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Bates vs Northeastern

ncelottoncelotto 28 replies8 threads Junior Member
I am currently a rising senior in high school. I am interested in running track in college, so I started looking at D3 schools. I love small class sizes to be able to engage with the professors more. I reached out to Bates and have a meeting setup with the coaches and everything. On the other hand, I have also loved the CO-OP program at Northeastern (but definitely would not be able to run track there).

I love the idea of small class sizes and playing a varsity sport in college, but I also am intrigued by the co-op program at Northeastern (but I could just get internships at Bates which would still be good).

A lot of my friends and family haven't heard of Bates like they have Northeastern, leading me to assume it is not well known (but I believe it is still a very good college).

My question is, will future employers much prefer Northeastern, especially with the co-op program and experience I would get from it, or should I have no problem with Bates? (if I were to get into which ever one I apply to ED).
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Replies to: Bates vs Northeastern

  • helpingmom40helpingmom40 310 replies10 threads Member
    What is your intended major? They are both very good schools but not necessarily for the same things. Their settings are also completely different - urban city campus or dry rural campus. If you personally want one and not the other, that would be where I would start the thought process. The other thing I like to point out is approach every school like you may not be doing a sport because injuries happen. Plus, the whole Covid situation is having a financial impact on colleges and the ripples could impact athletic budgets and programs.
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  • ThisNameNotTakenThisNameNotTaken 116 replies2 threads Junior Member
    I visited NE a few years ago with D15 and Bates last fall with D21. I pretty much concur with @helpingmom40. The campuses are certainly totally different. Lewiston is best described as "faded New England mill town" (of which there are a lot of around here and which aren't always as sketchy as they seem). Northeastern is more "Boston but not exactly the greatest part", although it seemed fine to me. I suspect that they are also very different "culturally" (whatever that means).

    I'm of a mixed opinion on the sports angle. You definitely don't want to base your decision too heavily on that, but on the other hand if you're not ready to give it up quite yet you might find yourself having regrets if you do. My D21 is also a T&F athlete and not quite ready to say goodbye to it yet.

    Conversely, the CO-OP idea is cool and very well known here in New England, but I would also not base the decision too heavily on that.

    NE (I believe) has a relatively small endowment and (this may be an urban myth) relies heavily on full pay international students. If that's true I don't know how the COVID situation may affect that.

    Also, I have known two recent NE students who have both been sent overseas for their first semester (one to Ireland, one to Australia). I don't know how much choice they had in the matter, and I don't know how much COVID will affect that (I suspect a lot). Housing issues with Boston colleges are another thing worth investigating.

    If financial aid is an issue, look into the differences between them in that area. I think of NE as very "all or nothing", but again, I could be wrong about that.

    At least with Bates and Northeastern there isn't a ton of overlap. They are both very well regarded, at least in New England.

    Good luck with your decision.
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  • whidbeyite2002whidbeyite2002 304 replies1 threads Member
    Paging @Lindagaf, Bates parent!
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  • ncelottoncelotto 28 replies8 threads Junior Member
    @helpingmom40 my intended major is mathematics/statistics/computer science with a possible minor in neuroscience/cognitive science (to go more the Artificial Intelligence route).

    @ThisNameNotTaken I personally love track and field. Besides the sport itself, I love being part of a team and a community. It's something that I'm committed to. I believe it will help my time management skills as well as setting my priorities. I also love the small undergrad population at Bates, allowing myself to connect with the professors there (that are top level). Again, I would have to get into these schools, but currently, I'm leaning towards Bates.
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  • PengsPhilsPengsPhils Forum Champion Northeastern, Forum Champion Math/Computer Science 4233 replies34 threads Forum Champion
    edited July 4
    @ncelotto

    If you are strongly interested in computer science, Bates doesn't even have a department for it, much less a major. Going into AI from the software side wouldn't exactly be ideal despite the extensive math department.

