Cornell CAS CS vs Berkeley LS CS

Hey everybody!
I’m grateful to have gotten into two schools well-renowned for computer science: Cornell and Berkeley, and am now tasked with narrowing down my decision to just one of them.
I know Berkeley is typically regarded as the best school for computer science, tied with MIT/Stanford/CMU, whereas Cornell is slightly lower in the hierarchy but still very good (I believe U.S. News has them ranked as the number 6 CS school, although I know rankings are nothing to go by). Berkeley would seem to be the obvious choice, however, as an OOS student, it will be tremendously expensive. Cornell is also smaller than Berkeley, and although I am still waiting on their FA package, the Ivies are typically known for being relatively generous. Berkeley’s location is undoubtedly superior, whereas Cornell has more natural beauty. Both schools are known for being fairly rigorous and stressful. I know at Berkeley I will have to “apply” for CS and maintain a 3.3 gpa in the lower div courses, something I’ve heard is often risky. Cornell has a 2.3 gpa requirement to commit to CS, so that is definitely more manageable in a sense. I am currently leaning towards Cornell, so I was wondering whether anyone here would be able to provide any thoughts or analysis that could potentially sway me towards Berkeley, or whether you guys agree with me in the sense that Cornell would likely be the better decision here.

Sounds like you have a handle on things. Only thing I can offer is I’d suggest you visit, if you haven’t.

@monydad thanks for the response! I plan on attending Cornell Days on the 13th and 14th, however, I will likely be unable to attend berkeley’s admit days since I live on the east coast. I will, though, be attending a Berkeley admitted students reception in my local area.

I suggest you try to visit Berkeley too, if you are still torn. It is a very different environment. You don’t have to go on an admit day, you cold go whenever you have time.

Yes it costs a lot of money to visit there, but when you compare that to the cost of attending any of these schools it is a drop in the bucket. (In my opinion).

@monydad That is a good point you bring up. I will try to convince my parents to fly out there during spring break :slight_smile:

Berkeley is the better school for CS, but the difference is small enough that you should save money and go to the cheaper option.

@Dontskipthemoose that was my thought process exactly. I’m still waiting on Cornell’s FA package (which I’m presuming will make it significantly cheaper than Berkeley), so that’s where I’m currently leaning. However, if I’m offered little to no aid from Cornell, Berkeley would probably be the obvious choice.

Some family members and friends are telling me that the salary I would be making out of Berkeley would render the cost difference between the two schools negligible. I am still waiting on Cornell’s FA package, but would you agree with this assessment? Even with Cornell’s aid, the difference likely wouldn’t be over 10k or so per year.

If the finances are close between the schools I say choose Berkeley. It’s better known for their CS and you’ll have better job prospects being in the Bay Area. Plus nothing beats Cali weather. Good luck and congrats.
P.S. I am a Cal alum and my son is a Cornell student

Cornell ended up giving me about 16k a year. I’m out of state so berkeley ain’t giving me anything lol. I’m probably gonna commit to Cornell guys :slight_smile:

@Y2JRedskins congrats and good for you! Cornell is an excellent school and you had really good choices.

Great pick!

Thanks guys!


@Y2JRedskins good choice! congrats! While Berkeley is stronger for CS, for undergrad the ivies, stanford, MIT, etc are a better choice I feel. For college, the overall strength of the undergrad programs, access to resources, professors etc in addition to departmental strength matter. Berkeley is a top research university but for undergrad there are so many people, and in general much fewer resources per student and oversubscribed classes. that is why Berkeley is not often chosen over the ivies and is not really considered completely on par for undergrad.