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CS major tech heavy curriculum focus with limited Gen Eds

melodyb75melodyb75 Registered User Posts: 19 Junior Member
Not sure how exactly to ask this question...
Looking for early ideas for my 9th grade son regarding the type of college that might be best for him.
He is likely to have pretty high stats, but minimal ECs, possibly might be a national merit semi-finalist at least, 4.0 GPA etc.
He wants to major in computer science with probably a minor or double major with math. He said he's not interested in engineering.
Wants a tech heavy curriculum that doesn't require foreign language or many general education courses. (Even though he may have APs that fulfill requirements.)
Is a technical college (RIT, RPI, WPI, NJIT) a much better fit than a university or LAC?
He has no interest in studying things outside his major if possible. (Also on Asperger's spectrum).
I think a smaller sized college is better for him than a big state university...
Prefer a college in the Northeast or near where we live (Delaware, Univ of MD, etc)


Replies to: CS major tech heavy curriculum focus with limited Gen Eds

  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone Registered User Posts: 18,848 Senior Member
    He needs to watch which college the major is in as it may include core requirements. Math, for instance, is often in the college of A&S, and then a foreign language might be required. CS is often in engineering and same thing, English or history might be required.

    Don't you think it is a little early to be ruling out schools that might require a few core classes?
  • vhsdadvhsdad Registered User Posts: 145 Junior Member
    Also, if he's taking any APs in high school, that might wipe out some of the general ed (English, social studies, etc) out, which might widen the college you might consider.
  • melodyb75melodyb75 Registered User Posts: 19 Junior Member
    Yeah I'm not trying to rule out schools, just trying to figure out some of the differences between tech schools and others. It would be way too early to make any decisions.
  • Parentof2014gradParentof2014grad Registered User Posts: 743 Member
    edited December 2017
    While I agree with the previous poster that ninth grade is a bit early to determine a good fit for college because preferences can change so much through the high school years, but yes it is possible to find a school with minimal GE requirements and to use AP credit to advantage for those. It’s probably easier at the tech focused schools, and you do have to take AP courses that match up with the general education requirements and score highly on the AP exams.

    State universities generally have a basic set of core requirements, at least some of which can be taken care of with AP credit. LAC’s tend to have more general Ed’s and to give less AP credit, in general. The tech schools often have fewer gen Ed’s and can be generous with AP credit. The tippy top schools are often less generous with AP credit. The difficulty is that you are choosing AP and maybe dual enrollment courses before you know what college the student will attend, and the course requirements and AP credit awarded varies significantly by school.

    My D is at Illinois Institite of Technology, similar to RPI and the other schools you mention. She entered with over 50 AP credits and used them to cover literally all of her general education requirements as well as some math and chem prerequisite courses for her major. She will soon complete a BS and MS in engineering in four years and a summer.

    My D wanted to be an artist early in high school. It seemed like a great fit for her then and we were pretty surprised when she said she wanted to be an engineer late junior year. It makes sense now but was a bit of a shock then. Fortunately her academic preparation was very strong and the change in direction was surprising but not a problem. My advice is build a good academic foundation and keep your mind and your kid’s options open with regards to college choice as long as possible. :-)
  • belmombelmom Registered User Posts: 76 Junior Member
    My son is a sophomore at RPI and is able to take exclusively CS, math, and science courses. He satisfied much of the humanities requirement by taking Logic and Cognitive Science courses, closely related to AI and CS. The AP and cc transfer policy is quite good as long as grades and AP scores are high. Also, both CS and math are in the school of science, so outside of engineering.
  • AroundHereAroundHere Registered User Posts: 3,574 Senior Member
    Our local community college used to do a bachelor of applied technology for computer science that was classes plus internships and little fluff. They're expanding it to a regular bachelor's now though.

    I would look seriously at your community college because it's easier and less expensive to go part time if the transition to college is difficult. There are also be different career certificates he could do without having to complete bachelor degree requirements.
  • pleasgodpleasgod Registered User Posts: 146 Junior Member
    URochester has no required courses, and I've heard they have a good CS program. The technical schools attract more "nerdy" types, and I've heard from someone at RIT that there are a lot of people with Aspergers there, so it could be a good fit for him
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 70,983 Senior Member
    CS and no GE requirements would mean Amherst or Brown.

    Rochester does have GE requirements.

    However, some understanding of other subjects is highly desirable, since work in computing often involves understanding of other subjects like human behavior.
  • millie210millie210 Registered User Posts: 446 Member
    A truly or nearly open curriculum (open curriculum = no GE requirements) can also be found at Brown, Amherst, Wesleyan and Vassar. My 11th grade son, also interested in CS, who says he’d love to take nothing but CS, math and hard science courses for 4 years and has recently admitted that there might, maybe, possibly be 1 or 2 social science courses of marginal interest, is looking at those schools. (Well, not Brown because it’s just too much of a reach, but the others.) U Rochester is also high on his list.

    Note that "no required courses" is not the same thing as no GE requirements. For instance, Rochester does not require any specific courses, but absolutely has GE requirements: a cluster of 3 related courses in each of 3 divisions. Wesleyan has no required courses, but has distribution "expectations," of 3 courses in each of 3 divisions. They are expectations (I love Wesleyan) because, while the faculty thinks getting the breadth of education is a good idea and encourages it strongly, it’s not actually required for graduation. Note, however, that some departments require it if you want to graduate with honors.

    In general, we’re finding that the advantage to tech schools or large universities with engineering schools is that CS departments are bigger, so there are just more classes to choose from and more professors with a greater array of interests. OTOH, the advantage to LAC's with strong CS departments like the ones I named above are the usual LAC advantages (more small classes, focus on undergrad education, more personal attention) plus little to nothing in the way of GE requirements. My son is thinking that Rochester may be hitting the sweet spot between these two models for him.
  • donnaleighgdonnaleighg Registered User Posts: 1,418 Senior Member
    One thing to keep in mind is that many of the most selective schools don't really allow much in the way of AP counting you out of "distribution requirements." For example, at Swat, in many departments (each decides on its own policy) you can only get an AP credit if you take a follow-on course in that subject. I think the same is true at Yale (it's been awhile, but I don't think my daughter had much if any opportunity to use her multiple AP credits).

    A "less-selective" general/Liberal arts school may be more generous, and a tech school may also be more flexible. Every school is different.
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