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MIT or Berkeley?

bkiag1bkiag1 Registered User Posts: 18 New Member
edited April 2012 in Graduate School
I was admitted to Berkeley and MIT for EECS PhD and am having a tough time deciding where to go. Here is my pros and cons list:

1. Would-be-advisor is awesome in the field I want to go into, it is even rumored he will win nobel prize soon. His grad students have greats things to say. He has put a lot of effort in convincing me to come
2. It's in California. Sun, girls, LA a 5 hour drive away, longer if I take the pacific highway
3. It's near silicon valley (didn't get into Stanford ): and advisor has multiple businesses in area, i.e. good connections. I think I want to do something entrepreneurial after graduation
4. CON: idk if Berkeley is considered to be as cool as places like MIT, Stanford, Harvard, etc. If I ever change fields, working for awesome advisor won't carry as much weight as MIT
5. CON: Would-be-advisor is 65

1. Would-be-advisor works a lot with DARPA and lincoln labs. Research is interesting to me.
2. Cambridge/Boston is a huge college town. Lack of girls at MIT can be made up for by hanging out with people from other schools. Harvard right down mass ave.
3. I relate well with people at MIT in terms of problem solving, but i'm probably more laid back like people at berkeley
4. Majority of MIT is grad students; majority undergrad at Berkeley
5. CON: Boston is cold and ugly compared to california
6. CON: MIT is probably more stressful than berkeley

Please post anything you want. I am listening to any and all opinions
Post edited by bkiag1 on

Replies to: MIT or Berkeley?

  • nwcrazynwcrazy Registered User Posts: 161 Junior Member
    Having worked in the software and aerospace industries with employees from many of the top schools, I can tell you that it doesn't matter whether you get a Ph.D from Berkeley, MIT, Harvard or Stanford. They are ALL elite institutions and are looked as such. You won't go wrong with any decision you make. A Ph.D from any of the 4 schools will mean you'll be labelled right from the "get go" as being smart.

    Really, I think the location of the school should not be a major consideration. As for being stressed out, that happens at ALL elite schools. It really is an individual thing and not really based on where you go to school. If you're the type to put a lot of pressure on yourself and you get stressed out a lot, you'll get stressed out regardless of the school.

    The one major item that I would look at closely is the PI's age. Does he/she plan to stick around the 4-6 years it will take you to get your Ph.D? If so, he/she would be the best choice since he/she is doing research in your area of interest.
  • eaglesfan90eaglesfan90 Registered User Posts: 62 Junior Member
    I wouldn't associate Berkeley with sun tbh... I do like the weather much better than Boston because it's very mild. However, Palo Alto is where the sun is, not the SF area.

    Boston is a huge hub for entrepreneurs as well, so you'll have plenty of opportunities for that at MIT. Still, Silicon Valley is #1 for entrepreneurship.

    In the end, you can't really go wrong, so maybe just think about what your very top priorities are. I chose based on which one I thought would give me the most options/opportunities and best connections after graduation.
  • molliebatmitmolliebatmit Registered User Posts: 12,374
    Lack of girls at MIT can be made up for by hanging out with people from other schools.
    Good news! It's no longer 1960, MIT has actually begun to admit a few co-eds.

    (Seriously, MIT is 40% female.)
  • MasonPH650MasonPH650 Registered User Posts: 1 New Member
    I'm a second year doctoral student in Course 6 at MIT. Your potential advisor's initials wouldn't happen to be VC would they? Anyway, I know a few postdoctoral fellows from Berkeley and they love it here academically.
  • bkiag1bkiag1 Registered User Posts: 18 New Member
    Mason: nope
  • b@r!umb@r!um Registered User Posts: 10,171 Senior Member
    For what it's worth: I crossed MIT off the list and got ready to go to a less prestigious program solely because the grad students at MIT struck me as uniformly stressed and depressed - that was not a life I wanted to live for 5 years. (Luckily I got off the waitlist at Stanford right before April 15 and now I have happy grad student colleagues as well as prestige.)
  • urnotsmarturnotsmart Registered User Posts: 5 New Member
    berkeley, imo:

    better weather,

    interesting yet eccentric atmosphere — cool homeless people (mostly), funky but charming architecture (some greco-roman buildings + newer buildings + intermingling, mature flora), forest, hills, bay, beautiful views from campus and from the hills behind it, student demographic more diverse with many brilliant students and faculty — which i think is preferred to mit's by most people,

    better "spread" of academic routes: for example berkeley's graduate research is flourishing right now, putting out more papers, many of profound application or insight illuminating novel areas to be studied, than mit, most ivy's, arguably stanford... and is keeping pace with harvard, princeton, yale, and the like. meanwhile, the undergraduate program is also among the best of the best, arguably the most rigorous in certain majors. but many of the easier, less ambitious programs are top-notch with great professors. basically, berkeley offers strong programs for students of about any academic aspiration.

