Columbia Fu vs. Rice Engineering

<p>Hey guys. Do you know some advantages that Columbia Engineering school have over Rice Engineering? I'm stuck between these two schools for Early Decision. so please Help me out .. thank you so much!</p>

<p>Disclaimer: I have not spent much time at Rice nor do I know many people who went there. Generally, I try to spend as little time in Houston as possible.</p>

<p>Regardless, the sales pitch would probably go as follows:</p>

<p>1) If you want to work in business after graduation - in high finance/banking, in management consulting, in investing, in the management of companies, etc - Columbia and specifically SEAS are an optimal place to do it. You are meeting dozens of like-minded people, utilizing Columbia's connections to those industries, and have much more cachet in prestige-conscious circles. The same goes for working for top high-tech companies like Google.</p>

<p>2) Columbia engineering is a more well-rounded education than any top engineering program. The university's undergrad curriculum is much more focused on variety and exposure to a wide breadth of thinking (hence the Core curriculum), and as a result you meet many more diverse thinkers, "jacks of all trades" who have dozens of intellectual interests and personal pursuits, than you do the hardcore engineering grinds who sit in the library all day long. Sure there are some in both categories at both schools, but the distribution will be different.</p>

<p>3) Columbia kids are smarter on average. Your mind will be more fine-tuned coming out of there. You'll have met brighter rising stars, your game will have been raised to that extra gear, and you'll get commensurate respect accordingly. And SEAS kids are smarter than the average Columbia College student, even if their mental toolkit is more narrowly focused on analytical subjects. Ask any CC student. The SAT averages back this up as well, if I recall correctly.</p>

<p>4) Compared to other peer institutions (imagine any list you like), I personally found the students at Columbia to be more "chill" and take themselves less seriously. This was the opposite of what I expected, and in fact was very influential in my own decision to apply ED. Very few people really think they're a Big Deal here, and if they do they learn otherwise rather quickly. The number of people I just couldn't get along with on campus was amazingly low.</p>

<p>5) Oh yeah, and that New York City thing you might have heard about. Houston is a pit, a smog-drenched humid mess of a city with poor infrastructure, little public transportation, some of the worst traffic in the country, and not exactly the most exciting night life or cultural institutions. Even LA, for all that I hate about it, has its redeeming moments. By contrast, New York is the capitol of the world, to borrow a favorite Giuliani phrase, and Columbia is a chance to experience it for 4 years at no greater cost than any other private college.</p>

<p>If you're from Texas, or want to go to Texas for the weather, women, or whatever... UT-Austin would be a defensible choice. Austin is one of the greatest places in this country for young adults and tremendously underappreciated. But Houston, not so much. Very good education available there at Rice, but Columbia pretty much beats it on all fronts. The money they have to throw at you, the job opportunities available upon graduation (except for pure, traditional engineering jobs), and the student life you experience are in a totally different class. Rice is a great school, but it is not in the conversation for title of "best college on the planet". Columbia is.</p>

<p>^wow, what a sales pitch, I could not have phrased that better at all. The scary thing is - what you read is more or less what you get. someone put this in the helpful threads.</p>

<p>being from houston, and having many friends who attend rice, i can tell you denzera has the right message here. rice is certainly a good school, and while i won't say houston is as god-forsaken as denzera attests, i can tell you that four years in that city will leave you second guessing for more than your fair share of time after graduation. that doesnt happen at columbia.</p>

<p>This would be better if you also posted a thread in the Rice forum.</p>

<p>It seems like you just want reasons why Columbia engineering is "better" than Rice engineering.</p>

<p>Realize that this forum has huge Columbia bias and in order to make an informed decision you need information from both sides. I respect Columbia but I love Rice a lot (I would post some helpful input on engineering but unfortunately I'm not even majoring in any engineering field so I don't want to portray Rice inaccurately--I'll leave that to Rice people who are in engineering and can help you).</p>