    As mentioned, Bates and Northeastern are drastically different schools in terms of the environment. If you're looking for schools with similar environments to Bates but with greater offerings in CS/AI, I'd recommend checking out this post as a starting point:

    https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/math-computer-science-majors/1814245-computer-science-at-some-smaller-schools-including-liberal-arts-colleges-p1.html
    edited July 4
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  • tkoparenttkoparent 473 replies10 threads Member
    Bates is a great school, and if you love running track, running for Bates would be a wonderful experience. We visited Bates and met with the coaches when my son was looking at schools, and the team has a very nice vibe. He ended up at a different LAC and being part of the track team has been a very important part of his college experience. As people have pointed out above, Bates and Northeastern are very different schools in very different environments - 18,000 undergraduates vs. 1800, Boston vs. rural Maine . It sounds as though the small size and and community feel of Bates appeals to you, and I think you should pay attention to that. We were lucky in that we were able to visit a wide range of schools when my son was looking. He realized very quickly that he would be more comfortable in a small school environment, and that has proved to be the right decision for him. I don't think you need to be concerned at all about Bates not being well-known or well-regarded among future employers, as Bates is clearly among the elite LACs. @Lindagaf may also chime in, as her daughter just graduated from Bates.
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  • merc81merc81 11882 replies203 threads Senior Member
    edited July 4
    As suggested above, the course offerings of Bates' two-year old Digital and Computational Studies program differ substantially from those of a traditional computer science program, and would not appear to offer a strong foundation for a student with an interest in AI. Nonetheless, if you would like to run in the NESCAC, you could find several colleges from which to choose that do offer long-established computer science departments with dedicated courses in AI, along with math departments that may also offer courses in machine learning.
    edited July 4
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  • LindagafLindagaf 10989 replies592 threads Super Moderator
    edited July 4
    With all due to respect to Pengsphil and all that Northeastern offers, I would unequivocally suggest Bates, for a number of reasons.
    (Full disclosure, my bias is clear.)

    I agree with everyone else that it’s hard to compare these two schools. They are extremely different, for reasons that have already been mentioned. City vs small town. Small cohesive campus vs large urban. Lots of student/professor engagement in smaller classes from the outset vs larger classes and, being honest, not as much student/professor engagement.

    Lewiston isn’t quite the faded mill town it used to be, but it’s not Boston, and it’s not quaint or charming. Certainly in the years that we’ve been visiting, it has improved dramatically and has plenty of fun places to eat, a nice river walk, a bird sanctuary next to the school, and easy access to outdoor activities. If being in a city is what you need, you won’t get that. However, many students go to Portland which is nearby, and it definitely has enough on offer to give you a city fix if you need it. Bates has shuttles that run to Portland, Freeport and even Boston.

    I think the main reason for choosing Bates is pretty simple: smaller classes from the start and a lot of student/student and student/professor interaction. It’s likely you will have a superior educational experience at Bates. Getting to know professors well is a very important advantage. Good professor recommendations can be critical for research positions, scholarships, and internships.


    I’ll address your question about name recognition and jobs. My D has a well paying job due to start in October. Meanwhile, she has a paid summer job too, doing analysis for a university. As an undergrad, she had an internship and a different summer research position, for which she received a grant from Bates.

    Bates has an excellent reputation among those who are familiar, but like many LACs, it isn’t a household name. Though things recently ground to a halt, D’s fellow grads are being hired: a clinical research job at a hospital, an advertising agency job, a teaching job, working for an environmental group based in the West, working in biochem, and a finance job. In short, no, her friends haven't been struggling to find jobs. One friend will be starting a prestigious year long scholarship program in the late fall. Hiring managers and grad school AO’s know about Bates.

    You are interested in NE co-op program. My D had no trouble finding a summer internship as a sophomore, and as a junior, did summer research. Everyone she knew did something similar during their summers.

    We know a lot of students who attend or have recently graduated from Northeastern. One had to spend her first semester in Greece. One graduated in 2019 and still doesn’t have full time employment. She did several really great co-ops as an undergrad, so I’m not sure why she isn’t employed now.

    D’s two best friends from home have tried to graduate “on time” and every summer have taken online courses so that they can complete all their coops. (To be clear, they chose to do this because they didn’t want to get a degree in five years.) One managed it, the other is still taking summer courses online to finish her degree. All three students I know well say they disliked that their friends would disappear to do co-oops and you never knew if or when you might see them again, because everyone’s schedule is different. Two of her friends did co-ops that they felt were boring and “useless”. Of these students, only one is currently working.

