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UW Madison vs U of MN Twin Cities


Replies to: UW Madison vs U of MN Twin Cities

  • AlexandreAlexandre Registered User Posts: 24,563 Senior Member
    I wonder how people could differentiate between schools in the Big 10. I even used to do so myself. Upon deeper analysis, however, I have noticed that the majority of Big 10 schools are roughly equal in terms of quality.

    Michigan and Northwestern are the top 2 Big 10 schools, closely followed by Illinois and Wisconsin. After those 4, the remaining 7 Big 10 schools are all roughly equal, each university possessing its own strength and weakness.
  • CoolbrezzeCoolbrezze Registered User Posts: 5,403 Senior Member
    I thought Michigan State University was the top Big Ten school.
  • rjkofnovirjkofnovi Registered User Posts: 10,362 Senior Member
    Coolbreeze. Did you ever make up your mind where you're going to attend college? :-)
  • bclintonkbclintonk Registered User Posts: 7,570 Senior Member
    rjkofnovi wrote:
    I only mention this because some of the posters in this thread seem to feel that Minnesota and Wisconsin are about equal. Clearly many do not agree.

    I think there's no question that for many decades Wisconsin was the better school. But Wisconsin has had bigger struggles to get resources from its legislature; there's a widespread perception among academics at least that it may be slipping a little as top academics leave for greener pastures. Minnesota, meanwhile, has been making a valiant effort to catch up, and notwithstanding its own ups and downs with the legislature appears to have made some progress. Most people I talk to in academia think Minnesota is on the way up, not on the way down.

    If you have the online edition of the US News rankings, do a side-by-side comparison. You'll see these two schools are pretty evenly matched in almost all statistical categories. Wisconsin has a slight edge in PA but that may be partly fumes from its past glories (not to take anything away from the great faculty who are still there, of which there are many, but reputation tends to be a lagging indicator). Acceptance rates are virtually identical, s/f ratios are very close. Wisconsin maintains a very slight edge in the qualifications of incoming students but Minnesota is rapidly closing that gap, having become much more selective in recent years; and that probably will continue as Minnesota's new cut-rate OOS tuition rate will attract a lot of new apps from OOS students, and also as the perception gap closes and more kids from both Minnesota and Wisconsin take a closer look at Minnesota as a real competitor to Wisconsin (remember, kids from either state can go to either school for the same in-state price, and historically that's meant a net export of top students from Minnesota to Wisconsin).

    The one place where Wisconsin has a decisive advantage is in graduation rates. Minnesota acknowledges this is a huge problem and is investing a lot of money and effort in trying to cure it, with some success to show for it already.

    Bottom line, the gap is closing rapidly and is no longer all that great. I'd expect it to continue to close, especially if the Wisconsin legislature remains as tight-fisted as they've been in the recent past.
  • ProudWolverineProudWolverine Registered User Posts: 250 Junior Member
    "I thought Michigan State University was the top Big Ten school."

    Northwestern is the most prestigious university in the conference, no matter how you look at it.
  • GoBlue81GoBlue81 Registered User Posts: 3,931 Senior Member
    I don't know when you went to Wisconsin, but having only one class where you couldn't approach a professor and stuck with a TA is hard to believe.
    That's not what I said. I had TA's in my discussion/lab sections but none in my lectures. Except for freshman English, I had a professor teaching in every one of my classes.

    This is generally true in most of the top research universities. The only courses without a professor are some of the intro courses, typically in math and foreign languages. But don't take my word for it. Look it up in the timetable; check out the instructors and see what kind of courses have TA's teaching the lectures(Office of the Registrar - University of Wisconsin-Madison)
    At the UW you will have a TON of TA's, not to say UMN won't, but it is much more prevalent at the UW.
    As for TA's I'm going off of the experiences of friends and family who have attended Wisconsin.
    But how could you conclude that the TA situation is more prevalent in Wisconsin. I don't have any data, but since the two universities are so similar, I would venture to guess that the TA situation are about the same. By the numbers Wisconsin also has an edge here:

    Wisconsin is the same size as Minnesota but has a smaller student/faculty ratio (13:1 vs. 15:1). It may be more logical to conclude that Minnesota has to use more TA's.

