Good colleges for CS?

Hey guys. I am a senior in HS right now, and I am applying to colleges for computer science.

GPA - 4.0 Weighted (my school doesn’t do unweighted)
SAT - wasn’t able to take bc of COVID
EC’s/Awards - 4 leadership positions at school, dancing for 10 years, python/java tutor, girls who code mentor, kumon tutor, Princeton University writing contest winner, Biomedical internship at Rutgers NJMS, Computer Science internship with Goldman Sachs

I feel like my GPA and Extra curricular’s are fine, but I am just sad about the SAT part.
I currently have 8 colleges on my list:

Rutgers - in state, close to home, cheap, amazing CS program, close to NYC

NJIT - safety school

Stevens Institute of Technology - close to home, they give scholarships, great job placement, great return on investment

Northeastern University - family in Boston, good distance from home, kind of expensive, great engineering/CS, lot of co-ops and internships

NYU - dream school, pretty close to home, VERY expensive

Georgia Tech - amazing school, very hard to get into OOS

UMich - great academics and rankings, amazing CS and engineering, far from home, kind of expensive

Cornell - reach school, high acceptance for women in CS/engineering, Ivy League

Please let me know if there are any good CS target colleges I can apply to, or if you think my list is good/bad and my stats and EC’s are enough.

Thanks a lot!

In terms of your unweighted GPA, you should be able to compute it yourself. Just count the A’s and count the B’s (and the C’s if you have any), and do a bit of math.

I agree that Rutgers is a great choice. The Rutgers graduates that I have worked with have made it look very good. NJIT is a great choice for a second in-state university.

It is not obvious to me whether it is worth paying more to go elsewhere. Certainly U.Mass Amherst is very good for computer science but it would likely cost you quite a bit more than Rutgers and I doubt that the difference between the two schools matters other than in cost.

I would call Rutgers “inexpensive” rather than “cheap”!

For us Northeastern was very expensive (definitely out of budget). You might want to run the NPC for it and NYU before you go through the trouble to apply.

U.Michigan out of state, Georgia Tech, and Cornell look like reaches to me.

I agree with the assessment of DadTwoGirls that the reaches on the list are UMich, Georgia Tech, and Cornell. Do not count on an acceptance to any of these but by all means apply. You will be richly rewarded if you get in.

I would pick Northeastern over NYU; I believe it has a slight edge, mainly because of its coop system. Both are expensive but NEU may be a little more generous with scholarships if you get in (based on experience with kids I know).

Rutgers sounds like a better choice than UMass for academics but campus life probably wins out at UMass (not that that should be the highest priority). Stevens is a good one to have on the list, and WPI should be considered too. Its applicant pool has increased in number and quality. You should get into both easily. There’s always RPI, where you are also likely to be admitted. Despite serious problems with the current administration, it still offers an excellent education in CS and is respected in the field. To boot, the current administration may be on the way out in 2022, which means that a student entering in the fall of 2021 would likely benefit from a different administration.

Another East Coast CS powerhouse that you should consider is University of Maryland. It lacks the cachet and punch of the Big Three on your list (UMich, Georgia Tech and Cornell) but its CS program is excellent and respected, and not too far below those. Finally, you may want to look at Virginia Tech. This is another strong program, and there is an amazingly large and loyal alumni base that is very willing and eager to offer employment to fellow Hokies. It gets harder and harder and harder to get in each year.

You can calculated your unweighted GPA yourself.

A weighted GPA is meaningless to those who do not know what the weighting system is. For example, if the weighting system is heavy, so that your 4.0 weighted GPA comes from a 3.0 unweighted GPA, then your list looks like a list of unrealistic reaches (except maybe NJIT which could merely be a reach).

Thank you all for the replies, they were very very helpful! I totally agree that GT and UMich are also reaches, but I just love the both of these schools so much, I thought it can’t hurt to shoot my shot. I’m going to consider applying to UMD and VT.

For Michigan and above A=4,B=3,and so on in just core classes so no gym, art, study hall etc.

Michigan does give OOS financial aid but it doesn’t meet need for OOS. So decide if you can afford it with the NPC on their financial site to see if it’s close

But for CS your backyard will be just fine. Just might not be worth the extra costs. That’s something you and your family need to determine

My son just graduated from UMD with degrees in CS and Math. 5 years ago he applied to GT and UofM. Was accepted off the Waitlist at GT, was accepted at UofM, also considered McGill (and almost ended up there) which is 1> less expensive than any of the other options, in a major metro center and they are fairly strong in CS. Another east coast school he liked was his safety is RIT, granted I liked it a lot more than he did. Originally he didn’t really care for UMD, but much of his discomfort was remediated by adding the new CS facility which is very impressive and limiting the number CS majors. Now, he graduated in the midst of COVID, yet had two competing job offers, and recently found out last week he is the lead author on a paper that will be published. UMD is a top 20 CS program and I suspect that the space between #1 and #100 in CS is pretty small at the undergrad level, so I’d say go where you feel you fit in best. All the schools you list will get you where you need to be. Other schools to consider: Purdue, Illinois, Case Western, Emory, OSU, Michigan Tech (if you would consider living in an different world in the winter).

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re: OP, “high acceptance for women in CS/engineering”…

IIRC it is significantly higher than for guys, but I don’t think it is “high”.

I haven’t looked into it, but I suspect that the same may be the case for other institutions that care about educating more women in engineering and related fields, they may be just less transparent about the fact.

Purdue, Maryland, Illinois-UC might fill in a middle tier in your list.

I agree you should go through the easy process of calculating your unweighted. That’s what admissions uses, along with course rigor, as primary inputs.

If weighted was consistent, it could serve the purpose, but it isn’t. 4.0 weighted at our HS would be outside the top 1/3.

Maryland would probably be a good match (still waiting to hear uwGPA).

Purdue OOS a reach and UIUC OOS a high reach. UIUC CS acceptance rate was 4% for class of 2024.

honestly, it really doesn’t matter for CS. Sure, a few schools such as MIT and Stanford will get any resume a 2nd and 3rd look. But CS is a demonstrable skill. In an interview it doesn’t take long to tell if someone can do the work or not. This is what separates majors such as CS or engineering from majors like History where the firm hiring you is making a bet on potential since the specific knowledge taught in college is pretty much irrelevant.

So pick schools based the environment you want in college; location, people, class size, advising, cost, etc. If you get good grades and take part in internships you will be a very strong job candidate from just about any CS program in the country.

I would apply broadly as CS admissions tend to be a lot more competitive these days compared to the school’s “overall” admissions (many with single digit admission % rates, such as UIUC)

UIUC CS acceptance is not 4%. Its rate is north of 25%. They usually get around 5000 applications for 450 freshman spots for the CS and CS+X programs.

2019 was 15% for the pure CS track which has only 150 spots.

What happens is that applicants apply to CS first and CS+X as a backup. Most won’t get into CS but have about a 40% chance at CS+X. They accept a total of 1200 to 1500 of the 5000 applicants. Four to five hundred enroll.

Disproving “4%” is easy.

450/0.3 yield is 1500 offers.
1500/.04 is 37500 applications for CS.

37500… that’s more applications than the entire school received. ASEE lists total STEM applications at only 17000 for UIUC.

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That CS acceptance rate was directly reported by multiple admissions officers during counselor presentations. The 4% is only for the CS major in Grainger.