Introverted yet adventrous kid struggling to decide on a good school (with good fit) for CS

Hello! I’m currently having trouble deciding on what school I should go to. They all seem pretty decent options, but I’m torn since they each come with a caveat that makes me hesitate going all in on them. I’m a nerdy, introverted student who lives in Northern Virginia. However, I really do enjoy going outdoors for hiking and mountain biking. I have an intense love for Computer Science and I’ve been doing it ever since I was just barley into my teens. More specifically, I have a particular interest in game development, but programming is just cool to me in general. I am mostly interested in a general computer science degree and I view college as an opportunity to connect with like minded students.

I am also looking for general advice on what I can do to help determine where to go. I’ve done tour visits for most of the schools on this list (except Indiana University, which I am going to visit soon), but I am still struggling to nail down a school.

Here’s a general list of what I value in a school:

  • Quality CS program (good teachings, offerings, and networking opportunities, etc.)
  • Liberal, nerdy, smart student body. Diversity is a nice plus, but not necessary.
  • Preferably relatively small size, although big isn’t necessarily a deal breaker.
  • Some degree of “prestige” or name-brand recognition. It’s of course very important to recognize that “prestige” is under no circumstances an indicator of the ability/value of a school or its students, it’s just that I might have some better job prospects and more opportunities to connect with like minded students.
  • Opportunities for outdoors activities like mountain biking or hiking.
  • Collaborative academic environment
  • Game Development/Game Design offerings (either in the form of clubs or classes to take. a track dedicated to game development is not necessary, and I don’t want to go to a school dedicated to game development).
  • Not too expensive. ~$50,000 a year is my price maximum, but cheaper is always better! I do not qualify for any need-aid, but I am VERY thankful that I have the privilege of having awesome parents that are willing to pay tens of thousands for their child’s education.
  • Colder weather with snow is preferred.
  • I’d rather be a small fish in a big pond than a big fish in a small pond. I think I do well in environments where I’m the “underdog” (not too much of an underdog, of course).

Here are my options that I applied and got accepted into, along with their pros and cons.

Colorado School of Mines - ~$55k a year (with $14k a year scholarship)


  • Simply all around AWESOME fit. Beautiful setting. Plenty of opportunities for outdoors activity. Small school. Nerdy students. Collaborative (from what I’ve seen) environment. Good weather for me with snow.


  • EXPENSIVE! $55k is for sure no joke. It’s just barley affordable.
  • Computer science appears to be a bit on the iffy side. While this is a STEM school, they’re not known for CS at all (they’re mainly known for “hard-engineering” stuff mechanical/mining/petroleum engineering and etc.) Might need to do more research on my end, but iirc I’ve heard some mixed things about their CS program
  • School is apparently VERY difficult and work intensive. IMO I don’t think it’s anything I can’t handle, but parents are a bit concerned about this aspect of the school.
  • Not very diverse.

Indiana University-Bloomington (Hutton Honors College OR Luddy School) ~40k a year (with ~12k a year in scholarships).

Admittedly, this is the school I know least about. I am going on a tour soon. Perhaps I’ll update this thread afterwards.


  • Up north with good, chill weather with opportunity for snow.
  • Good game development / game design offerings. Will go for a general computer science degree, though.
  • Generally heard across-the-board awesome things about it from friends of relatives. Wish I could be more specific here, but I’m going on a visit soon.
  • Got into the honors college as-well as an informatics/CS focused school (Luddy School of Informatics).


  • The least “prestigious” or renowned on this list. I would be the big fish. Might make networking or connecting with like minded students a bit difficult. Not a deal-breaker, but makes me a bit hesitant. Perhaps the honors college or luddy school makes this not a big deal? (worth mentioning ofc that the “prestige” of a school does not equate to its value or the value/ability of the students. this is just one factor of many when determining fit)
  • Still a bit on the expensive side, but not too bad and generally more affordable to the other options on this list.
  • Outdoors options may be limited. I’ll confirm this on my visit.

