Son has committed to UW Madison for Computer Science (actually they admit to College of Letters & Sciences and you declare CS after completion of certain courses). We were happy with the choice and the cost is manageable (but lower is better). After he committed to UW, he got off the waitlist at UC Riverside for CS late last week - and we have to commit by May 14 (which is the deposit deadline for UCR for all students - not just waitlisted).
Now we are trying to decide between the two and probably need any help / pointers. Below is my analysis.
- In CS, for jobs where you do undergrad does not matter as much as what skills you develop and how well you do in the interviews.
Factors favoring UC Riverside:
UC Riverside stated cost of attendance is around $36k. UW Madison is around $56k. So difference of around $20k per year or $80k for four years. While cost is not an overwhelming consideration, we can use this difference towards master’s degree (which he is very interested in).
- Ease & cost of travel:
UC Riverside is around 6 hours drive away. UW Madison is around 8-10 hours away including the flight + drive to and from airports.
- Internship possibilities:
It may be easier to search for Bay Area internships from UCR
Factors favoring UW Madison:
- Rankings and overall prestige:
Wisconsin Madison is ranked #16 vs UCR’s #52 for undergrad CS as per US News. For the overall national rankings Madison is ranked #42 while UCR is ranked #88. I know rankings are not that important but they play an outsized influence on a teenager’s mind and there is a peer pressure regarding these.
- Dorm life experience & activities/learning communities:
Not the most important factor for us as son is not a party type person but he is interested in taking part in activities, clubs and learning communities. It is possible that UCR does offer a lot of scope for this but we have not heard much about this about UCR.
- Out of state / Cultural experience:
He is an Asian kid who has grown in the Bay Area bubble where there have been plenty of kids looking like him. An experience in a state like Wisconsin with a non-diverse (mostly white) population will likely be a good learning experience for him as opposed to UCR (significant Asian population). Also he is excited to be in a cold weather place with a lot of snow.
Please let me know your thoughts and advice. What would you choose given the above factors?
Bonus question: If he wants to do a Master’s degree at a good school like UC Berkeley, will his chances be affected by UCR vs UW?