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CS - MIT, Stanford, CMU, etc

I'm confused....which one should I choose?
Advise please.

college bound
Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Good lord, you get to pick?

Jason McCullough
Tuesday, August 13, 2002

What I want is more than education, but life experience.
Frankly, I'm not a hard-core on computer stuff, but like it enough to enroll. I'm not picky on climate too. I want school with best teachers, best college-mate, best environment. I want it to provide me with the skills and mentality required to succeed in the next stage of my life, but I also want to remember fondly of my college days.
I know I'm very lucky, and whatever choice I made I should be very grateful, but still I want to go to the best place.

college bound
Tuesday, August 13, 2002

>>>What I want is more than education, but life experience.<<<
Then throughout CMU. That city is a bore. California weather is great, but Boston with all those schools is nice too. Tough choice between those 2. Anyway, I definitely recommend junior year abroad no matter where you go. I would even recommend applying to an overseas school for all your undergrad years. Have fun forever.

Fred Sanford
Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Here's my take.

Go to MIT if you want to geek out 24/7 with many fellow geeks and you're sure you'd be ok with very minimal non-technical exposure. Sure, there are humanities classes there, but...

If you want a little bit broader education, pick Harvard, Yale, or Stanford. Harvard and Yale, other than theory, have weak graduate programs, but the CS undergrads there are pound for pound among the best. If you go to Harvard and you're ambitious, you can weasel your way into a research group at MIT.

Stanford might be the best compromise between Harvard/Yale and MIT, but typically I equate people at Stanford as those who couldn't make it into Harvard/Yale or suffer from seasonal affective disorder. :)

CMU for undergrad? uh...why?

John Eli
Tuesday, August 13, 2002

i attended CMU.  pittsburgh is a great city.  the snow is a pain, but still a great city.  you have Pitt right down the corner, and CMU has a great fine arts dept.  in fact, a lot of people asked me, upon hearing my college choice, if i was going to study drama.  i was an ECE major. 

CMU is actually located in Shadyside, a suburb of Pittsburgh.  There's an absolutely gorgeous park within walking distance of the campus, as well as botanical gardens, etc.  It's a great place to go to school.  I highly recommend it. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Why don't you take the materialist route and go to a school whose name is universally recognized.

For instance, just about every employer in the world has heard of: Havard, Yale, Princeton, MIT and Stanford.

No matter how good Carnegie-Mellon (PA), Carleton (MN), Brown (NJ) and Washington (MO) are, they can never compete on the name recognition factor -- even if they are just as strict on acceptance as the five mentioned above.

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

I went to Harvard and look where I ended up. Even the great Joel Spolsky worked for me.

Bill Gates
Wednesday, August 14, 2002

Hey Bill, these stupid fools still think college is the only way to go..Bah !! Even after we set ourselves as example, they are still as stubborn and stupid as ever.

Larry Ellison
Wednesday, August 14, 2002

What follows is a transcript of the speech delivered by Ellison at Yale University last month:

"Graduates of Yale University, I apologize if you have endured this type of prologue before, but I want you to do something for me. Please, take a good look around you. Look at the classmate on your left. Look at the classmate on your right. Now, consider this: five years from now, 10 years from now, even 30 thirty years from now, odds are the person on your left is going to be a loser. The person on your right, meanwhile, will also be a loser. And you, in the middle? What can you expect?

Loser. Loserhood. Loser Cum Laude.In fact, as I look out before me today, I don't see a thousand hopes for a bright tomorrow. I don't see a thousand future leaders in a thousand industries. I see a thousand losers. You're upset. That's understandable. After all, how can I, Lawrence "Larry" Ellison, college dropout, have the audacity to spout such heresy to the graduating class of one of the nation's most prestigious institutions?

I'll tell you why. Because I, Lawrence "Larry" Ellison, second richest man on the planet, am a college dropout, and you are not. Because Bill Gates, richest man on the planet-for now anyway-is a college dropout, and you are not. Because Paul Allen, the third richest man on the planet, dropped out of college, and you did not. And for good measure, because Michael Dell, No. 9 on the list and moving up fast, is a college dropout, and you, yet again, are not.

Hmm ... you're very upset. That's understandable. So let me stroke your egos for a moment by pointing out, quite sincerely, that your diplomas were not attained in vain. Most of you, I imagine, have spent four to five years here, and in many ways what you've learned and endured will serve you well in the years ahead. You've established good work habits. You've established a network of people that will help you down the road.

And you've established what will be lifelong relationships with the word "therapy." All that of is good. For in truth, you will need that network. You will need those strong work habits. You will need that therapy. You will need them because you didn't drop out, and so you will never be among the richest people in the world.

