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Why should I go to UW over WSU?

EskimokelsEskimokels 99 replies12 threads Junior Member
edited January 2013 in University of Washington
I've been offered some fairly substantial scholarships by WSU, and could be accepted to their honors program. As a result, my parents (both UW grads) are pushing quite hard to get me to go to WSU. They keep telling me that UW is harder than it needs to be, and I would just find myself insanely stressed. However, I'm not sure if that is true. It could also be the fact that I'm fairly introverted. From what I've seen, UW seems to have this survival of the fittest vibe to it.

Regardless, I'm still a huge husky fan and have been dead set on attending UW for years now. I'm interested in Electrical or Aeronautical engineering, and the fact that WSU doesn't have aero worries me (especially if I end up hating EE). Going to UW would be a gamble because of how competitive engineering is, whereas at WSU I'd have a much easier time getting in to the college of engineering. There are awesome opportunities at WSU (boeing scholars, schweizer engineering labs and so on) and I can assume there are good opportunities at UW as well.

Why should I go to UW over WSU (or vice versa)? I don't want to hear "hurf durf ranked higher" because in the grand scheme of things, that really makes no difference. I really liked the vibe at WSU and could see myself attending there, but I feel the same towards UW. However, UW does seem a little impersonal compared. The fact that WSU made an entire day out of fall preview, whereas UW's was nothing more than an hour lecture left a sour taste in my mouth, and makes me wonder if I would be anything more than a paying customer to them.

Assuming I get accepted to both schools, it is going to be a very hard choice. So I'd really like your opinions.. What makes UW special to you, and why should I choose UW over other schools? Are there any misconceptions that I seem to have? Also, any opinions on the engineering program?

Thanks much :)
edited January 2013
16 replies
Post edited by Eskimokels on
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Replies to: Why should I go to UW over WSU?

  • Nameless_StudentNameless_Student 196 replies12 threads Junior Member
    I had this same problem with deciding to go to WSU honors and paying virtually nothing, or going to UW. I ended up with UW because, in short, they had far more opportunities and connections than going to WSU. True, it is challenging to compete with other students, but the whole environment (in my opinion since I didn't choose to go to WSU) is more intellectually based. Not to mention I heard the UW Engineering department is far more prestigious than WSU. Although, that's not to say you can't be successful at WSU, it's just that UW and Seattle as a whole had more opportunities for me to pursue further into my major... and it's closer to home :)
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  • HuaChingNiHuaChingNi 118 replies59 threads Junior Member
    I was going to write out a long post detailing multiple arguments in favor of UW but you seem smart enough to figure it out so I won't bother. I'll just say a couple things.

    I'm just going to be really frank here. I apologize if I offend anyone, but I'm not really sorry if I do. The people at UW aren't exactly geniuses. If you head to WSU, be ready to be surrounded by people who are literally blithering idiots smothering themselves in their own drool and alcohol-induced vomit. I don't know how anyone with the slightest gram of intelligence would be able to enjoy going to and actually, God forbid, live at WSU, surrounding themselves with people who are quite certainly almost of the lowest caliber as far as university students go.

    Fall preview is ****, I don't even know why you bothered to go. It's fundamentally a marketing pitch by both universities and just because one put slightly more effort into glorifying itself doesn't mean that it's even remotely better in any way, shape, or form. Also, the reality is that you're just a paying customer at both schools. Your education is fundamentally self-driven and the onus is on you to take advantage of the opportunities offered by your future university. Oh, wait, WSU's research sucks, it has almost no renowned or notable professors, it's in the middle of nowhere in some God-forsaken rural village, and the professors will automatically assume that you're one of the typical 3.0 HS GPA idiots who took three months to learn what a derivative is and will consequently spoonfeed you the material in lectures. Not that UW is that much better in terms of the rigor of its classes in some departments, but it does make a difference.

    It doesn't really matter how impersonal UW seems. It's personal if you take the effort to go and make it personal. You're what, 17, 18? I'm pretty sure you're not the person who really wants WSU to go and hold your hand and lead you through all the baby steps anyway. You're capable of making your own decisions and I suggest that you head to a university (UW) that's "impersonal", i.e. treats you like a mature adult, instead of WSU, which to me seems like a rather-less-prestigious and significantly more unpleasant version of high school.

