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Need Opinions: University of Virginia or Georgia Tech

momofcollegeboundmomofcollegebound 12 replies5 threads Junior Member
HS senior daughter currently weighing top two acceptances and needs to commit to one by May 1st. Her intended major is Biomedical Engineering.

UVa - #28 national ranking, #39 undergraduate engineering, #23 undergraduate teaching
GT - #29 national ranking, #4 undergraduate engineering, #40 undergraduate teaching

While rankings are definitely important, other factors are weighing heavily in her mind. She has always been a well-rounded student and wants a "full college experience," with hopes of participating in music activities, athletic clubs, outing club, and possibly joining a sorority. She wants a safe/fun college town and a beautiful campus. She will study hard but she wants some balance of life during college. For these reasons, UVa is currently trumping GT on her list. But it is nerve-wracking to turn down GT, because it is such a strong engineering school. Interested to know your opinions. Making a decision is particularly hard because we live in the northeast, have not visited, and all accepted student days have been cancelled.
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Replies to: Need Opinions: University of Virginia or Georgia Tech

  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 10213 replies119 threads Senior Member
    Your D has two great options!

    Based on her criteria, it does sounds like UVA is a better fit for her in terms of beautiful campus and college town.

    That said, college is primarily about the academics. What is your D's plan post graduation? BME is one of those degrees that usually require grad school so undergrad may be less important than other engineering disciplines where you go straight into the work force after undergrad.

    What are the internship/co-op opportunities like at UVA? How active is their career center? (I know they are outstanding at GT).

    Has your D explored what's available at both schools in terms of music, athletics, outing clubs, and sororities? I believe all are available at both schools. GT's outdoor club has a FB page. She should look into the college webpages as well as social media accounts for all the clubs she's interested in at both schools to get a sense of the vibe and what they do through the year.

    I think sometimes students get a false impression that the engineering powerhouses are going to provide a less well rounded college experience. My D has friends in engineering all over the country, including at GT, and they are having a very full college experience.

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  • Mwfan1921Mwfan1921 5377 replies91 threads Senior Member
    I agree with all that momofsenior says.

    I've been to both campuses and a friend's S just graduated from GT in engineering and had a great experience.

    Both campuses are pretty.....GT is one of the nicest urban campuses anywhere, IMO. You would have to check the Clery reports for safety data, I know some may perceive GT as less safe, and certainly all urban campuses require situational awareness, but my friend's S had no issues while there.

    If your D is social and wants more of a traditional sorority experience, UVA likely wins there. But, academically, GT > UVA in engineering. See if you can get outcomes data by major from each school....salary data, proportion that go to grad school, etc.

    All in all she can't go wrong.
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  • WhrlingCollegesWhrlingColleges 74 replies1 threads Junior Member
    You can contact me about this if you’d like. GT engineering parent here whose student was faced with the same choice. There are actually a bunch of us whose kids had to choose between UVA and GT! Some even had instate tuition at UVA. Could not say enough good things about UVA and there are trying days at GT when the kids kinda wish they’d gone to UVA because they’d have an easier life. But in the end there is no comparison when it comes to engineering. GT is so far ahead. GT would have been the clear choice just for that reason, but luckily, there is so much more to enjoy at Georgia Tech than just studies. Greek life is prevalent and rewarding, and sports (esp football and basketball) are followed and enjoyed. There are so many extracurricular activities that it is hard to choose just one or two. Atlanta is no cutesy college town like Charlottesville, but it and its environs offer a great deal to do. Study abroad programs at GT are also much stronger than at UVA (this was important to us so we researched this). If biomed engineering is what you want and you got into Georgia Tech (#2 for BME after Hopkins), it would be very hard to turn that down.
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  • 4gsmom4gsmom 868 replies29 threads Member
    Just throwing this out there (mom of an engineer here): what happens if she decides engineering isn't for her? Where would she like to be?
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  • eyemgheyemgh 5785 replies124 threads Senior Member
    Rankings are actually not all that important. They are highly contrived and don't reflect outcomes. After all, that's what we care about.

    The parents who say school X is fabulous, because their kid goes there (or went there), me included, have little to no experience regarding what it would actually be like elsewhere. Those proclamations are primarily based on self affirmation. Any knowledge of other institutions is minimal and anecdotal at best for all but the rarest who have either attended more than one institution or who have multiple students at different institutions.

    I say that because what's most important is that your student choose they school that they think they would like the best and then not look back.
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  • sevmomsevmom 8865 replies62 threads Senior Member
    "the kids kinda wished they'd gone to UVA because they'd have an easier life." No engineering school is easy. UVA engineering is not exactly a cakewalk.