Oh sure, you may, perhaps, work your way up to #10 or #11, like Steve Ballmer. But then, I don't have to tell you who he really works for, do I? And for the record, he dropped out of grad school. Bit of a late bloomer. Finally, I realize that many of you, and hopefully by now most of you, are wondering, "Is there anything I can do? Is there any hope for me at all?" Actually, no. It's too late. You've absorbed too much, think you know too much. You're not 19 anymore. You have a built-in cap, and I'm not referring to the mortarboards on your heads. Hmm ... you're really very upset. That's understandable.

So perhaps this would be a good time to bring up the silver lining. Not for you, Class of '00. You are a write-off, so I'll let you slink off to your pathetic $200,000-a-year jobs, where your checks will be signed by former classmates who dropped out two years ago. Instead, I want to give hope to any underclassmen here today. I say to you, and I can't stress this enough: leave. Pack your things and your ideas and don't come back. Drop out. Start up. For I can tell you that a cap and gown will keep you down just as surely as these security guards dragging me off this stage are keeping me dow..."

(At this point The Oracle CEO was ushered off stage.)

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

Now that is wacky.  Gotta second the vote for CMU, and Pittsburgh is a great place to live.  As for name recognition - if its in the technical field, then CMU is right up there with MIT, Stanford, and Cal Tech.  Harvard, Yale?  Phooey.  Only among suits. 

Nat Ersoz
Wednesday, August 14, 2002

Oh, one more thing...  I don't know of anyone from my graduating class from college who turned out to be a loser.  I keep in touch with quite a few of them.  Although I struggled through the course work, I loved the udergrad years.  The friends I made were for life - including one professor, who as I type is down in Honduras punding nails for Habitat for Humanity.

The world is your oyster.

Nat Ersoz
Wednesday, August 14, 2002

"I'm not a hard-core on computer stuff"

So what is it you want to do?  Go to Harvard if you just want a good experience and well rounded education.  The contacts are just as important as the pedigree.

low brow state school grad
Wednesday, August 14, 2002

concerning ChiLambda's post on name recognition... it's actually a great filter.  Everyone's heard of Harvard, Yale, etc.  if i tell someone i went to CMU, they either say, "where's that?" or "wow, CMU!".  the first person, i understand they're a little uninformed, and adjust for that.  the second person, well, there's the name recognition that's "so important"... 

i think you'll find that 5 years after you graduate, it will mean very little where you went to school.  just be excellent at what you do, and you'll rise to the top.

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

Well said nathan.  Where you went to school is important mainly for your first job.  Keep in mind though that your first job is the first step on a long career path.  It can make a difference where you start out.

low brow state school grad
Wednesday, August 14, 2002

Seems to me that all Ellison did was demonstrate that if you drop out of college, no matter how successful you eventually become, you'll still carry with you a festering, resentful, destructive load of self-loathing for the rest of your life.

Dunno Wair
Wednesday, August 14, 2002

Assuming the anecdote is true, of course.

Dunno Wair
Wednesday, August 14, 2002

no. the Ellison anectdote is not true. From

"In truth, Ellison did not give a such a speech at Yale, nor anywhere else. The article was the fanciful creation of Andrew Marlatt, a writer for the satire website, SatireWire. It was reprinted (with SatireWire's express permission) on BBspot, another satirical web site."

However, Conan O'Brien's Class Day speech at Harvard, was real, and it was funny as hell:

John Eli
Wednesday, August 14, 2002

I went to West Point.

The CS program wasn't even accredited back then.
Contacts, great for the military, not bad for business.
Name Recognition, Pretty High up there.
10% Female
1 Pass per semeter as a plebve (freshman)
No choice of wardrobe
Assured a position after graduation (In fact, they insist on it...)

But could you get in?  Yeah, you may be a brainiac, but can you do enough push ups and sistus, or run the 2 miles fast enough?  Hmm.  Qualify with an M-16 Rifle.  Put up with idiots with bad breath screaming at you fo having a gig (something wrong) in your uniform?  7:15 first class, but you've already been up for at least an hour becasue you had 6:25 formation.  Drill and Ceremony twice a week, and a parade on the weekend possibly, perhaps right after a Saturday Morning Test?

OTOH, I got stationed in Hawaii after graduation....

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

Don't forget Al Frankens equally funny & insightful speech:

low brow state school grad
Wednesday, August 14, 2002

If you're not hardcore about computer science or software development, stay away from the top schools.  Leave them to the people that deserve to be there and will get the most out of their programs.

Go to a decent state school, something like the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaigne, or the University of Michigan Ann Arbor.

