UIUC, UVA or VT

My DD has been accepted in a couple of engineering schools and UIUC, UVA and VT have bubbled to the top of the list. UVA and VT are in-state for us.

What are your thoughts about these schools for computer science major? She does not want to go only for brand name or rankings. She wants a school that really invests in teaching and strengthening CS knowledge, and has a sense of community. She has heard from people about certain top-rated colleges where professors assume highly-motivated students would figure it out themselves and as such provide high-level guidance; where professors are focused more on research rather than teaching; and where even junior and senior year classes are taught mostly by TAs.

Internships and campus recruitment is also important to her. After graduation, she wants to work at google, microsoft, amazon type of companies.

Would love to hear your views and experiences. Thanks!

Congratulations on the great acceptances. UIUC CS is more highly ranked than UVA and VT, with that said she can achieve her goal of working at the top tech companies frolm all those schools. What are the relative net costs?

@srparent15 Thoughts?

Thank you @Mwfan1921.

The cost would be drastically different- between 50-100% higher at UIUC. We are trying to help her order the list of these schools first and then figure the costs, loans and future job opportunities-cost trade off.

Doesn’t VT have a better engineering school and outcomes than UVA? I probably wouldn’t pay that much extra for UIUC, especially if the excess has to be funded with loans (does it?)

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We have an opinion but don’t want to influence you all :slight_smile:

How easily can you afford the price difference (that matter a lot, doesn’t it?)

Haha, I’m no expert. I don’t know anything about VT. We’re Illinois residents!

@rj2021 But my son got into UVA and I know it’s not a top Engineering program but we were just having this discussion, it is a nationally regarded school so that may tilt the wheel for some. It’s the same idea that UIUC is great for certain things, and blah for many others, but people still go there and it has a great rep for Engineering and Business. Not to say there aren’t other things it is great for, but those are their two strongest.

UIUC CS is continuously ranked in the Top 5 for CS. It has been for years. That said, UIUC itself is a huge school, hard to get to, it’s about 2-1/2 hours from Chicago, rural, you can smell the cows on windy days if you get my drift, and expensive for OOS. Heck it’s expensive for in state. It will cost the same for my son to go there as it will for Purdue OOS. But, it’s still UIUC CS and it is a phenomenal program. My son that blew off going there all had friends that went there and none had a single problem getting a job, whether it was in NYC, staying around here (Chicago), or Silicon. Two graduated early - one a year early, one 6 months early. So with a lot of AP credit, it is very easy to do.

The one really bad thing about UIUC is they give very little merit. If you get it, it’s like winning the lottery. The problem is our state is in such crappy financial straits they just have never been known to give it and so many students choose to leave to go elsewhere. They do however lock in tuition, so what you pay first year, you pay all 4 years. That is nice. There may be something similar for the dorms too. I can’t tell you how nice that would be. My one daughter her tuition went up 3.5% last year and the other more than 8% however she became a resident so fortunately we didn’t have to deal with that.

I would love to share notes with you about UVA and CS/Engineering. We know nothing about it at all. My son wants to visit even though there are no visitors. I think there are some pluses for him although the CS program seems limited. If you know much about it, or if anyone does, please share!

Something else, here is the COA for UIUC Tuition, Undergraduate Admissions, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

If you have the appropriate health insurance coverage you can save $700 which isn’t much, but relative to Cornell where my daughter goes that’s a bargain because there they charge you 3k if you don’t meet their insurance guidelines!

I’m not sure about UIUC and TAs teaching classes. I guess I just assumed Professors teach them because both my daughters (Cornell and UT-Austin) only have had Professors for their classes except one had a TA for English at Cornell and one at Texas I think had a TA for English.

Yes @dimkin, it sure matters. Cost-benefit tradeoff is step 2 of our analysis. First step is to figure out the order of these colleges. It’s possible that UIUC will be #1 but we will pass it due to cost considerations.