William and Mary (Monroe Scholar) ~$40k a year


  • On the smaller side in terms of size, great for me.
  • I think I will really like the student body at this school, they’re nerdy, liberal, and smart.
  • I really liked the vibe in general. Sorry for not being more descriptive with this haha
  • Well-known school + name-brand (public-ivy + Monroe Scholar Honors program)
  • From my visit there, the outdoors options seem to be pretty decent.
  • In-state, somewhat close to home.


  • Weather is hot and moist.
  • William and Mary is a liberal arts school and not known for CS at all.
  • A bit expensive.

Virginia Tech ~32k a year.


  • Good location. In the mountains/hills with good outdoors opportunities. However, it’s kinda in the middle of nowhere. The town associated with the University is pretty small, apparently.
  • Probably the “best” option for CS in Virginia. From what I’ve seen Virginia Tech is generally preferable over other in-state options in terms of CS.
  • Great campus (of course)
  • Great food (of course)
  • From the looks of it, it appears to be the cheapest option on this list (yet it is ~32k a year :sweat_smile:).


  • I’m sure the students are overall nice and awesome (when are they not? haha), but I didn’t really get the “nerdy, liberal, smart” vibe I’m looking for. A bit of a turn-off.
  • School is pretty big. Not a big deal breaker, but smaller schools and smaller class sizes offer me the opportunities to better connect with professors.
  • I’m not exactly sure why, but I’m for some reason hesitant about this school even though it’s a great fit for me.

University of Virginia (~$45k a year)


  • Far and away the best “prestige” on this list. I’m sure everyone here knows UVA, haha. I’m sure the networking opportunities at this University will be great.
  • Size is pretty decent. Not small, but not that big either.
  • Campus was awesome.


  • The students are (apparently) pretty pretentious. The overall vibes of the university felt pretty pretentious to me personally. I’m not too sure I’ll like the student body. I’m not a big party kid whatsoever and are very timid, and it seems like this school has a pretty big fraternity culture which I’m not a huge fan of. Might have to go back and learn some more.
  • Culture seems to be very competitive.
  • Doesn’t seem like to be any good outdoors options.
  • For some reason, it’s really expensive even though its in-state??? I looked at the costs for the School of Engineering and the total costs appear to come out to around $45k a year (this website for reference: It’s still affordable for us and in the price range, though

I’ve also applied to UNC (rejeted) and UMich (deferred). I really really liked UMich but I got deferred and I’m not sure if I’ll get in the University or its computer science program (which has separate admissions due to the sheer amount of people interested in it). It’s also very expensiveness (~$72k a year, which is just ridiculous). I might update this post later on.

Thank you so much for reading this LOOOOONG post. Any help is appreciated! Apologies if I ever sounded pretentious in this post haha.

WM alum here and my daughter just graduated. I went to grad school
At UVA. You have some incredible options and probably can’t go wrong anywhere. Have you visited all the schools?

WM has all seasons. You’ll be quite warm until mid sept. But then the fall is amazingly beautiful. WM actually stands for wet and muddy. Bring rain boots. The CS program there is strong even though it might not be the most highly ranked. You could get info about job placements from there. My guess is that their CS grads do pretty well.

I’d eliminate any schools where you would graduate with substantial debt. You will make good money with a CS degree, but why start your career with a lot of debt when you don’t have to. Go where you feel like you would really enjoy four years of your life. That’s important. Good luck with your decision!

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The only option here where I might have to take on some debt would be UMich. All other schools are affordable for my parents but saving money would still be very beneficial (once again, very thankful to be privileged like this haha).

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That’s great! Figure out where you think you would like to live for the next four years. You have great and seemingly affordable options.

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Reading your post I’d say you liked W&M and Mines the most. Those are two fantastic options. Liking where you go is half the battle.

Look through the CS offerings at W&M and see if you like what you see. Same at Mines.

