students with the co-op experience. This variety in opinions on Tufts engineering really worries me, since for UIUC it's always a unanimous appraisal.
Although very different, I love both campuses and can see myself at both schools. I also always hear about Tufts' "small barrier between engineers and arts majors", but honestly I don't get what's so special about it since UIUC too has plenty of non-engineers and makes you take Gen-Ed classes outside your department. I didn't apply to schools like MIT, Caltech, Georgia Tech, and RPI for a reason.
But essentially, the main dilemma here is whether I go for:
1) UIUC's engineering with more resources, better employment, and a transportation program that closely aligns with my interests.
2) Tufts' smaller class sizes and proximity to Boston that allows me to have more fun options on the weekends.
Is it better to be happy with:
1) what you're studying?
2) where you're living?
I'm posting this thread on several forums to hear from students of both schools, because I don't have too much to make this decision, and AHHHH I DON'T KNOW WHAT DO.
But yeah, thank you so much for reading! And also, don't be afraid to share the drawbacks of your school if applicable, because really, no school is perfect, and hiding the negative aspects of your school will do more harm than good for me :) And I promise, I'll always love both schools no matter which I choose in the end.