GaTech vs UIUC for Computer Science

I got accepted to Georgia Tech (College of Computing) and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (College of Engineering) for a B.S. in Computer Science.
The cost of attendance is roughly equal because I am an international student.
I intend to specialize in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning and work for a tech giant after graduation.
It would be super helpful form me if you could verify the following assumptions and tell me other factors that went into making a similar choice:

  • Georgia Tech is the more prestigious school out of the two and has better placements at software giants like Google, Amazon etc.
  • UIUC has a more practical approach to CS compared to Georgia Tech’s more theoretical approach, making Georgia Tech students slightly less equipped for Software Engineering.
  • Georgia Tech is notorious for grade deflation and has a lower 4-year graduation rate, resulting in a slightly depressing academic atmosphere.
  • Georgia Tech has a better structured CS program because of the Threads Curriculum.
  • What school has better research opportunities for undergraduates? UIUC has Research Park, but Georgia Tech seems to be more focused on research.
  • Are students at Georgia Tech more competitive than collaborative?
  • Are professors better at teaching at UIUC or GaTech? How is the overall support system for CS students in both universities?
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Congratulations on having two amazing options! You really can’t go wrong at either school academically.

Does GT have a more theoretical approach? My impression is that GT is a very hands on, career readiness type school. (Hopefully someone with more direct knowledge can chime in.)

Both schools are not going to be a walk in the park with grades. I don’t believe GT is “notorious” for grade deflation. Most schools are not. They just don’t grade inflate.

I would recommend doing a deep dive into the 4 year plan of study at each school. You may find that one aligns with your interests more than the other.

What about school environment? UIUC is a big rural campus with a ton of D1 sports. GT is much smaller and urban. Does one campus appeal more to you than the other? Honestly with schools so equally matched academically, you can make your decision based on fit.

I’ve heard that UI has great student life. However, GT has a stellar CS program and as you said, you would have a lot more opportunities during undergrad and after. I don’t think any student should be depressed, but ultimately college is what you make of it.

I am in a similar position looking at a large state school + honors college vs. Emory. The opportunities for intellectual growth at Emory are amazing, but the opportunities for social and personal growth at the state school are amazing as well.

I guess you need to know what you want the most out of your college experience and go with your gut feeling.

Georgia Tech and UIUC? Nice options. Since you know that your choice comes down to these two colleges and that you are interested in AI/ML, I second the thought that you should do a side-by-side comparison. My S had similar interests and a good group of acceptances to choose from (Stanford, CMU, and Cal) here is what he did.

Knowing that you are interested in AI/ML, map out your entire 4 years and see how many actual AI/ML classes you can take (in addition to great general education classes, engineering and core CS classes). How do the classes compare? If you know that you are interested in NLP, or robotics applications this makes it even easier.

Now that you have class lists, check to see if they are offered each semester and easily to register for (classes are only good if you can get a seat). Also, check for the profs that teach the classes. Are they well known?

Can you get involved in research. This is very important especially for AI/ML because hands on work is valued by industry and you can also get published (good on resumes). How many labs does each college have and it is easy to find out how to get involved?

Placements at the “giants” you mentioned are along known paths, so get ready for many code tests. Landing internships in AI/ML (something you really want to do) is more difficult in general, so having a good class list, research time, and publications, help a lot.

Good luck in your research…

Thank you so much! Personally, I think a college town would be a more enjoyable experience than a huge urban city. I will certainly do an academic deep-dive though!

That’s definitely true, and I know that is what I am going to end up doing. I felt that I owe it to myself to arrive at an objective answer before (invariably) seceding to my gut.

Thank you so much! According to my research so far, Georgia Tech has cooler research going on but the Treads curriculum at Tech prevents me from going all out on AI/ML classes for my advanced computing credits.

GT’s grade deflation partially comes from their grading system. It’s straight A, B , C. I wouldn’t factor grade deflation into your decision. GT is a very urban campus but very modern.

I’m at GT with my youngest son visiting my oldest. Youngest son is very impressed with the campus and he’s seen a few. But he likes urban.

Keep drilling down into each school for what area of CS you like. Then it comes down to which school feels and fits best for you. They’re two of the best CS schools in the country. There’s no wrong choice.

Thank you for all your help! I eventually committed to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.