Huh, interesting. Did you mean to say “certain” classes (as in only a few), or are all classes like that? I’m not sure that I would like that format.
I don’t know if all are like that. Certainly some are. Possibly the large ones. You should enquire if it’s important to you.
We toured Cornell 4 years ago. Never went to see CMU. We all liked the food.
I think my son may have preferred Cornell over CMU (sight unseen) at the application stage. Did not actually apply. He was told that he could finish Cornell (single major) in 2.5 years, although that wasn’t the reason he preferred it – he would have taken the full 4 and done other things during the time.
I just looked it up and CMU doesn’t offer an astronomy minor, so you need to minor in physics instead. At the undergraduate level, astronomy is primarily about physics. You can certainly take some astronomy classes.
Something to think about re: CMU
- The university treats the SCS department like royalty – i.e., I heard the kids have a serious attitude vs kids from other departrments
- I heard that some non-trivial proportion of the kids at CMU SCS believe they belong somewhere else, like MIT or Stanford. You see some evidence of this from the exceptionally low yield for such a storied department (like 35% or something when I checked 4 years ago – although still better than for the overall university in the 20s).
Arguably CMU places better than Cornell. Possibly much better.
I think the class may be half the size of Cornell’s class.
And Cornell may be a third the size of UMD.
It almost feels like Russian dolls in terms of sizing
It’s increasingly common at a lot of universities (my student sources say it’s “super common”). Cornell calls it “active learning”. Most of the profs there seem to prefer a hybrid— active learning for some days a week, regular lectures for the others, or some part of each class being each. It’s an effort to move away from 19thC ‘chalk and talk’ teaching approach! Students seem to like it overall, as it gives them the lectures to watch/re-watch at their own pace, and a more dynamic classroom experience. Just asked the Cornell collegekid (SOE) about it, and got this back:
“It’s more time/effort for the student, and I think some profs are better at recognizing that than others! But also requires students to understand where they are in the class/how much they have learned, which is really useful.”
On balance, they are pro “active learning” and said it makes classes more interesting.
I guess it doesn’t seem too bad when you explain it that way, especially considering the alternative of just lecture and no discussion. Thanks!
I’ve also heard about UMD’s marching band (I went to their high school band day this year), but some faculty there have told me it’s an almost ROTC-like experience, which is not exactly what I’m looking for.
I have visited all three campuses. Cornell’s was by far my favorite, and CMU and UMD are somewhat tied for me. I know Pittsburgh can be very busy with terrible traffic, but it didn’t really feel that way inside CMU’s campus. College Park seemed fine, but as you mentioned, definitely a little big.
I am the parent of a recent SCS grad from Frederick County MD and would definitely say go to CMU! My son found the environment to be collaborative and not at all cut throat, though the academics are very intense. Pittsburgh is a great place with tons of things to do but the campus is in Oakland which is not really in the city. There is also the Kiltie band open to everyone (plays at the football games), and the all university orchestra. I would be glad to talk to you privately about my son’s experience or even put you in touch with him. He is currently living in NYC working at his dream job.
As @collegemom3717 said, these flipped format classes have become more common. Some students are more used to them than others (there’s one famous boarding school in Northeast that uses the format exclusively for all its classes). And the format works better for some students than others. Professors are the ones who decide which format they would use, so the ones who use the flipped format are likely skilled with the format. Video-recorded lectures are certainly beneficial but they aren’t necessarily tied to flipped format classes. My S (at a different school) had only one sequence of classes taught by a professor in this format and he didn’t seem to have any issues. He did, however, like recorded lectures, which allowed him to take classes that overlapped (time-wise). At his school, most classes are recorded.
If astronomy is your dealbreaker, but you prefer CMU otherwise (and it gets my vote based on everything presented so far), you may want to ask about taking your physics electives at Pitt.
Pitt has an astronomy major. You are allowed to cross register for classes at Pitt (one/semester, I think). I coincidentally took an intro astronomy class at Pitt when I was an undergrad at CMU.
CMU, at least in my experience, is also receptive to self-defined majors. One of my roommates had one, but it wasn’t in SCS or MCS, where your majors would be.
I am not recommending that you go to a school trying to reinvent their wheel if you can find a better fit elsewhere. But if CS is the primary driver to your decision, but you determine you definitely want access to astronomy, too, there may be reasonable ways to enhance what CMU offers.
Not sure if you’re a parent or a student, but either way, CONGRATS first and foremost… seems almost cannot make a bad choice and at this point… success will require hard work no matter where you select. With that preamble aside, here’s my vote:
- CMU, CS, go for it… it will be extra-painful, decent/good area.
- UMD HC, full ride, and any HC “almost” ensures doors presented to any student who wants.
- Cornell, sure its Ivy, but for CS, Ithaca, when compared to CMU, and UMD.
Again congrats… to get into all three is amazing!!!
So, visit if not already done… narrow down to two… and then, go for a long walk, hike, or church or something… pick one and commit yourself forever more!!! Good luck! God Bless
I agree with the comments from DadOfBoys3…definitely congratulations on such great choices! Regarding the Astronomy, CMU has an astrophysics track within the physics department and does have several astronomy related courses. It is possible to double major, but most end up sticking with a minor or an additional major due to the requirements being pretty onerous for an actual double major. Depending on how important the astronomy is for you, I would suggest talking to the folks at all 3 schools to see how it could fit in. I will also say that with AP credits my son was able to graduate from SCS in 3 years with a math minor and still had time to TA and do research.
Thank you, that’s a good thought; I forgot about the Pitt cross-registration thing. When I get the chance, I’ll take a good look through the course offerings at CMU and Cornell and figure out what to do from there. A physics minor with a good number of electives in astronomy might be good enough for me.
Note that the CMU CS major requires “either a minor outside of SCS or a concentration within SCS”.
The physics minor would be more math/physics based, but does not list astronomy or astrophysics courses as options.
If you enroll at UMD and prefer a more math/physics based treatment of astronomy but do not want to add an entire second major, you may want to just take the astronomy courses for majors and their math/physics prerequisites alongside your CS major.
Cornell’s astronomy minor also appears to be less math/physics based than the major, so it may be somewhat similar to UMD in this respect.
Thank you so much for looking into this! All of this is great info. The fact that CMU actually requires a minor/concentration for SCS makes me lean toward going there (since the workload will be designed around that), and I see at least three of those physics elective courses that seem astro-focused (and very interesting). My plan for UMD would be a double major; my thought is that the workload would be more manageable there (and I’ve heard so from current students).
The MORE I think a lot this - you have to let UMD go. Both Cornell and CMU are well under your $30k budget and UMD, while a fine school, is just not at the same level. Really CMU is tops if your primary career will be CS.
Yep, I’m not really considering UMD much anymore. Was just addressing ucbalumnus when they mentioned a minor in astronomy there.
I think it’s CMU v. Cornell, and it really depends on fit.
CMU is going to be more intense, in a “all work no play” kind of way with students who SEEK that intensity.
Cornell is going to be more balanced and there’ll be a greater variety of profiles surrounding you (which can be a good or indifferent thing depending on your personality).
But really you can’t choose wrong.