<p>Every kid I've met at Rice so far is absolutely smart (I met a lot of kids who turned down Ivies for Rice) and is completely down to earth and very approachable, some of the friendliest people I've ever met. Please do not misconstrue the above arguments for Columbia as characteristics that Rice lacks as well; about twenty percent of undergraduates are National Merit Scholars, and Rice has often enrolled the highest percentage of National Merit Finalists in its freshman class among American universities. No university enrolls more National Science Fellows per capita than does Rice.</p>

<p>Furthermore, some rankings that Rice has that might interest you:
In Princeton Review's 2007 rankings, Rice was ranked #1 in Best Quality of Life and #3 for Best Overall Undergraduate Academic Experience and #1 for Lots of Race/Class Interaction (diversity), as well as in the top 20 schools that Never Stop Studying.</p>

<p>In PR's 2008 rankings, Rice was ranked #1 in Best Value for private colleges, #2 for Lots of Race/Class Interaction, #15 for Happiest Students, and #2 in Best Quality of Life.</p>

<p>Take those rankings for what they're worth, but definitely don't overlook Rice. A lot of people hate on Houston and I'm not a huge fan of Houston either, but Rice is in an exceptionally great place in downtown Houston. It's literally right across the street from Texas Medical Center, the world's largest medical district, a short distance away from NASA, and many more. Houston is the country's 4th largest city and is #2 in most Fortune 500 companies behind NYC. I admit it is quite humid but after September it cools off a bit and isn't so bad. I don't know how much weather matters to you but the overall characteristics and awesomeness that Rice is (I'm trying not to make this too long but I could go on and on about the amazing traditions, unique residential college system, etc) overwhelmingly make up for the less than perfect weather. </p>

<p>Personally, I don't like NYC because its VERY dirty and polluted, but it's a bustling hub with many top companies of the country and world. I don't know, it's not quite my cup of tea. Houston isn't either but at least it's not like in the middle of nowhere. Considering the quality of the business environment, median income in each city compared to cost of living, and job-growth forecasts, Forbes this year ranked Houston #1; as you'll realize the cost of living standards in NYC is much, much higher. Things in Houston in general just are cheaper, not in quality but in price.</p>

<p>I suggest you post in the Rice forum as well and visit both schools to see which atmospheres you like better.</p>

<p>Thanks for reminding me hotasice! I just forgot to post same argument to the rice university forum haha</p>

<p>I turned down rice engineering+ lots of merit money for columbia. Couldn't handle the Texans.</p>

<p>"Personally, I don't like NYC because its VERY dirty and polluted, "</p>

<p>yea compared to rural farmland, compared to most other cities it absolutely isn't. It's the most space constrained, but it's an engineering and urban planning marvel. The waste management systems, and mammoth public transportation keep it both relatively clean and not particularly polluted. Have you even visited in the last 5 years?</p>

<p>Yes, I go up to NYC 2-3 times a year. Dude, don't take it so personally, though, I'm just expressing my opinion. I still do not like NYC and I stand by what I said. Given the huge number of people living in NYC I understand why it isn't exactly the cleanest place ever. Not saying Houston is, either, don't get me wrong.</p>

<p>Not everyone is going to love or like NYC just like not everyone is going to love Houston either. It's just a fact of life. I'm not even from Texas or NY (I personally prefer DC the best, where I'm from).</p>

<p>That's why I advise the poster to visit both campuses if s/he can, then s/he can get a better feel of what kind of environment s/he likes and get to meet current students, professors, etc. Weather and city environment are just some of the factors an applicant should consider while there are many more things about a school to be taken into consideration as well (5:1 student-faculty ratio at Rice, huge emphasis on undergrad research and education, etc).</p>

<p>I think a lot of people undermine Rice because of its Texas location, but Rice really is in a sweet location in Houston.</p>

<p>initial post: </p>

<p>"I don't like NYC because its VERY dirty and polluted"</p>

<p>second post:
"Given the huge number of people living in NYC I understand why it isn't exactly the cleanest place ever."</p>

<p>you seem to acknowledge that you were exaggerating out of proportion.</p>

<p>"Not everyone is going to love or like NYC just like not everyone is going to love Houston either. It's just a fact of life"</p>