    Overall, Wisconsin does have stronger faculty and stronger programs. The numbers all confirm that.

    Don't get me wrong. I agree that Minnesota is an excellent school and the OP can get the same high level of education from either. I just want to make sure our discussion is based on facts and not hearsay.
  • GoBlue81GoBlue81 Registered User Posts: 3,931 Senior Member
    Sure the UW has a slight edge on the strength of student that attends, but when you have CSOM and IT at the "U" I feel it's a wash.
    IT is one of the more selective colleges at the "U". That is where you get your B.S. in Computer Science. Being in one of the better colleges there doesn't help compared to being in the Liberal Arts area (CLA) of the school?
    My mistake. I thought you were referring to MIS in Carlson. But I still don't understand why CSOM and IT would balance out a slightly weaker student body at Minnesota. Are you saying that Carlson is better than UW business, and IT is better than UW engineering? You are aware of course that all the rankings suggest otherwise.
  • GoBlue81GoBlue81 Registered User Posts: 3,931 Senior Member
    and that probably will continue as Minnesota's new cut-rate OOS tuition rate will attract a lot of new apps from OOS students
    You have a good point there. Why do you think Minnesota can afford that especially in the current environment?
  • DescarteszDescartesz Registered User Posts: 1,740 Senior Member
    My take, having been a student at both schools (and a TA at MN!)


    Regarding the campuses, my impression is that UW has an elegant core and the natural beauty of the lakeshore but UMN is somewhat unplanned and a hodge-podge of buildings split across multiple sites.

    Let me add that "brain drain" has been a concern at Madison since I was a student there in the '70's and somehow it has at least maintained its reputation. And, as a MN resident, I have no sense at all that U of MN is "improving" -- certainly the state keeps reducing the revenue it sends the U's way. But, as has been mentioned, the biggest drawback UMN has is the somewhat fractured nature of its undergraduate experience. A fairly large percentage of its students are commuters. "Spirit" is much more easily found at UW.
  • barronsbarrons Registered User Posts: 24,846 Senior Member
    I don't think an ACT average of 26 in anywhere near close to over 28 average. GPAs will vary from state to state and school to school but the ACT is the same everywhere. Also while there have been news stories of UW slipping, the facts are not supportive. UW has moved UP in total competitive research funding from around 5th to 1st (not counting the JH Federal funded national labs). It's faculty still are winning top awards at rates among the best for all universities (223 v 101 compared to Uminn). Same for NAS members and AAAS members. State funding has gone up far more than at Michigan, UVa and many other schools over the same period.
  • CoolbrezzeCoolbrezze Registered User Posts: 5,403 Senior Member

    I know my top choices but may not get accepted into neither... and I'm also having second thoughts about some.
  • rjkofnovirjkofnovi Registered User Posts: 10,362 Senior Member
    But barrons, Michigan still has a huge endowment compared to Wisconsin and I believe it like number three in the U.S. in research funding. Michigan hasn't relied as much on state funding for the past 30 years when they saw the writing on the wall.
  • MilwDadMilwDad Registered User Posts: 545 Member
    I don't have much interest in entering the argument about which school is better. As a Wisconsin grad I'm certainly partisan, but I also think all the Big Ten universities are great institutions, and objectively that's hard to deny.

    What I DO want to know is how a Wisconsin grad picks the name "GoBlue81" for a posting moniker. Blasphemy! :)
  • belevittbelevitt Registered User Posts: 2,005 Senior Member
    Many bright high school students in these two states are faced with the same decision. My wife was and she chose UW Madison. Her reasons were that Madison was walkable and didn't require a car the way that the Twin Cities might. She also liked the cohesiveness of the campus (though admittedly it has a couple of big streets running through it). It's a tough decision as they both are excellent in many academic fields and both have a strong tradition of excellence. I chose Madison but I chose based on the depth of instruction in Microbiology and the wide variety of languages available, I double majored in Hebrew. Best of luck in your decision.
  • rjkofnovirjkofnovi Registered User Posts: 10,362 Senior Member
    MilwDad. I've always wondered the same thing about GoBlue81. :-)
This discussion has been closed.