In my opinion, unless it’s MIT, Stanford, CMU, Caltech, Cornell (notice - all private),
it’s tough to justify the cost differential (unless it’s chum-change).
VT is a solid Eng. Echool, and UVA is a fantastic overall school (with decent CS) …

Thank you @srparent15. DD does not like super-geeky vibe (which I like) and so did not apply to schools like MIT. That’s also the reason that she has put well-ranked Purdue as #4 school, among the acceptance she has received. As you can see, college ranking and her ranking have little correlation :slight_smile: We are now debating about #1, #2, and #3 among UIUC, UVA and VT. We did not have a chance to visit UIUC. Any idea about the vibe there?

DD is waiting to hear from CMU and some UC colleges as well.

@dimkin, how about UCLA, UC Berkeley, and Georgia Tech?

Fantastic schools!!!

this is my problem with large state schools …
My guess it’ll be the case at VT and UVA as well, but maybe to a lesser degree.
I am sure it’s the case at UIUC, UCLA, UCB … I think GT is a touch better with regards to that.

Also this is somewhat helpful:

At all research universities, the administration focusses more on faculty research output than on their teaching efforts. That is why TT and tenured faculty at all “top” research universities are more focused on research than on teaching. The more focused the university is on research, the less time the core faculty will invest in teaching and mentorship, and the more likely it is that classes will be taught by lecture, adjuncts, and graduate students.

This will be true at UIUC, UVA, and VTech.

Of these three, UIUC has the best engineering and CS programs by far, however, it is also likely the place in which the issues of being a research university are the most extreme.

Moreover for most workplaces, a CS degree is a CS degree, and as long as it’s from a well regraded school, it is usually enough. VTech is well regarded enough that any difference between their graduates and the graduates of UIUC in hires or entry level salaries would be smaller than the difference in costs. UIUC would cost you $100,000+ more than VTech, and it is unlikely that it is worth it by way of income or job opportunities, especially for a Virginia resident.

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It’s is where I think people rely too much on ranking and not enough on real life. UVA is arguably the country’s top public school but it’s a well rounded school. Not tech heavy per se. it’s relatively mid size in regards to the campus itself. The campus is manageable. It’s within a short drive of Richmond and DC yet nature abounds. It’s a great choice for anyone.

Va Tech is a great school. Tech focused but actually has most the liberal art stuff too. It’s larger population and area wise. Actually the campus is enormous but like UVA also beautiful. In my opinion more beautiful. But it’s not near any large cities etc.

UIUC is another fantastic engineering school. It’s a fantastic university period. Not at UVAs perceived level but it excels. To me the campus is ugly. It will be heavily Chicago influenced. It’s farther from the big city than UVA but closer than Va Texh

I think u go to the best fit - actual and financial. All three are fantastic. Too many people look at which is best. U will spend four years on campus and a lifetime of supporting your schools sports teams.

Don’t pick based on a marketing piece which is all a ranking is. All three schools, and many others, would work out well for a student.

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@dimkin, @MWolf, and @tsbna44. Much for us to think about.

Funny. Ok, so if she is not into the “geek” thing, she will not want to go to CMU. It’s literally tiny an well full of said geeks. The one cool thing there though is they allow you to take a certain number of credit hours at Pitt since they’re a block away from each other, and likewise Pitt students can take the same number of hours at CMU. If money is an issue though, then CMU is outrageously expensive. I can’t remember if they’re one that is generous with meeting need or not. I believe there is a thread on CC about them.

UIUC is just like any other Big 10 large campus. Social if you want it to be, anti-social if you’re not that type. Big sports, big greek life, but not a necessity. I know plenty who have had nothing to do with Greek, yet my daughters friends are in greek and love it. There is truly something for everyone. It is a campus in the middle of no where and Champaign-Urbana is a true college town. It’s not like one can drive to Chicago for the night if they feel like it. There are buses that go back and forth and lot of kids will come home for a weekend or what not and kids love it that go, but they are going for the school an academics, not for the beauty of it.