<p>being unclean and polluted are almost never cited as reasons for disliking nyc, being crowded, busy, fast paced usually are. I never even hinted that everyone loves nyc, I was disagreeing with your characterization of the city, and it's uncleanliness / pollution as a reason to dislike it.</p>

<p>"That's why I advise the poster to visit both campuses if s/he can, then s/he can get a better feel of what kind of environment s/he likes and get to meet current students, professors,"</p>


<p>"5:1 student-faculty ratio at Rice, huge emphasis on undergrad research and education, etc)."</p>

<p>columbia has a 6:1 student:faculty ratio, with an emphasis on undergrad research and education, not much difference there.</p>

<p>I still think NYC is a very dirty and polluted place, but I was saying how I understand why it is the way it is. </p>

being unclean and polluted are almost never cited as reasons for disliking nyc, being crowded, busy, fast paced usually are.


<p>Well, actually, uncleanliness and pollution aren't as uncommon reasons as you might think. Please do not think your experiences/opinion are the only ones that count or are "validated." Maybe you're a native New Yorker and you just can't seem to wrap your head around NYC being dirty and unclean--I don't mind the fast-paced environment, it's just the general dirtiness that I don't quite like. It's as simple as that. I don't like keeping to have to explain myself when there's nothing more to explain that I really dislike NYC's dirtiness and pollution. All the same, this is just my opinion and experiences--other people by all means will have different opinions and experiences, and I respect that.</p>

<p>Like I said, everything is opinion, no need to be so defensive about NYC. And I included Rice characteristics because I attend Rice, I wasn't trying to say there was a huge difference.</p>

<p>"Columbia kids are smarter on average."</p>

<p>This is insulting. I practically worship Columbia (and IMO Columbia > Rice, at all ends) but don't make such claims. Rice is a top 20 school. SAT scores do not define intelligence nor success. (And I am one of few who has nothing against the SAT no what it's used for)</p>

<p>"that I really dislike NYC's dirtiness and pollution. All the same, this is just my opinion and experiences"</p>

<p>you started off making a definitive statement that NYC is VERY dirty and polluted. It being too dirty for you is different than it being a dirty city relative to others - which it is not. I never argued that you can't personally consider it dirty. Cities in general are dirtier and more polluted than rural / suburban areas. But compared to every other city i've visited of similar order of magnitude, new york isn't particularly unclean or polluted at all.</p>

<p>"I practically worship Columbia (and IMO Columbia > Rice, at all ends) but don't make such claims."</p>

<p>have you never thought to yourself - 'x' is smarter than 'y'? if you haven't I feel sorry for you. If you have then reaching that conclusion about a populace average is no different than reaching the conclusion about a person. It can't be said as fact, but it can be said as opinion that columbia students are smarter on average. This can be said through first hand experience, or through overall factors like SAT scores, success after college, % of students in top 10% of highschool class.</p>

<p>I agree that columbia students are not objectively smarter than rice's, but we need to make judgements about the average of the student body. I mean you come to a top university half for your peer group. If columbia didn't have a smarter student body than a much worse university, that'd be utterly shameful on columbia's part. For Rice it's not easy to argue, but a case can be made for why columbia's student body has been more academically successful and has accomplished more to get in. 'Smarter' should stem from these two, but it still is loosely defined.</p>

<p>Wow, I thought only CU-vs-Penn threads brought out the other school's trolls to our board. Welcome, hotasice, to our humble abode, and good job on keeping it civil thus far.</p>

<p>Your recommendation, "visit both schools", is great advice and one that anyone who can afford to do so should take.</p>

<p>I don't begrudge you your contrasting opinion, but there are a few things I can't let pass:</p>