Run the numbers on Mines and see if it could work. Add extra for travel but also factor in you can earn money from internships and co-ops.

BTW. The CEO of the company I’m working for now is a W&M grad. Very sharp and seems like a decent person. Good luck.


Do you care about the social aspects at all? You describe yourself as introverted, but are you hoping to make social connections? I think you should go with your gut on avoiding frat culture, but wanted to point out a couple of other non-academic points. Colorado School of Mines is 68% male. You’ll be surrounded by a lot of guys with similar interests to you which could be great, but there will be fewer dating opportunities (making some assumptions here). On the other hand, the smaller dating pool is also more likely to include women with similar interests based on the students S.O.M. attracts. Another thought is that you might benefit socially from the atmosphere at an Honors College with dedicated housing because you’d likely be with the “smart, nerdy” students you prefer to hang with. Personally, I think the name recognition aspect is of lesser importance. Think about the actual four years of your life that you’ll be spending at college. If you want to spend time mountain biking and hiking then choose a school where you can feed that part of you. You’re smart and highly employable with your CS major, and you can go start living your best life now, however you define that.

My son is similar to you in interests in majoring in Computer Science and taking game design classes on the side. He sought out schools with a good CS program and that also offers game design, 3D computer modeling, Unity, and photography classes (another one of his interests) for nonmajors. VT and UVA has one game design class each, I believe. Look at class offerings at each school and see if there are classes that interest you. Go to each school’s sub Reddit and ask students there are the CS programs, game design classes, ease of signing up for classes, professors, culture in CS department, etc… Good luck in your decision!

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Congrats on your success so far!!

My son (Class of 2023) is looking at IU as well. He was accepted to their Kelley School of Business. We are also visiting in a few weeks. It really is a huge university! Like you, we are hearing only positive things about IU as we research options. Never been to the state of Indiana!
In my research, there are quite a bit of outdoor opportunities near campus. Lake Monroe is very close. It’s a large 10,000 acre lake with tons of conservation land surrounding it with trails. Check out the list of Clubs at IU. I think a good variety of outdoor based clubs that utilize the area–biking, bass fishing etc. We are from New England so the weather in IN seems relatively mild and nice enough to enjoy the outdoors for much of the school year (at least compared to where we live).

Hope you have a great visit to Bloomington!

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I have a daughter at UVA and a son at VT. You’ve pretty much nailed the pros/cons on both. Here are a few additional thoughts. VT has the absolute best college food in the country - bar none! VT also has the most incredible walk-up song for home football games. Even if you’re introverted and not into sports, you should go to the games. Hearing “Enter Sandman” by Metallica played at 4 trillion decibles while everyone in the stand (including the older folks) are jumping up and down will send a shiver down your spine. UVA does have the prestige, but there is a lot of political activism on campus (all left-leaning). If that’s your thing, which it sounds like it is, you’ll fit right in. Both schools are in small towns in the middle of nowhere.

I had kids at both UVA and VT as well. Definitely different vibes. I enjoyed both Charlottesville and Blacksburg . Great places to spend 4 years.

But, W & M sounds like a better fit for you, @epicone1200 . Looks like they have a game design class as well as a game design club. Little to no snow though. VT could work also. Kids tend to be fairly down to earth and I’m sure you could find plenty of kids that are into games, computers, and game design. Good luck with the decision!

Agree that W&am sounds like the best “fit” in terms of culture- but OP has a serious interest in a subset of CS. OP to find real strength in your area of interest you are almost certainly looking at a larger school- but remember, college isn’t HS. A large school that will let you use your AP credits to knock out Gen Ed’s & pre-reps & started more on your major could suit quite well, b/c your major will be like a smaller school within the larger school.

Btw “prestige” in your field is not the same as “prestige” in your HS or with you family & neighbors. In CS (much less game development) UVa is fine, but it is not “prestigious”.