    Also, UW's CSE department is very strong in research, and a large amount of EE and CSE research overlaps, so the strong CSE research will be a boon to you if you decide to go into EE and take advantage of CSE/EE research.

    UW isn't hard unless you're a CSE major in which case it still isn't hard, it's just somewhat challenging. How can something be "harder than it needs to be" when it comes to education? What? I have no idea what your parents mean. The more challenging something is, the more you get out of it and the more you learn. Struggling through some arcane problem set means that you end up knowing the material really well. Also, there's the fact that it's just not hard. This is UW, not MIT or Princeton or Caltech; let's be realistic here, those are the universities that are actually "hard", not UW, a random "public Ivy" that's thought to be prestigious and selective only by people who are actually in Washington state. Assuming you have the slightest bit of intellect you won't be "insanely stressed" if you're not some kind of drooling **** about scheduling, picking professors, planning classes, and keeping up with the material. I played 54 hours of League of Legends last week and I'm doing perfectly fine in my classes as a freshman (and, no, they're not freshman classes).

    tl;dr the people who have been giving you advice are delusional and you need to be realistic

    P.S. The honors programs at both schools are inane wastes of time that accept incredibly unqualified applicants. I don't know a single person who I consider legitimately intelligent who looks upon UW Honors favorably and I presume it's even worse for WSU.

    Also there are some really smart people at WSU like anywhere else. You may just have a rather difficult time finding them.
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  • EskimokelsEskimokels 99 replies12 threads Junior Member
    Thanks, no offence taken either. I've been tied to UW and always will be, but the hard part will be swaying my parents one way or the other. ;)

    I'm kind of trapped, you know? I want to go to UW (if I get in of course!) but the moment I mention that to my parents I get "but.. but the scholarship!" Thankfully for me, I'm working on a plethora of other scholarships, UW based or otherwise.
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  • triseradadtriseradad 147 replies11 threads Junior Member
    HuaChingNi, you seem to be making the same mistake as the OP, i.e. confusing college selectivity with rigor. Selectivity is a measure of a school's popularity, and does not necessarily correlate to the rigor of its courses. You are correct that more selective schools will attract students with higher SAT scores, which could be construed to correlate with the intelligence and competitiveness of the student body.

    While I am not familiar with WSU's programs or student population, based on the respective admission rates, the OP is probably correct that UW is likely to be a *relatively* more competitive environment than WSU. And likewise, Princeton/MIT/Caltech and other highly selective schools will be more competitive than UW, particularly the Ivy's, as they have a "prestige" factor that goes beyond even their selectivity numbers which causes students with the most competitive personalities to lust after the Ivy's, which in turn feeds back on the schools' selectivity numbers...

    But again, college selectivity has no bearing on academic rigor. Selectivity simply means popularity. You have to dig into the course offerings and compare the actual programs at different schools to draw conclusions about rigor. Unfortunately, undergraduate rankings do not take rigor into account whatsoever.

    By your comments, it sounds like you are not participating in the the UW honors math and science offerings, and thus not taking advantage of the academic opportunities available at UW. These courses are significantly more rigorous than the regular offerings at UW, more so in fact than some of the corresponding courses at many of the "hard" schools you site. For example, UW 145/155/165 Honors General Chemistry, is a calculus-based chemistry course based on the same text used in Caltech's General Chemistry: Oxtoby, which is arguably the hardest general chemistry text in print. UW Math 134/135/136 Accelerated Honors Math, is a rigorous, proof-based treatment of calculus similar to the intro math sequence at Caltech, and much harder than the standard calculus sequence at MIT, math 18.01, that the vast majority of MIT freshmen take, and comparable to the advanced math track at MIT, math 18.014, usually taken only by math majors. Math and science at the Ivy's are significantly watered down compared to MIT and Caltech.