<li><p>NYC is the cleanest, and safest, big city in America. Look it up. Anyone who consider it "dirty", at least in the southern half of Manhattan, hasn't seen actually dirty US cities. Philadelphia out-dirties NYC by a mile. SF has the biggest army of hobos manning the streets of any city i've seen (though I haven't spent much time in Seattle). And that's not even counting Detroit, Pittsburgh, KC, Atlanta...</p></li>
<li><p>Nobody is saying the people at Rice aren't smart, hardworking, honest upright citizens, the lot of 'em. Nobody's insulting you. I'm claiming that Columbia students are smarter, on average, given whatever reasonable metric you might propose (National Science Fellows per-capita is probably not a good metric - sounds like you pulled that off your admissions website). What that means is for the reader to decide, although I claim some benefits (and attendant challenges - harder to stand out) of being in such an atmosphere.</p></li>
<li><p>Columbia's race interaction is about as ideal as you could ask for, whatever Princeton Review may say about Rice. If that happens to be a reason you think you should choose between schools, know that Columbia has the highest % of international students, and a very high percentage of African-American students (unsurprising given its urban location and proximity to Harlem).</p></li>
<li><p>I don't know what goes into Princeton Review's quality-of-life rankings, but Columbia usually filters to the top (or #2 to NYU) in the "best college town" rankings. I knew very very few students at Columbia who would say that the quality of life was anything other than spectacular - and those few students were usually complaining about the personal space alloted to them in dorms, something they probably should have known about going to school in manhattan. In all cases, quality of life is one of the strong selling points of Columbia - particularly with regards to what the city offers students.</p></li>
<li><p>Having the largest medical center in the world nearby is not a reason to choose a school - you're going to be an undergrad, you're not seeking to be a hospital executive. And even if you do happen to be pre-med, all you need is one good hospital or a good bio program. Size does not equal quality, and Columbia's medical science campus is a few mere subway stops away in any case.</p></li>
<li><p>hotasice actually makes my case for me with his note about "cost of living" in NYC. Cost of living is that high because so many people are happy to pay whatever price is necessary to live there. Rents are very high, highest in the nation easily. And at Columbia, on-campus housing costs pretty much what it costs at any other urban private college. So, you get to live in NYC, at no incremental cost over what it costs most people to live on-campus at any school. So you get more value for your Room-and-board money than you would anywhere else.</p></li>

<p>Don't get me wrong, I love Texas. My dad's whole family is from there and I visit often. I own investment real estate there, I absolutely love San Antonio and Austin, Dallas is a perfectly good 2nd-tier US city, and so on. But basically everything Rice gives you, Columbia gives you more of. Except hurricanes and smog. And Texans.</p>

