Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

Slightly OT: Looking at undergrad CS programs

This topic is 5042 days old which is more than the 365 day threshold we allow for new replies. Please post a new topic.

If you intended to correct an error in the post then please contact us.

Recommended Posts

Well its almost that time.. to start looking at colleges. I''m going to be visiting them this May/June, what kind of things should I be looking for to make sure the CS program is good? I''m interested in somewhere that has opportunities for research, especially in computer graphics and AI, and I''d like to get a well rounded degree. I''m also considering (just a thought at the moment) a minor or double major in math. I''m asking this here, because you guys seem like a smart bunch, and a lot of you have done things with your post-secondary experiences that I might like to do someday.. so your input is appreciated

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You want +7 doctorates in the program.
Look at their research interests.
Find out if they''ve been hiring or fireing lately.
Find out how long the program has been around.
How well known are the professors?
If it has no phd program, DON''T go.
You want a long-lasting, stable CS school, with a plethora of grad students that you can hit up for questions.

I would recommend Texas A&M as one of the premier CS schools in the US. www.tamu.edu
Also noteworthy are MIT, Univ. Washington, Berkley, Stanford, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It''s not just about research though. You need to make sure that those research staff a) are good teachers; and b) have the time and resources available to them to teach. One way to measure this is by the quality of their graduates. Here''s one way to find out this information... choose several large IT based companies... contact their HR departments and ask them where they like getting their CS-based interns and junior staff from. This will give you an indication of how industry rates a specific degree program, which is most important if you want to get a job at the end of it!

Cheers,

Timkin

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Well I am a Cs student at Praire View A&M which is part of tamu. But anyway, what I can tell you about being in school here is class size. Average class is about 15 people or less. The professor knows who you are by the second day. We also have senior porjects like most universities, but their lab is at the entrance to the building with a big window. So if you wan to talk there is almost always someone who can help you at any level. Some student are working on maya, neural networks, databases, its all great fun!! I am only a sophmore, but I am working with several of the students comparing projects and ideas. You mentioned math double, well here at PV I think you only need about 10 math classes outside of the regular CS cources to double in math. and the math major has like 4 cs classes so it works out ok. Just a note, PV is mostly black, so you may or may not be comfortable there, but the cs is dept is really diverse, asian, african, african american, hispanic, caucasian, and a few indian guys. Its a good school if you like small classes but a big campus. There are 8000+ students. The link to the cs site is www.pvamu.edu/cs or email me if you got questions in general. Having recently looked through schools I could tell you some things I was thinkiing about etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Don''t ignore the non-trivial $$$ you can save by going to a state school. There are plenty of top notch around -- UNC, Illinois, Georgia Tech, Texas, Cal, Virginia, Minnesota, and plenty more. I went to GT and it was certainly a death-defying, shocking, stupefying, and terrific education.

I would urge you to look for a school that uses quarters instead of semesters. I was at GT when they ditched quarters for sems, and let me tell you, sems are an ugly thing. Granted, for a few classes that extra month would have been fantastic... but in the general case, you don''t get enough diversity, enough ability to try out different facets of CS, to switch gears after 11 weeks and forget about Lisp for a little while.

Here''s a tip about state schools though. They have to take a certain (high) percentage of their students from in-state, so in order to sustain a rep as one of the top schools they have to cull away a lot of first- and second-year students. You can avoid these dreadful weed-out classes by taking all the APs you can. Calc, Physics, Chem, English, History... anything you feel remotely qualified for. A month of hard-core studying up front can save you from unimaginable pain later

And trust me, just because your high school doesn''t offer an AP class doesn''t mean you can''t take the AP. My school didn''t offer AP calc or physics, but I still managed a 5 on the BC and Mechanics and 4 on E&M, which got me out of 5 of the hardest classes at Tech.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
If you live in the south, take a look at University of Alabama at Huntsville (UAH).

In general tho, you should check...

1) The university is accredited in your major
2) The university is nationally reconized
3) The university has some doctoral programs in your major
4) That you like the general atmosphere of campus

You can ask the university if they are accredited in your field, but you may have to do a few searches to find out if the school is nationally reconized. One other piece of advice - don''t bother with US News ratings, for some reason, they focus on libral arts too much (even when they are rating CS schools). If you know anyone who hires/fires for a company, ask them what to look for.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Come to Purdue.

We have:
1. First CS program in the world.
2. First domain name (www.purdue.edu).
3. Wonderful professors.

TT

P.S. - I''ll tutor you for a small fee, provided I''m still around. =)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Well, you seem to have a good idea of what you want to study, and that will help you a lot.

Compare the course rosters of the colleges you are looking at. Count how many courses in the CS program are courses that you would be really interested in taking. Then, look closer at each course description of the subjects you are especially interested in, and judge whether you like the emphasis & direction of the course.

In the area of computer graphics, give bonus points to the college if there are any programs/classes that bring art students and CS students into the same room. Not all places will have the art department & CS department mixing, but those kind of programs will probably be interesting.

For AI, give bonus points if there is an AI class with a "practicum" or "project" section, because that''s where the really interesting stuff is. Also check if there is a course that deals solely with the subject of machine learning. Yes, machine learning is a subset of AI, but it''s my opinion that the really interesting topics of AI are found in machine learning. (an example of something that''s in AI but not in machine learning is search algorithms, which is like, yawn)

And also, if you have really specific things that you are interested in studying, feel free to look up the email addresses of professors, and asking if there are any current courses/research programs in that area.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Oh yeah- and here''s some advice that I always give to people looking at colleges.

Right now, you might be pretty nervous and overwhelmed because you are trying to find the "perfect" college for you. But the truth is, that there are lots of colleges out there that you would be happy with. You don''t need to find the "perfect" one, just find one that is a pretty good match with your needs and your interests.

It''s kinda like finding a girlfriend; you don''t need to find your "soulmate", just one that makes you happy and has most of the qualities you''re looking for.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Good to see more than a few posts for GT. I''ll say I''m loving (and hating ) my time here. Seems like we''re doing a lot of research in graphics and human computer interaction these days. As well as some pretty interesting AI stuff that I just heard about today.

As for the semester vs quarters, if you plan on cooping I think quarters are definitely a lot better, but otherwise the courses tend to be diversified enough. Best of luck anyways.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites