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CS college recommendations for high stats student seeking merit

WIparent4WIparent4 20 replies4 threads Junior Member
my rising senior son interested in CS, anticipated NMSF, ACT 36, GPA 4.o uw, 7 AP courses so far, full pay family seeking merit. Have looked at a variety of rankings for ideas, but this field is out of my area of expertise & would welcome both suggestions of strong programs offering significant merit and factors to assess when comparing programs. How far down the rankings can you go & still consider it a strong program? Will apply to UW-Madison in-state. Also going to look at a few Canadian schools as we are dual citizens and U of Toronto for eg appears to be one of highest ranked global programs; however it is a huge school in a big downtown & isn't appealing to everyone. Will also visit McGill, any comments on that option?
Thanks in advance!
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Replies to: CS college recommendations for high stats student seeking merit

  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 10415 replies123 threads Senior Member
    How much merit do you need/want?

    Private schools like RPI would give merit that would at least bring COA down to around instate levels. He could see merit $ at Case and Pitt as well.

    Then there are the big state schools down south - Alabama, South Carolina, Arizona, etc...where NMSF would give him auto scholarships

    You are fortunate to have a great state flagship with UW Madison, and the option of U of Toronto.

    A strong CS student is going to employable from just about any school.
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  • intparentintparent 36292 replies644 threads Senior Member
    The student also can get reciprocity with UMN-TC.
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  • WIparent4WIparent4 20 replies4 threads Junior Member
    Thank you for your quick responses!
    Our general rule of thumb re what we are willing to pay is 'instate equivalent' range..being originally from Canada it simply isn't in our DNA haha to pay 50k-70k+/yr for college! I have heard that over the past few years Madison was offering instate NM kids partial(?3/4)) tuition for one year, after finally noticing that very few of them were choosing Madison over big offers from other states
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  • hebegebehebegebe 2952 replies41 threads Senior Member
    edited June 2019
    I believe that when it comes to CS programs, there is relatively little difference in outcomes for most students whether they attend an elite program, or just a highly respected program. If your goal is to work at say Google, you can certainly get there from CMU, Stanford and MIT, but you can also get there from Alabama or San Jose State.

    The second thing to note is that UW-Madison is considered extremely good in Computer Science. Not that US News is a perfect gauge of rankings, but they do rate UW-Madison as #11 for its graduate CS program, which is of course excellent.

    In terms of elite schools and merit, you may want to give Vanderbilt a shot, which offers full tuition scholarships to a small set of admitted students (Duke does too, even full ride ones, but they are considerably more selective). The real advantage of a place like Vanderbilt over UW-Madison is not the strength of its CS department, but that almost all of its departments are strong, allowing students to switch majors and still end up with a highly respected degree. That option doesn't exist at say Alabama.
    edited June 2019
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  • stencilsstencils 442 replies4 threads Member
    @WIparent4 Check out the "Parents of class of 2020 thread" here on college confidential.


    Not only is it a relevant group since your S is a rising senior, but there's also a similar dual citizen parent in the group that has an older sibling at McGill and can perhaps offer some advice. We live upstate/western NY and my D20 visited McGill and may apply for CS. We're not Canadian, but they offer a CS program through the faculty of arts & sciences there that's a bargain for int'l students. Both UofT and McGill are top-notch schools.
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  • Twoin18Twoin18 2192 replies21 threads Senior Member
    36 ACT should get a Presidential scholarship at the University of Utah (full tuition plus $5000 towards room and board) and a decent shot at the competitive full ride Eccles scholarships (30 per year). These sorts of cohort based programs (of which there a quite a few, though only a few like the UVA Jefferson scholarships are very widely known) are an excellent choice for strong merit seeking students as they provide a lot of support for research, graduate scholarship applications, etc.
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  • TomSrOfBostonTomSrOfBoston 15892 replies1062 threads Senior Member
    If your son is a dual citizen born outside of Canada and has not lived in Canada for more than 3 months he would qualify for the Quebec in province tuition at McGill, about C$4600/year.
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  • ColoradomamaColoradomama 2779 replies32 threads Senior Member
    Look at the Michelson Morley and University awards at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio.
    They award a LOT of these partial tuition scholarships, and computer science, EE, math are all strong programs.

