What makes UCB, MIT, Standford, etc. so much better

<p>What makes the Computer Science programs at colleges like UCB, MIT, Standford, Carnegie Mellon, etc. so much better. Obviously they are much more prestigious universities and UCB is close to Silicon valley, but what makes their CS programs so much better? In the long run is it better to just be patient and try get a masters in CS from one of those schools if my chances of getting in to one out of high school are slim?</p>

<p>If you want to get an MS, it can be a very good call to go to a cheap (ie state flagship) school for undergrad, where you won't pay much, will learn the material, and will keep a high GPA, so you can get into those programs. </p>

<p>I think their programs are better because of better recruiting (who would you rather hire: The MS from MIT, or the MS from random-school?), and the fact that those school's average students are well above the level of average students in other universities. </p>

<p>Generally, your last degree will be the most important when trying to get a job, so if you're bent on getting a master's, try and get one from a top school. You don't need an undergrad degree from them (although it probably won't hurt, either).</p>

<p>Why not just apply to those prestigious programs out of high school anyway. If you do get accepted, why not attend them for undergrad? If you don't then you don't, but at least apply.</p>

<p>The better programs generally have better alumni connections, better recruiting, etc. I'd be surprised if the curriculum is significantly different.</p>

<h1>1 Reason) Top graduate programs because they have the top students.</h1>

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What makes the Computer Science programs at colleges like UCB, MIT, Standford, Carnegie Mellon, etc. so much better. Obviously they are much more prestigious universities and UCB is close to Silicon valley, but what makes their CS programs so much better?

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<p>The most important factor is, in my opinion, the high levels of student selectivity. In short, there are relatively few mediocre students who get into such programs, compared to the average CS program. </p>

<p>That higher level of selectivity translates into better recruiting, as employers have more confidence that the program's graduates are of high quality. It also translates into better networking, as you will be meeting a group of people who are more likely to enjoy better future careers, and these are the sorts of people you will want to know in order to further your own career. It also translates into a better learning experience. Let's face it. As a college student, you will spend far more time interacting with other students than you will in class. If those students have interesting and creative insights, then you will tend to learn more than you would if those students do not have creative things to say. </p>

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In the long run is it better to just be patient and try get a masters in CS from one of those schools if my chances of getting in to one out of high school are slim?

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If you want to get an MS, it can be a very good call to go to a cheap (ie state flagship) school for undergrad, where you won't pay much, will learn the material, and will keep a high GPA, so you can get into those programs.

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<p>Heh heh, well, that presumes that you actually will keep a high GPA at such a state school. I would say that, at least compared to a school like Stanford, it is probably more difficult to maintain a high GPA at a state school. The truth of the matter is that it is extremely difficult - even more so than some of the top private schools - to maintain a high GPA in computer science at many state schools because of the harsh grade deflation.</p>

<p>How important is the school name/ranking if the terminal degree is MS in engineering? If it is PhD?</p>

<p>I go to a state-school in NY (majoring in EE) and I've seen a few questions posted on those sites where you pay someone a certain amount of money to do your homework question. Some of the questions I've seen from MIT students (mostly CS questions, that <em>I</em> as a <em>EE</em> major could answer) are just plain easy. Perhaps those that are posting are the ones who shouldn't be at MIT, but I think that MIT professors would expect you to do that without much difficulty.</p>

<p>I've also checked out MIT OCW website and gone to some of the courses I'm taking as well. Same material, almost identical presentation, and somewhat familiar tests. Sometimes I wonder, what is really the BIG difference? It seemed as if their course-flow and course-level were the same as mine. Now, obviously, an identical student who let's say knows the same as I do, or at least performs identical to me, will get the job over me (assuming equal interviewing skills). Why? Because he has MIT on his resume, and I don't. Such is life.</p>

<p>Anyway, it wouldn't hurt to get degree from the "top" schools. What really distinguishes these schools are the research programs/projects going on (both at the Masters and PhD levels) as well as faculty reputation.</p>

