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Where should this rising junior in CS look into?

WassupDonkeyDougWassupDonkeyDoug 0 replies1 threads New Member
Hello, everyone. I am, as the title suggests, a rising junior interested in studying computer science. I am not sure where I should begin touring/looking into. I was hoping I could get some help with that.

School Type: Private feeder to T20s
Ethnicity: White
Gender: Female
Income: Lower middle class, EFC of 5k-ish
Hooks: Rare family circumstances

Objective:
SAT I: 1520 (790 RW 730 M)
SAT II: Math 2 and Physics in December
Unweighted GPA (out of 4): Around a 3.7 cumulative
Weighted GPA (out of 5): Around a 4.0 cumulative
Rank: N/A
AP: My school does not offer APs, but I am sitting for/have sat for a handful of examinations. I took AP Psychology (5) last year. I will be taking the APUSH, AP Lang, AP Calculus AB, AP CSA, and AP Macroeconomics examinations next year. My senior year, I plan on taking the AP Physics 2, AP Lit, AP Latin, and AP Micro exams.
Major awards:
- A school award for my engagement
- A school GPA award
- Some cybersecurity contest awards, quite big ones
- Handful of debate awards
- Admittance to a very prestigious STEM summer program (10% accept rate, free) at one of the best CS institutions
- State-wide poetry contest award

Subjective:

Extracurriculars:

- President of a girls' STEM club, dedicated to fostering a love of STEM in girls. We do community service teaching girls to code.
- Research with a local university in VR, working on ways to improve VR therapy
- Web development intern for a local business
- Manager and developer for an education-focused organization
- Developer for a large tutoring organization
- Co-founder of a non-profit organization working on bringing a love of STEM to underprivileged students. Growing up relatively poor, I always had a dream of being a scientist but never anyone to truly spark an interest in a meaningful way, so I hope to bring this to other students. As of now, it's just a local program, but in time my partner and I hope to grow it.
- Outreach manager for a tech magazine, website manager for a health magazine
- Debate weekly instructor
- Robotics programming team member
- Varsity track
- Cybersecurity team
- Member of school coding club, help with web development projects
- Worked at a fast food restaurant
- Worked for a call center

Recommendations/essays: Too early to tell.

I want to study in a city at a medium-sized to large institution (but, in all honesty, I'm fine with a school of any size). I really want a good computer science program. I want more of a collaborative than competitive environment. I hope this is enough information to be able to get some help on here (gosh, I hope I don't sound demanding, I just don't know how to phrase things.) Thanks so much in advance.
20 replies
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Replies to: Where should this rising junior in CS look into?

  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 83947 replies745 threads Senior Member
    State of residency?

    Given an EFC of around $5k, you primary constraint will be affordability. Check the net price calculator on each college's web site to determine whether it is likely to be affordable, or if you will have to seek merit scholarships (competitive merit scholarships should be treated as "reach").
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  • coolguy40coolguy40 2951 replies8 threads Senior Member
    With computers, prestige is meaningless. The best thing to do is find a college you can afford. Sure, low income can help make private schools affordable with need-based aid, but generally that's the exception to the rule. The best place is an in-state university. Also you can find good university guaranteed scholarships. Check out Univ of Alabama, Univ of AZ, and Texas State University.
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  • PrdMomto1PrdMomto1 588 replies7 threads Member
    There are some schools that meet full need that you could look into, though many will definitely be a reach for any student applying. Rice in Texas is one and they have a strong cs program. Tuition/room and board completely covered if income is less that $65,000 and tuition covered if income less that $130,000 (assuming typical assets) Super collaborative environment if you're open to going to Texas.

    https://financialaid.rice.edu/
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  • neeniebneenieb 15 replies0 threads Junior Member
    georgia tech offers some pretty good merit scholarships and their CS program is elite, they provided me with one that cut my tuition in half, and helped me reach the rest of my need with an EFC of about 1k.
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  • WildestDreamWildestDream 455 replies4 threads Member
    CS admissions can be pretty competitive, so I would apply broadly to the top programs. These are graduate rankings, but the undergrad programs will be of similar caliber: https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-science-schools/computer-science-rankings
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  • PengsPhilsPengsPhils Forum Champion Northeastern, Forum Champion Math/Computer Science 4233 replies34 threads Forum Champion
    edited July 6
    As mentioned, with your EFC affordability will be key. A lot of public's won't offer financial aid, so focusing on privates and running NPC's (net price calculator) for your schools will help.