<li><p>Everyone is entitled to his/her own opinion. I don't know why you guys are so adamant on insisting that NYC is no-arguments so clean, but I still think it is very dirty. Did I say it's the dirtiest city in the US? No. I just said I think it's a dirty and polluted place. Just because you tell me in your opinion it isn't dirty won't make me change my mind. Again, this is just my opinion. Let me repeat myself. This is MY opinion. I do not speak for anyone else other than myself, though I will say that not everyone will agree that NYC is clean while at the same time not everyone will agree that NYC is dirty. I feel like you guys take this so personally and to heart. DON'T. lol. I respect your opinion and ask that you do the same for me. You can continue your adoring worship of Columbia and NYC, as I am sorry for causing you an ulcer when I said NYC seems dirty to me. But seriously, this argument about my little comment about NYC being dirty is really ridiculous. </p></li>
<li><p>This is still insulting. Rice students are just as smart as Columbia students. Biggest applicant overlap schools for Rice include Harvard, Stanford, and Duke. I know several classmates who've turned down Columbia to go to Rice (for whatever reason), and I'm sure there are Columbia students out there who've turned down Rice as well. It is this arrogant Ivy League holier-than-thou mentality that really turns me one at Rice will brag about oh we're smarter than Columbia students, etc. Sure, Columbia is an Ivy League school, but that doesn't make Columbia students "smarter" than Rice ones. What a subjective and relative judgment.</p></li>
<li><p>When including rankings I meant to emphasize Rice, not to undermine Columbia or offend you. Where are you getting your statistic about highest % of international students? Please support your claim. Also, just because there's a high % of international students does not guarantee racial interaction, as a lot of times you will find that students self-segregate in cafeterias according to race, etc. in spite of the university being quite international in terms of its student body. Just something to think about. Oh, and why isn't Columbia on those rankings? </p></li>
<li><p>For the PR rankings, I'm pretty sure it's the students who fill in the surveys and such. I actually hear that because Columbia is in NYC there's not much campus life because everyone filters out to the city and all that it has to offer (what my Columbia friend says, just repeating it). Many students at Rice are very happy (also ranked #15 on the Happiest Students list) which does support its #2 Best Quality of Life ranking (behind WashU, unfortunately). Quality of life entails everything the campus and area has to offer and the student's satisfaction and involvement, not just oh we're in NYC one of the best college towns thus we should have the best quality of life. No, it's a bit more complex than that. I do think Columbia's strongest point is that it's in NYC but of course it shouldn't be what defines Columbia and its quality of life--a strong and vibrant campus life is important too.</p></li>
<li><p>Many people choose to go to colleges based on what the environment/city has to offer. NYC because of its top companies and Wall Street. Houston because of Texas Medical Center, NASA, etc. Georgetown because its in DC, the biggest political hotspot and direct access to many prominent politicians and internships at the Capitol and White House. Los Angeles because of its vicinity to Hollywood, etc. Or what programs they offer--like NU for its Medill School of Journalism. Having the largest medical center in the world nearby IS a reason to choose a school (not the only reason, mind you, but one of the reasons)--I really don't understand why it isn't. Rice largely emphasizes undergrad research opportunities and has an EXCELLENT relationship with Texas Medical Center and Baylor College of Medicine as well; its vicinity (literally a walk across the street). Now don't jump on my case and be like ohhh well Columbia emphasizes undergrad opportunities too! OMG seriously I'm not trying to fight with you or argue the opposite for Columbia. I am quite certain a LOT of people chose Columbia because of its NYC location (other than core curriculum) because of easy access to many prestigious companies and internships--don't tell me any different that NO ONE chose Columbia because there's Wall Street nearby, or Juilliard (if they wanna do a joint program), or <em>insert important NYC attribute here</em></p></li>

<p>So wait, are you saying if I chose to go to Rice because of TMC I'm seeking to be a hospital executive? TMC provides access to the more than 40 member institutions, including two medical schools, four schools of nursing, 13 renowned hospitals, and more. Will an undergrad go to all of them? No. But more resources = more opportunities! Maybe someone wants to work in a cancer center, or in stem cell research, or <em>insert field of medicine here</em> but at his college and university hospital they don't offer that there. THEN, in that case, having a lot more options is extremely useful and helpful to the undergrad in choosing internships and conducting research with mentors. More hospitals and bigger hospitals are much better than smaller or fewer hospitals, anyways. Why would you choose to curtail your research or internship opportunities when you could have much more?</p>

<li>I'd rather pay less money. This is a rather subjective topic, anyway.</li>

I will say that not everyone will agree that NYC is clean while at the same time not everyone will agree that NYC is dirty.


<p>The time I got back back from Beijing was the only time I ever thought NYC was clean. </p>

1. NYC is the cleanest, and safest, big city in America. Look it up. Anyone who consider it "dirty", at least in the southern half of Manhattan, hasn't seen actually dirty US cities. Philadelphia out-dirties NYC by a mile. SF has the biggest army of hobos manning the streets of any city i've seen (though I haven't spent much time in Seattle). And that's not even counting Detroit, Pittsburgh, KC, Atlanta...


<p>NYC has done a very good job at getting rid of the hobos, unlike SF. And it's less smoggy than LA. But NYC's streets SMELL and are FILTHY. Restaurants, buildings, hotels, etc. all throw their bags of garbage out on the curb. There are puddles of brown mud everywhere. And I'm talking about the nicest parts of NYC -- not Chinatown.</p>

<p>I came to this thread to make a case for Columbia on behalf of an interested student to whom it was relevant.</p>

<p>The reasons I listed would, I think, be the main reasons someone would pick Columbia over Rice. That's a rough approximation to the "Columbia perspective" on the question. To it I might add "world-class faculty in departments X, Y and Z", but really, the only thing that matters for a student in that case is whether they're passionate about subject X, Y or Z. example: Columbia is second to none in Economics and in Middle Eastern studies, whereas our Theater program is pretty shabby (as well as our <em>cough</em> football). If you're really all about Econ, that's a big reason to go to Columbia. But my original #2 reason is important as well - if you're not sure what you want to do, Columbia probably gives you the best well-rounded education there is.</p>

