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SCU vs UCD vs UCSB for Computer Science

mikfig27mikfig27 Registered User Posts: 22 New Member
Hey all. Recently got accepted to SCU, UC Davis, and UC Santa Barbara for computer science major. Trying to figure out which is the best when it comes to computer science. Some pros and cons:

SCU

pros
. cheapest (w/ my scholarship/grants)
. low student/teacher / small classes
. flexible in class schedule
(don't know about ucd or ucsb, but i heard berkeley engineering not very flexible with which classes you take)
. in silicon valley

cons
. may not have as much recognition

UC Davis

pros
. think theres more recognition
. 2nd cheapest (w/ my scholarship)
. college town

cons
. big class sizes

UC Santa Barbara

pros
. looks like might have best program, and the computer science major is in the engineering college
. more recognition, but also maybe a party school bias i think

cons
. most expensive
. party school
. big class sizes


So this is all the pros and cons I can think of. I'm not entirely sure how good each of these schools' computer science programs are.

Thanks,
mikfig
Post edited by mikfig27 on

Replies to: SCU vs UCD vs UCSB for Computer Science

  • evencycleevencycle Registered User Posts: 33 Junior Member
    What do you plan on doing with your computer science degree? Become a software engineer when you graduate? Go to graduate school? If you're interested in graduate school, you might want to look into research opportunities.

    All the programs probably have their requirements online. From there you can look at the requirements and figure out how much flexibility they offer you. Another thing to consider is the variety of course offerings. Look at the elective computer science courses you can take AND look at the last couple years of schedules to see if those elective computer science courses are frequently offered. (There's often stuff in the catalog that hasn't been taught in years.) Do you think the electives match up with your interests? Are there often scheduling conflicts that would limit your flexibility?
  • mikfig27mikfig27 Registered User Posts: 22 New Member
    My plans are to become a software engineer after I graduate. But I'd like to find a company that would pay for me to go to graduate school. Thanks a lot for the tips on the requirements/flexibility, I'll go check that out.
  • kagemuchakagemucha Registered User Posts: 19 New Member
    I've never heard of SCU's CS program, which is not a good thing. Especially if you are looking at grad school, I would NOT go to SCU. You NEED recognition, and experience doing undergraduate research for leading professors if you want to get to a good graduate school (talking about the Stanfords, Berkeley, CMU, etc.). It's possible here, but I think much more difficult. However, if you're thinking of just getting a B.S. and working, I think it would be a fine choice.

    I'm a UCD student, but UCSB has a good program too. I know they're pretty good with computational biology and geography. Whereas UCD is a bit more known for graphics/visualization/GPU areas. Of course both schools have good professors in each other's fields too. I think both are good schools, and if you are truly a good student and apply your skills well, should be able to get a great job afterward, or go to a great graduate school. Have you visited both campuses? What did you think of them?
  • mikfig27mikfig27 Registered User Posts: 22 New Member
    I haven't gotten a chance to visit the campuses yet. Going this friday for the Decision UC Davis Event though. As far as recognition and grad school goes though, wouldn't real world experience at a job be more valuable then what school you went to for you undergrad? And it seems to me like interships/job offerings might be more numerous at SCU because of its location and the connections the teachers have with different companies.
  • mikfig27mikfig27 Registered User Posts: 22 New Member
    Went to Decision UC Davis on friday. I loved the campus. I could really see going there. The only concerns I have are its distance from silicon valley and the fact that my scholarship with santa clara is almost a guarantee for 4 years while for UC Davis it could possibly fall out randomly while I'm there. Especially given the current state of our economy and politics and what not.
  • Inquiringmind2Inquiringmind2 Registered User Posts: 623 Member
    You must visit Santa Clara before you decide. The big thing for SCU would be very close proximity to Silicon Valley for your internships. Internship experience is very important for getting a job. Davis is great (I am transferring there in the fall) but for your major you want to be close to Silicon Valley. My daughter is a senior at UCLA (about to graduate, yeah!) and she chose LA over other schools as her major is communications and advertising/marketing. She knew she would have to be in LA or New York for meaningful internships. She is on her 4th internship right now. The first 2 (starting in her sophomore year) were at PR firms and now she is completing her second at a internationally known advertising company. She has been cramming all classes into Tuesdays and Thursdays and goes to her internships Monday/Wednesdays and half day Friday. These 4 internships will be one of the main reasons she will get a job when she graduates. She would not have had these types of opportunities at Davis. Davis is great for internships if you want to be a vet or winemaker, etc. You need to be close to the actual offices and industries that you want to intern with.