    I also take issue with your statement that CSE at UW is harder than other programs. This simply isn't true. Again, you are confusing the selectivity (i.e. popularity) of this program with its rigor. The CSE program at UW is a good program (IMHO, better than Stanford undergraduate CS, but not as good as CMU, in terms of rigor), but so are many other programs. I think you may find that upper-division Latin, Biochemistry, and Chemical Engineering at UW, to name a few, are more challenging than upper-division CSE, but of course this all depends on one's aptitudes.

    If you want to compare rigor of schools, as opposed to selectivity, then Caltech certainly does belong on the list, but also take a look at the curricula at Harvey Mudd, Reed, University of Chicago and you'll realize what hard is, and you'll see that Princeton and MIT are actually in the same "easy" category as UW.
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  • AxelrodAxelrod 660 replies3 threads Member
    Easy. Go to WSU to avoid significant debt. Go to UW to enjoy the better academic offerings & atmosphere.
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  • HuaChingNiHuaChingNi 118 replies59 threads Junior Member
    Triseradad: False. You are being presumptuous to someone (me) who has done in-depth research on the curricula of multiple degree programs in all of the top schools. You are being presumptuous to someone who has done such an excessive/obsessive amount of research into the relative quality of textbooks for practically every single subject that it's possible to study, the relative difficulty of universities' problem sets between different courses, and the precise level of rigor and difficulty of basically every single commonly offered UW class that *exists*. That's generally not a good idea.

    Math 134-136 isn't hard, it's tedious analysis. Same with 334-336. Chem 145-165 is not difficult either, it's basic general chemistry but slightly more complex. Chem 337-339 is arguably difficult, but only in the latter half of 338 and in 339. Upper division CSE is of comparable difficulty to CMU/etc. in various courses, slightly below CMU in general but a high level of rigor nevertheless. Upper-division biochemistry, if you mean the 440- series, is a joke. It's just standard biochemistry from, I believe Voet and Voet, which is not even a particularly challenging textbook; it's casually readable. ChemE is probably comparable to CSE.

    I don't know why you feel the need to assume that I don't know that Harvey Mudd or UChicago are schools that have difficult undergraduate programs. You're severely underestimating my level of expertise in this matter. You're also not accounting for Princeton grade deflation policy.

    Also, as someone who has done more than just a few old MIT exams from more than just a few math and science classes.. no. MIT is not "in the same 'easy' category as UW". Just.. no. I have absolutely no idea how you got that idea but it's flat-out wrong.
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  • UDUBHUSKIESUDUBHUSKIES 632 replies119 threads Member
    HuaChingNi: do you think Chem 145-146 is about the same level of rigor as AP Chemistry? And what about Freshman Biology?
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  • EskimokelsEskimokels 99 replies12 threads Junior Member
    Not sure about 145+ but I know a lot of kids from my HS who are now at UW. The ones from AP Chemistry are currently setting curves in 142. At least with 142, you have a really good advantage having taken AP Chem (so glad I'm taking it right now) but I'm not sure how that experience will transfer in to the upper chem. I'll let someone else answer that.
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  • triseradadtriseradad 147 replies11 threads Junior Member
    Plenty of students who get a 5 on AP chem find Chem 145 hard and chem 155 much harder. Chem 145 starts where AP chem ends, but also going in more depth than AP chem, skipping the first several chapters of Oxtoby (which are assumed knowledge) and covering non-ideal gases and calculus-based thermodynamics.

    If you have a 4 or 5 on the AP chem exam, then you can register for chem 145. There is no harm in trying it as you can easily drop down to chem 142.
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  • ZeroShadowBladeZeroShadowBlade 51 replies3 threads Junior Member
    @HuaChingNi: I think your first post in this thread might have rubbed some people the wrong way and come off as arrogant, regardless of whether or not you were right or wrong. It's not necessary to take on such a harsh tone.
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  • UWHuskyDadUWHuskyDad 277 replies2 threads Junior Member
    ^ agreed. Blame it on that apple cup loss. :)
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  • travelgirltravelgirl 714 replies33 threads Member
    good post, zeroshadowblade. Thanks for saying what I thought the first time I had read it.
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  • triseradadtriseradad 147 replies11 threads Junior Member
    One thing I'd like to add to this thread, which I hinted at in my earlier post, is that the choices students make once they are in college are far more important than their choice of college.