    Here are some private schools in/near cities with good CS programs at various levels:

    High Reaches: Stanford, CMU, Harvey Mudd, Columbia

    Targets / Low Reaches: Rice, Northeastern, USC, Case Western, Tufts, NYU (stingy aid but can sometimes give good packages)

    Academic Safeties (not financially): RIT, Stevens Insititute of Technology, Drexel

    Private city schools not as known for CS but solid, good targets: URochester, BU, Tulane, American, GWU

    edited July 6
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  • Rivet2000Rivet2000 1638 replies3 threads Senior Member
    edited July 7
    Keep Stanford on your list. Your profile reads like a good match.

    Also, don't let anyone fool you, all colleges are not the same and all CS programs are not the same.
    edited July 7
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  • MWolfMWolf 2802 replies14 threads Senior Member
    Rivet2000 wrote: »
    Keep Stanford on your list. Your profile reads like a good match.

    Also, don't let anyone fool you, all colleges are not the same and all CS programs are not the same.

    Yes and no. For the vast majority of jobs, they want is an engineering degree from an ABET-accredited school. There are also a lot of regional preferences. For a job in Dallas, TX, you can be sure than an engineering degree from UT or Texas A&M will open more doors than Stanford or Cornell.

    However, the most important thing is not prestige or name recognition - it is the relationship between the school and industry partners. Programs which have extensive connections, and have a very good system of internships, have great placement. On the other hand, there are some super-prestigious colleges with poor internship programs, and their placement rate is not as good. (well, relative to other engineering schools).


    @WassupDonkeyDoug Another factor to consider is how woman-friendly a program is. Many CS programs can have very hostile environments for women (my wife, who is a faculty member in CS has been active in women in CS organizations for a long time)

    The best colleges for women, which are also excellent CS programs are (I only included ones which would be affordable):

    Reaches (all are full need met) - Harvey Mudd, MIT, Stanford, Caltech, Columbia, Cornell, USC, Rice

    Matches where you could get merit funding: Ohio State, UMN, and Penn State, and Wisconsin,

    Other good programs are Rutgers or Michigan State, which may be safeties academically.
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  • kidzncatzkidzncatz 1144 replies7 threads Senior Member
    @MWolf I don't know about the other schools you mentioned, but Penn State is not a good choice for financial aid of any sort (merit or need-based), for instate or out of state students.
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  • Eeyore123Eeyore123 2090 replies25 threads Senior Member
    If OOS, then Wisconsin is also a poor choice unless you are will to pay 53k/ year
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  • CheddarcheeseMNCheddarcheeseMN 3730 replies14 threads Senior Member
    edited July 8
    Since you are taking so many AP tests and are budget constrained, you should include on your list schools that give you credit for those so you can graduate early . Agree that the some of the schools listed in #8 as offering merit actually don’t. UMN does offer some merit aid.
    edited July 8
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 83947 replies745 threads Senior Member
    edited July 8
    MWolf wrote: »
    Rivet2000 wrote: »
    Keep Stanford on your list. Your profile reads like a good match.

    Also, don't let anyone fool you, all colleges are not the same and all CS programs are not the same.

    Yes and no. For the vast majority of jobs, they want is an engineering degree from an ABET-accredited school.

    In CS employment (unlike for many kinds of engineering), ABET accreditation per se does not appear to be important in general (though there may be some areas like patent work where it can matter per se). For CS, ABET accreditation can be an indicator of meeting a decent minimum standard for a technically-based CS major, but many non-ABET-accredited CS major programs are also good (even though there are some that are low quality and should be avoided).

    Also, ABET accreditation is by major program, not school.
    edited July 8
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  • coolguy40coolguy40 2951 replies8 threads Senior Member
    To clarify something, getting a job in computers does not require a degree with ABET accreditation. Electrical engineering, possibly, but that's a different field altogether. CS graduates usually end-up in IT jobs, and spend an entire career never looking at a math problem.
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  • MWolfMWolf 2802 replies14 threads Senior Member
    kidzncatz wrote: »
    @MWolf I don't know about the other schools you mentioned, but Penn State is not a good choice for financial aid of any sort (merit or need-based), for instate or out of state students.

