Transferring to colleges that rejected/waitlisted me

Which T-20s and non T-20s do you have first hand experience at to draw such a broad comparative conclusion? You had posted this previously…

And you posted…

“My wife graduated valedictorian and got into Yale years back. She was also severely anorexic at 68 lbs during her commencement speech. Fortunately, her parents had the fortitude to get her help and have her go to college closer to home. I’m glad that happened, because I wasn’t smart enough to get into Yale”

So I am particularly interested in how you know what the experience at a t-20is like.

Most folks haven’t attended both under the same circumstances so I never understand these statements. I am not saying your not correct in some instances I just find it to be entirely speculative and or self serving when unsubstantiated by experience.


I think that this is in fact a fair question, and I have posted to encourage you to do well at UMD and to understand that you will be attending a very good university. I also upvoted the @coolguy post that motivated your question. Therefore I figured that it is fair for me to answer this.

I have only attended two “top 20” universities. One was MIT where I got my bachelor’s degree. The other was Stanford where I got my master’s degree. I have taken a few classes at a “slightly lesser” university and/or community college (some for fun after getting my master’s). I have a spouse and a few friends who graduated from either Harvard or Columbia and a daughter currently in a “top 5” graduate program.

As a graduate student at Stanford, I noticed that other strong students in the same program had gotten their bachelor’s at a very wide range of universities. This specifically included UMD, UNC, U.Michigan, several people from Rutgers, and someone from a university that I had never heard of that was in the UK (but it was probably a very good one, it just was not Cambridge nor Oxford). I am pretty sure that the graduates from UMD, UNC, and Rutgers were among the stronger students in their undergraduate class, and most of them had some relevant work experience between getting their bachelor’s and going to Stanford to get their masters’ degree.

I expect that many of us older participants in this discussion have worked with people who graduated from a very wide range of universities.

MIT and Stanford do have classes that go very fast. They do have more homework than some other universities. I specifically remember doing homework on many Saturday afternoons and Sunday afternoons. At other universities you can work this hard if you want to, and sometimes you may need to work this hard. For those few classes that you really like you can if you want to go to the professor and ask for more work (and this is not nearly as insane as it sounds).

I did have some large classes at both MIT and Stanford. The largest lecture hall at MIT for example seats 566 people, and is apparently sometimes quite full.

If you had three acceptances and were trying to decide between UMD, MIT, and Stanford, then this would be a very different conversation and I might suggest reasons to go each way. This is not the situation. The situation is that you have gotten into one very good program and you will be going there. You really can do very well with a degree in CS from UMD. Take full advantage of this opportunity and you will be on a path to do well in life.


Being in the computer profession myself, there’s absolutely no rational reason for a prestigious “t-20” which is actually a contradiction, because the rank itself is based solely on subjective criteria. After about 3 years experience, employers don’t even ask where you went to school, because credentials are based on hands-on experience. The point I’m making is that the OP is already accepted into an excellent heavily recruited program where job prospects are abundant. Instead of torturing themselves a second time for a US News ranking, make the choice to thrive at the school they’re in.

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And I completely agree. What you said however was “T20s are grossly overrated and in some cases inferior”.

I don’t think the totality of a college experience is job opportunity three years out.

I further think making a comparison when having only experienced half the comparison is misguided. It’s like a rancher who drives a Ford 150 saying Ferraris are overrated and inferior having never driven one. For the rancher’s purposes they are correct but they have neither experienced the Ferrari nor do they have a universal value system.

OP is in a great position having a very strong option. None the less they may seek something different then “no one remembering where you went to undergrad 3 years out” as you suggest. For you T20s are overrated for others perhaps other aspects of what they offer is desirable.

As you mention tech and the subjectivity of rankings here is a more quantifiable ranking from FreeOpp that looks at ROI in CS…

  1. CMU $4,125,963
  2. Rice $3,781,869
  3. Brown $3,535,080
  4. Stanford $3,305,484
  5. Yale $3,296,380
  6. Harvard $3,268,145
  7. Caltech $3,102,888
  8. Cornell $2,966,699
  9. Cal Poly $2,920,317
  10. MIT $2,909,266
  11. UCLA $2,853,535
  12. UC Berkeley $2,843,321
  13. Duke $2,546,552
  14. Johns Hopkins $2,515,869
  15. Vanderbilt $2,461,053
  16. UIUC $2,417,724
  17. U Michigan $2,258,080
  18. Columbia $2,130,692
  19. GeorgiaTech $1,966,139
  20. UW Seattle $1,943,759

Not all top 20 but certainly well represented.

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The only problem with ROI is that the criteria used to calculate this is also just as subjective as the rankings themselves. I never take those stats seriously, and neither do employers. Most recruit locally or regionally, because it’s cost-effective that way for entry level jobs. CS is ridiculously employable.

Agreed hardly perfect and should only be used as an indication. That said I can’t imagine rankings are more subjective than comparisons made by individuals who only have experience with half of the experiences being compared.


I know for a fact this statement is incorrect. The may not ask where you work but plenty do ask.

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Perhaps the users above who are debating whether T20’s are overrated would be kind enough to move the conversation back on track.

You are not wasting your time but should do so:

  1. with an understanding that getting accepted will remain very challenging and unlikely.

  2. make the most of the great opportunity that UMD provides you with. Don’t dwell on the alternative focus on the present.

  3. recognize and appreciate your capacity to achieve anything you set your mind to regardless of the school you attend.

  4. make your decisions independently and confidently and rest assured that even if you make a mistake it’s part of life.

  5. remember to have fun and not waste your time asking strangers for advice (we don’t know you and see the world through a prism of experience that is likely very different from the one you have and will live).

Good luck!!

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Why waste time and keep applying to schools which rejected you? Why not make the most of opportunities at schools which were warm to you? AOs have a keen sense of fit and most likely you were not an ideal fit with the schools that rejected you… People tend to end up at the places at which they belong…