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    #246407 - 12/04/19 02:16 PM undergrad degree variability
    Wren Offline
    Member

    Registered: 01/14/08
    Posts: 1472
    So often it is written that it doesn't matter where you get your undergrad degree, that the emphasis on quality should be on the grad school. Last year, a girl from DD's school got EA to Stanford. At some cocktail party for new admits, the officier who reviewed her app came up and said that we know that your school prepares kids for a school like Stanford. I know a girl who was top of her class in a good high school, perfect SAT scores, bunch of APs, had legacy at Princeton and got in and failed physics the first year, had a nervous breakdown and took a year off. Switched to political science. I also notice on Quora things that pop up that someone said the problem sets for MIT are harder than Harvard. So where do problem sets from Fairfield U line up? In this age where there seem to be deeper and deeper variation between all sets. Is it getting more important where you do your undergrad degree?

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    #246408 - 12/04/19 05:38 PM Re: undergrad degree variability [Re: Wren]
    Portia Offline
    Member

    Registered: 03/17/13
    Posts: 1766
    I think the answer depends a lot on what you want to do with the degree. We have found the last degree is the important one. So you can go to a good state school and then a name school for grad school. Professional schools seem to act similarly. If you only want an undergrad, then that is where you focus.

    Another part of the variability seems to be the field of choice or job market interest. In some fields, name is critical. For example, in my previous line of work, a BS at 2nd tier school paid equivalent to really good state master degree. In a different field I worked, classes/knowledge was more important than pedigree. If you are interested in working locally, then a locally known school is a better choice.

    Seems to be a lot of factors which makes all the statements (some of which feel contradictory) true.

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    #246410 - 12/05/19 12:33 PM Re: undergrad degree variability [Re: Wren]
    Thomas Percy Offline
    Member

    Registered: 11/18/12
    Posts: 203
    My sense is the more technical the field, the less important the name of school. Any university that offers engineering is probably fine. But Mckinsey and Goldman Sachs only have on campus interview at a certain number of schools.

    This is true for graduate school as well. There are only 14 Law schools that big law firms recruit from.

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    #246411 - 12/05/19 01:39 PM Re: undergrad degree variability [Re: Wren]
    pinewood1 Online   content
    Junior Member

    Registered: 01/25/19
    Posts: 8
    It seems like you're asking two different questions at the same time: how good the education is at lower tier schools vs. higher tier schools, and where the brand name will get you in jobs, networking, etc.

    I'll just speak to the first question because I'm hopeless at networking.

    I took college classes at [Party School State U] in my hometown at middle school age, and later attended [Prestigious U] at the customary age (I undid my skips out of a desperate desire to be normal). The level of instruction at Prestigious U was much, much higher in general. A lot does depend on the professor, however; when I took data structures at Prestigious U, a new professor had just taken over that class, and he reduced the level a lot compared to the previous professor (a classmate who had taken it two years before looked at what I had to do for the class, and said it was laughable in comparison). That class was on par with the computer science classes I took at State U.

    But a student who is interested and motivated can probably create a valuable educational experience for themself at any university. There are always things like independent research even if most classes are a snooze.

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    #246412 - 12/05/19 04:20 PM Re: undergrad degree variability [Re: Wren]
    Wren Offline
    Member

    Registered: 01/14/08
    Posts: 1472
    I was reading some stuff about the recruiting. That you don't get job recruiting at some lower tier schools compared to top tier. Even if engineering is engineering. (I did Eng undergrad)

    But I was wondering if the grad schools grade the undergrad degrees like they judge some HS. Like top tier schools take from Hunter and Styvescant for undergrad admissions.

    Data is everything now. I would think that would permeate through the system.

    Like the old tale in NYC, you get into the right preschool to get into the right elementary school to get into the right high school to get into the right college.

