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University of Arizona & Arizona State University (ASU) in Tempe

CCinDenverCCinDenver 17 replies6 threads Junior Member
Hi! My D20 is torn between University of Arizona and Arizona State University, Tempe. She is a National Hispanic Scholar and would receive full tuition to either school. She wants to study both Biomedical Engineering and Computer Science. She is also interested in Honors College. It's so hard to make a decision based a a few visits, so was hoping for more advice/info from those of you who have checked both out or have a student that is attending or has attended. What she's thinking so far, ASU: she loved their engineering college and the tour, they did a good job of highlighting their facilities, program, and the new Engineering dorm. She liked the E2 program where the engineering students do a little retreat the summer before school starts, and the perceived sense of community in Engineering. She wasn't crazy about Barrett honors program, seemed kind of overwhelming in what they required on top of already heavy Engineering school load. She thinks Phoenix will offer her more as far as internships & things to do. As for University of Arizona, she really liked the feel of the campus, and she really liked their Honors program, which actually requires a little less of Engineering students since their load is already so heavy. They also have a great honors abroad trip the summer after Freshman year. Also, as NHRP scholar, she would get an additional $6,000 per year (she qualified for the full tuition just with her stats), which she wouldn't get at Arizona, and $1500 study abroad money. Also, there is another Engineering scholarship for merit students that could change the $6k per year to $10k per year. So the money is better, but she isn't sure about their Engineering college... they were very friendly and we attended a presentation, but no tour really and it was hard to get a feel for the program. Also, their computer science isn't in their Engineering college like it is at ASU. Seemed like it would be harder to combine the two there, and also if she decided that she'd rather steer more towards Computer Science vs. Biomedical once she gets her feet wet, she'd have to leave the Engineering school there. We met with CS department at University of Arizona, and she wasn't impressed, although they do get good ratings, so it's hard to judge by one meeting. Also, thought Tucson was really pretty, but I've seen comments about the town not being so great and the crime rate being high. We are going to travel back this coming weekend for Arizona Experience at University of Arizona, where she'll get to see more in-depth on the campus, their Engineering and tour some of the facilities. She will also get to visit the brand new Honors Village which looks really nice. She also wants to visit ASU one more time, and give Barrett presentation another look and do their campus and engineering tour, so she can compare everything one more time. Thanks for anything that you can share with me as she prepares to make this important decision!!
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Replies to: University of Arizona & Arizona State University (ASU) in Tempe

  • thumper1thumper1 75215 replies3300 threads Senior Member
    @CCinDenver

    What GPA is required to keep merit aid at these two colleges? That is something to consider as well.
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  • PublisherPublisher 8514 replies91 threads Senior Member
    The air quality in Phoenix is cause for concern. A few months ago, Phoenix was again ranked as the worst US city for air quality.
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  • ChoatieMomChoatieMom 5301 replies246 threads Senior Member
    The air is fine. I've lived here over twenty years and the post above is the first I've heard that there is any issue with air quality in Phoenix. It's never come up in any of my circles even once. No one here is concerned about it, and I can't imagine that being a criteria for evaluating a four-year stint at college. YMMV.

    ASU Barrett is the strongest program, hands down. If she's looking for "easier" or a program that "requires a little less of engineering students," then U of A it is, but that seems a poor basis for choosing any program. I would encourage her to go for the rigor and cache of Barrett. There is no stronger program in AZ. I can't imagine anyone with a full tuition scholarship passing on Barrett. U of A just doesn't compare. Again, it depends on her priorities, but I doubt anyone here is going to tell you that U of A has a better program.

    Over the years, I have been a champion for ASU's honors college. Here's my .02:

    https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/discussion/comment/21310390#Comment_21310390
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  • ProfessorPlum168ProfessorPlum168 4149 replies89 threads Senior Member
    HackerRank, a very prestigious platform for software developers and recruiting, very recently ranked ASU Computer Science #4 in the country for problem solving - right between UC-Berkeley and Georgia Tech. So they must be doing something right with their CS Program.

    https://blog.hackerrank.com/which-universities-have-the-strongest-developers/
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  • PublisherPublisher 8514 replies91 threads Senior Member
    edited October 22
    Air quality--smog, ozone & short term particle pollution--are significant air quality issues in Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale area of Arizona according to the American Lung Association. 2015 was a particularly bad year for air quality in this area.

    Year after year--including 2018 & 2019- the Phoenix area ranks among the most polluted cities in the US for smog, ozone & short term particle matter.

    Many cities in the West had record number of days with short term particle pollution due in part to the drought which causes warmer weather that results in increased levels of ozone or smog.

    Can cause asthma, lung disease & cardio-vascular issues.

    Just google "Phoenix, Arizona air quality issues".

    This certainly is a valid concern when choosing a college or university for 4 years, especially for runners, bikers, hikers & outdoor enthusiasts.

    College cities with the cleanest air include Burlington, Vermont & Lincoln, Nebraska.
    edited October 22
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  • ChoatieMomChoatieMom 5301 replies246 threads Senior Member
    I'm sure what you post is verifiable, Publisher, but we moved here partly for my husband's asthma (as many do), and he has been healthier here than anywhere else we've lived. We have beautiful crystal clear blue skies almost every day. ASU's student population is one of the largest in the country. If air quality is a concern to the OP, she should check with both ASU and UA health services to verify if the air is a serious problem for these student communities.
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  • PublisherPublisher 8514 replies91 threads Senior Member
    edited October 22
    Decades ago, folks with allergies relocated to Phoenix for low pollen desert air. No longer true.

    Many ailments related to smog, ozone & small particles do not reveal themselves until many years later--sometimes, as with lung cancer, decades later.

    Some lists place Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale area as the #1 worst air quality in the nation depending upon factors considered. Some use number of bad air quality days, while others measure pollutants. Frequently mentioned on local TV news & weather.
    edited October 22
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  • PublisherPublisher 8514 replies91 threads Senior Member
    edited October 22
    A great easy to read article details Phoenix's air pollution problems--which arose in the 1990s & peaked in 2015 with frequent bad years since then--is:

    Brown Cloud: Phoenix Air Pollution Problems updated 01/11/19

    www.tripsavvy.com/brown-air-in-the-valley-2683731

    I am aware of this for a variety of reasons including a relative who visited 2 years ago as a National Hispanic Merit Scholar.
    edited October 22
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  • PublisherPublisher 8514 replies91 threads Senior Member
    edited October 22
    With respect to selecting between ASU & UA, it helps to examine each in light of their respective honors programs or colleges along with one's chosen major.

    To me, it seems as though two communities of students are present in each school. The honors, scholarship students and the masses of students who are there to have a good time.

    Entrance into either school basically requires a warm body & a high school degree. Honors communities are, therefore, quite important for serious students.

    UA accepts 84% of all applicants, while ASU accepts 85%. Neither school requires ACT or SAT scores.

    Contrast this to, for example, the University of Georgia which has about 28,000 full time undergraduates. My nephew, a National Hispanic Merit Scholar, was waitlisted, then accepted. Many Georgia residents with high GPAs & ACT scores of 33 & 34 are waitlisted. (Univ. of Georgia does not, however, consider state residency as an admissions factor. Georgia Tech does favor state residents.)
    edited October 22
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  • ProfessorPlum168ProfessorPlum168 4149 replies89 threads Senior Member
    Seems like total overkill to keep bringing up a topic that the OP did not mention and that would be very low on the list of just about any prospective student.

    An air quality concern would be something along the line of what happened last year with the fires in Northern California, but beyond that it’s barrel scraping.
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  • PublisherPublisher 8514 replies91 threads Senior Member
    edited October 22
    Pretty important factor for those who engage in outdoor exercise on a regular basis.

    Also, this is a very frequently discussed & written about topic in the greater Phoenix area.
    edited October 22
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  • Rivet2000Rivet2000 1132 replies3 threads Senior Member
    Phoenix sits in a valley creating a bowl that holds in heat and reduces air quality. So, Phoenix gets (and stays) very hot in the summertime and has many bad air-quality days. On bad-air days some companies allow employees to work from home to reduce emissions and kids’ athletic practices are cancelled. That said, we lived there for years with young kids and did not run into any issues.

    ASU in general, and their engineering specifically, has been getting quite a bit of press on how strong and innovative their programs are. Our S has several friends at bot ASU and U of A. All seem to be thriving and landing great summer internships.
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  • socaldad2002socaldad2002 1527 replies30 threads Senior Member
    I would be more worried about class size in the AZ honors colleges than air quality. ASU Barrett has 7,400 students (much bigger than many colleges have total undergrads!) and UoA has 5,500 in their honors college. To OP, I don't see much difference between these two programs and there is no wrong answer. Make a list of pros and cons of each colleges and see which one has the most pros and go with it.
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  • MaineLonghornMaineLonghorn 38773 replies2127 threads Super Moderator
    MODERATOR'S NOTE: Please move on from discussing air quality.
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  • tucsonmomtucsonmom 453 replies3 threads Member
    Used to live in Tucson, now live in the Phoenix area. Here are my thoughts:

    Tucson:
    - prettier area
    - 1 campus instead of a few spread around the Phx area (but most students at ASU take classes at the main Tempe campus)
    - slightly cooler in summer (like 4-5 degrees cooler, but once it's above 105, it doesn't matter much)
    - really hard to find a decent job
    - most graduates end up in Phx for employment
    - just completed (or is soon completing) new honors college housing...in my opinion, to compete w/the ASU honors college housing

    Phoenix:
    - way more jobs available
    - more internship opportunities due to larger metro area, especially if you are in the tech sector...way more tech/engineering jobs in Phx compared to Tucson (that's why we moved)
    - 4-5 degrees hotter in the summer
    - honors students required to live in honors college on campus housing for 2 yr. I don't recall what the rules are at UofA
    - bigger local airport, so it's cheaper to fly in/out of Phx compared to Tucson (small airport by comparison, higher airfares)
    - multiple campuses instead of 1

    Honestly, if you're an engineering major and you're picking between the 2, I think you should select ASU just for the job factor alone.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 78600 replies697 threads Senior Member
    Regarding the multiple campuses at ASU, it looks like the main Tempe campus is the one of interest to most traditional students, while the others appear to be more aimed at nontraditional students. Note that major offerings differ at different campuses.
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  • PublisherPublisher 8514 replies91 threads Senior Member
    Have you asked each school about internship placements ? Just because one attends school in Phoenix or Tucson does not mean that employment opportunities are limited to that city or even to that state.

    New dorms & new honors village can make the transition to college life away from home easy & enjoyable.

    Based on @tusconmom's post, this may be one's best chance to live in Tuscon as most empoyment opportunities are in Phoenix.

    Since your daughter does not like the excessive honors college requirements at Barrett Honors College and since UA is offering more money and, presumably, better housing, the choice leans toward UA. But the key consideration should be about internship placement, in my opinion.

    There will always be time & opportunity to live in Phoenix, but unlikely for Tucson.
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  • bgbg4usbgbg4us 1341 replies43 threads Senior Member
    This is quite the helpful thread. UA has such better scholarships than ASU; sort of wondered why.
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  • NJEngineerDadNJEngineerDad 152 replies1 threads Junior Member
    @bgbg4us At least for engineering, I think that UA needs to offer better scholarships than ASU because ASU is better ranked by US News (ASU #39 engineering program vs UA #54). ASU is especially strong in Biomedical, Civil, Computer, Electrical, Environmental and Mechanical engineering. Also Inside Honors 2018-2019 (Public University Honors) gives ASU's Barrett Honors College a 5/5 but UA Honors College only a 4/5

    @CCinDenver I think you have a tough decision to make. If the cost difference between ASU and UA is significant to you, I think it makes sense to go with UA. If not, I think it makes sense to go with ASU.

    That said make sure you apply to extra small scholarships at ASU that can stack on top of the main scholarship using:
    1. ASU’s scholarship portal: scholarships.asu.edu
    2. Barrett scholarships: barretthonors.asu.edu/academics/scholarships-and-fellowships/barrett-scholarships (e.g. Grady and Kathryn Gammage Memorial Scholarship)
    3. Departmental scholarships: scholarships.asu.edu/colleges
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  • PublisherPublisher 8514 replies91 threads Senior Member
    edited October 22
    Will Inside Honors raise their rating on UA's Honors College now that the Honors Village is done ?

    Also, what Inside Honors liked about Barrett may be what OP disliked about ASU's Barrett Honors College.
    edited October 22
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