<p>I met someone from Microsoft who graduated with a CS degree from my state school (which is highly ranked among state schools) working alongside those from MIT/Harvard/etc. These are people with only UG degrees. Same payscale, respect, and position at their current job. The guy who went here probably spent 15k/year, whereas the MIT student probably paid 45k/year. Both ended up earning 60k/year after graduation (at Microsoft). No big deal. After you have your job or work for a few years, where you went isn't much of a concern. Rather, what you'll be judged is what YOU can CONTRIBUTE to the company/team/project. That's how you climb the ladder.</p>

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I met someone from Microsoft who graduated with a CS degree from my state school (which is highly ranked among state schools)

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<p>Yeah, but you just gave away the store right there in your parenthetical phrase. It was a student from a highly ranked state school that Microsoft hired. We're not talking about a low-ranked school (either public or private). Microsoft doesn't hire too many developers from the worst schools, whether they are public or private. </p>

<p>Quality, or at least perceived quality, has nothing to do with public vs. private. Some of the best programs in the world are public. For example, I would contend that somebody getting a PhD in EECS from Berkeley is competely comparable to somebody getting a PhD from any other school, including the top private engineering schools such as MIT or Stanford. That's because Berkeley's EECS graduate program is excellent in every way - including selectivity. (I've known many people who have gotten into the EECS PhD program at MIT who were rejected from Berkeley).</p>

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I agree with this more than your arguments, sakky. As undefined pointed out, you learn pretty much the same material at most any accredited school. Really, people overemphasize "reputation" and "prestige" (quoted on purpose). undefined most likely felt inclined to add the
<a href="which%20is%20highly%20ranked%20among%20state%20schools">quote=undefined</a>

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sidenote, because of that stigma so prevalent on CC. </p>

<p>People love to keep saying that to employers, two otherwise identical applicants, one who went to their state school and another to <insert usnwr="" top="" school="">, the employer will pick the prestige. If this were still at all true these days, then the simple fact that no one is identical is completely ignored.</insert></p>

<p>Really, where you went to college makes barely any difference anymore - it's about what you do while you're there. I would still say MIT and Stanford are excellent places to get a CS degree because of the vast and easy to get opportunities. Not to say public schools (including Berkeley) don't have these - they're just less available to undergads, even if they have excellent graduate programs. Internships, research, summer work experience - those make more difference than the name on your diploma.</p>

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Really, where you went to college makes barely any difference anymore - it's about what you do while you're there. I would still say MIT and Stanford are excellent places to get a CS degree because of the vast and easy to get opportunities. Not to say public schools (including Berkeley) don't have these - they're just less available to undergads, even if they have excellent graduate programs. Internships, research, summer work experience - those make more difference than the name on your diploma.

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<p>opportunities certainly differs. you don't get oracle visiting your school if you're not stanford, mit, caltech, berkeley, brown, or cmu. amazon probably won't visit your school if it's not uwashington, cornell, berkeley etc etc. on the other hand, de shaw, goldman, morgan stanley probably visits only select few school like penn, stanford, and yadda yadda. So my point is, going to these schools certainly will give you an edge when applying for a job. Also more free food if you go to top school (the company visits and job lunch usually serves good food :))</p>

<p>The name. That's really the only difference. Your undergraduate education is what you make of it, not so much where.</p>

<p>
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sidenote, because of that stigma so prevalent on CC. </p>

<p>People love to keep saying that to employers, two otherwise identical applicants, one who went to their state school and another to <insert usnwr="" top="" school="">, the employer will pick the prestige. If this were still at all true these days, then the simple fact that no one is identical is completely ignored.</insert></p>

<p>Really, where you went to college makes barely any difference anymore - it's about what you do while you're there. I would still say MIT and Stanford are excellent places to get a CS degree because of the vast and easy to get opportunities. Not to say public schools (including Berkeley) don't have these - they're just less available to undergads, even if they have excellent graduate programs. Internships, research, summer work experience - those make more difference than the name on your diploma.