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I’m not sure about the other schools, but I do know that the CompSci program at CO Mines is NOT ABET-accredited. If going to school for CS, that is where I would start in terms of comparison.

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I am not familiar with Indiana University’s CS program but all the others are good choices and you can’t go wrong there. There are always going to be things you won’t like about specific schools. I suggest going with your gut feeling as to which college you like best.

ABET accreditation for CS does indicate meeting a reasonably high minimum standard, but not all high quality CS majors have it (e.g. Stanford, CMU, UCB). It does mean that, for a non-ABET-accredited school not as well known for CS quality, a closer look at the curriculum and courses would be a good idea, since there are some low quality CS majors.

ABET accreditation does matter for the patent exam. Probably related is that it requires some non-CS science course work that is not necessarily required in other CS majors.

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Right. I mentioned it because the OP sounded concerned about the reputation of CSOM’s CS program…lack of ABET accreditation in a relatively unknown CS program is not ideal.

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We lived in Indiana for many years and know many IU alums, including recent CS grads. I would not worry about finding highly motivated and intellectual students in CS as it is a demanding major at Bloomington. The recent CS majors we know had lots of excellent choices after graduation and have continued to progress in their careers.

I also would not say IU is in the north or that it gets a lot of snow – at least, not compared to the northern part of the state near the Michigan border.

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Oh my goodness, thank you all so much for your advice!!! It’s truly been valuable so far. To be honest, I’m going to wait until I’ve toured my options again in order for me to make a final decision, but what you’ve guys been saying has really helped invoke more confidence in my college choices and options.

In a couple of weeks, I will be going to IU (for the first time, I’ve already toured all other schools once). Does anyone have any ideas on how I can maximize the information I gain throughout my visit to IU as well as other colleges (also some cool stuff to check out or to do in Bloomington)? I’ve heard that sitting in on classes was a good idea, but I’m not exactly sure how to arrange that.

I will also be attending UVA’s “Day on the Lawn” event soon. Hopefully, by the time I make a decision, I would have revisited all the schools I am interested in.

Once again, thank you all for your advice!!!


Do you know any students at IU? If so, reach out to them. If not, you can reach out to the admissions office, honors college, or Luddy to help coordinate. Also, see if you can have lunch with a student and/or stay overnight in a dorm. Eat the food, feel the vibes. Also, you can reach out to some of the student organizations (perhaps one of the ones focusing on outdoors) and you can communicate in-person or via email. People not arranged through the admissions office may be more likely to be more direct and present a more well-rounded picture. This advice holds true for IU and any other college you’re considering.

Sounds like Virginia Tech is the best fit for you. There’s a good chance that the “hesitancy” you have toward it isn’t because there’s anything wrong with the school per se (I think you’d be happy there) but is due to you actually wanting to go to Mines. If Mines has the courses and degree that you want (get that research done quick), and you’ve had a sit-down with your parents, and they’ve agreed to pay the price, that’s where I’d go if I were you.

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A bit confused.

CSM shows an OOS of $61,665 so take off $14K and you’re under $50K. Now there’s inflationa nd all that - but what am I missing. Yes, it’s wonderful. For cheaper, how about South Dakota School of MInes (not sure if still taking apps) or W Carolina with its $8500 tuition and fees.

W&M I get - but not necesssarily the outdoors. IU too big as will be Va Tech but it fits better (Va Tech). Obviously UVA is smaller.

No clue why you are mentioning Michigan - and debt. You don’t want big - even if it’s not a deal breaker and you love Mines…so you don’t love Michigan.

It’s CS and you want to save money. It sounds like W&M is the right fit for you…but if not then Va Tech - which will be better recreationally but is bigger.

No reason to go outside the state when you have those options!!! I’d say W&M though.

Don’t forget, most that start in this major may not finish in it. So you want to be at a place that will cover other interests as well. Will CSM cover other interests?

Keep the cash. It’s important to you - and stay in state.

Best of luck.