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Ohio State vs UW-Madison for Engineering

prithisprithis Registered User Posts: 26 New Member
My son (Illinois resident) got acceptances at UW-Madison and Ohio State in their College of Engineering. These are the best universities that he has offers from. He would like to pursue Electrical Engineering.

We are now facing a dilemma. Both have strong engineering programs. UW-Madison is 14th and Ohio State is 26th in the US News report for Undergrad Engineering. To me they are reasonably close and comparable.

We visited both campuses, attended their admitted student sessions and College of Engineering sessions, toured the residence halls. Again, each had pros and cons, but both were very good. My son liked them both.

Ohio State has offered significant scholarship moolah, but UW-Madison is notoriously stingy on scholarships, particularly for OOS applicants. So that is a point in favor of Ohio State. UW-Madison will be significantly more expensive (about $15k more per year).

On the other hand, UW-Madison seems to have the upper hand in terms of the quality of academics, research opportunities, favor-ability with employers etc.

I would welcome any thoughts from anyone in a similar situation.

Replies to: Ohio State vs UW-Madison for Engineering

  • NROTCgradNROTCgrad Registered User Posts: 1,730 Senior Member
    edited February 2015
    For the same price, UW-Madison is the better choice. However, $15k per year is 60k over four years, and it is hard to justify that additional cost. In fact, most engineering majors take 5 years to graduate, so actual total additional cost could be more like 75k for UW-Madison.
  • fbi251fbi251 Registered User Posts: 50 Junior Member
    I was in a similar position having to chose between OSU and UIUC for business. I tried to look at it from many different perspectives to try to justify paying more to go to UIUC and I couldn't find one. UW is a better school hands down, but it would be harder for him to graduate towards the top of his class. At tOSU he would most likely enter above 50-75% of the students there making it easier to graduate with a higher class rank which I think would make him more attractive to companies. tOSU would be a better choice if he graduates towards the top of his class if he doesn't think he can do that then chose UW. UW is a middle tier 1 school while I would consider OSU a top tier 2 school but the difference in tuition is not worth it.
  • prithisprithis Registered User Posts: 26 New Member
    Thank you very much for your inputs!
  • gosusesu1gosusesu1 Registered User Posts: 25 New Member
    I would have agreed that UW was the significantly better choice a decade or more ago (as it has been historically), but it's really hard to say so now. OSU has been bringing in significantly better freshmen classes every year (especially in engineering where I've worked in the past), and the gap in standardized scores/class rank has really narrowed. I think last year they reported something like 65% in the top-10% of their class and 30 ACT mean. I've also literally noticed a difference in student quality in the classroom. Research funding at OSU is abundant, especially from industry. Where I would look when making the choice is at things like job placement rates/starting salary, etc. If you were choosing between a place like Carnegie Mellon and OSU/UW, of course the return on investment would make the tuition difference negligible, but OSU - UW, I'm not so sure there's much of a difference in placement outcomes. Plus, getting away from rankings/metrics, why not go with the school he felt was the best fit?
  • OSUmom2018OSUmom2018 Registered User Posts: 203 Junior Member
    My D was also accepted into a tier 1 school with no money offered, and OSU with a scholarship, so we were in the same general boat. However I am not an engineer so I cannot make any comments about that aspect of your decision.

    I am a psychologist in clinical practice, my PhD is from OSU and my daughter is a freshman there now. And I have two sibs with degrees from OSU as well. So my comments reflect that background.

    My .02:

    1. I agree with the previous post about the gap between UW and OSU narrowing considerably every year. Which means a $75K price difference is hard to justify. Have you posted to the UW board to see if the engineering students there can present a credible argument for the large price tag on that program?

    2. I don't know your financial situation, but if going to UW means your child has to go into debt, I would ask you to think twice. I frequently see young people who have huge college debt, and it is crippling a whole generation. I advise people to carefully consider the financial aspects of any college decision.

    3. Consider the other social/ psych aspects of your decision. What would be best for your child? For example, my daughter was a 17 yr old college freshman, immature also with medical special needs. So she needed to live in a dorm away from home to help her mature, but within driving distance of her parents. We had to factor this into the decision.

    4. My daughter received a significant scholarship to OSU and it had a big unintended psychological benefit for her. She immediately gained self confidence and independence. For the first time she felt she was making a big contribution to the family budget, was her own person, and paying her way. And she knows she is going to graduate debt free. She also felt that OSU had placed a great deal of confidence in her by giving her the scholarship, she is taking that responsibility seriously, and does not want to let them down. She is extremely appreciative of the help and is paying it forward by volunteering to serve on OSU student boards etc.

    Good luck on your decision, you are doing the right thing by getting feedback from others!
  • prithisprithis Registered User Posts: 26 New Member
    Really great responses. Thank you all so much!
  • 3anddone3anddone Registered User Posts: 207 Junior Member
    My son is an Engineering major at OSU and we are from Illinois. I would do some research on actually getting into the Engineering program at both schools, this is very important! If I remember correctly you apply to Engineering at UW after sophomore year. At The Ohio State, if you are accepted into Engineering you are considered a Pre-Major. After taking the required course for your specialization then you apply to your Major. Here is the spreadsheet on what classes etc. you need to take and what GPA you need in those classes for acceptance, its very straightforward.
    https://advising.engineering.osu.edu/sites/advising.engineering.osu.edu/files/uploads/Admission_To_Major/engineering_major_application_information_su2015-sp2016.pdf Let me know if you have any additional questions. My son absolutely loves The Ohio State and getting him to Columbus from Chicago is so easy.
  • prithisprithis Registered User Posts: 26 New Member
    @3anddone, thanks for that really useful information. How do you normally get your son to Columbus? Do you drive? Or does he take the bus/train/plane?
  • 3anddone3anddone Registered User Posts: 207 Junior Member
    We drive in August to get him set up but all the other trips are by plane. It's just so easy to get to the airport in Columbus and fares are definitely not bad. Normally we use Southwest because if you plan enough in advance we can get get cheap fares. Otherwise we price United or American because they have several flights a day. Now that he is in an apartment I'm not sure we will even drive down in August. Hope that helps!
  • 3anddone3anddone Registered User Posts: 207 Junior Member
    Also, don't be fooled by the seemingly low GPA's on the automatic acceptance to the majors. The classes in the EPHR are notoriously tough at OSU and many students feel that getting a B is lucky. Also another note, if you are coming in with alot of AP credit the classes that you pass out of are not included in the EPHR so that means less courses to get the desired GPA. Just my thoughts.
  • 3anddone3anddone Registered User Posts: 207 Junior Member
    Sorry one more thing, my son had to get used to a B- being a 2.75 not a 3.0. They do however curve but some classes have test averages in the 50-60 range. So getting a 3.2 average in the EPHR classes is a B+ average.
  • IlikewilcoIlikewilco Registered User Posts: 41 Junior Member
    edited March 2015
    Great thread. My choices are: OOS at Purdue, Ohio State, or Cincinnati (both in state). All offered about the same merit scholarship amounts (about $6k). Purdue would use up all my college savings and force me to take on college debt; Ohio State would use up my entire college savings; however since my step mother is on medical faculty at Cincinnati, I would be eligible for tuition remission (covers tuition), which would allow me to have a surplus of college savings potentially available for graduate school. I know Cincinnati is the lowest ranked of the 3, but I'm leaning towards leveraging the tuition remission and it's co-op program to help pay for grad school down the road. Thoughts?
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