    Case requires no extra essays, just the Common Application essay is needed. If he applies nonbinding EA,
    he will get the full merit package on about Dec 20th. Its good to take the Math 2 SAT subject
    exam and either chemistry or physics subject exam even though most schools he may apply to, do not require it.
    Reason is, its easy for a bright math student to score 800/800 on both the Math 2 and the Physics subject exam.
    it can help a bit.


    U of Utah is also strong, if he is interested in video game coding, especially.
    Also he can establish residency in Utah after one year, and pay in state tuition, by changing drivers license,
    and working one summer in Salt Lake City.
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  • ColoradomamaColoradomama 2779 replies32 threads Senior Member
    Also Cal Poly San Luis Obispo is a fantastic out of state price, but hard to fly to SLO California.
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  • TomSrOfBostonTomSrOfBoston 15892 replies1062 threads Senior Member
    And McGill does offer merit aid.
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  • OttermaOtterma 1505 replies30 threads Senior Member
    edited June 2019
    Waterloo needs to be on your list of Canadian schools.
    it is a huge school in a big downtown & isn't appealing to everyone
    If he wants a small school with an excellent CS program, consider Grinnell. Your son would likely get merit with his stats, but my guess is that your terrific in state and Canadian options will be less out of pocket.

    Other LAC suggestions for CS with merit would be St. Olaf and Macalester.
    edited June 2019
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  • ColoradomamaColoradomama 2779 replies32 threads Senior Member
    I don't think the US News graduate school rank is all that relevant, but a little bit, for CS. I would for certain look at Madison and U of Minnesota carefully if he is OK at a big public program. GaTech OOS price is also pretty good, but no merit available there. GaTech is a very strong CS/math school and smaller overall than the big midwestern Flagships. I would also look at Purdue U, they offer OOS merit as well, and UW Seattle offers OOS merit. UW could be quite difficult to get direct admit to CS. Purdue works out to be a little less expensive than GaTech if you son wins the OOS merit at Purdue. Purdue offers data science, cybersecurity focus ,and strong CS degree.
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  • IsoinfoIsoinfo 104 replies2 threads Junior Member
    Don't forget to spend some time in the CC Financial Aid and Scholarships section, especially in NMSF and/or NMF threads, looking for info. on schools that provide significant NMF scholarships (USC for example). Your son will receive information in the mail from some of those schools, and it's worth scanning it carefully for scholarship information, as well as info. about waived application fees (Univ. of Minn has waived application fees for NMSFs in the past). These scholarships and fee waivers for NMSFs change from year to year, so check carefully the information from each school, either using online or printed marketing materials.
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  • 57special57special 705 replies16 threads Member
    edited June 2019
    AS a dual citizen(CanAm) residing in Minnesota I believe I have something to add. S1 is currently at McGill studying business, while S2, who is still in HS, has a strong interest in CS. Both U of MN and McGill would be excellent, reasonably priced options for him, as would Wisconsin. I would strongly consider;
    1 - U of MN vg school, vg price. It might not rank super highly, but there is everything you need there to excel in CS.
    2- U of W see above comment. Ranks higher, but for an undergrad CS education, is more or less the same thing, but with more beer.
    3- U of Waterloo. Very, very good for CS with a strong co-op program, and links to Google. The place where 4.0 students experience their 1st 53% on a test. Canadian pricing!
    4- U of T. It's a 2nd year admit for CS(as is Wisconsin and U of MN), so you are not guaranteed admission into CS. Very competitive, and very rigorous. Some people love the school, others drown there. Excellent noodles.
    5- UBC. Excellent for CS. Rockstar campus surrounded by beaches and snow covered mountains...not that you will see them, because CS students spend all their time studying or doing lab work. Very rigorous. Nice pricing for Canadians.
    6- McGill. CS doesn't rank quite as high as U of T, UBC, or Waterloo, but to me, it's a distinction without a difference. Very rigorous. Good pricing for Canadians, with an added loophole. If you have never resided in CAN, then you can get Quebec resident pricing, which is about 40% of the CAN price. S2 will qualify, S1 (BC born) did not. S1 has friends who are at Yale, Harvard, Dartmouth, etc.. In comparing notes on how much they study, and what marks they get, McGill seemed to be harder. Not saying better, but harder...due to his number of AP courses, he did start in 2nd year, so that might have something to do with his perceptions. Can be a fun, diverse place to go to school...in the few minutes of free time that you have from studying. Great food, nightlife, etc..