GT in the past had a very low rate of females. They are working on that and have come a long way but still not quite there. My kid’s cousins from GA went there and because they could go for free, that was the best school in state to go to, however, they did not love it for the lack of diversity on both the female side (they’re females) and again there was too much of a geek factor for them. An, while UIUC is a total college town university and rural, GT is quite the opposite in that it is totally urban, in Atlanta and not in the greatest neighborhood. I love Atlanta but if you don’t like a city school and that type of setting, it may not be for you. Some think that about CMU, but I didn’t get that kind of vibe there at all.

When my son would interview students graduating from CS programs, they often overlooked MIT grads. THe reason was because they couldn’t solve the problems they were given. So while MIT may be at one of the top for CS, there’s a lot that one needs to look at in programs. Are they cut throat, are they collaborative, what kinds of projects will you be doing? What kind of internships and companies hire? What about minors or double majors and other courses not to mention clubs, etc? If you’re interested in Greek (or not)? It’s not all about whether a TA or Professor teaches a class. Fine if it’s a TA but you want to make sure whoever it is, will give you the time. It can be a Professor but that’s no good if they don’t give you the time. Last semester my daughter was in a CS class, the dreaded architecture course that everyone hates. The TA’s had lousy office hours and you only had 15 mins of time with one and then you had to go back to the end of the que. If they didn’t get to you again then that was it. This was all remote office hours. They didn’t have ample office hours, they weren’t on weekends, etc. My daughter learned the hard way that she took too hard of a course load and when she fell behind in the course the professor wanted to meet with her (the class btw, was taught by the professor not TAs). My daughter had already decided to drop before then, but I encouraged her to at least meet with the professor, own up to it being her own fault that she dug herself a too big of a hole she couldn’t get out of and not blame it on remote or anything else as it was her own fault. The Professor tried to encourage her to stay in the class, my daughter by then was over it, but the Professor really listened to what she had to say about the office hours and some other changed the professor had made since the prior semester since everything was now remote. It was great for my daughter to be heard. It is important to have a voice! So often these kids don’t feel like they do. So wherever your daughter winds up, definitely research and talk to current students at each and every one of these programs in those majors.

Purdue is a school my son is looking at and he loves the CS options. Their dept runs very deep also. However, it is such a heavy engineering/cs school that there is not a lot of diversity. So while great jobs and internships are not a problem there, a diverse education might be. On the flip side, UVA is such a well rounded school, however, the CS department is not deep at all, the backgrounds of the professors are of no where close to the caliber of the professors you will find at Purdue or UIUC and most likely VT. I also had trouble finding info on job fair stuff. That is important as you want to make sure career planning is good and accessible or if your student is on their own. Another thing, does the school have project teams if they’re interested in that, or clubs or hackathons, or whatever. UIUC has a really nice CS building that is relatively new. It’s a gorgeous building.

But there are so many factors all around to consider. Also, people think CS majors and jobs are a given and that is not always true. This year especially, internships were not quite so easy to find no matter where you went to school and the FAANG companies did lay off people for the first time ever. The days of the huge signing bonuses are over.

I don’t know what the cost comparisons for you are but for us as Illinois residents the breakdown would be;
UVA: 77k
Purdue 40k
UIUC 40k

Not sure I really want to pay for an Ivy League education at UVA. But I think it’s the same difference back for you at UIUC, the difference is, you’re getting one of the best programs in the country. However, even Purdue is not that far behind that and so that’s the quantitative difference. Crazy isn’t it?

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My sons are UVA and VT engineering grads . Husband is a CMU engineering grad. We were instate in Virginia. . CMU and more tech schools were poor fits for my kids. We are lucky in Virginia to have such great options. Options, recruiting great from both UVA and VT. Fit is the thing there as both are good choices. Good luck with the decision!

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@sevmom
Can I pm you? We have been trying to find someone with firsthand knowledge/experience with UVA Engineering.

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Please keep it public :slight_smile: we’ll also be considering both UVA and VT next year!!!