    Any of the top 300 or so colleges and universities in this country, which certainly includes both UW and WSU, offer fine educational opportunities. But other than the handful of colleges (such as Reed and Harvey Mudd) that require all students to take an extremely rigorous core curriculum, students can choose to either delve in and challenge themselves, or skate and learn nothing, regardless of their choice of school.

    Anyone smart enough to be accepted at WSU, UW, or MIT is also smart enough to skate at the respective school by taking easy classes in their comfort zone.

    On the other hand, students at any school can challenge themselves by taking harder (e.g. honors) courses, taking courses in their weak areas, taking upper division courses in their freshman and sophomore years, doing undergraduate research, going to office hours to delve deeper in the subject matter with the prof, forming study groups and helping other students with the material, attending seminars of visiting profs and other researchers, etc.

    In my 30 years as a computer scientist, I've seen plenty of MIT graduates who skated, and plenty of state university graduates who really applied themselves and went beyond their graduation requirements. Which one do you think I would hire?
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  • rabbitstewrabbitstew 238 replies1 threads Junior Member
    This is a surprisingly tough question. From the start, I'll say I'm a very happy, successful UW grad, however the rivalry really feels one-way (WSU>UW), and I have no hard feelings against Wazzu.
    I almost always advise people to follow the money - College is almost entirely what you make of it, and as an undergrad, you can be happy and successful in a high output research university as well as a small liberal arts college.
    Both UW and WSU are large, research focused universities, but UW is the clear winner in international recognition, research funding and output. That's not to say WSU has nothing going for it, it certainly shines in certain fields, and, unlike one poster said, DOES have some well known researchers.

    The problem here is that you seem clearly entrenched in electrical or aeronautical engineering. UW has really really great programs for both of those. It's not just the rigorous class work (there will be that), but the large number of opportunities for hands on research in major labs.

    The way to solve this is to have a serious sit down and think about the general direction you'd like your life to take. Are you interested in getting your BS and getting a job in industry, or do you want to go on to get a masters and/or ph.d and do your own, independent research or teach at a college level? If you just want a job, WSU will give you the skills you need in EE to do just that and not cost you a dime. Graduating without debt is one of the best things you can do for yourself. If you want to move on in academia (or anywhere in aeronautics), UW is your winner, despite the painful cost because it will afford you many more opportunities to do research, network and get internships (Boeing's right there!). Those opportunities are worth the cost IF that's what you want to do. Also, if you do decide on UW, make sure you check out their numerous engineering-oriented scholarships and grants! I believe they have an excellent program with NASA...
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  • alexzzalexzz 28 replies0 threads New Member
    I started at the UW, and transferred to the top school in another country. While my school is better known internationally than UW, I found some departments at UW to be superior, especially in the math/engineering. I didn't know what a wonderful math program UW had until I left. The same with CSE. Granted CSE is getting near impossible for the average UW student to get into. Based solely on location and funds, UW offers far more opportunities. Remember, even though the rankings don't mean everything, there are reasons that one school is ranked higher than another.

    However, if you don't get direct admit to an engineering major, I would consider WSU. Some of the majors at UW are so impacted it becomes difficult for good students to get in. Capable CSE students (ones TAing classes at UW) are turned down from the major, and similarly with business and engineering. WSU honors will offer an opportunity to be with students of similar caliber as UW. You may be in a better position to take advantage of the full set of opportunities at WSU, but there will probably be fewer. It's true that the average student at WSU had lower marks in HS, but I know a few WSU students who were fine students in HS and are doing great at WSU, and will probably end up going on to a fine grad school. If you're only going to get a 2.8 at UW, you'd probably be better off with a 3.8 at WSU (not saying that is the grading correlation, but if you think you'll do better at WSU...).
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  • Matthew93Matthew93 8 replies0 threads New Member
    I am an EE major at the UW currently. The undergraduate EE programs for WSU AND UW are about equivalently prestigious and difficult, but some of the UW's teachers will be harder. If you plan on going to graduate school I'd recommend the UW. Otherwise, go to WSU since you are going to be saving lots of money. Either place you will find friends and plenty of learning.
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