    There are other schools, of course, but out of those 6 you have some very good, relatively low cost choices. The Canadian schools listed will kick your butt academically, though, especially in the first two years. A 36 ACT, 4.0 GPA with 10+ AP courses (assuming that it's Physics, Chem, Math BC, etc.) should get you 1/2 off tuition at U of MN, maybe more. You might also get into the Honors college, which has that extra academic oomph, and is more likely to win the student research jobs and connections. Canadian schools will also give merit, but in smaller amounts.

    As dual citizens, we are extremely fortunate to have access to the Canadian schools, which offer world class educations at wholesale prices, relative to the US schools. The State flagships in the midwest are great options, too. I would have mentioned UIUC, but I don't believe that WI residents have reciprocal privileges there, as they do in MN.

    Feel free to PM me. I'm no expert on CS, but do have some profs in the family, and a passing knowledge of all the schools I mentioned, as well as a few others.

    There are some great people on this forum who know a lot about CS and math, both in school and out.

    edited June 2019
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  • WIparent4WIparent4 20 replies4 threads Junior Member
    thanks to everyone for your great suggestions, lots to explore! I'm expecting he would be comfortable at a large school; curious to see his reaction to the highly urban downtown Toronto setting. My older kids as HS students found it too big, but I suspect that was more its lack of separation from downtown as they ended up at Big10 schools with well defined campuses.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 83845 replies743 threads Senior Member
    Note that Wisconsin and Minnesota have secondary admission to some majors after enrolling.

    For CS, Wisconsin's secondary admission is earning a C in a CS course -- not hard. For Minnesota, a 3.2 GPA in pre-major courses is needed to assure admission; otherwise competitive.

    However, for any engineering including computer engineering, Wisconsin may be more difficult to get into or stay in the major.
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  • ColoradomamaColoradomama 2779 replies32 threads Senior Member
    USC with the half tuition ride that may come with NMF status, is still very expensive, note cost of attendance is now $77,459 a year. I think National Merit only gives one a break on tuition, not the fees, room or board.

    National Merit really is not as good as it seems, especially for a CS major, but it will help at Case Western, to get very top merit, if you put Case Western as his top choice. Thats the other problem with National Merit, he has to pick ONE school and only one as his top choice, so it usually leads to zero dollars for a CS major.

    . GaTech full price, and Case with their good 2/3 tuition merit are usually cheaper than UCS with the 50% off tuition merit. The only really good National Merit Finalist deal for a CS major might be Arizona State Barrett Honors College. Arizona State will fly your child to Tempe/Phoenix, actually send air plane tickets in a letter explaining the program. I do think Arizona State is a good education. And it will be close to free, as I remember, they love National Merit Scholars.

    All the other NMF deals, like UT Dallas, U of Oklahoma, and , U of Alabama, may be ranked lower than your son wants for CS, compared especially to U of Wisconsin or U of Toronto, where you have a good price.

    We could not find a National Merit deal that fit our sons criteria for CS program, except Arizona State, but son did not want that large of a school. I do think being a finalist will help get into some well ranked CS programs though, so its still helpful.
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  • vistajayvistajay 1573 replies28 threads Senior Member
    Sounds like your kid is primarily looking up north, but other schools to consider in the South for CS are Texas A&M and University of Florida. A&M would be at least full tuition and likely more for NMF. University of Florida would be completely free, with the entire cost of attendance including room, board, fees and travel costs paid. Both are ranked for CS in the same range of many of the schools mentioned in this thread.
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  • MypooronlyMypooronly 12 replies2 threads New Member
    Waterloo for sure, especially because you have dual citizenship. It is/was on our S20 list, but they just recently raised rates for International CS students so that it’s about $50K (it was a steal before that and they figured it out).

    ASU is not as good for NMF as it used to be...we are in-state and can only expect to get $16K (making the Net still about $12K/yr) as an NMF finalist.
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  • ProfessorPlum168ProfessorPlum168 4184 replies92 threads Senior Member
    At the end of the day, unless you get in-country rates for the Canadian schools, nothing is really going to be better than UW value-wise. $23K for one of the top 20 schools in the country for CS. Any other school would have to offer full tuition reimbursement and then some, or maybe even a 100% free situation to be better than the in-state option.
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