    I would visit Santa Clara and see how you feel about the campus. Talk to someone about real, meaningful, Silicon Valley internships that you can do WHILE going to school. The close proximity is what matters. But if you don't like the campus or don't get the answers you want, you will be fine at Davis but may have to do internships during the summer. SB is a great campus and is closer to a huge metropolitan area. I would not make such a big decision without visiting all schools and speaking with their CS departments. Good Luck!
  • kagemuchakagemucha Registered User Posts: 19 New Member
    You mentioned grad school, and if you meant grad school for CS, then undergraduate research matters much much more than internship experience. Although you mention having your company pay for you grad school, in which case you'll probably be looking at an MBA rather than CS.

    However, most people in CS end up going for that BS and then working. In that case, then you're right in that having good internships matter more. Inquiringmind2 is probably right that you'll get more opportunities to do part-time work during the year if you go to Santa Clara. But in terms of summer internships, I don't see a big difference for the "big companies" ie Google, Microsoft, etc.
  • evencycleevencycle Registered User Posts: 33 Junior Member
    I'm sure professors with all three schools have relationships with industry. Indeed if you want to intern/co-op during the school year, you need the proximity... though there are both offices of well-known companies and small companies needing software engineers in Sacramento. I don't know Santa Barbara as well.

    If you are just hoping to intern in the summers, again it probably doesn't matter which school you go to. I do know that plenty of companies recruit at Davis.

    Companies do have programs to reimburse tuition for a Masters in CS if you pursue one while working. There are some PhD/employment programs but those are rare and competitive (and might be somewhat limiting in what you can study).

    Getting into a program is easier if you have research experience. PhD programs and research-based Masters are about research after all. That's not to say you can't do it if you go the BS-to-industry route. Patents help. Also some beef up their research experience in a Masters and then apply to a PhD rather than going to PhD directly.

    By the way, in addition to kagemucha's great posts, I'll point out that UCD also has several professors doing research in security.

    You might want to ask SCU about how many of their students work during the school year. I know plenty of students who have gotten their positions with the help of their fellow students who are already working at a company without involving a professor. Of course, you may want to ask the career center and the CS departments of all schools how many get internships over the summer.

    Also, while you're checking out the course schedules, you might be able to tell how many students are allowed in each of the classes. Sometimes a small student to teacher ratio still means big classes for the general education requirements and the introductory engineering courses.

    By the way, congratulations on both of your scholarships. The one at SCU does sound very inviting.
  • mikfig27mikfig27 Registered User Posts: 22 New Member
    Thanks all for all the great info. On thursday I'll be in Santa Clara for 2 days for their Noche Latina program. So I should definitely get a lot of info there. I've been reading more info online though and I'm not so sure about Santa Clara. It's in silicon valley and great for interships, but I've read a good deal of unflattering stuff about the school. On Students Review ([url]http://****.com/cnf7dpr[/url]), 2 major things turned me off:
    1. lots of preppy kids
    2. the academic quality (how challenging the classes are/etc) doesn't seem very appealing to me.

    Also, I emailed 6 different CS graduate admissions departments, asking them which school they would favor between the two. So far I've gotten 2 responses.

    Princeton said: "I suspect UC Davis is the stronger school, and they have a good CS department. I'm not familiar with Santa Clara University."

    Carnegie Mellon said: "The two schools are probably about equal and either degree is acceptable."


    So it seems that Davis would have the stronger program and (for me) a much better social atmosphere. The stronger program part is the factor which I am focusing on the most.

    To top it off, my favorite areas of computer science (from what I've experienced in my own self-study) are: artificial intelligence, computer security, and computer graphics. UC Davis is considered top in two of these areas (computer security/graphics), and thus I think I could find some very interesting research to take part in.
    During the Decision Davis event, I also talked to a 2008 CS graduate who said that it is super easy to get involved in research at Davis with the computer science department as the professors are always looking for more undergraduates.

    Then as far as honors programs go. Davis' Davis Honors Challenge looks really easy to get into, like something most people don't want to do, but I think just the priority registration and professor relationships is worth the extra classes/work.

    Then for SCU, I haven't been able to find out much about what people think about the program. The perks/overall program seem to be quite similar to Davis' but perhaps of higher quality in terms of actual course material. However, it looks like it might be quite hard to get in to.
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