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Columbia Engineering VS Georgia Tech?

kaityb24kaityb24 9 replies6 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 15 Junior Member
Hey guys! So I committed to Georgia Tech about two weeks ago and was really happy about it. I was on a few waitlists for some really good schools but didn't expect to get into any of them. Well, I got into Columbia on Friday! Of course, I was ecstatic and amazed that I got in. Speaking to other people though, I started to realize it wasn't as easy of a decision as I thought, because Georgia Tech's engineering program is ranked significantly better. I guess I just want other opinions on whether I will be disadvantaging myself, career placement wise, going to Columbia for engineering? It's strange that Columbia's ranking is so much lower when my research shows very similar starting salaries for engineers. I have heard the theory that Columbia's engineering school isn't regarded as highly because it is simply different. Specifically, many of the students end up working in finance or consulting or medicine, etc. and not as straight-up engineers. Honestly, that sounds somewhat attractive to me. I am not 100% certain on being an engineer and I'm starting to think that I would have more options, should I not love engineering, at Columbia. For example, I could do the Applied Math major in the engineering school and then do something in math modeling. Versus at Georgia Tech, I think most students are there to be straight-up engineers and I might end up locked into that even if I didn't love it. Like, I wouldn't leave Georgia Tech with an engineering degree and be able to work in finance or as an actuary, etc. If any engineering students at either Columbia or Georgia Tech can confirm or deny what I've said so far and give me advice, that would be great! Here's where I stand on the other factors:

Location: I think Columbia wins this one. I live in New York (45 minutes from the city) and was a little wary about going as far as Atlanta anyway. I like the idea of being in the city, a world away from my family, but still close to home when necessary. Also, I think I would jive with the other students easier at Columbia. I'm pretty liberal and was worried about finding friends in the South.

Price: Actually got some money from Columbia. It would still be about an extra 20 grand to go there each year. That's not a huge issue for me, though. Sadly, I've accepted that I will have student loans. And if I really believe Columbia would be the better option for me if that's what I choose, I'm fine with the loans.

Environment: I think Georgia Tech might win this one. I found everyone to be friendlier at Georgia Tech. I also know that there is a real collaborative environment at Georgia Tech (a must for me), but I've seen mixed reports on whether Columbia is more collaborative than competitive. If anyone can clear that up for me that would be great. Also, I think there is more of a stress culture at Columbia from what I've seen. Georgia Tech isn't easy by any measure, but every video I've seen in the "Day in the Life of a Columbia Student," they're at the library till 5 am. I don't know if I'm cut out for that every night. 12 am is preferable lol. Also, I looove New York, but I don't know if I'm as much of a New York "hustler" as some of the students at Columbia are. Would this make me an outcast or feel uncomfortable?

Thank you for any advice you can provide!
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Replies to: Columbia Engineering VS Georgia Tech?

  • kaityb24kaityb24 9 replies6 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 15 Junior Member
    I completely forgot to mention the curriculum differences! From what I understand, I'd basically be taking math and science classes only at Georgia Tech and well that sounds appealing right now, I think I might actually go a little crazy without the humanities. So the idea of the Columbia Core and being able (and required) to take some humanities courses, read a few books, talk about philosophy, etc. is actually kind of nice. As long as Core isn't too overwhelming. I know it's less for engineers, but how much less? Like how much of my time would be spent on Core as an engineer?
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  • kaityb24kaityb24 9 replies6 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 15 Junior Member
    Hey guys! So I committed to Georgia Tech about two weeks ago and was really happy about it. I was on a few waitlists for some really good schools but didn't expect to get into any of them. Well, I got into Columbia on Friday! Of course, I was ecstatic and amazed that I got in. Speaking to other people though, I started to realize it wasn't as easy of a decision as I thought, because Georgia Tech's engineering program is ranked significantly better. I guess I just want other opinions on whether I will be disadvantaging myself, career placement wise, going to Columbia for engineering? It's strange that Columbia's ranking is so much lower when my research shows very similar starting salaries for engineers. I have heard the theory that Columbia's engineering school isn't regarded as highly because it is simply different. Specifically, many of the students end up working in finance or consulting or medicine, etc. and not as straight-up engineers. Honestly, that sounds somewhat attractive to me. I am not 100% certain on being an engineer and I'm starting to think that I would have more options, should I not love engineering, at Columbia. For example, I could do the Applied Math major in the engineering school and then do something in math modeling. Versus at Georgia Tech, I think most students are there to be straight-up engineers and I might end up locked into that even if I didn't love it. Like, I wouldn't leave Georgia Tech with an engineering degree and be able to work in finance or as an actuary, etc. If any engineering students at either Columbia or Georgia Tech can confirm or deny what I've said so far and give me advice, that would be great! Here's where I stand on the other factors:

    Location: I think Columbia wins this one. I live in New York (45 minutes from the city) and was a little wary about going as far as Atlanta anyway. I like the idea of being in the city, a world away from my family, but still close to home when necessary. Also, I think I would jive with the other students easier at Columbia. I'm pretty liberal and was worried about finding friends in the South.

    Price: Actually got some money from Columbia. It would still be about an extra 20 grand to go there each year. That's not a huge issue for me, though. Sadly, I've accepted that I will have student loans. And if I really believe Columbia would be the better option for me if that's what I choose, I'm fine with the loans.

    Environment: I think Georgia Tech might win this one. I found everyone to be friendlier at Georgia Tech. I also know that there is a real collaborative environment at Georgia Tech (a must for me), but I've seen mixed reports on whether Columbia is more collaborative than competitive. If anyone can clear that up for me that would be great. Also, I think there is more of a stress culture at Columbia from what I've seen. Georgia Tech isn't easy by any measure, but every video I've seen in the "Day in the Life of a Columbia Student," they're at the library till 5 am. I don't know if I'm cut out for that every night. 12 am is preferable lol. Also, I looove New York, but I don't know if I'm as much of a New York "hustler" as some of the students at Columbia are. Would this make me an outcast or feel uncomfortable?

    Curriculum: From what I understand, I'd basically be taking math and science classes only at Georgia Tech and well that sounds appealing right now, I think I might actually go a little crazy without the humanities. So the idea of the Columbia Core and being able (and required) to take some humanities courses, read a few books, talk about philosophy, etc. is actually kind of nice. As long as Core isn't too overwhelming. I know it's less for engineers, but how much less? Like how much of my time would be spent on Core as an engineer?

    Thank you for any advice you can provide!
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  • RichInPittRichInPitt 581 replies8 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 589 Member
    Examining the program of studies for GT, I see a required 26 credits of humanities, econ, social sciences, etc., plus a required Engineering Economics 1 credit class. Columbia's program description has a "27 points of nontechnical credit within the B.S. degree requirement."

    I wouldn't say a GT engineering education is "without humanities".

    Columbia certainly has a broader array of possible majors, but GT has 40+ BS major options. Be sure to examine the options and what your other interests might be. If you think you might want to switch to African American Studies (just to pick the 1st alphabetically), then Columbia would be a better choice. But don't just go by the numbers.

    Similarly, GT is a higher ranked, more well known engineering program, but Columbia is a top 20 and a well-known university as a whole - also don't just go by numbers with GT's higher rating.
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  • wykehamistwykehamist 119 replies3 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 122 Junior Member
    Hi @Kaityb24, congratulations on your acceptances to both Ga Tech and Columbia Engineering. Both are excellent engineering schools.

    You are right; Columbia Engineering is quite different from most other engineering schools, because it requires you to take half of Columbia's famous "Core Curriculum", and it requires to you take a few "non-technical" courses in addition to those. If you think you'll like that kind of approach to your undergraduate eduction, you probably will, and it's certainly different from the approach that Tech has. But I would encourage you to not focus on generalities, but instead look closely at the particular kinds of programs you are interested in, at each school. What are the requirements; what are the electives. If you're not sure what specific program you would take, what are the options? Tech is terrific in several particular departments, but Columbia is very strong in several as well. Where do your interests lie?

    As for rankings, they can be helpful, but don't let them make your decisions for you, either: they often reflect the general reputation of the university, or narrowly track the scholarly output of a department's faculty, not the quality of teaching in a particular undergraduate programs, or the actual student/faculty ratio.

    Two final points, if you want to talk generalities: First, yes, Columbia is very competitive, because you have a lot of people who expect to go on to be leaders in their fields. You'll probably find a few of those kinds of kinds of people at Georgia Tech, as well, though maybe not as many. But it's competitive all over.

