University of Illinois Urbana Champaign Computer Science vs Olin College of Engineering

IMO comparing number of courses offered at a small specialized school vs. a large state school is the reason people chuckle at UG major rankings.

Agree, but not at same level.

Give it time. Olin overlaps with MIT and wins 1 of 4.

However, if the student wants to study CS, she will find Olin’s CS offerings to be unsatisfyingly limited.

If the student wants to study ME or EE, then Olin may be a better fit, due to the difficulty and uncertainty of changing major to a different engineering major at UIUC.

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UIUC’s lower end talent would be lower but the top-end talent would be competitive with Olin. Or for that matter, the non-genius portion of MIT. Large numbers of UIUC CS grads don’t end up at all the top software companies (HFT shops, etc.) by random accident.

Also, if you think it through, your “give it time” comment doesn’t actually make sense. If Olin is competitive with MIT for admits but lags both MIT and UIUC CS in salaries, why would time improve that?

If she wants CS and is already admitted to UIUC for CS it’s an absolute no brainer and she should go to UIUC. If she isn’t in CS there it will be extremely difficult to transfer into CS from another Engineering major and no guarantees. If she is in general engineering at UIUC and is ok with that then that’s what you really need to consider. But regardless UIUC is an engineering powerhouse with many of their engineering programs top ranked, CS is top5 in many categories, and one of the best for research if she wants that.

Recruiters come there looking for students so finding a job will not be an issue nor location either. We know people who have take jobs in Silicon, NY, Chicago, NASA, and so on. You pretty much right your own ticket. Female is an extra boost also.


It is my understanding that Olin has not been around as long. It is also my understanding that Olin kids are in more entrepreneurial ventures.

I know. I know. I understand what you mean, but this is very subjective. We all don’t know how much she wants to study CS over Engineering, or vice versa. My son also considered applying to Olin, but decided not at the end because he really wanted to study CS in depth, and he probably won’t fit there.

If the student is unsure of CS versus some type of engineering like ME or EE, then perhaps neither UIUC nor Olin is the best fit. The best fit may be a school like Rutgers* where changing into CS or an engineering major does not appear to be as difficult, and where all of the possible majors are good.

*Mentioned because the OP is in NJ, so the student may have applied to and been admitted there.

We don’t know what the OP got in to UIUC for. Some of the engineering majors aren’t as hard to change in to as CS (though MechE might be up there).

Based on (click “major capacities”), ME is as selective as CS to change into (3.75 college GPA to enter competitive admission), while EE is slightly less selective (3.75 college GPA for automatic admission).

The OP seems to indicate that she was accepted for CS.

I’m not saying it’s for everybody, but I like Olin’s program because it’s geared more towards what most CS grads end up doing in the real world anyway, which is software engineering. Much, if not most of the math and CS theory you learn in traditional CS programs are things you ultimately never use once you leave college.

Though the Olin CS offerings are pretty minimal. Their entire CS curriculum barely adds up to the CS core at most other schools (if that).

That’s why they don’t call it CS or try to pass it off as a CS degree. But it’s a nice degree for someone who wants to do software development without getting bogged down in pointless and impractical theory.

Fair enough, thanks for widening my view of Olin, Bill.

No problem. All the best.

This is so amazing- all of your advice. I could not have asked for more. I value each and every comment.
As of now, my daughter seems to be a little more aligned with the thought of going into Olin coz she is unsure of her interest level for core CS (vs engineering with a focus on software and design).
I am also on a Whatsapp group with a bunch of classmates from my undergrad and they too had a robust debate without a clear verdict- just FYI.
Will keep you updated on the final take.


Just saw this. My daughter is an engineering with computing major at Olin. Feel free to pm if you need more. We could not be happier with her experience.

Are you suggesting the roughly 8,000 undergraduate students in the college of engineering @ UIUC won’t offer intellectual horsepower? And job placement/accomplishments of their students is not to your preference? This made me laugh.

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You might be responding to an old post, but I do not even need to look. No, I am not suggesting that. I was suggesting that Olin is better.