UConn vs UMN vs Penn State for CS

University of Minnesota TC vs Penn State UPark vs UConn
Intended Major: Computer Science

UMN pros:
I liked the campus (haven’t been able to visit PSU)
Urban environment which I enjoy
Family Near by
Cheaper option
Strong CS program

UMN Cons:
Worried about large class sizes (not sure how much this matters)
Out of state, worried about the friend-finding pressure
A bit far

UConn pros:
Visited campus and thought it was fine
In-state + some friends attending

UConn cons:
The campus felt a bit isolated
CS Program is weaker than elsewhere
Not many opportunities in the immediate area

Penn State pros:
Rigorous CS program
Strongest overall academics
I’ve heard it’s a nice campus
Some friends attending
A perfect distance from home

Penn State cons:
Most expensive option (still affordable w/out debt)
Haven’t been able to visit
Would have to work for a social circle

I’m sure people have input beyond what I’ve listed so that would be appreciated as well. Also if anyone has input on how big a deal small class sizes are that would be great.

I would not consider the social part much. You will make new friends in the dorms at all 3 of these schools.

S2 just choose MN over other more prestigious schools for CompE(housed in the same building as CS, and will take a lot of classes with CS students). He did this only after having extensive communication with students in the program(s). In particular, he heard good things about the CS profs and TA’s, as well as the easy availability of good tutoring. He was also impressed with the building, and buildings in general at MN.
It is smaller in student size compared to other schools B10 schools like Purdue, WI, and UIUC.
Don’t know enough about the other schools to comment. I wouldn’t worry about making friends. Just join a club or two, and you’ll find that you will be making friends with classmates.


Penn State is not urban. Not isolated like Storrs but it is by itself in middle of nowhere. But it’s built a town around it.

I would wholly disagree with your assumption that PSU is more rigorous than UMN.

Based on what you wrote UMN is your school.

All college kids need to find friends so all are in that same boat. And those that go with friends tend to make less.

Three fine choices but based on your write up of UMN, assuming it’s cost effective for you which you note it is. it’s the right choice. Btw Minneapolis is one of the best job cities in the country !!

Good luck.


It was difficult for me to come up with solid criteria of my own so I was using the, knowingly flawed, college ranking sites for CS which had PSU higher for academics but it’s good to know UMN is solid. It looks like the UMN might be the choice for me! Thanks!

They are the same school - very comparable - both big ten - one ranked 63 and one 68 in us news, etc. They’re literally the same - well except location, etc. but very comparable to one another. Good luck…buy a warm jacket.

We are from MN, and among the schools my son considered were both UMN and Penn State. (My son is in geosciences, not CS).

It can’t be underestimated just how tough Penn State is to get to from a transportation perspective. Extremely difficult. Most difficult of all of the schools my son considered. No shuttle services from any airports to get there and only a few very expensive flights per day into that town.

For CS, the UMN program is a great program. And as an OOS student, it’s nice that you can ride light rail from the airport to campus. And the proximity to amazing companies where you can do internships will be important in a couple of years.


I don’t know that you will see a huge gap in the coursework at any of these three schools. I would recommend checking out the internship and recruiting at all three. A lot of technology firms are smaller and tend to recruit from nearby schools. UConn is 70 minutes from Boston and about 2.5 hours from NYC, two of the largest technology markets in the country for employment and VC funding.