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Online college (TESC) to top tier grad school?

mwmnjsmwmnjs Registered User Posts: 10 New Member
edited August 2013 in Graduate School
Hi all!

I just got a great job and will be finishing up my Associates in Computer Science from my local community college this spring. Because the job I've obtain is related to my future career goals (software development) I plan to at least take a year off and make some money while getting hands on experience. However, In my recent college investigations I have discovered a state school called Thomas Edision State College in New Jersey (I am an NJ resident) that is pretty much completely online, offers a complete Computer Science BS, generously accepts transfer credits, is regionally accredited by middle states, and is also super affordable!

This of course isn't top notch education but it does seem to be a legit path I could take to "have my cake and eat it too" by gaining real world experience at a full time job while simultaneously earning a bachelors degree in a reasonable time frame.

My question for you all is then: What if I want to later pursue graduate level education? If I did I would this time opt for the top notch education route and apply to the best science and engineering programs: Stanford, MIT, Caltech, etc.

Assuming I maintain the requisite GPA and acquire the skills and test scores needed to enter into one of the aforementioned prestigious programs, would getting my BS at Thomas Edison College completely eliminate my chances at being accepted?

Any input is appreciated. Thanks!

edit: link to TESC website: http://www.tesc.edu/
Post edited by mwmnjs on
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Replies to: Online college (TESC) to top tier grad school?

  • CFB53BCFB53B Registered User Posts: 327 Member
    Yes, it would.
  • XaviFMXaviFM Registered User Posts: 952 Member
    Could he go to one of those schools from another regional state school?
  • CFB53BCFB53B Registered User Posts: 327 Member
    Could he go to one of those schools from another regional state school?

    To get into a top engineering graduate school, you don't need to go to a top undergraduate school. But you need to go to a respected school (a flagship). Since he is in New Jersey, Rutgers is a good example of a school that is not nearly a top undergraduate school, but it's well known enough that good scores and research coming from there can get you into a top school.

    But with a degree from Thomas Edison, people will always question your credentials (not as much as University of Phoenix, but they still will question them) and you have no opportunity for research or for meaningful letters of recommendation. You simple won't get into a very top graduate school coming out of there.
  • mwmnjsmwmnjs Registered User Posts: 10 New Member
    Alright, Thanks for the input. What about getting into a grad school like rutgers? Generally speaking, would employers and hr likely look down upon a degree from TESC or will it be a sufficient to fill that bachelors degree void?
  • Thomas_Thomas_ Registered User Posts: 629 Member
    Yes, most likely employers will look down upon it. And yes, it will reduce your chances to get into a top-tier grad school.

    However, I don't agree with the other posters in that it would "eliminate" your chances. The name of your undegraduate school *does* matter, but it's not the most important part of your application. Admission will certainly doubt the rigor of your undergraduate curriculum coming from such as school. Assuming you would do really well this means that your GPA won't be taken into effect, your GRE will count more, and other parts of your application (recommendations, research experience) will become even more important.

    Generally, to get into a top-tier grad you will need research experience, most likely publications, and recommendations from professors. If you have publications in well-known journals and recs from well-known professors then this can easily make up for an unknown undergraduate school, because you have proven yourself in other ways.

    However, attending such an online school will of course make it difficult to get into research or get to know professors. So it will indirectly hinder your chances more than it will directly hinder them because of its name.
  • CFB53BCFB53B Registered User Posts: 327 Member
    First, the GRE won't necessarily count more. The GRE tends to be more of a screening tool and less of a decision maker. A low score will eliminate you but a high score doesn't necessarily get you accepted, especially considering that the top schools have GRE Quant averages near perfect.

    Second, I agree that if you have multiple first author publications in an A journal in your field, you can write your own ticket. However that's like saying "if you run a sub 4.0 40 time and can throw a football 80 yards accurately on a rope, it doesn't matter where you play college football when applying to the draft." Those are superhuman feats that virtually no one can accomplish. Similarly, publishing in multiple A-journals as a first author as an undergraduate without substantial help from a well respected advisor is also superhuman. You should not go to a school hoping this will occur, because unless you are the type of person that won international awards in high school and have a full scholarship to Caltech, it's possible but the chances are incredibly small.

    In short, if your goal is to attend a top university for graduate school, you need to consider a school with well known researchers willing to work with undergraduates, not an online teaching college that is not well known.
  • juilletjuillet Super Moderator Posts: 12,493 Super Moderator
    I'm in the middle. Will going to Thomas Edison completely eliminate your chances? No, but you will have to work a lot harder to attempt to get in, and it will greatly reduce your chances. Grad committees will be wary of the quality of your education, since they tend to be biased (and rightfully so) towards brick and mortar education. Not to mention that you will also not have access to the opportunities it takes to get into graduate school - if you want to go to a PhD or research based MA program, you will need research experience. TESC can't give you that, nor will it give you the rigorous background you will need to succeed in a place like MIT or Stanford.