    Northeastern unquestionably has the upper hand if CS is something of interest to you. But you can check out what @merc81 was referring to on Bates’ website. https://www.bates.edu/digital-computational-studies/
    It’s a new program, but I’m sure the standards are very high.

    I am sorry to be negative about Northeastern, and I agree that for some, co-ops are clearly an excellent way to earn money and get necessary job experience. However, I wouldn’t say that the students I know at NE universally loved their undergrad experience, whereas the students I know at Bates have loved their experience and they are getting jobs.

    I am not sure, at the end of the day, if the co-op programs make a big difference in students being able to get jobs over students who don’t do co-ops. Given the uncertainty of the economy at the moment, maybe co-ops will become much more important. Bates has enough of a reputation that I don’t foresee you’ll have trouble getting a job. I’m sure Northeastern grads are also getting good jobs, but I can’t help feeling that their college path may not have been quite as enjoyable.
    edited July 4
    Post edited by Lindagaf on
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  • ncelottoncelotto 28 replies8 threads Junior Member
    @merc81 @PengsPhils My "ideal" job would be a Data Scientist or something similar. Couldn't I, if I were to get in, major in mathematics at Bates and then get a Master's degree in statistics/computational statistics? Most data scientists have a master's degree, and mathematics, I have heard, is a very employable major, and can be combined with my career of interest. I think that even if I go to Northeastern, I would still be in the same position in terms of getting a Master's degree if I wanted to go into Data Science. Does that sound right, or am I missing something? Also, would you recommend any other NESCAC schools that are good for statistics mainly, or computer science? All besides Amherst, Williams, Tufts, and Middlebury, as I would not be able to run track at those colleges due to my times not being good enough. Maybe Wesleyan, Colby, or Hamilton? I am basing my decision more on academics of course, but running track is a huge added bonus that I would love to take advantage of unless I am greatly missing out on an opportunity for my education somewhere else. Thank you both for your insightful responses!

    @tkoparent I definitely believe Bates is well regarded now that I have heard from many people. And I have a meeting with the sprinting coach of Bates tomorrow. I would love to be part of a varsity track team. It's unfortunate that COVID-19 is prohibiting myself from being able to visit college campuses, but I am trying to make the most of it!

    @Lindagaf Thank you! Like I said earlier in this post, do you think it would be sufficient enough to major in mathematics here (if i got in) and then go on to get a Master's degree in statistics/computational statistics, etc to hopefully become a Data Scientist or something similar? I have not gotten the chance to visit due to COVID-19, but Bates seems like it would be an amazing fit academically and athletically. The coaches seem very welcoming and great and I am highly intrigued by the small class sizes, ability to build a connection with the professors, and still the opportunity to get internships and experience during my undergrad.
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  • LindagafLindagaf 10989 replies592 threads Super Moderator
    edited July 4
    Sure, you can do that. If you enjoy stats, check this out: https://www.bates.edu/math-stat-workshop/

    My D worked there. She has a very good foundation in stats now.
    edited July 4
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  • merc81merc81 11882 replies203 threads Senior Member
    edited July 4
    This brief, topical article comports with your understanding of data science, and suggests that the curricula at a range of schools, including Bates, could help you reach your career goals: https://www.hamilton.edu/news/story/shauna-sweet-03-shares-career-path-in-data-science. Note that data science appears to be a constantly evolving field, for which broader preparation may be an advantage, though even this interpretation remains uncertain.

    With respect to NESCACs particularly strong in math/statistics, Hamilton, Bowdoin, Amherst and Williams appear in a Princeton Review sampling, "Great Schools for Mathematics Majors." I believe Bowdoin lacks a statistics major/minor, however.

    Among NESCACs strong in CS, Hamilton devotes significant resources to its program: https://www.hamilton.edu/news/story/comp-sci-department-hosts-college-computing-conference.