    Second, Atlanta is a great city, but New York is a singular place. PM me if you want to discuss further. Good luck!
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  • scubadivescubadive 1091 replies3 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,094 Senior Member
    edited May 12
    Industrial engineering at GT sends many grads to consulting as does the business school. Lots of grads from GT do not do engineering jobs. While GT is a stem school its not like all students only talk about stem. And of course students at GT can go work in finance or become an actuary. However if you want to work on Wall St, Columbia is in its backyard. Also if you want to work in NY going to Columbia will give you more contacts there. However on the other hand you may really like the more relaxed atmosphere of Atlanta and the warmer weather.

    And in terms of studying I doubt Columbia students spend more time studying than GT. I also doubt Columbia students or any student at any school are studying until 5:00am on a regular basis.
    edited May 12
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  • GreymeerGreymeer 724 replies9 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 733 Member
    edited May 12
    Sounds like you want to be in New York. Atlanta isn't New York.

    The thing you need to know is that "starting salaries" aren't adjusted for regional cost of living.

    Starting salary of 80k for GT and Columbia aren't equal. 80k in Atlanta is 160k in NY or San Fran.

    GT roi > Columbia

    Recently here, there was another student choosing between Penn and GT with Penn costing 100k more over 4yrs. With AP credit, he could graduate from GT in 3... every respondent told him to choose GT... and he chose Penn because of prestige. At the end of his 4 years, he'll be ~200k in the hole.

    There are also anecdotes about big money financial services or consulting jobs if you attend ivies. These aren't 40hr a week jobs... more like 60 to 80 on call jobs. So yes you make big money but you are also working 2 jobs. The hourly rate is half of an engineering job. Because of burnout, the lifespan of these jobs for a new hire is just a few years.

    "... you have a lot of people who expect to go on to be leaders in their fields. You'll probably find a few of those kinds of kinds of people at Georgia Tech,"

    80% of GT students are academically qualified to be at Stanford. 50% MIT.

    Columbia has 8k ugrads, 19k grad
    GT has 15k ugrads, 8k grad

    GT could easily fill Columbia with qualified ugrad students... and then some.
    edited May 12
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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 3457 replies11 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3,468 Senior Member
    So my sons at Michigan for Industrial engineering and wants to go into business also and using engineering to get there. At GT this is the number 1 ranked program (Michigan is number 2).
    http://catalog.gatech.edu/programs/industrial-engineering-economic-financial-systems-bs/.

    See you can go into fiance etc with this or other degrees. Educate yourself a bit more before deciding. BOTH schools are very rigorous and you will have Many late study nights... Welcome to college 🎓😉. Both are very tough schools.

    Too me there's not a decision between these schools. If GT is actually the less expensive option I would go there in a heartbeat. There is no other place like New York so comparing other cities to it doesn't make sense. Maybe Chicago.. But that's not your option now.

    Nice thing is after 4-5 years of study you can live anywhere you want with either degree. You will quickly figure out not having to pay on $80,000 loans is a good thing when getting your first real apartment /car /stereo etc. It's a lot of money for zero to little perceived gain. Just my 2 cents.
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  • 1NJParent1NJParent 1066 replies27 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,093 Senior Member
    Columbia's starting salary figures are distorted for traditional engineers as a significant portion of them end up working on Wall Street.
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  • Sunny66Sunny66 273 replies14 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 287 Junior Member
    It's one thing to pay an extra $80,000 if you can write the check, but quite another to take on that kind of debt. How much would that extra money compound over 40 years? I would pick GT, especially for engineering,
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  • chaphillmomchaphillmom 44 replies6 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 50 Junior Member
    While I'm fairly new on CC boards, I've learned a lot from the wisdom of of other parents as I start navigating this process with D20. One theme that comes through so clearly: avoid debt!!! And, if you are able to limit debt and still go to a top engineering program like GT, then what a wonderful opportunity. I haven't dealt with college loans for about 18 years, but if I could go back and talk to 18 year old me, I would have taken a completely different approach to college searches and decisions. You have two great options, but I think all of us who have had to deal with loans, rent, mortgages, car purchases etc. are looking at it from the perspective of financial stability.
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  • bluebayoubluebayou 26588 replies174 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 26,762 Senior Member
    GT is a better Eng program, but as a New Yorker, Columbia is the wow factor that will impress your parent's Yankee friends. Can the 'rents pick-up the $80k, since you will not be able to borrow it yourself? In other words, is it worth $80k to your parents to say their kids goes to Columbia?