    If you are an NJ state resident with an associate's degree, why don't you just attend Rutgers part-time? I'm positive they have programs designed for working adults. Or look into Montclair State, NJIT or any of the other public universities in the state. NJIT may be particularly of interest because of their technology focus.
  • mwmnjsmwmnjs Registered User Posts: 10 New Member
    Hmm, what do you guys think the possibility of enrolling at TESC completing most of my CS degree there online and then transferring those credits to Rutgers to take my last classes at Ruts and thus receiving a Rutgers degree :D lol, would a scheme such as that ever be possible?
  • TrueAceTrueAce Registered User Posts: 33 Junior Member
    Such a scheme is not possible.

    Most universities require you complete at least half the degree (60 credit hours?) at their institution to receive a degree from that school.
  • Thomas_Thomas_ Registered User Posts: 629 Member
    First, the GRE won't necessarily count more. The GRE tends to be more of a screening tool and less of a decision maker. A low score will eliminate you but a high score doesn't necessarily get you accepted, especially considering that the top schools have GRE Quant averages near perfect.
    That's correct. However, especially for people from unknown schools the GRE tends to count more since it can demonstrate academic ability. I originally got this from http://nlp.stanford.edu/~rkarthik/DAGAP.pdf. Quote:
    A great GRE score will help the candidate a lot, especially if he/she comes from a lesser known university that the committee has not heard of. In spite of a good academic track record in such a college, it might be tough to convince the committee if the GRE score is low, since it casts suspicions on the overall quality of the candidate's undergraduate college. A good GRE score, on the other hand, provides further evidence in support of the candidate and assures the committee that the high GPA is not merely a fluke due to studying in a rather uncompetitive college.

    Of course, that's just one school and how the admission process works ultimate depends on the school. Still, it will probably be similar at other top-schools.
    Second, I agree that if you have multiple first author publications in an A journal in your field, you can write your own ticket. However that's like saying "if you run a sub 4.0 40 time and can throw a football 80 yards accurately on a rope, it doesn't matter where you play college football when applying to the draft." Those are superhuman feats that virtually no one can accomplish. Similarly, publishing in multiple A-journals as a first author as an undergraduate without substantial help from a well respected advisor is also superhuman. You should not go to a school hoping this will occur, because unless you are the type of person that won international awards in high school and have a full scholarship to Caltech, it's possible but the chances are incredibly small.
    Uh, sure it's incredibly difficult, but it was just an example to demonstrate that going to an unknown school does not *eliminate* (!) one's chances. No one expects you to have such publications and it's incredibly rare that someone does. However, ever lesser known publications and good recommendations from professors can easily make up for an unknown undergraduate school. Out of all these factors, the name of the undergraduate institution is certainly the least important.

    Also, just because you graduates from an unknown institution doesn't mean that you can never make up for missing research experience again. Sure, it may be more difficult to get involved in research at places you are not a student, but it's not impossible. Considering the thread starter would save 2 years of time, he could as well dedicate these 2 extra years to getting involved in research, in whatever way possible.

    Another thing to consider is that the op is a transfer student anyway, which means that it will be more difficult for him to get any research at his next university anyway. Professors are always wary of transfer students because they may not yet be used to academic rigor required in research. Also, he will need time to get to know professors anyway, something he doesn't have much of as a transfer. Transfers are often under more time pressure (and pressure to adjust to a new environment) to complete their requirements which leaves less time for research as well.

    Even if he transfer top a top-university it's rather unlikely (though not impossible) that he will get the research experience necessary to get into a top graduate school.
  • CFB53BCFB53B Registered User Posts: 327 Member
    Sure, it may be more difficult to get involved in research at places you are not a student, but it's not impossible.

    You're missing that this is an online teaching school. If you go there, then get into "Stanford, MIT, Caltech, etc." for graduate school, I will personally pay your tuition. Is there a single example of someone going directly from an online-only school for undergraduate to a top 10 graduate program in STEM?
  • XaviFMXaviFM Registered User Posts: 952 Member
    I imagine that could happen if he was an active duty military person dealing with high level practical application of his trade on a daily basis while doing the online degree from a submarine or the like.
  • Thomas_Thomas_ Registered User Posts: 629 Member
    You're missing that this is an online teaching school. If you go there, then get into "Stanford, MIT, Caltech, etc." for graduate school, I will personally pay your tuition. Is there a single example of someone going directly from an online-only school for undergraduate to a top 10 graduate program in STEM?
    I never said that he would have a chance to go *directly* from that school to a top graduate school. He most certainly won't. What I meant is that he can also get research experience after he completely finished his school/work though it will be more difficult to get involved. I am sure that there are people out there who got their undergraduate degree from an unknown or online school and eventually went on to a top graduate school. Of course not directly, something amazing must have happened in between :)
  • CFB53BCFB53B Registered User Posts: 327 Member
    I imagine that could happen if he was an active duty military person dealing with high level practical application of his trade on a daily basis while doing the online degree from a submarine or the like.

    It's possible, but when I've seen military personnel in top graduate programs, they're usually current or former officers (some schools seem to specifically like people from the military academies).

    But going back to the OP, does anyone seriously recommend enrolling in Thomas Edison State College online after an associate's degree as a viable path to a top 10 graduate program in Computer Science?
  • XaviFMXaviFM Registered User Posts: 952 Member
    No. They cannot.
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