    e.e.c.s. will be slightly easier going at berkeley than mit, but will not limit you professionally much if at all. bay area. nuff said.

    ULTIMATELY, however, in spite of everything just said: it doesn't matter a whole lot. whichever campus feels right, in the gut, will serve you just fine... as long as you're willing to work hard and take your education seriously.
  • sakkysakky - Posts: 14,759 Senior Member
    2. It's in California. Sun, girls,
    2. Cambridge/Boston is a huge college town. Lack of girls at MIT can be made up for by hanging out with people from other schools.

    While this comment may actually be inappropriate for this discussion forum - but hey, you brought it up (and mods, if you want me to delete this post, then fine, just tell me) - Berkeley is not exactly associated with attractive, date-able girls. We're not talking about USC or UCLA and certainly not UMiami. This is Berkeley we're talking about. The city of Berkeley is noted for a bevy of offerings - world-class, diverse cuisine; cultural enrichment; the artsy, bohemian vibe - but this particular aspect is not one of them. Frankly speaking, the Boston/Cambridge area is probably better in that respect.
  • urnotsmarturnotsmart Registered User Posts: 5 New Member
    i don't know about the rules, but "mate-viability" seems to me as relavent a consideration as any; for some people, finding a partner is their primary motivation for attending university. but hopefully said topic won't subjugate the rest, due to sexual interest. nonetheless:

    the majority of men will not be thrilled by the average physical attractiveness of women/girls at berkeley, though adjustment does occur like anything else. BUT, there are some da'nn'n fine gems... and by fine i don't simply mean the superficial standards of beauty most people in 21st century society are steeped in. i mean some combination of sexy, deep, wild, crazy-smart, crazy-awesome, and just plain different (word playin... spell different).

    if you like loud, bar-hopping, barf-mopping, simple, etc. boston might have the one for you. (i'm kidding. i took a couple classes at mit but have spent years in berkeley. so i dunno a whole lot, other than you'll have a higher percent white demographic in boston.)

    and if you're gay, you already know where to go. yo!
  • Thomas_Thomas_ Registered User Posts: 629 Member
    I never really understood the girls argument for grad students anyway. How likely are you to meet someone in school as an EECS graduate student? Not very likely I would say. Your classmates won't be female, your colleagues won't be, even you students as a GSI won't be ;) You most likely won't join student organizations and clubs either.

    Thus, I think a more important factor is probably the attractiveness of girls in the city or close-by cities. And San Francisco is pretty good in that regard. Most people would say it's better than Boston. Also, if you like Asian girls, Berkeley certainly isn't a bad place to be either.

    Btw, I was at UCLA for 2.5 years before coming to Berkeley. I didn't actually see any difference in terms of attractiveness of girls. But maybe I'm just ignorant.
  • sakkysakky - Posts: 14,759 Senior Member
    Thus, I think a more important factor is probably the attractiveness of girls in the city or close-by cities. And San Francisco is pretty good in that regard. Most people would say it's better than Boston.

    I'm not entirely sure I would agree with that. But even if I did, the fact is, the journey from the Berkeley EECS department at Soda/Cory Hall to any of the dating meeting grounds in San Francisco is not trivial. You as an EECS grad student can't simply decide to swing by North Beach to meet for a quick lunch with somebody. That's easily a 45-minute one-way jaunt, including the bus ride from Cory to BART and the bus ride from BART to NB. Or, if you have a car, then factoring in the never-ending snipe-hunt for parking in San Francisco.

    Reasonably speaking, as a Berkeley student, SF is a locale you can reasonably visit only during the weekend, if that. Having somebody agree to meet you for a weekend appointment therefore means that you've already managed generate sufficient interest to close the initial sale. But that doesn't answer the question of how do you even get the chance to generate that interest in the first place?
This discussion has been closed.