    I know that UMN and OSU are pretty good, and Wisconsin will come through, but I was under the impression that Penn State was decent with merit aid. My mistake.
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  • Rivet2000Rivet2000 1638 replies3 threads Senior Member
    A few thoughts:
    coolguy40 wrote: »
    To clarify something, getting a job in computers does not require a degree with ABET accreditation. Electrical engineering, possibly, but that's a different field altogether. CS graduates usually end-up in IT jobs, and spend an entire career never looking at a math problem.

    As I write this post, my son (BSCS with minor in math from Stanford, remaining at Stanford pursuing MSCS) is upstairs training a machine learning network as part of his summer (remote) internship. He’s trying to prove that reinforcement learning can be applied to new area. Math is heavily involved in his work. The take away from this is that CS is a broad field, and what you want to study and focus on is up to you. Many of the jobs actually do require quite a bit of math while others require no math at all.
    I haven’t seen any citations that break out the number and types of jobs out there. IT is a field (also broad) that some pursue, while many other pursue jobs in pure SW development, security, etc. Just Google “jobs for CS grads” and look for yourself.
    MWolf wrote: »
    @WassupDonkeyDoug Another factor to consider is how woman-friendly a program is. Many CS programs can have very hostile environments for women (my wife, who is a faculty member in CS has been active in women in CS organizations for a long time)

    The best colleges for women, which are also excellent CS programs are (I only included ones which would be affordable):

    Reaches (all are full need met) - Harvey Mudd, MIT, Stanford, Caltech, Columbia, Cornell, USC, Rice

    Matches where you could get merit funding: Ohio State, UMN, and Penn State, and Wisconsin,

    Other good programs are Rutgers or Michigan State, which may be safeties academically.

    I do agree that you should seek out schools where women are in key positions. When our son was sorting his acceptances, one of the things that attracted him to Stanford was the possibility of learning from people like Fei-Fei Li, a true bad a** woman in CS. She is a CS prof at Stanford, cofounder of AI4All (aimed at increasing inclusion and diversity in AI), and Co-Director of the Stanford Institute of Human-Centered AI. She teaches several undergrad classes, and runs one of Stanford’s AI labs. And, it’s not just one token woman, there are many women CS faculty at Stanford and our son was fortunate in taking many classes with them. I encourage you to research women faculty at Stanford and all the schools you are interested in.
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  • chmcnmchmcnm 780 replies6 threads Member
    Women in STEM is big right now. Look for schools that are trying to attract female applicants. Some names that stick out from reading other threads are Rose-Hulman and WPI. Maybe Georgia Tech.

    And yes there is a difference between a few select schools. That said, you can get a quality education and good job with a CS degree from a school that's not in the top 20. I went to Pitt for undergrad. I spent time on CMU's campus. You can get a top-notch education at Pitt. However, it was obvious that there are a few schools like CMU that are worth it...if you can get in and afford it.
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  • chmcnmchmcnm 780 replies6 threads Member
    MWolf wrote: »
    kidzncatz wrote: »
    @MWolf I don't know about the other schools you mentioned, but Penn State is not a good choice for financial aid of any sort (merit or need-based), for instate or out of state students.

    I know that UMN and OSU are pretty good, and Wisconsin will come through, but I was under the impression that Penn State was decent with merit aid. My mistake.

    PSU is not know for good merit. I think Minnesota is no longer good with OOS merit. They've raised OOS tuition considerably and cut merit. OSU was good with OOS merit but not sure if that's still the case.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 10480 replies124 threads Senior Member
    Most public flagships are not generous with merit for OOS applicants. And the higher ranked the program, the even less $ there is because they don't need to lure students.
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  • MWolfMWolf 2802 replies14 threads Senior Member
    edited July 8
    @Rivet2000 You're really pushing Stanford hard, aren't you? 😄

    As you should, of course, and it is an excellent choice for CS.
    edited July 8
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  • Rivet2000Rivet2000 1638 replies3 threads Senior Member
    It's the one that I have first hand experience with. I'm sure others will pitch in with first hand experience from other great schools as well....
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