NESCAC/LAC for CS

Hi! Junior here. Could anyone tell me if the nescac or other lac schools would be a good choice for CS, particularly Middlebury(or Hamilton, Bowdoin, Williams, Vassar, etc)? Which would be the strongest? There are many other reasons I like these schools but I’m unclear on how strong their CS departments may be because they are smaller schools( if they are good for. CS they are my top choices). Thanks, and feel free to recommend schools!

They will have a small number of CS classes that are probably well taught. If I am a prospective CS major with a serious interest in the field, I wouldn’t go there. We recently looked closely at Swarthmore, a well regarded LAC, and found their CS offering lacking.

I think it depends on what you are looking for. Some students want a top 5-10 program and don’t care about what their day to day experience is (large classes, campus environment, etc). Some students are really focused on what they want in a school (smaller community). The right response for one person may not be the right one for another.

Look through course catalogs to get a feel for what schools offer and see if they align with your interests. Understand that the offerings at a smaller school that only has undergrad students will not be as extensive as a school with a larger program. However, there may some benefits to being in a smaller program.

My D (not a CS major) is a sophomore at a SLAC. They have a program every year organized by career services and the alumni network just for sophomores to help with career planning and networking. Connecting through a program like that may be easier when you are one of 100 CS majors as opposed to one of 1000…

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Thank you, I also looked into Swarthmore and their offerings are indeed lacking. However, I did find that the other schools I mentioned seem to have more robust programs.

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What are you looking for? What area(s) of CS are you interested in? What do you want to do with a CS degree?

You could be right about the others. If size is the only reason to prefer the LACs (and you may have other reasons), there are other intermediate choices such as Tufts etc. Brown is also in that size bucket with a good CS program.

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Most of the top SLACs offer similar quality CS education (if you don’t count Harvey Mudd).
A few things to check out:

  • Courses offered
  • Faculty size and their areas of research
  • CS graduate placements (check LinkedIn)
    Equally important, check other majors/programs they offer to see how much they align with your broader interest. It’s quite common to do a double major in most SLACs.
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I agree you should consider what area of CS you would focus in and what type of career you want. Do a deep dive into the course catalog, but also look at the last 4 semesters of offered classes so that you know how often each class is offered (can make a difference for sequencing and/or some courses of interest to you may only come around every two or three years).

My D attends one of the LACs in your initial post, and CS majors from her school are getting impressive internships and jobs, while enjoying the things that appealed to them when deciding to apply to/select a highly rejective LAC vs highly rejective university. Regardless, make sure your final list includes match schools and at least one affordable safety.

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If you want a NESCAC school with good CS, Tufts has the most robust program.

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Agreed. My D22 is going there in the fall.

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Several LACs have lots of students majoring in CS. Among the programs my D22 considered, she liked Mt Holyoke a lot.

Try looking at the offerings at Hamilton, Grinnell, and Carleton. All are known for their top CS programs.

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Congratulations. A good friend of my S22 is also heading to Tufts.

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Wesleyan
Two things to look at:
Courses regularly offered: Courses Regularly Offered, Mathematics and Computer Science - Wesleyan University

Courses currently being offered: WesMaps - Wesleyan University

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These articles should offer you a sense of Hamilton’s students, faculty and research opportunities:

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If CS-adjacent AI is of interest, Colby is leading the way among LACs: https://artificial-intelligence.colby.edu/

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Another good resource is College Transitions Dataverse:

I like their methodologies and they are transparent about it as well as data sources. There are multiple data points for you to consider.

I would say look at both metrics and what the school actually offers (courses, faculty, internship opportunities) to make up your mind.

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Thanks! Hamilton is one of my top choices and seem to have a good CS program. I’m planning on staying on the east coast though so probably not the other two

In terms of larger schools Brown is probably my top choice so good to hear that

I’m not too sure yet but I’ll probably also double major in something else (maybe another science)