    As additional suggestions, research Haverford and, as a geographical outlier, Carleton.
    edited July 4
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  • ncelottoncelotto 28 replies8 threads Junior Member
    @merc81 @PengsPhils I definitely agree with you guys. I think Hamilton would be a good fit as well, but what about Colby? I heard that they have a pretty developed mathematics/statistics program and they even have a data science minor. In terms of Northeastern, the co-op program is really the biggest factor in my eyes. Although it doesn't have as many undergrads as most public schools, it still has a significant amount more than the LAC's. But I am intrigued by their combined majors as well, one of which is Data Science and Behavioural Neuroscience, which I view would almost be perfect for what I want to do. I also love the Boston area, as I have been a few times. I have been in contact with one of their admissions officers since last year when he came to my school. It also has a lot of a capella groups that compete in the ICCA and others, which I am very heavily involved with at my high school (since I wouldn't be running track at Northeastern, I would certainly join one of those). Also, they do have a club running team, which I could join, but I would definitely rather be part of a varsity team.
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  • ncelottoncelotto 28 replies8 threads Junior Member
    Wesleyan also has a data analysis minor I saw.
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  • MidwestmomofboysMidwestmomofboys 4210 replies27 threads Senior Member
    edited July 4
    If the OP were willing to look outside the Northeast, Denison has both Comp Sci and Data Analytics departments/majors, plus a Neuroscience concentration. It is 25 min from Columbus airport (for ease of transportation) as well as from lots of Columbus internship opportunities. D3 athletics. Acceptance rate is about 29%.

    As a parent, I'd advise less worry about whether people have heard of a school (Bates, of course, is an excellent college), and more about whether a school meets a student's needs -- academically and otherwise. Framing the decision as between Bates and Northeastern seems unnecessarily narrow. Research coop programs, if those are of interest, such as Northeastern, Drexel. And research other LACs that will offer the academic programs of interest.
    edited July 4
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  • PengsPhilsPengsPhils Forum Champion Northeastern, Forum Champion Math/Computer Science 4233 replies34 threads Forum Champion
    edited July 4
    what about Colby?

    https://www.colby.edu/catalogue/PDF/?dept=DS
    http://cs.colby.edu/

    While Colby has an "official" data science minor, if you look at the requirements, you see it's almost entirely courses from the math department that you should find analogs for at most LAC's with good math programs, aka most schools discussed here.

    As noted in my post and seen on the link above, Colby doesn't have many AI-related courses, though they do have a decently extensive CS department in that they cover the basics. I did miss they have a Neural Networks class offered in Fall 2020, so based on all that, it sounds like a good option!
    I am intrigued by their combined majors as well

    Combined majors can be a bit of the same type of thing where the "official" name is more reflective of priorities than unique coursework. While Northeastern does offer extensive classes in both areas (more than LAC's will offer), you can likely get close with a strong math/stats + CS/AI + neuroscience/cogsci department and enough flexible requirements. Most LAC's will offer enough room to make your own combined degree there, but they need to have enough classes in all three departments.

    To really dive into this, you can basically do what I'm doing: look up course catalogs and faculty size in all three areas and ensure they aren't too limited. The next step is to look at degree requirements and see how much flexibility you have, or if the school offers a "make your own major" option. Even if they don't, having all three subjects means that your college choice won't limit your career or interests if they do change. If you take a CS course and decide you love it, you can then easily switch. Same for neuro/cogsci. It keeps your options open!
    Boston, acapella, etc

    That does sound good and maybe worth an application, but it's worth noting how different the experience is from a LAC. Northeastern's focus is very much on practical aspects given co-op and the preprofessional vibe isn't for everyone,. You won't get as much natural attention from profs, though it can be sought out. Class sizes will mostly be on the order of 50-100 (and things like gen chem goes as high as 200) rather than 10-20 or 20-40. It would seem to be in conflict with other things you want, but of course there are ways for both to be true so please consider it for yourself.

