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Turning down an Ivy League

user_678320user_678320 5 replies3 threads New Member
Hi everyone, I'm about to turn down an admission offer at Columbia University school of General Studies for admission at the University of Michigan- Ann Arbor LSA to study computer science undergrad.

The costs come out to be nearly identical including cost of living disparity due to better financial aid offers at Columbia University. Despite this, I was loving the positivity and warmth I received from the professors I talked to about my research interests at Michigan meanwhile didn't feel the same acceptance from those at Columbia. It felt like they were more involved with their graduate students than their undergrads. I also loved the big Michigan pride and large campus size that were lacking at Columbia.

Though I'm really happy with my decision, there's a voice in the back of my head saying I'm making a big mistake by turning down the Ivy league in favor of studying at a public state school vis-a-vis reputation and doors it may be open in terms of jobs and graduate programs.

Should I reconsider? Am I making a mistake?
22 replies
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Replies to: Turning down an Ivy League

  • NJCityNJCity 147 replies2 threads Junior Member
    Go wherever you are happiest, both will give you similar job prospects.
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  • Luckyjade2024Luckyjade2024 848 replies13 threads Member
    Columbia!!!! will open a lifetime of doors...unless you really don't want to go...I would re-think before you commit.
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  • MidwestmomofboysMidwestmomofboys 4263 replies27 threads Senior Member
    Michigan is a phenomenal research institution -- and Ann Arbor is a great college town. Enjoy!
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  • ArtsyKidDadArtsyKidDad 193 replies19 threads Junior Member
    edited August 9
    Ann Arbor... NYC... Ann Arbor... NYC...
    While other aspects, like prestige, job prospects, might be (almost) the same, especially in the Midwest, I cannot imagine a starker contrast between locations. I would suggest you solve "the Center of the Universe" vs. "a slightly claustrophobic campus town in the Midwest" puzzle, and then you will be happy with your choice.
    I wouldn't pay much attention to the first impression of professors' "positivity and warmth," unless you surveyed a representative sample of people you are going to deal with - and I doubt you've had a chance to do that.
    edited August 9
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  • Luckyjade2024Luckyjade2024 848 replies13 threads Member
    agree with @ArtsyKidDad Don't go by warm and fuzzy by speaking to a professor or two.
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  • PublisherPublisher 11892 replies161 threads Senior Member
    So...you turned down one Ivy League school for another--except that this Ivy knows how to play football.
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  • coffeeat3coffeeat3 176 replies1 threads Junior Member
    edited August 9
    @user_678320
    Are you passionate about Columbia's core curriculum ? Also a difference in General Studies vs Computer Science. You mention you like the school spirit, larger size and undergrad experience at UMich - what do you love about Columbia besides it is an Ivy league school?

    You received an acceptance to two amazing institutions and very different in so many ways. Take the names out of the equation and where do you see yourself. Which ever one you end up attending, you will also know that you were accepted to two great schools and are a very qualified candidate.
    edited August 9
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  • chmcnmchmcnm 877 replies8 threads Member
    One of my son’s classmates did the same thing this year. Picked a state school over an Ivy. Free ride and guaranteed admission to med school.

    Both amazing schools. Go where your heart tells you and don’t look back.
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  • merc81merc81 12052 replies205 threads Senior Member
    edited August 9
    coffeeat3 wrote:
    Also a difference in General Studies vs Computer Science.
    Note that it appears the OP would be interested in studying computer science at Columbia's School of General Studies, a division within the university.

    coffeeat3 wrote:
    Are you passionate about Columbia's core curriculum?
    SGS differs from Columbia College in this aspect in that SGS requires a modified, presumably less extensive, core curriculum.

    @user_678320: Consider this example of a collegiate "greatest regret," then draw your own conclusions: https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2014/10/15/charlie-baker-takes-proust-questionnaire/p2B2GsYFIUnYnVLsZCiX3I/story.html.
    edited August 9
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  • simba9simba9 3398 replies20 threads Senior Member
    edited August 10
    Job-wise, a resume from someone with a CS degree from Michigan will be just as good as someone with a CS degree from Columbia. For CS, where you go to school isn't as big of a deal as it is for other academic fields. The only thing I would be concerned about is size of classes. I'm assuming the entry-level CS classes at Michigan will be a lot bigger than those at Columbia. That matters to some students.

    If you felt comfortable at Michigan and uncomfortable at Columbia, go to Michigan.
    edited August 10
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  • CalCUStanfordCalCUStanford 254 replies5 threads Junior Member
    While I had a great time at Columbia more than a decade ago, I would like to give you an honest feedback.

    For many eng. programs especially the CS one, Michigan probably is the choice of wisdom in terms of faculty research and reputation, high performance computing resources, progressive curriculum, student competitiveness and maybe job prospects, even though I have never set foot in wolverine territory. You should also be checking their respective CS sites (i..e, faculty profile and research, computing facility and resources, etc) for details with a highly analytical mind and follow a logical thinking process to analyze the whole situation. Having said that, CU may have allocated more resources into CS program in recent years.

    There are four different CS programs offered at Columbia GS:

    BA in Computer Science;
    BA in Computer Science and Mathematics;
    BA in Data Science (formerly known as Computer Science and Statistics);
    BA in Information Science.

    Which is yours, BA in CS? If you later decide not to give up the ivy prestige, make sure to take Prof. Karatzas' class (math & stat). He's probably the best professor I had and the only class I never cut at Columbia. :smile:

    But if you're looking for management consulting/IB type of jobs, Columbia may be the better choice. Side note: If you want to be a quant at top hedge fund firms on Wall Street such as D.E. Shaw or Renaissance Technologies, CU may have a proximity advantage (over Michigan) to land you an interview. However, these companies very often look for candidates with Ph.D in Math/CS/Physics/Statistics degree from best programs in the US/World.

    In terms of college life and campus vibe, I personally think UM has the edge over CU. For your info, I had my UG at UC Berkeley (L&S) and I think Cal and UM have many things in common.

    Finally, the safety issue with surrounding neighborhoods especially at night could be another important factor to consider...

    https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/university-of-michigan-ann-arbor-170976/overall-rankings

    Good luck!






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  • CalCUStanfordCalCUStanford 254 replies5 threads Junior Member
    And guess what, campus safety assessment at UMich does not look too good either, according to the link I found below:

    "Based on our analysis of the government information, University of Michigan Ann Arbor is a very dangerous place to be in. American School Search gives this school grade "F" on safety. From our perception of the data, there are some problems with forcible sex offenses, illegal drugs, nonforcible sex offenses, and aggravated assaults."

    https://american-school-search.com/safety/university-of-michigan-ann-arbor#:~:text=Based on our analysis of the government information,,illegal drugs, nonforcible sex offenses, and aggravated assaults.
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  • CalCUStanfordCalCUStanford 254 replies5 threads Junior Member
    My conclusion is that things can go wrong to anybody at anywhere at wrong timing.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 10820 replies134 threads Senior Member
    For CS, Michigan. Bonus that you like it better. Go Blue!
    · Reply · Share
  • jym626jym626 57909 replies3037 threads Senior Member
    How are you making this choice at this late date? And when did you “meet”’these professors during this pandemic?
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