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<p>Well, let me put it to you this way. Some news channel (I think it was CNN) once estimated that over 90% of all jobs are never publicly posted. How do you get these jobs? Networking. Basically, the vast majority of jobs out there are obtained through referrals from existing employees. And the truth of the matter is that one of the biggest reason - in fact, arguably THE biggest reason - to go to a particular school is to build a network. Surely we've all heard the phrase "It's not what you know, it's WHO you know". I agree that there probably isn't a large amount of difference in terms of what you learn from school to school. But the difference in the quality of the network you can build can be huge. THAT is the real value-add of any top school. You go to a top school because you want to network with top people. </p>

<p>Let me give you some examples. How exactly did Steve Ballmer become the CEO of Microsoft and a billionaire? How did he even get into Microsoft in the first place? I don't know about you, but I strongly suspect that the fact that he was Bill Gates's old poker-playing buddy in Currier House at Harvard had a lot to do with it. Let's be honest. If he had never gone to Harvard, he would never have met Gates, and he wouldn't be the head of Microsoft right now. Similarly, many of the earliest employees of Google were old Stanford buddies of Brin and Page. Many of the earliest employees of Yahoo were old Stanford buddies of Yang and Filo. The founders of Facebook were all housemates at Harvard. If these guys had gone to different schools, they would never have had those opportunities. These guys are surely all laughing their way to the bank. </p>

<p>Like it or not, most companies, especially small ones, continue to hire through networks. If you want to get a chance to get in, you have to be a member of those networks.</p>

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But the difference in the quality of the network you can build can be huge. THAT is the real value-add of any top school. You go to a top school because you want to network with top people.

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<p>sakky, let me start by saying your posts on CC are extremely helpful. Thank You.</p>

<p>I strongly believe networking is an important factor in college selection (at least for me it is). How would asses the school's strength in networking? Would going to an overall top school vs a top school in your field be a good choice (or vice versa)?</p>

<p>OK. most of this thread is total BS, let me tell u why.</p>

<p>I'm now an undergraduate transfer student at Penn, I transferred twice, I studied for a semester in the #1 CS school in the UK, and then transferred to the #1 engineering school in the middle east, and then transferred to Penn CS. And let me tell you, being at Penn (or at any top school) makes a lot of difference. I'm being taught by professors who are universally known in their fields. My psychology professor is amazing, he has been teaching psychology for more than 20 years, and he is one of the authors of the psychology textbook, he makes psychology very interesting and fun to learn it's like going to a movie when I go to his class. My math teacher has been teaching at Penn for 34 years, he taught at Yale, Cornell and UIUC for a few years before that, and there are only 6 students in his class. My English teacher has also been teaching for more than 30 years, and she has written many books on English writing. She is so good, and her class has only 13 students, imagine the experience you can have. I've only been here for less than 3 months, and my adviser (who I have coffee with every week) has already recommended me to some of his connections at MIT Lincoln Labs and got me in touch with them so that I'd get an internship there. There are office hours here almost all the time for every course, and instructors are easily accessible all the time. I can study anything I want here and still get a degree in CS, I only have to complete 4 specific CS courses, and the other 36 courses can be whatever I want. I know students here at the M&T program in their senior and junior years who already are guaranteed jobs by top companies like Morgan Stanley, and the only difficulty they are facing is to choose between Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, do you think a state school senior will even dream about such an opportunity? I never had any of these experiences and opportunities at another university, and I know for sure that my close friends at Purdue, Texas A&M, Texas Austin, Oklahoma state, Wisconsin Madison, and Montana tech aren't having the same experience or as much fun. And with all of this, I still think that Penn is not the best place to get a degree from and there are a place or two that are better and more serious.</p>

<p>It MAY be true that I will end up getting the same job as a CSU-Long Beach graduate, but in the end, I didn't come to Penn just to get a better a job, I came here to learn and be a better person, interact with people who want to do something with their life, and study everything that I'm interested in where I can get the best education in the fields that I find interesting. I thing this is what will benefit me in the long run and let me make the right decisions in life. look for a post by Joe (Caltech '04), he talks about how graduating from Caltech opened every door for him and made him go wherever he wants.</p>

<p>It is also true that anybody can be successful if he made the best out of his education, my dad's friend graduated from a terrible university and then he got his MS and PHd from Stanford, and now he is a professor there, because he is an amazing person.</p>