I've often thought that the top schools -- Carnegie Mellon, MIT, Cal Tech, Stanford -- should require a portfolio to enter their CS program just like college art and design departments do.  When I was in college at a top school, I met *far* too many people who were just learning to program as freshmen whereas I'd been programming for literally a decade.

I gather the situation got a lot worse in later years, as more and more people saw "computers" as the way to riches.

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

Bill Gates was one year behind me at Harvard. Took some courses with him. Nice fellow; rather intense.

I'm nowhere, he's rich.

Sure, drop out, or don't even bother attending college. ;-)

Seriously, I'd say skip tech education altogether and find a true liberal arts college where you can learn timeless truths about man and the universe. (I'd recommend Thomas Aquinas College in Ojai, California, which is about the best there is right now -- is the web site.) Seriously.

The one thing I really regret about college is that I was a hard-core CS major (well, OK, applied math--they still don't have a CS major) and took only grad CS courses (they were very weak undergrad at the time)), and never realized that, even that late in Harvard's sorry history, one could have gotten a decent liberal education if one had known what courses to take here and there. Sigh.

Then go to grad school if you need to find a job.

But, remember: in 10 years, you won't likely be doing anything related to your major, so major in life.

Chris Ryland
Wednesday, August 14, 2002

' I've often thought that the top schools -- Carnegie Mellon, MIT, Cal Tech, Stanford -- should require a portfolio to enter their CS program just like college art and design departments do. When I was in college at a top school, I met *far* too many people who were just learning to program as freshmen whereas I'd been programming for literally a decade. '

I disagree with you - what about for those really really bright kids who come from thirld world countries - it is highly probable that they don't have prior programming experiences - but they are so eager to learn and so hard-working they can keep up with those from privileged background.

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

For undergrad, if you really care about the subject matter you'd check out which schools have the profs you like.

Anonymous, I'm not sure why the orig poster would go to UMich or UI-CU.  Ann Arbor is somewhat... constraining (ymmv), and I imagine Champaign-Urbana isn't too exciting either.  In fact, probably want to stay away from the Midwest altogether.  UChicago is a great institution, probably the best undergrad education in the US, but the mood there is neurotic.

You gotta visit.  Are you comfortable just standing alone under an arch, or eating chili cheese fries at the good campus burger joint?  Opinions on quality of life are pretty subjective.

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

BTW, if you've been doing CS for a decade, you shouldn't be taking undergrad classes with rank beginners.  Those people are mainly feeling around to see what is out there, perfectly smart thing to do.  Talk with someone in the dept, preferrably an insightful prof, on what you can do to leapfrog to grad (or the cool UG) classes.  A good college is loose on class reqs, on the theory that self-responsibility is liberating.

Undergrad is bunk.  It's meant to be a good coming-to-age ritual and a moneymaker for the university.  So have fun, and incidentally do well.

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

Its actually very very simple. You must be a very smart person. Just think it over, and figure out where you will have the best four years of your life.

All the other people you want to go to your school are also all very smart people making the same decision. So, they will independently come to the same conclusion as you, and you will all end up together. And if you haven't figured it out yet, the most important factor in your college experience will be the people you are with.

In all seriousness, there are many more "very smart people" going to college than could all fit in any single one.

(And if you are not actually a very smart person, and you make the wrong decision, at least you will have that in common with your classmates.)

Wednesday, August 14, 2002


>>The one thing I really regret about college is that I was >>a hard-core CS major (well, OK, applied math--they still >>don't have a CS major)

Harvard has had an undergraduate CS concentration since the early 80's.

John Eli
Wednesday, August 14, 2002


<<Harvard has had an undergraduate CS concentration since the early 80's.>>

Interesting. I think they still give a BA degree in Applied Math for it, though. Then again, what do I know? I've been out of touch for years.

I did get a spend a few days working (for myself) out of the new Dworkin-Maxwell lab last year when my girls were in Boston at the Early Music Festival. It's a real improvement over the old Aiken Comp Lab we had back in the 70's.

Chris Ryland
Thursday, August 15, 2002

My advice--

Look for a school that has plenty of opportunity for hands-on work (both in lab classes and in research/internships).  A mix of theoretical learning and practical experience is ideal.  Exposure to a diversity of fields is a plus.

One thing I really liked about MIT was the heavy involvement of undergraduates in research projects.  (about 1/3 of all undergraduates).  You've got the Media Lab, the AI Lab, the Lab for Computer Science, etc.  Plus some nice ties to industry for summer internships.  I launched a career out of my summer research work. 
(in the business school, incidentally, building computer simulations).  All but about 20% of my classes are long forgotten.

Friday, August 16, 2002

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