    Two great choices. GT obviously has great engineering programs and is very highly ranked. Rankings are interesting but there are other factors to consider. UVA has a smaller engineering program but is well respected and has very good outcomes. One third of undergraduate engineering students are women. Lots of other highly regarded majors if engineering does not work out. I would think about fit, cost, and logistics as well. UVA actually sounds like a good fit for your daughter from what you've described. Lots of UVA grads end up in the DC area . NYC also. attracts plenty of UVA grads. https://engineering.virginia.edu/about/facts-and-stats

    Good luck with the decision!
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  • athome2000athome2000 2 replies1 threads New Member
    Hey I’m currently a 3rd year Georgia tech student and I too faced the issue between having to decide between Georgia Tech and UVA for in-state. I was originally a Computer engineering major and am now a CS major.

    Both schools are very good overall, however Georgia Tech engineering and computer science is much better than UVA. Especially for Biomedical engineering, it is usually ranked anywhere from 1-3rd in the whole country. That being said, it is not easy and several people end up switching out of it. However the labs at tech and knowledge you get there is likely unparalleled to that of UVA.

    If we were to examine other majors such as Business and some select others, then UVA is a better choice since UVA’s business school is much better.

    To address the life here, of course Uva is a much larger party school than Georgia Tech. UVA is located near bars (21+) AND has many fraternities and sororities.

    Georgia Tech is more of a fraternity life since bars are not that close — 30 frats and 8 sororities. There are weekly parties on Friday nights and other fraternity events for their close friends, however these parties are of course usually no where as big as the ones at UVA.

    Another thing to consider is that Georgia tech has more guys than girls. While Tech has been trying to make it more equal, there is about 15% more guys. (Biomedical engineering however has a lot of girls, compared to other majors).

    Both schools have major sport teams like basketball and football teams. Both have many clubs, volunteering events, dance teams, choir, singing clubs.

    Overall UVA is a more fun school, but Georgia Tech better pushes you and makes you try your best to earn the most out of your classes.

    Let me know if you have any further questions.
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  • colorado_momcolorado_mom 9443 replies83 threads Senior Member
    Is she interested in Biomed as possible for premed? If so, go where it is easier to maintain a high GPA (I'm guessing that means UVA, but I don't know much about either school.)
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  • racereerracereer 410 replies1 threads Member
    @momofcollegebound My son is just finishing up his first year at GT. He faced the same decision last year between UVA and VT also. We are in state for VA. He felt the fit and atmosphere of GT was more for him. The opportunities in engineering seemed greater. He was accepted for Chemical Engineering but switched to Material Science Engineering before school began.

    My son had been in show choir and musical theater his entire HS career so he wanted to keep doing that in college. So this past year he joined Glee Club and made Chamber Choir. He joined the choir honor fraternity and a greek fraternity. He went to football games, something he never did in HS. This past semester he was able to do undergraduate research and that led to a summer internship at Sandia National Labs (if it doesn't get canceled). All this with 16 and 17 credit semesters (the choirs are 1 credit humanities credits) and was able to get a 4.0 so far. He has checked out DramaTech but hasn't tried out for any shows yet. My point is you can have the full college experience and class/life balance at GT. What type of music does your D do?
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  • LakeWashingtonLakeWashington 8927 replies483 threads Senior Member
    Agree with Eyemgh. Prospective students and their parents often have misconceptions about STEM schools. In the US we are fortunate in that we have many, many strong engineering schools, so "popular" ranking IS NOT a credible criteria for selection if it's your only criteria. As regards UVA ENGR vs Ga Tech ENGR, the foundation and basic ABET programs are the same. I will argue that Charlottesville is a great college town. A GaTech asset is that it reportedly has one of the STEM career fair programs in the nation.. You decide.
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  • sevmomsevmom 8865 replies62 threads Senior Member
    UVA has a great college atmosphere and also has great recruiting, as does Virginia Tech. Very nice options for many instate kids interested in engineering unless the fit is just not there ( as seems to be the case for racereer's son) or cost/money is either not an issue or there is good merit or financial aid elsewhere. In this case, neither school is instate . ABET accreditation , cost , fit, employment outcomes are also important at the undergraduate level , in addition to any rankings. My H is an engineer, as was his father. Private, highly ranked school, but poor fit for our sons, for both social and cost reasons. They enjoyed UVA and Virginia Tech instate for engineering and had very good outcomes. Georgia Tech and UVA are both great choices to have, but different . @momofcollegebound , what did your daughter decide?
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