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Computer Science Degree from a Liberal Arts College

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Replies to: Computer Science Degree from a Liberal Arts College

  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 63,419 Senior Member
    Mastadon wrote:
    Given the high demand for CS these days, a 3.1 GPA and a 17 ACT isunlikely to get an applicant into one of the "strongest CS departments" that you are probably thinking about - and even if they could, it may not be a good fit.

    A CS department that has good coverage of both theoretical foundations and practical implementation does not necessarily require that the college be highly selective.

    Granted, a student with a 3.1 HS GPA and 17 ACT needs to step up his/her game in order to handle the rigor of any decent CS major degree program.
  • MastadonMastadon Registered User Posts: 1,369 Senior Member
    @ucbalumnus-

    It has more to do with how the material is taught. If one introduces theory via applications rather than applications via theory then the same material can become more interesting and more accessible to a wider range of students.

    Since colleges tend to select applicants based on standardized test scores and standardized tests tend to measure the ability to perform symbolic manipulations under time pressure, there tends to be a correlation between selectivity and abstract reasoning capability.

    This means that more selective colleges can get away with leading with theory, so there tends to be a correlation between a more theoretic teaching approach and selectivity.

    When it comes to "Liberal Arts Colleges" vs. more "technical" schools (including the Land Grant Colleges), if one follows the strict Liberal Arts Doctrine (as preached by the original Protestant/Calvinist colleges) the notion of applied disciplines is taboo because such subjects are thought to be the domain of either the working class - i.e. "trade schools" or the professional class - i.e. graduate-level "professional schools". This is why "traditional LACs" and research universities that evolved from "traditional LACs" tend not to have undergrad engineering or business schools and if they do have undergrad engineering they tend to skew more towards the "Engineering Science/General Engineering" end of the theoretic spectrum than the end with specific applied (often ABET accredited) disciplines. Likewise, CS will skew more towards the "Applied Math" end of the spectrum than the Computer Engineering end and will tend not to be ABET accredited.

    So, there tends to be a correlation between being more "liberal artsy" and a more theoretic teaching approach, which is probably more pronounced here in New England.

    As an extreme example of making theory more concrete, researchers in STEM education have recently had success teaching preschool children to program using "tangible programming" techniques. Based on this, I tend to believe that we (the STEM community) may actually be suffering from some "minor teaching disabilities" that we need to overcome if we want to make our field more interesting and more accessible to a more diverse population.

    https://ase.tufts.edu/devtech/publications/Bers-Horn_May1809.pdf





  • kac425kac425 Registered User Posts: 222 Junior Member
    @nsrsfamily
    i have no idea if the op is coming back, but i cant get this thread out of my mind. where there is a will, there is a way.

    this may be of significant interest:
    http://www.mtu.edu/news/stories/2017/january/michigan-tech-bay-college-partner-prepare-robotics-workforce.html
    We are excited to have a pathway for students to earn an associate degree at Bay College, and—with proper advising—transfer to Michigan Tech and earn a bachelor's degree after two additional years of study,” Frendewey added. “Our experience working with the staff at Bay College has been very positive, and we look forward to a successful collaboration.”

    Michigan Tech’s electrical engineering technology program already has articulation agreements with Macomb Community College in Michigan, College of Lake County in Illinois and Northcentral Technical College in Wisconsin. “The curriculum development at Michigan Tech will assist those three community colleges in updating their curriculum in robotic automation and in teaching topics that are in line with industry expectations,” Sergeyev said
  • cobratcobrat Registered User Posts: 12,285 Senior Member
    Likewise, CS will skew more towards the "Applied Math" end of the spectrum than the Computer Engineering

    My understanding is that Computer Engineering is essentially related much more with Electrical Engineering than CS even though there's some overlap.

    EE/CE focuses much more on electronic/computer hardware design/implementation whereas CS is mainly focused on the design/implementation of software and theories behind them grounded in Math(Both pure and Applied).
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 63,419 Senior Member
    There can often be some flexibility in what CS and CE contain, and some schools just call the major CSE (computer science and engineering). EE can include topics not normally considered CE, such as electric power systems, signals and communications, etc., although someone designing such things will certainly include computers in them.
  • cobratcobrat Registered User Posts: 12,285 Senior Member
    There can often be some flexibility in what CS and CE contain, and some schools just call the major CSE (computer science and engineering). EE can include topics not normally considered CE, such as electric power systems, signals and communications, etc., although someone designing such things will certainly include computers in them.

    @ucbalumnus

    Interestingly, colleagues and HS friends who were mainly/solely interested in the design/implementation of software, computer programming, and examining the foundational mathematical theories used in those areas tended to avoid most CE programs or CS programs in engineering division due to greater emphasis on studying Electrical Engineering topics they felt weren't relevant to what they wanted to pursue.

    On the flipside, those who leaned more towards an interest in EE related topics or at least open to exploring it gravitated to CE programs/CS programs in engineering division.

    This split also seemed to go back to a period before there were CS departments. For instance, some of the older CS Profs my friends had received their PhDs in Math or Electrical Engineering in the '60s as CS departments didn't exist in the vast majority of universities back then.
  • wis75wis75 Registered User Posts: 12,452 Senior Member
    That CCSC is for smaller colleges- none of the top tier CS schools. The amount of material covered in a CS course can vary a lot. A friend added a CS MS to her PhD in Physical Chemistry and then taught at a below average state school for a bit. She covered more material as a TA in her MS degree program that was quarter system than she was supposed to cover in a semester at the junky U.

    Having taken courses at any given U does not mean learning as much as one would at another U in similar level courses. Beating another LAC in a contest does not mean the students would fare well against top tier CS school students.

    This student has mediocre credentials for getting into top tier colleges of any kind. He needs to figure out what he wants to do within the realm of computer science and find an education suitable for his abilities and interests.
  • marvin100marvin100 Registered User Posts: 9,014 Senior Member
    wis75 wrote:
    This student has mediocre credentials for getting into top tier colleges of any kind.

    Yes, I think this is the crux of the issue.
  • droppeditdroppedit Registered User Posts: 722 Member
    It has more to do with how the material is taught. If one introduces theory via applications rather than applications via theory then the same material can become more interesting and more accessible to a wider range of students.
    @matadon -- I think that applications->theory is the correct approach. When I look at the latest OS software (iOS and Android), it's painfully obvious that the current CS approach is terribly lacking. Android is particularly bad. Look at the hoops you have to jump through to deal with portrait vs. landscape mode ... which is simply a change in the aspect ratio of the "window" you're using (the GPU can deal with the rotation if necessary). Want to use a TextBox with an unknown number of lines of text? Sorry, you're limited by the texture size of the GPU on the device (on both iOS and Android)!

    I think a kid with "lower credentials" could do at least as good of a job as that, maybe better.
  • NaiveNaive Registered User Posts: 9 New Member
    follow above advice!
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