<p>NEVER judge MIT or Stanford or even Penn without studying there for at least a semester, then you can say whatever you want and everyone should respect that. If you didn't get into MIT or Stanford that doesn't mean that they are the same as your "highly ranked" state school. Do you think a place where 1500 students apply (for transfer admission) and only 20 get accepted (Stanford), will be the same as a place where 1500 students apply, and 2000 get accepted?</p>

<p>Your first paragraph is only detailing about how great your professors are. There are MANY factors that you should consider.</p>

<ul>
<li>Just because you have those professors, doesn't mean you'll succeed. They probably don't care about teaching, rather only on research.</li>
<li>Just because they're "super" smart and popular doesn't mean you will be.</li>
<li>Just because you are taught by them doesn't mean you will be like them. You get out what you put in.</li>
</ul>

<p>2nd paragraph: The same can be said for a CSU - Long Beach graduate. He/she chose that school for the same reasons: to become a better person, interact with people who want to do something with their life, etc. I find it rather absurd and unwarranted to say those that go to CSU LB do not want to go anywhere with their life. I'm sure they have aspirations, too.</p>

<p>^

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just because you have those professors, doesn't mean you'll succeed. They probably don't care about teaching, rather only on research.

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well at least he'll get recommendation to MIT lincoln's Lab, that's pretty sweet if you ask me.
Based on my personal experience, having many smart teachers doesn't make you smart but you'll learn more and in the end you'll get more out of your college experience. </p>

<p>I've been to Penn so I know some of the profs there are really passionate about teaching and not just research. Some prof will actually invite students in the class to a coffee shop and just sit and converse with students. That's pretty cool.</p>

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It MAY be true that I will end up getting the same job as a CSU-Long Beach graduate, but in the end, I didn't come to Penn just to get a better a job, I came here to learn and be a better person, interact with people who want to do something with their life, and study everything that I'm interested in where I can get the best education in the fields that I find interesting.

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Perhaps you did not mean to sound so arrogant as you actually did. You must be pretty well funded to study on three different continents at your whim. But you are essentially the SAME as everybody else. Most people (at CSU Long Beach and other places and in other majors) go to college to better themselves and their lives as well as to study something that interests them. The awesomeness of the schools you chose will not necessarily rub off on you. Conversely, as you mentioned, your father's friend who started out in a "terrible" university achieved his lofty goals because he is an amazing person. Best school does not equal best person.</p>

<p>uh.. when did UPenn become so top tier? Must be an east coast thing.</p>

<p>My experience has told me that there is a night and day difference in the average level of intelligence for students at top tier schools compared to other schools, and have found that you do nearly as much learning from your peers at a school as you do from your professors. To me, the teaching argument is a moot point because an intro course is going to be a joke to any prof that holds a PhD in the subject. Then it comes down to personality and teaching abilities which can be hit or miss at all schools. But the big difference to me isn't the curriculum or the professors teaching abilities, it comes down to your peers. The ones you are "competing" against in the tests (I put competing in quotes because some dont really view it as a competition, but its who you are going to be compared to in the end). So to succeed at a top school requires you to be an extremely intelligent student. The curriculums are set to be nearly identical for engineering schools by ABET, so you may find that a "bad" school is testing the same subject matter as a "good" school, but put an average student in the lesser schools into the top schools and they are going to be a fish out of water simply because of who the are being compared to.</p>

<p>This all ties back to networking when you really think about it. It ties back to the example of the Lincoln Labs and getting job offers from top firms all over the country. Learning the same thing at one school vs another is not the same when the intellectual abilities of the students differs, and when you have to consider that the average engineering test score is around a 50, far from perfect. Im not even sure this make sense, but to succeed at MIT/Stanford you are going to have to fundamentally understand the material better than a student taking the exact same test at some random school. Which in turn makes you a more desired job applicant, which in turn builds the elite schools networks. Its all about the networking.</p>

<p>I agree with the networking aspect of top tier schools. Going to a top schools means you get more chances to meet kids with money who have enough financial support from their moms and dads to start entrepreneur businesses that make more money (like facebook and google and microsoft). Pretty simple economics.</p>

<p>We'll I'm not that sure about UCB fitting into that category. It is a public school and kids have less money therefore don't create facebooks/googles/microsofts as easy and often as the Harvard/Stanford guys.</p>