UCF vs UF (CS Undergrad)

I’m still unsure where to go for CS and wanted to get some fresh perspectives.

From what I’ve read online, it seems that even though UF is technically ranked higher for CS on USNEWS, UCF is better in practice. This also seems to be reinforced by UCF’s much stronger ICPC team. The problem is, I’m really considering grad school and there I’m having a hard time figuring out whether UF or UCF has better undergraduate research opportunities. If anyone can speak on those two areas (CS in general / research) between these two schools or could share their experiences at these schools, that’d be greatly appreciated.

Thanks :slight_smile:

Are you in the Honors college at UCF?

UF is ranked #49 in country for CS undergraduate (top 10 percent) vs UCF rank of #71

Ye, I’m in the UCF Honors College and not in the UF Honors College.

I understand that, but from what I’ve been able to find online, it seems as though UCF provides a better CS education even though their USNEWs ranking is technically lower. That’s why I’m still on the fence as to which is better.

I would not debate UF being better ranked than UCF for CS.

That said, getting in the Burnett Honors College at UCF, which is well rated, is certainly something that needs to be factored in.

Are the prices the same for both schools?

OK, then that makes a big difference. Burnett is superb (UCF without Burnett, not so much) and it’ll change the experience.
Look at the CS department: does it go far enough for you/ enough in-depth? Do the advanced classes and tracks/concentrations match what you’re hoping to study?
Can you be put in touch with CS students at each university, see what type of internship they’re getting this summer?
There’s no denying UF is the most prestigious university and CS there being stronger overall, but CS is ridiculously employable, CS majors tend to be excellent everywhere (so you won’t want for peers) and UCF is no slouch for STEM + Burnett will make your life more comfortable (which can be useful when you’re a CS major with very long projects…)
Do you have a preference?

I think that I can still choose which to get the Benacquisto Scholarship at which supposedly covers my COA at both schools, so it should be the same unless I’m missing something.

I take that you are NMS. Instate or out-of-state?

If out-of-state. are you following the thread on Benacquisto funding?

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good catch.
If OOS… big problem.

Ye I’m in state and NMS, so I should be alright.

OK. Then you have to decide if getting in the Honors College at UCF offsets the difference in ranking with UF.

If you are not sure, you might want to read the book “Inside Honors 2020-2021: Ratings and Reviews of 40 Public University Honors Programs” by John Willingham. It contains a section on UCF/Burnett.

Both CS programs seem good enough, but I’m not sure what I’m hoping to study yet. Still undecided whether I want to go into heavy CS theory, AI, or something else entirely research wise. I’ve talked to a few people at UCF and it seems like there are great internship opportunities, so I expect the same at UF considering the prestige, but that’s something worth checking. Looking at the research opportunities, they also seem about equal with both schools mostly focusing on AI from what I could find in their research directories. I think I may have a better shot at more research opps. at UCF because of the Honors College, but I’m not quite sure how that would work.

As my personal preference, I had a preference for UCF for the competitive programming, focus on CS, internship opp., and because I know more people there, but I’m not so sure anymore.

It seems that you are having buyer’s remorse. Don’t. Your reasoning is sound.

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You said you were interested in graduate studies.
UF graduate program in CS is #28 (nationally) vs. UCF #82 . I don’t always look at rankings but the wide spread speaks for itself.

The honors college is an added perk. You need to look at how the honors college really benefits you. If it’s similar to UF program it’s preferred housing for a couple years, some special classes (mostly gen ed), and preferred registration for classes (very helpful at the start). As you move into your major then the registration for classes eases also. They have their own faculty advisors but much of that help is redundant (if needed at all) as you move into your major–so most benefits are limited to two years. This in no way keeps you from graduating WITH honors (entirely grade based).

That’s a good point on how wide the gap is between them for CS Graduate Studies. I would guess that would have a subsequently large effect on the quality of undergraduate research.

As for Honors College perks, it seems that BHC offers a lot of extra opportunities for research which is what I’m aiming to do, but it seems tough to judge how well that bridges the gap between the two school or if it does at all. It also seems that UCF’s Honors College offers exclusive classes for CS.

Look up the UF Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering. New research facilities.

I personally wouldn’t get hung up on exclusive classes for CS through the honor’s college. You’ll have enough classes without them.

If the research opportunities offers is like UF (my son was in Honors college at UF) then it amounts to emails listing what is available delivered to your inbox. Many won’t be applicable to freshman and as you get further in your studies you’ll find your own opportunities. I just think the opportunities for research at UF is much greater (and more varied).

UF’s Honors college is notoriously bad and UCF’s is notoriously good, because UF knows it can attract top Florida students on name+cost alone whereas UCF wants to take students from UF so it upped its game to offer much, much more. UCF Burnett has a focus on research for its students, wich specific advising. They do a pretty good job even for first year students - it’s definitely not just an email here and there. Excellent support for fellowships and internships, too. UCF knows these kids could be elsewhere so it makes sure they’ve got no reason to regret their choice. :wink: UF students dont regret their choice either so I guess the key here is fit.
The exclusive CS classes make a difference because the content goes faster and more indepth, and class sizes are much smaller so you get more feedback. As a result, you grow quickly. It’s not as important for STEM as for Humanities&Social Science to have smaller classes, but it’s a nice perk.
Without Burnett, there’s no discussion. With it, it’s a matter of best fit, what will allow a student to grow, what environment will energize them, etc.

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I’m unabashedly biased as you can tell. My advice has always been if you can get into UF then you go. Once a Gator, always a Gator!

That said, the environments are totally different. I hope you have or had the opportunity to visit both campuses to know what would suit you best.

UF is a university which has had the city grow around it in support so has a small town vibe. It gets bigger and bigger (mostly because nobody wants to leave) but still feels small town. Easy to get around by walking or bike (or bus system–students have passes).

UCF in Orlando started as a commuter campus primarily. You definitely need a car to get anywhere. It appears to be an island in an urban environment. YMMV.