    if not, then GT is a much better value?
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  • CU123CU123 3315 replies58 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3,373 Senior Member
    The difference will be in the students you will meet at GT vs Columbia. At GT you will meet very smart student who's entire focus will be on engineering. At Columbia you will be with a much more diverse cohort all of whom are very intelligent and accomplished with a number of different interests. Is it worth the extra $80K IMO yes but that's really a choice you have to make. Others would say its not worth it.
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  • scubadivescubadive 1091 replies3 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,094 Senior Member
    CU123 You are very mistaken to think GT grads are so narrowly minded and that the student body is collectively only engineering focused. Many of these students could just as well be at any other elite institution. Then lets talk about diversity at Georgia Tech which has an extremely diverse student body who are extremely intelligent and accomplished with diverse interests.
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  • kaityb24kaityb24 9 replies6 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 15 Junior Member
    Hey guys. Thank you for all of your input. I’ve been taking it to heart. Upon, wykehamist ‘s suggestion, I looked more into the specific programs I would be interested in. I remembered from my visit that Columbia has an Applied Math major within its engineering department. That sounds really appealing to me. Like I said, I am definitely not 100% set on engineering, it’s hard to know that in high school. I really love math- algebra, calculus, I love calculus! But the little exposure I’ve had to upper level math has not been good, I took like an abstract algebra class and did not like it at all. So I said, okay I like real-world applications of math, that’s why I like ab calc (and parts of bc) so much. But I knew I couldn’t be a math major if I didn’t want to get into abstract level math. So it was always down to engineering or applied math. I’d heard that it would be best for me to start in engineering and switch to applied math if need be, because switching into engineering is incredibly difficult. So I applied engineering and I’ve been in that mindset for such a while now that I think I haven’t been giving applied math enough thought lately. So I’m not saying I have changed my mind now, but I am starting to realize it is very likely I will change my mind in college. With that being said, I think I’d have the most options at Columbia. I know georgia tech recently got rid of their applied math major and made students get math degrees with a concentration in applied math. I don’t know what exactly that means for their program. If anyone can speak to GT’s applied math program or really tell me anything about applied math at all lol, please let me know. But speaking to some adults I know who work in STEM, it seems that most are saying definitely Columbia for Applied Math. And I would be fine at both for engineering, but it would be a big waste of money to go to Columbia for flat-out engineering. So essentially I need to decide what I want to do with the rest of my life in the next four days. No stress there at all haha. Any advice you can provide would be great! As a calculus lover but abstract, theoretical math hater, would I be more of an applied math or engineering person? And would Columbia be worth the extra money if I did decide applied math is a likely interest of mine? It’s hard to tell with such little exposure in high school. Thanks!
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  • scubadivescubadive 1091 replies3 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,094 Senior Member
    Have you looked into industrial engineering which is solving business problems/optimization using mathematics? Its a business engineering degree so to speak and oh by the way GT’s program is considered tops being number 1.
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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 3457 replies11 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3,468 Senior Member
    @scubadive.. Look up stream. Great minds... Think alike 😏.
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  • happymomof1happymomof1 29395 replies170 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 29,565 Senior Member
    First off, where is the 20k difference each year going to come from? If that is pocket change for your family, well then, fine. If it means you need to take on the standard federal loans ($5,500 freshman year, $6,500 sphomore year, $7,500 junior year, and $7,500 senior year) while you would have had no debt for GT, and your family can scrape together the rest, well then fine. But if it means you have to come up with a cosigner to take on more debt than that and/or your parents are going to have to go into debt, then no, it's not fine.

    I understand the temptation for a NYC area resident to stay close to home at Columbia, but run the numbers carefully. You don't want one cent more of debt than you absolutely need. Pick up the phone and call Columbia. Talk with the financial aid office. If you commute to save on housing costs, how will that change your aid package?
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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 3457 replies11 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3,468 Senior Member
    Personally If your family has the money easily I would still go to GT. Graduate with no debt. Put some of the cash going to be spent in an investment account. This way you will be way ahead when you start your life.
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  • deadgirldeadgirl 87 replies18 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 105 Junior Member
    I'm deciding between CMU and Columbia for CS right now. I feel this post so hard, lol.
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