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    #246413 - 12/05/19 05:24 PM Re: undergrad degree variability [Re: Wren]
    Kai Online   content
    Member

    Registered: 05/17/09
    Posts: 582
    I got a master's degree (humanities) at a state university where the average SAT score for accepted freshmen is 915. There were several graduates of the university in the program, and, frankly, they were among the worst students in the cohort--and when I say "worst," I mean really, really bad.

    That said, the professors were good and had gotten their PhDs from well regarded institutions. I was able to do what I needed to do to challenge myself, and I really got a lot out of the program. The grade inflation was horrific though, with people graduating with honors who really shouldn't have been graduating at all. What this means if you are the sort of student who thinks you are getting a good education just because you are getting an A, you would be mistaken.

    This might be an extreme case though. I don't know how different a Harvard education would be from, say, a University of Michigan education in terms of what is offered in the way of things like problem sets.

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    #246416 - 12/06/19 07:29 AM Re: undergrad degree variability [Re: Wren]
    Old Dad Offline
    Member

    Registered: 07/30/12
    Posts: 422
    I'd agree that how important it is where you get your undergrad degree greatly depends on the field you study, how much further you hope to extend your education, and where you hope to land a future position.

    I certainly can't speak intelligently concerning all of those for a wide variety of fields, however, from what I've seen in the field of engineering, unless you hope to land a very elite position such as with NASA, the vast majority of companies look more at your internship and Co-op experience than they do which college / university you attended.

    With the above paragraph in mind, for engineers, it might very well be more important to look at what companies recruit from that college / university at the career fair and how large that career fair is. One also might look at the placement rate, some colleges / universities have great programs that work hard at placement, others do very little in that regard. One of the largest engineering career fairs in the nation for instance is at at Iowa State Univ. boasting 365 companies represented looking for engineers....go figure eh?

    On a side note, the great thing about engineering internships and co-ops is they actually pay pretty nicely often. My youngest is doing one right now at $26.50 hr. Not bad for an undergrad internship.

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    #246417 - 12/06/19 10:09 AM Re: undergrad degree variability [Re: Wren]
    Bostonian Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/14/10
    Posts: 2592
    Loc: MA
    Originally Posted By: Wren
    So often it is written that it doesn't matter where you get your undergrad degree, that the emphasis on quality should be on the grad school. Last year, a girl from DD's school got EA to Stanford. At some cocktail party for new admits, the officier who reviewed her app came up and said that we know that your school prepares kids for a school like Stanford. I know a girl who was top of her class in a good high school, perfect SAT scores, bunch of APs, had legacy at Princeton and got in and failed physics the first year, had a nervous breakdown and took a year off.


    Which physics course? Princeton's physics courses are listed here. There is

    PHY 101
    Introductory Physics I
    A course in fundamental physics that covers classical mechanics, fluid mechanics, basic thermodynamics, sounds, and waves. Meets premedical requirements. One lecture, three classes, one three-hour laboratory.

    which is probably about the same difficulty as the physics courses pre-meds take elsewhere and

    PHY 103
    General Physics I
    The physical laws that govern the motion of objects, forces, and forms of energy in mechanical systems are studied at an introductory level. Calculus-based, primarily for engineering and science students, meets premedical requirements. Some preparation in physics and calculus is desirable; calculus may be taken concurrently. One demonstration lecture, three classes, one three-hour laboratory.

    which may be similar to physics courses taken by engineers at other schools and

    PHY 105
    Advanced Physics (Mechanics)
    PHY105 is an advanced first year course in classical mechanics, taught at a more sophisticated level than PHY103. Care is taken to make the course mathematically self contained, and accessible to the motivated physics student who may not have had exposure to an introductory college level physics course. The approach of PHY105 is that of an upper-division physics course, with more emphasis on the underlying formal structure of physics than PHY103, including an introduction to modern variational methods (Lagrangian dynamics), with challenging problem sets due each week and a mini-course in Special Relativity held over reading period.

    which sounds like a course that may only be offered at schools like Princeton, Harvard, and MIT.

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