<p>I see no reason to continue to try and convince (or shout down, as the case usually is) someone who comes from the exact opposite perspective here. It's like arguing politics on the internet. hotasice, you're welcome to the last word, I think I've made my positions clear. but just to make sure I'm not misinterpreted, 2 quick follow-ups:</p>

<li><p>Nobody here has mentioned "the ivy league" except hotasice. I'm talking about Columbia students, not some arcane reference to our athletic conference. And nobody sits around on campus talking about how much smarter they are than other people. What I'm talking about is the sort of thing you don't notice unless you step back for a minute and consider the people you know on campus vs the people you met growing up - there's a powerful difference in the speed that you're expected to think. You find yourself making subtle inferences more intuitively, and drawing deeper conclusions, and see the same in others. Slowly and surely over your 4 years, you adapt to working with and among highly intelligent people, and expecting more of yourself. I found that one of the most positive aspects of going to Columbia, and nobody really talks about it because it's not the sort of thing you can put on a brochure.</p></li>
<li><p>Most schools have a lot of "campus life" and talk about their "campus life" because they don't have any alternative to it. Example: Two of my friends are going to Purdue Engineering. There is nothing else worth going to but the campus for about 50 miles in all directions. Campus life is what they're left with. Both have visited me here and are pretty jealous of the things Columbia students can choose to go do. That said, despite all those opportunities, Columbia actually does have a defined, central, student-dominated campus (unlike NYU) and basically everyone hangs out there. In nice weather basically the whole school will be on Low steps or on South Lawn, tossing a frisbee, pretending to study, sunbathing, talking to friends. Everything from political events to concerts to poetry readings is happening in the evening, and people can't put up posters fast enough to advertise everything that's going on. And on the weekends, the typical Columbia student stays on-campus, goes to parties, or maybe to local bars. Not everyone, all-the-time - Some choose to go elsewhere with a group of friends - but to hear hotasice tell it, you'd think we're all scattered to the four winds. Not so - there is a campus community, and exploring New York is just part of it.</p></li>

<p>Let me add just one story. Completely randomly this week, I met a businessman in a bar (in Vermont of all places) who had gone to Columbia in the 80s during our record football losing streak. He had actually been the QB of the football team. One night he and the football frat were hosting a private party at this bar on 96th that they'd rented. This guy saddles up to the bar to pay for a drink (at age 19), and gets two put in front of him. He looks up, and does a double-take - the bartender is none other than Tom Cruise. He was apparently practicing for his role in Cocktail, and someone knew him and invited him. The whole night he was practicing the various cup-juggling tricks that he does in the movie, trying to get it right and having things fly around the bar when he screwed up. That's the kind of randomness you'll have happen to you from time to time - it's what keeps NYC life interesting.</p>

<p>macca, if you've got any specific followup questions, feel free to let loose.</p>

<p>i'm just going to say that it should be clear that harvard, not rice, is the best value school in the country. their generous FA + grants etc. is just an amazing deal to attend a top school with a student body that ranks up there with caltech's.</p>

<p>You guys gave me tons of information! I really appreciate it. It's really hard to choose between two schools..
I got a question.
What about the undergraduate research/ internship program?
I am planning to go graduate school in Aerospace/Aeronautical Engineering. Do people in Rice get more exposed to those activities (NASA)? What about Columbia? I heard in mechanical/ civil engineering division, the university also has Institute of Flight Structure. What do you guys think?</p>

<p>dunno too much, two of my best friends, both really smart: mechE worked at nasa sophomore summer, other mechE/ comp sci worked at nasa freshman summer. Since I only know a propotion of columbia undergrads, presumably there are more. Lots of under grad research to do. I do research under a senior professor in an engineering dept, have done so since freshman year, I wasn't particularly gifted or crazy qualified or anything of the sort.</p>