    Point being, while you can likely find good things at a lot of schools, you have to consider the larger picture (hard to do without visiting, I know :/). I loved my time at Northeastern precisely because I wanted the practical focus, the city campus + lifestyle, and it has a great program for my major. But for example, even though there are some LAC's with great rock climbing clubs (something I enjoy), it wouldn't have made up for the rural locations of LAC's for me personally. You need to find what are the most important aspects in your search and prioritize those :)

    I also agree on geographic expansion if you can - there are a lot more options out there that come into play.
    edited July 4
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  • ncelottoncelotto 28 replies8 threads Junior Member
    @PengsPhils @Midwestmomofboys @merc81 @Lindagaf @tkoparent @ThisNameNotTaken @helpingmom40 Let's say we take Northeastern out of the picture for right now a focus on the LAC's. I have reached out to a good amount of LAC coaches for track and field:

    Bates: I LOVE the coaches, the campus (from what i've seen on virtual tours), is one of the nicest ones I'm considering, its a NESCAC school (pro for me), but it lacks a comp sci and statistics department (even though a lot of math classes includes statistics concepts, which I assume is similar to most math majors at all schools).

    Wesleyan: It is in-state for me, so I am VERY familiar with the area, also a NESCAC school, I can major in mathematics/comp sci as well as minor in data analytics (but I've heard it is VERY liberal. I haven't mentioned this yet, but I'd prefer a school that is more neutral, but it isn't too much of a big deal; just a bonus I guess).

    Bowdoin: Coach seems great, AMAZING campus, NESCAC, but it doesn't have a real statistics department. It seems to be the most well-known and highest ranked school that have said "yes" to me, but I'm not too sure if that matters too much.

    Hamilton: The coach hasn't responded back yet (emailed him a few days ago), NESCAC, my friend is going there for tennis next year and he loved the campus and everything about the school, and it really does offer most/all the majors I'm looking for.

    Grinnell: The coach is pretty nice (he said that if I decide to go with Grinnell, he will "help" me get in; give me assistance in admission which is super good). It has all three majors (comp sci, math, statistics). But, it is the one that is not in New England, not in NESCAC. I'm not too sure I want to leave New England, but nonetheless it is a great school.

    I was also looking at Williams, Tufts, & Middlebury, but none have responded yet and their times may be a little bit too high anyway.

    I believe that all of these schools are pretty similar in terms of prestige and academic rigor (maybe Bowdoin is a bit above the rest (not including Williams, Tufts, & Middlebury)). So that is not too much of a worry. But from what I've said about these schools, what you know (if I were to get into whichever one I choose), which looks like the best fit? Which one looks like the worst? Are there any that seem like a DEFINITE compared to the others? Any that seem like an obvious NO? Given both my athletic and especially academic interests. It'd be great if I could get responses from different people because I am currently so torn!
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  • merc81merc81 11882 replies203 threads Senior Member
    For a brief opinion-post on several of your LACs of interest, see reply #12: https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/college-search-selection/2123956-p1.html.
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  • tkoparenttkoparent 473 replies10 threads Member
    Maybe @homerdog can provide her perspective - her S19 runs track for Bowdoin.
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  • ThisNameNotTakenThisNameNotTaken 116 replies2 threads Junior Member
    The academic fit is something only you can figure out, but Tufts is the most "one of these things is not like the others". Well except that Grinnell is in Iowa. To me the others are all roughly equivalent, with the main differentiator being location.

    One thing I will say, having visited both Wesleyan and Bates, is that Bates (and maybe this is the administration more than the students) seemed a lot more liberal than Wesleyan, which I was not expecting. Maybe it was because we visited Bates on "Indigenous Peoples' Day", so they had a few events going on. Some of the emails we have gotten from Bates also struck me as a little "out there". FWIW I'm a 60 year old white guy who self identifies as slightly left of center politically. I was expecting Wesleyan to be a lot nuttier than it turned out to be.

    40 ish years ago I was a kid from Connecticut who ended up going to college in Maine (Colby). I just love Maine to pieces and might end up retiring (say it ain't so) there. If you are considering Bates you should try to visit if you can, since Lewiston is an acquired taste, and the campus is pretty much right in it.

    Of the 3 CBB schools, Bowdoin definitely has the nicest town (Waterville is kind of "Lewiston-lite", but a couple of miles away from the Colby bubble). From what I have heard Hamilton, Williams and Middlebury are, in varying degrees, in the middle of nowhere. Don't quote me on that, though.



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