My own little backwater University..?

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Tenth Speed Writer
Posts: 151
Joined: Wed Oct 03, 2007 11:35 am UTC

My own little backwater University..?

Postby Tenth Speed Writer » Sun Jun 29, 2008 2:26 am UTC

I was hoping to ask for an outside opinion on something...


I'm going to college in exactly one year. I have all of five months to decide before I start grinding applications and essays for scholarships and honors programs.

The school, I've decided on, is the University of Alabama, in Tuscaloosa. Of course, I've wanted to go here since I was two years old, since I basically grew up on campus.
That said, I'm wondering if my opinion is a bit biased.

The decision was essentially made for me.
My father and my uncle (the favorite son of my mother's family) both went here. The latter went on to become vice president of a major Civil Engineering firm in Birmingham, and the former is actually working at the U.A. as a web design, server maintenance, impromptu software design, etc., guy. (He's worked so many positions that I couldn't honestly give you his job description.)

His working there, means I get a tuition discount. I'm also a shoo-in for most of the major scholarships, and even a candidate for the presidential scholarship if I can bring my A.C.T. up one point. I also have a major name in for applying to the New College and Computer-Based Honors Programs.





I know it would be dumb to throw away so much, but... I'm not so sure about the U.A. right now.
It's not the most prestigious school in the world. I plan to study computer science and electronic engineering; while the engineering college here is impressive, that's not something you can specialize too far in here.

I want to attend graduate school at a place with a name and a history: Georgia Tech, M.I.T., somewhere that I can really earn my place. But, The U.A. you see, is known far and wide as a party school. Every major pornographic magazine in the United States has said it, and most of the people who live here know it. I know it's supposed to be petty to worry about undergrad school name when it comes to those sort of dreams, but it really worries me that the U.A.'s less than sterling student reputation might stick with me.



I'm really not sure...
What do y'all think?
Should I bite the bullet and take on the weight of a few student loans (not to mention disappoint my family) and apply somewhere a little more suited to my intentions?
Or is what I have here too good to pass up?
Civil Engineering Major, University of Alabama.
"Yessir, I reckon 'em 'ere cent'rl s'port beams'll hol' up a'right..."

Mallet über alles!

AnotherUser
Posts: 47
Joined: Sun Jun 22, 2008 3:54 am UTC

Re: My own little backwater University..?

Postby AnotherUser » Sun Jun 29, 2008 5:03 am UTC

It depends. For a small university, it could be difficult. A friend of mine told me a story about a graduate from some small college who got accepted to Harvard. He did badly; which led Harvard to be leery of accepting anyone from the same college.

But it looks like you're talking about a state university, which is likely large and somewhat known.

If you want to go to a top graduate school, you're going to need good grades, regardless of where you go. Honors programs are going to be good too. But it might also help to look at how good the program(s) you're interested in are at your school. Ex. I'm going to Ohio State Next Year. Why? Because of the schools that I was accepted to, it had the best math department.

Look around. Look for a place which has a good academic reputation in CS and Electrical Engineering. Look for a place with a good research program. Look for a place that you think you'd like to go to.

And apply to more than one school. Seriously, you should apply to at least three. Get a head start on it now if you think you won't have enough time.

And above all, the college you go to is going to be a big second to what you've done with your time at said college, when it comes to applying for grad school.

Minchandre
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Re: My own little backwater University..?

Postby Minchandre » Sun Jun 29, 2008 6:16 am UTC

I have heard, many many times, that as long as you do well at a decent school in undergrad, grad school'll be fine, and once you've got your Master's or PhD, no one will ever look at the school you got your BS from.

Obviously, if you go to MIT or something, you'll be damned impressive at grad school apps, but I'm not convinced it's necessary. Go to your local school, don't pay high tuition. See your folks every weekend (or live with them!) and do well in your classes. UA isn't (I assume) a small school; just one that's not that well known.

On the other hand, my friends who've gone to big-name schools for undergrad largely consider it to have been a good thing, but then again so do those who stayed at our local school (University of Colorado, if it matters).

hobbesmaster
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Location: Lexington, Ky

Re: My own little backwater University..?

Postby hobbesmaster » Sun Jun 29, 2008 5:20 pm UTC

Tenth Speed Writer wrote:I want to attend graduate school at a place with a name and a history: Georgia Tech, M.I.T., somewhere that I can really earn my place. But, The U.A. you see, is known far and wide as a party school. Every major pornographic magazine in the United States has said it, and most of the people who live here know it. I know it's supposed to be petty to worry about undergrad school name when it comes to those sort of dreams, but it really worries me that the U.A.'s less than sterling student reputation might stick with me.


You want to go to grad school and research under a professor with a name and a history. This is easier at a place with a name and a history, but there are some extremely well respected people at "bad" universities for whatever reason. After all, a lab is a lab and a grant is a grant. (and an administrator desperate to have something to brag about is nice to have for salary negotiations)

And as far as party school go, take a look at the list of "best party schools" and compare them with the list of "best public schools" it usually seems to be the same 10 schools.

Windmill
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Re: My own little backwater University..?

Postby Windmill » Sun Jun 29, 2008 10:16 pm UTC

I know some UTAustin students wear shirts that say, "We party hard but we study harder."

Go where the money is. You don't want to waste your money on your undergraduate degree when you ultimately have a Graduate degree planned.

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GonzoMcFonzo
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Location: The D of C

Re: My own little backwater University..?

Postby GonzoMcFonzo » Mon Jun 30, 2008 6:20 pm UTC

Also, don't feel obliged to go there just because of your family attachments. Both of my parents graduated from UT, and we lived in Austin until I was 14, but when it came time for me to go to college, I went to Texas A&M . The rivalry between our schools is so deep we are mentioned their fight song, and they in our War Hymn, but this place is just a better fit for me. Of course then my little brother had to go and Way to drink the Kool-Aid on me and head to austin when his time came. Little Traitor :P .

My point is, if they're your family, they'll still love you if you go to a new school, and if they don't, then going to their alma matter wasn't going to fix that anyway.

The financial reasons are a bit more compelling, but it sounds like you'd still be competitive for scholarships at another university.

I'm just going to echo what other people have said here: apply to several schools, and remember that how well you do is more important than where you do it, for your bachelor's at least.
JayDee wrote:"What is the difference between erotic and kinky? Erotic is using a feather. Kinky is using the whole Dinosaur."


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