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lewelma

Need help choosing Universities for a high-end math student

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So I've been going through website after website trying to pick some universities.  (DS has asked me to make a first stab at it to save him time as he is crazy busy right now.)  I'm trying to figure out what I'm looking for and what should be the selection criteria. The main need as I see it for ds is to 1) have intellectual peers, and 2) have some sort of advanced standing in math.  

 

So what has gotten me thinking is his experience last week at the local unit. He came back from the first week of his Analysis class and told me it was 'trivial.' Sigh. Last term in the first uni class he took (2nd year linear algebra) he got the top mark in the class.  Mean and Median were 40 on the final, and he scored a 60 (perfect score).  Clearly, these classes are too easy, and I need to find a university that will challenge him in math, and that will allow him to place out of things like number theory, combinatorics, probability, geometry, and analysis in addition to the basics of calculus, linear algebra, and differential equations.  Now, of course if he is in a *class* of other students like him, these classes could be taught at a high enough level for him to want to take it again.  But I am a bit confused as to how to find out where the balance is at any particular school -- so universities with high level students where he would retake these classes vs universities with "lower" level math students where I should look for him to place out of heaps of them.  For example, my impression of MIT right now is that *everyone* has to take math, so the first year classes are easier than Harvard's and Princeton's who have a more select group of math kids taking the courses.  DS started the calculus edX class at MIT 2 years ago and found it way too slow. But then I know that MIT has a bunch of the IMO students so clearly the high level math students are there, which is why I'm a bit confused. Do they just jump heaps of classes, and if so, that is NOT what it says on the website ( you can only place out of 3, maybe 4 total, not like 10).  

 

In addition, when I went looking at advanced standing at places like MIT and University of Chicago, they both have special exams you need to take.  To pass out of a bunch of classes by exam, you would have to study before you take them, I would assume.  I wouldn't want to walk into multivariate calc having not seen it for a full year.  So taking these exams might dictate which math classes ds does when to make sure that the ones with the most *content* are done last, where as the ones with more *problem solving* (I'm thinking number theory, but I'm not a mathematician) you could do earlier and still remember.  Plus there are no exams at either school for number theory or combinatorics, which ds has piles and piles of experiences and skill.

 

I know this is a bunch of ideas all mushed up, but I would love to have some insight as to how to work this situation.  I need to know which universities ds will consider applying to so we can put them on our touring schedule when we are in the USA this summer. Right now, definites are MIT, Harvard, Princeton, Duke, and Waterloo.  His backup is Auckland for which he has guaranteed entrance. I was thinking about a couple more elites, and I am struggling with knowing what to do with flagship state schools and the preponderance of students that will be from a single state.  I'm seriously not sure how ds would feel if 85% of the students were from Georgia, for example.  

 

I'm open to any and all ideas, questions, thoughts!

 

Thanks,

Ruth in NZ

Edited by lewelma

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At MIT, the only courses specifically required for everybody are the GIRs:

1 semester each of calculus, multivariable calc, chem, biology, physics 1 (mechanics) and physics 2 (e&m).  Calculus and physics 1 can be exempted via good AP scores. Transfer credit can apply to GIRs also, but you need to get approval for each course.

 

If you have neither AP nor approved transfer credit, you can sit for an ASE (advanced standing exam) for any of these six courses during orientation week. My son did a few of those, and passed a couple (the chem ASE is notoriously difficult). He ended up placing out of 5 or the 6 GIRs.

 

Several kids use these methods to skip first year courses, especially calculus. However, be aware that the physics & bio classes in particular are much more difficult and cover much more material than typical uni first year course, and they are worthwhile to re-take. And each GIR comes in different versions, some even more challenging, so no one should be stuck relearning old stuff.

 

Aside from those courses, you are mostly free to register for whatever class you want in the math department. Advisors will help, but kids are basically free to place themselves. Some majors do require differential equations, but again you can use transfer credit if approved. My son chose to re-take Diff Eqn & found the MIT class taught a LOT of theory he hadn't learn in differential equations at home (and we used the same textbook...MIT goes above and beyond the textbook).

 

The actual math major does have a few basic requirements, but I don't see anything not worthwhile on that list. Real analysis (math 18.100) for example, comes in different versions, including 18.100b which uses Rudin's Principles of Analysis, an excellent & demanding text, and above & beyond typical analysis classes. He'll learn a lot there! The Alg 1 and Alg 2 requirement (18.701 and 18.702) are linear/abstract algebra. Again there is linear algebra and there is linear algebra...depends where you take it. These 2 classes are not to be missed.

 

As you can see, there is no requirement for number theory, combinatorics, etc. He can skip, take an advanced undergrad level course, or take a grad course in it if he's interested. Or not.

 

Plenty of kids register for advanced math courses from freshman year on. Plenty take grad level courses, too, when they feel they're ready. MIT is quite amenable to trusting its students to know where they belong. If a kid is bored at MIT, it's his/her own fault. :)

Edited by Kathy in Richmond
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Other colleges to check out in the same area you're planning to travel through would be U Rochester, Carnegie Mellon, Swarthmore, and Williams. All have strong math cultures. And I'm sure there are plenty more that others will suggest!

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My math advanced son has attended four univeristies - 2 for dual enrollment, one for undergrad and one now for grad school (PhD). The one thing that we found is that what the colłege website says and the actual reality of attendance are not the same. None of the schools he attended - ranging from state flagships to a top school - have ever required him to repeat or take classes beneath his ability level. All of them allowed him to take higher level classes. His undergrad school allowed him to take grad level classes starting his first semester and use those classes toward his bachelors degree. His grad school (as is a relatively common practice from what I've read) allowed him to take the qualification exams for several subjects as soon as he started which effectively places him a year or so into the program. (Not too sure how grad school works as I no longer have to be involved in his education anymore.)

 

There are some differences between my son and your son's situation in that my son completed most of the usual math major required classes as a dual enrolled high school student. I'm not sure but I think your son has not taken college classes yet? My son's undergrad (a state flagship) accepted those classes as transfer credits so there was no testing out for those classes. For the rest he just used the grad level courses in place of what is usually required.

 

As for finding schools, my son was super advanced and was able to find challenging courses at a state flagship, and not one of the top ones like Berkeley, etc. He had no problem getting accepted to top level REUs and was accepted into top schools for his PhD, even with the disadvantage of his young age. You don't have to limit your search to just the elite, super selective schools for undergrad. Look for a school that offers a lot of advanced courses and is flexible. Have your son look at the faculty and see if they are doing research in the fields of interest to him. We picked my son's undergrad due to cost (zero!) but it fortunately fit a lot of the requirements listed above. My son ended up choosing his grad school based on the profesor that he wanted as his advisor. He had read a lot of this professor's research and had met the person at conferences and really was interested in working with him/her.

 

Good luck!

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I know I have more than one question mixed into this thread, but sounds like I need to sort one thing out first.  The local university classes are at way too low a level for ds, so we have decided to have him stop taking them and do more self study.  Perhaps, if I could get him into 3rd year classes, it might be ok, but I'm not sure how far they will stretch.  He has placed out of the first year core of 5 through portfolio evaluation, and is now taking his 2nd second-year class. His friend who is also in the olympiad program is taking the 2nd year number theory class and has said that he already knows it all.  So my guess is that at least *here* ds is in 3rd year material.  Problem is that he will not have that kind of transfer credits, because it really is no longer worth his time (or my money) for him to take the classes at the uni.  This means that he will have to take placement tests on at least quite a few courses, but then he has to have all the material for multiple classes fresh in his head in August of next year even though he will have self studied a lot of them years earlier.  Personally, I wouldn't want to have to take a bunch of really hard placement tests during orientation week in a new school in a new country.  I just think it is a big ask. So I'm trying to figure out what the math plan is for 2017 and 2018 given he may have these placement tests in the future.  Perhaps I need to go beg him into 3rd year courses.

 

As for state flagships, I'm still concerned about the huge percentage of students from a certain state.  DS may just really prefer to be with a broader mix of students. I'm not quite clear on how to figure that one out. And how do I figure out schools have lots of advanced courses and if they will be flexible with the courses ds takes?  

 

I'll look into the other universities you mentioned Kathy.  We are looking for ds to be a small fish in a big pond.  He can go to Auckland to be a big fish in a small pond and have lots of close interactions with professors.  The problem is that ds is ready to be with *peers*. I know he can get a great education in either situations, but at this point I think he feels drawn to peers over professors.  I can't tell if that is a situation that will lead to a poorer outcome long term, as in getting into a good grad school.  I just think that the one peer he has challenges him, and it is the first time he has ever studied with someone and worked collaboratively.  This has been incredibly good for him.  Working closely with professors obviously is a great experience, but it doesn't teach ds the leadership and mentoring that I saw him develop when he was at math camp.  I'm just unclear if we are chasing the wrong thing. 

 

I'll write more tomorrow. Thank you both for your insights.

Edited by lewelma

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As for state flagships, I'm still concerned about the huge percentage of students from a certain state.  DS may just really prefer to be with a broader mix of students. I'm not quite clear on how to figure that one out. And how do I figure out schools have lots of advanced courses and if they will be flexible with the courses ds takes?  

 

 

Not to make things harder for you, but if he does go to a big state flagship school, it sound like he'd start out taking upper level undergraduate classes or graduate classes in the major.  How do you figure out if the school will allow this?  Well, you could ask the department chair when you visit.  Even if, say, University of Michigan is 80% in-state, the graduate students will be 90% out of state, or out of country, and from very diverse backgrounds.  I get that he wants to be a small fish in a big pond, but once you start to specialize, and if you can get an REU, even enormous schools can start to feel small and personalized (in a good way).

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I don't know if this is a rude question, but given our experience at our local uni, I need to ask.  State schools have a higher acceptance rate than elite schools, and there are all sorts of people who are interested in math who might want to major in it.  Doesn't that create a much larger range of students than at the elites -- the lower end locals to higher end out-of-state kids? Also, I would assume that there would be a reasonably large difference between a kid who is interested in being a high school math teacher (me) vs someone who wants to go into high level mathematics/related fields research (ds). How can they take the same classes and have my ds be challenged while not completely losing someone like me? How do I find the programs that are not like my local program? All the classes have the same names at all the universities, but then Kathy says there is Linear Algebra and then there is Linear Algebra.  How can I tell which school is which without going by some sort of ranking? I know that some schools create honors programs that cluster the high end kids, but then I've also read a lot here where some kids don't find the honors program to be worth all the extra work.  How do I make sure that I am not replicating what ds can have at Auckland?  If he is going to the USA, he needs to have *more*.

Edited by lewelma

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I don't know if this is a rude question, but given our experience at our local uni, I need to ask.  State schools have a higher acceptance rate than elite schools, and there are all sorts of people who are interested in math who might want to major in it.  Doesn't that create a much larger range of students than at the elites -- the lower end locals to higher end out-of-state kids? Also, I would assume that there would be a reasonably large difference between a kid who is interested in being a high school math teacher (me) vs someone who wants to go into high level mathematics/related fields research (ds). How can they take the same classes and have my ds be challenged while not completely losing someone like me? 

 

Don't be afraid to ask such questions.

 

Generally speaking, yes, there will be a wider range of students at a big state university than at an MIT or Caltech that accepts 1 in 20.  This is mitigated to some degree by the fact that admission to the University frequently doesn't guarantee admission to the major, so just because a student makes the cut to get into the uni, doesn't guarantee that they can get into the major.  Also, easier admissions for undergraduates can be completely unrelated to graduate admissions -- so if your son is taking mainly graduate classes, there's going to be very few beer-swilling football fanatics in those classes.

 

I wouldn't assume that someone shooting for an education major with a focus on math is taking the same classes as a bona-fide math major.  At many institutions, there are different math classes for education majors than math majors (sometimes even more differentiation for business and engineering majors, too).

 

I wonder, even if your local uni's classes aren't challenging for your son, if he could find a professor there who has studied in the US, who he could meet for lunch with, to give him some recommendations for his studies?

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The problem is you're so far away! These sorts of things would be easy to clear up with visits to the schools.

 

Don't think in terms of placing OUT of classes. Think in terms of placing INTO them. If I want to place INTO differential equations, a sane school may ask me to show that know calculus, but they won't start the test at basic arithmetic.

 

He doesn't need credit by examination for 10 math classes. He just needs a way to place into the classes that are the next logical step for him.

 

Is he definitely a math major or still interested in other fields?

 

If he's a math major, focus on research universities with strong PhD programs. That way you know there are classes even if he blows through the typical undergraduate classes quickly.

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I don't know if this is a rude question, but given our experience at our local uni, I need to ask. State schools have a higher acceptance rate than elite schools, and there are all sorts of people who are interested in math who might want to major in it. Doesn't that create a much larger range of students than at the elites -- the lower end locals to higher end out-of-state kids? Also, I would assume that there would be a reasonably large difference between a kid who is interested in being a high school math teacher (me) vs someone who wants to go into high level mathematics/related fields research (ds). How can they take the same classes and have my ds be challenged while not completely losing someone like me? How do I find the programs that are not like my local program? All the classes have the same names at all the universities, but then Kathy says there is Linear Algebra and then there is Linear Algebra. How can I tell which school is which without going by some sort of ranking? I know that some schools create honors programs that cluster the high end kids, but then I've also read a lot here where some kids don't find the honors program to be worth all the extra work. How do I make sure that I am not replicating what ds can have at Auckland? If he is going to the USA, he needs to have *more*.

At least at the state schools I'm familiar with, there are usually several different levels of courses. For example in math, Calculus for Business, Calculus for Biology, Calculus for Engineering, Calculus, Honors Calculus, etc. Also, someone wanting to be a high school math major might never take a grad course at a state U, but someone like your son would likely be taking grad courses in their first or second year.

 

From the experience of some science majors I've known, many of their required upper division courses at state schools are the same courses taken by first year grad students, so they are designed to be quite challenging. I don't know if it's the same for math.

 

As for most of the students being from the some state, that's not true for many state schools, even among those that are not top rated. Out of state students bring in lots of tuition dollars and sometimes increase the academic profile, so they are often sought after. It should be an easy stat to find for any school.

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Please don't quote.

 

This is the letter ds got from the head of the department last year:

 

On behalf of the School of Mathematics and Statistics. I would like to offer you warm congratulations on achieving an A+ grade in MATH 251. It gives the School great pride when students achieve academic success at this level. I am sure it has entailed a good deal of hard work on your part and is well deserved. I encourage you to continue your studies in the mathematical sciences. My colleagues and I will be happy to give advice on opportunities at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels and we look forward to supporting your future academic success.

 

We have been unclear as to how to use this 'in' to help guide ds.  Suggestions?

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Taking grad classes: I'm not sure my ds wants grad students as his peers.  I think he is pretty tired of having to go up to older kids to find people who work at his level.  It just means that they are not in the same stage of life, and given that my ds has not been to a brick and mortar school, I think he actually wants to have a few same aged peers.  Does that make sense?

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As for most of the students being from the some state, that's not true for many state schools, even among those that are not top rated. Out of state students bring in lots of tuition dollars and sometimes increase the academic profile, so they are often sought after. It should be an easy stat to find for any school.

 

Boy, misperception on my part! I thought that state schools in the USA were funded to provide education for their state's students, so like 85% would be from that state, and then the remainder would be highly sought after out of state kids to bring in the money and increase the schools stats.  Is this not true generally? or do the exceptions prove the rule?

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Don't think in terms of placing OUT of classes. Think in terms of placing INTO them. If I want to place INTO differential equations, a sane school may ask me to show that know calculus, but they won't start the test at basic arithmetic.

He doesn't need credit by examination for 10 math classes. He just needs a way to place into the classes that are the next logical step for him.


Thanks for that clarification.  MIT and University of Chicago did not have a way for ds to earn credit in number theory or combinatorics, which he has a very high level of skill due to the IMO.  So for classes that ask for these as prereqs, he just asks the department head to waive the requirement?

 

So for calc, we decided that we would come to the USA this July/August instead of him taking Multivariate Calc at the local university.  He can't do both. We made this decision because the classes there are too easy, so he is going to self study calc using Spivak. Problem is that if he spends August through February studying this text, and then has to wait until August to take the placement test, it is going to require him to restudy.  If he just took the class at the local uni, then he would be like Butler's son and have the transfer credits, but then he is working at a much lower level because of the local school

 

Perhaps this is a key question to ask the schools that we are visiting in the Northern Hemisphere summer. What *exactly* do I need to ask?

 

Is he definitely a math major or still interested in other fields?

He is keen to be in a mathematical field doing high level research. I doubt it will be theoretical pure maths as a prof somewhere.  He is keen to solve the world's problems or use his talents to discover new ideas.  He is hoping that his experience at university will open his eyes to the possibilities and help him to find a speciality.  This is part of the reason for the peers.  He wants to be challenged and intrigued and involved with others who have more clarity who can open his eyes to the possibilities.  There is simply not enough course slots available to explore all the possibilities, but there is that time if he just hangs out with his friends in the dorm or common room or where ever, solving life's problems and listening to all the passions of all the other students.
 

If he's a math major, focus on research universities with strong PhD programs. That way you know there are classes even if he blows through the typical undergraduate classes quickly.

This is a very good point, which is one of the reasons ds is considering Waterloo. Plus of course the full ride scholarship for kids who can metal in the IMO in the 11th grade. 

Edited by lewelma
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Please consider Berkeley. It's 80% Californians, 10% Out-of-state and 10% International. But California is a really big, diverse state. 39 million people to New Zealand's 4.5 million. Yes, the grad students are even more impressive than the undergrads, but trust me, he will have undergraduate peers at Berkeley. I had dorm-mates who are now tenured science professors at MIT and UCLA. A classmate was the head of self driving cars at Google. A math major friend now works at Uber working on their mapping software. Anyone can have the small fish experience at Cal.

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his is mitigated to some degree by the fact that admission to the University frequently doesn't guarantee admission to the major, so just because a student makes the cut to get into the uni, doesn't guarantee that they can get into the major.

 

 

Really?  Not true here.  Where do I look for this info on the websites?  I would love to see a more difficult entrance to math majors, but in my experience the more difficult entrance is for Engineering, which ds finds insulting. 

Edited by lewelma

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Ask departments directly if prerequisites can be waived, and if higher level classes can substitute for lower level required courses. I wouldn't bend over backwards to have him earn the transfer credits now. Find a school that will accommodate him. In my experience, anything can be done if the department is suitably motivated, and I imagine your kid is the motivating kind.

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Please consider Berkeley. It's 80% Californians, 10% Out-of-state and 10% International. But California is a really big, diverse state. 39 million people to New Zealand's 4.5 million. Yes, the grad students are even more impressive than the undergrads, but trust me, he will have undergraduate peers at Berkeley. I had dorm-mates who are now tenured science professors at MIT and UCLA. A classmate was the head of self driving cars at Google. A math major friend now works at Uber working on their mapping software. Anyone can have the small fish experience at Cal.

 

Well, we threw out all California universities because our families are both on the east coast. But I went and looked at Cal Tech today just because I was looking *everywhere*.   But when it comes to public CA unis, I don't think ds can get in as an international homeschooler.  Given the threads I've been reading, I don't see how I could meet the requirements. 

Edited by lewelma

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Given the threads I've been reading, I don't see how I could meet the requirements. 

 

I am assuming that the threads you have been reading were mostly started and replied to by Californians worrying about the a-g requirements for CA schools. Out of state students are not expected to follow the a-g requirements expected of CA schools. Here is a page on requirements for international students:

http://admission.universityofcalifornia.edu/international/applying-for-admission/index.html

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I am assuming that the threads you have been reading were mostly started and replied to by Californians worrying about the a-g requirements for CA schools. Out of state students are not expected to follow the a-g requirements expected of CA schools. Here is a page on requirements for international students:

http://admission.universityofcalifornia.edu/international/applying-for-admission/index.html

 

Haha. Serves me right for not even checking.  Given how much trouble homeschoolers have getting into CA publics, I just ruled them out completely. 

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Please consider Berkeley. It's 80% Californians, 10% Out-of-state and 10% International. But California is a really big, diverse state. 39 million people to New Zealand's 4.5 million. Yes, the grad students are even more impressive than the undergrads, but trust me, he will have undergraduate peers at Berkeley. I had dorm-mates who are now tenured science professors at MIT and UCLA. A classmate was the head of self driving cars at Google. A math major friend now works at Uber working on their mapping software. Anyone can have the small fish experience at Cal.

I will try to write more later, but I agree about Berkeley :) . My son is a math/CS major there and LOVES it. He is currently taking a math class with ONE other student and a professor – he and a friend found an esoteric math topic they wanted to explore in more depth, found a professor they liked, and made it into a 2-unit class called something like "advanced topics seminar w/directed self-study". And he had no problem taking graduate classes right away. Agree w/Lawyer&Mom – plenty of smarties at Berkeley. Plenty of "diversity," including kids from Oceania :) ... although in math classes, if your son isn't Asian-American, Indian-American, Asian, or Indian, he will be a minority LOL. Oh, and my son wasn't IMO material (I think his highest AIME score was 9 or 11?), but he has friends at Cal who were; but there would definitely be more at, say, MIT.

 

However, my hesitation would be the out-of-state price tag ... Berkeley is a fantastic value for us, but your son wouldn't qualify for merit OR need-based aid, I believe, at a UC, whereas I think the elite private schools are generous with need-based aid. Perhaps someone with more experience can address this.

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However, my hesitation would be the out-of-state price tag ... Berkeley is a fantastic value for us, but your son wouldn't qualify for merit OR need-based aid, I believe, at a UC, whereas I think the elite private schools are generous with need-based aid. Perhaps someone with more experience can address this.

 

Yikes.  I know MIT is need blind and full need.  So definitely a plus over what sounds like we would get from Berkeley.  :001_huh:

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Back to your MIT specific comments, Ruth. Your son could easily take Advanced standing exams in calculus and multivariable calc during orientation week. They shouldn't require tons of study and review for him, especially if he's working through Spivak on his own. My son refreshed just a little, and he did have LOTS of fun during his orientation weeks also (he went early for one of the pre-orientation programs). Then take the science GIRs; they're terrific. Or try placing out of one at a later date (I think there's a way to do that, but we didn't do that).

 

Again, he would NOT need to take any placement tests or even get special permission to place out of introductory number theory or combinatorics. Just take the level he wants to study, & get the advisor's siggy...but they're quite amenable. Ds did have one discrete math class required for EECS degree. He talked to his advisor about his math camp & olympiad prep experience, and they exempted him from that class. No problems.

 

For state schools, etc, I'd look up the textbook used in Honors math classes. You can usually find that info in the school's online bookstore. Then come back and ask; many of us know what's good.

 

 

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Lawyer&mom, CA universities do not provide much $$ to out of state residents. Their primary objective is to educate the residents of their state. Foreign and OOS students are most likely full pay. This is from Berkeley's website:

 

We recognize that economic situations can be challenging. We will help you receive all federal financial aid for which you qualify. New students who are not residents of California will not be eligible for our need-based grants, but may be considered for some UC Scholarships. We receive many inquiries from nonresidents of California asking for help with nonresident supplemental tuition and fees, which total $26,682 for the 2016-17 academic year. As you enter UC Berkeley, it must be with a plan for how to meet your financial needs until the time you graduate and with the understanding that neither need-based institutional funds nor institutional funds to cover nonresident expenses are available.

 

The bolded is in addition to all regular attendance costs and w/o financial assistance. Attending a UC OOS is most likely an expensive decision.

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The same type of questions you are asking are what 8FilltheHeart and her dd had to ask at every school they approached for her dd. (There are other examples on here, most language related but I've seen physics and others.) Hers was language. Yours is math.

 

I think it came down to bringing in samples of work , in person, and asking the department heads hard questions. I don't know how much you can do on email ahead of time. But, you are asking the right questions.

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I understand your worry about finding intellectual equals at a non-elite school. All I can offer is our one person BTDT experience. In every university my son has attended he has been able to find extremely intelligent and capable students. Many people cannot afford (or make too much money) to go to elite schools. There also are not enough seats in those few schools for all the super intelligent kids. So they go elsewhere, and many of them wind up at flagships.

 

My son has always been ahead of the game in math and even though he was given opportunities to steady well above level he often wondered if the grass was greener on the other side. He wondered if it would have been worth the high price tag to go to an elite school. He's now on the other side in grad school at one of these elite schools and he told me that he has realized that it's really no different. There are great profs and great students everywhere.

 

As far as peers, mine is young so he has never had -or wanted - same age peers. He has always been and still is surrounded by older students. For a student that does want that I can see that it might add an extra layer of difficulty in finding the right fit. FWIW, he has managed to find same age girlfriends in the last couple years. One benefit of a big school is a lot of choices for romantic and platonic partners.

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@lewelma IMO this thread is far more on-point than your first thread with a long list of schools you were contemplating visiting on your trip to the USA.    You have gotten some excellent suggestions and ideas here. My late uncle (Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering) was a Full Professor at Stanford when he was very young. He taught part-time at Cal Tech, after he moved from the Academic world to the Corporate world.  He received his B.S. from Purdue and his Ph.D. from Stanford.  It sounds like your DS may be in his league. There are MANY universities in the USA where your DS can thrive.  You are fortunate because you still have months before your trip to the USA and you can try to figure some of this out and make progress, before you go there. Follow the suggestions you have and will receive in this thread. Although you are in the South Pacific, with email and free faxes (faxzero.com and other free services) you can send a brief (preferably no more than 2 pages) FAX explaining where you think your DS is with Math (or where he thinks he is with Math), to the Heads of the Math Departments in any universities you are looking at, and see how they respond to you.  GL to your DS

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Butler, your ds's experiences mirror my ds's path in physics. He has fabulous professors who are great mentors. His friends as a freshman were srs who were in his classes. He now has a great group of friends built around interests other than just physics. In physics, his heavy participation in UG research and grad level classes offer him what he wants and needs. He works directly with his prof on his own portion of the project. He is a member of the team and sits in the research meetings with the grads and post docs. She expects grad level work from him and that is what he gives.

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
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@lewelma IMO this thread is far more on-point than your first thread with a long list of schools you were contemplating visiting on your trip to the USA.    You have gotten some excellent suggestions and ideas here. My late uncle (Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering) was a Full Professor at Stanford when he was very young. He taught part-time at Cal Tech, after he moved from the Academic world to the Corporate world.  He received his B.S. from Purdue and his Ph.D. from Stanford.  It sounds like your DS may be in his league. There are MANY universities in the USA where your DS can thrive.  You are fortunate because you still have months before your trip to the USA and you can try to figure some of this out and make progress, before you go there. Follow the suggestions you have and will receive in this thread. Although you are in the South Pacific, with email and free faxes (faxzero.com and other free services) you can send a brief (preferably no more than 2 pages) FAX explaining where you think your DS is with Math (or where he thinks he is with Math), to the Heads of the Math Departments in any universities you are looking at, and see how they respond to you.  GL to your DS

Her son needs to do this, not her.

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Her son needs to do this, not her.

Yes. It can be hard to figure out where to draw the line between being a good homeschool guidance counselor and being too much of a helicopter parent, but in general parents can do some preliminary research but students should contact schools themselves.

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Financial aid will not cover the out of state portion of tuition. They really are better off looking at private schools that meet a high percentage of need.

Ugh. Save Berkeley for grad school...

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Ds did have one discrete math class required for EECS degree. He talked to his advisor about his math camp & olympiad prep experience, and they exempted him from that class. No problems.

 

I just have a few general comments about (flagship) state schools vs private ...we don't know if my son at Berkeley could have skipped discrete math (he didn't ask), & with his math camp, AoPS classes including W00T, AIME, etc., he didn't think he needed the class; however, he took it b/c he wanted to be able to TA that class. It was an easy A+ and he did indeed get a highly-sought-after job as TA for the discrete math class taken by both math and EECS majors. Now, at 19, at a large state school, he is TA-ing an upper-div CS course, taking graduate-level math and CS courses in addition to the seminar with one other student on the topic they chose, and doing research with a CS prof, and he also has a great summer internship lined up at a top Silicon Valley firm. So, my point is that there are plenty of opportunities at larger state schools. :) One of his profs was involved in starting Google Translate; another is on the AP CS exam committee that visits high schools and writes next year's exam.

 

Which leads to my next point – while yes, I pictured my son at a small elite school, and I myself attended (on scholarship) some elite schools and loved every minute, I am now a proud Berkeley supporter, and recognize that for some types of students (I think I was too shy) the sheer volume of top profs and students can provide great opportunities. FWIW, and perhaps surprisingly, Berkeley is ahead of both MIT and Stanford (although not Harvard, for two of these categories :) ) in lists of people associated with the school (alumni, professors, and visiting profs & staff) for the Fields Medal, Turing Award, and Nobel Prize. (Go Bears! :) ) Personally, I think I would have been overwhelmed at Cal, but my son is thriving, as are other students at large flagships, such as 8FilltheHeart's son :)

 

OP, you will almost certainly find the elite private schools a better value in your situation. Best of luck with your search. Oh, and I do think having family nearby for overseas students can be a huge, huge help with adjustment (we know several families living in Asia and Europe who chose U.S. colleges near relatives), so I understand your limiting your considerations to the East Coast. Plenty of top-notch schools there to choose from. :)

 

 

ETA: Those lists, bizarrely, seem to be alphabetized by the first name of the affiliated people. Weird! I guess that's Wikipedia for you :) ..... I was looking at them b/c my son was just awarded a $10k merit scholarship named after a Berkeley Turing Award recipient.

Edited by Laura in CA
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^^ :001_wub:  (DS and I happily chant "Go Bears" when driving on Gayley Rd on our way back home from his class!)

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Thanks so much for all the ideas to think about.  I've given this thread some thought, and this is where I'm at: if ds is to go to the USA, the opportunity must be either better or cheaper than Auckland. 

 

Auckland costs about US$22,000/year (mostly due to crazy expensive housing); and offers my ds great research opportunities with close ties to the professors.  Mathwonk from Georgia Tech has looked over the honor's theses and said that they are very good. DS already knows a bunch of the professors and some of the students. Kids there get into elite grad schools in math. Unfortunately, the classes are of apparently equally difficulty to what we have locally, meaning 'trivial' in my ds's eyes. In addition,the housing situation is stink, and he gets a dorm for the first year and then is likely to live at least a 30 minute bus ride away from campus for the remaining years in a flat. There will be a few peers in maths (like 3) that will be about his age. He will jump up to grad courses almost immediately and be working with grad students and profs.

 

So to want to go to the USA, we need something different than the above.  Either it needs to be cheaper for the same experience, or it needs to be a 'better' experience which based on my ds's opinion would include more peers (i.e., high level students) or a better housing situation. If it doesn't have some sort of balance of 'better', then there is no reason to go so far away.  

 

For example, when I looked into University of Michigan, it looked to me that OOS could get a $10K/year scholarship, but the costs were $60K/year. It might have a good program, but worth double of Auckland?  Not sure about that. And now some of you are saying the same about Berkeley.  

 

So far as I see it:

MIT, Harvard, Princeton have high level students and great need based aid. Princeton and MIT have very good housing from ds's point of view.

Duke has high level students, a lower level math department (but better than Auckland) and ds is more likely to get in because of Alumni status. very good housing

Waterloo has medium level students, a great PhD program so great grad classes, and a full ride scholarship that ds has a chance to get. Also has coop program if ds wants to go that route.

 

Still evaluating University Chicago (right now it seems very strictly structured in its requirements for math students).  Michigan looks like a no, see above.  Toronto I'm not supper impressed with right now (kind of a vague feeling about it being less enthusiastically mathy than waterloo).  Cal Tech looks very suburban, very. I need to talk to ds about that and if he even can understand what that means having grown up in the middle of a city.  Duke is kind of similar in a way.

 

Am I going about this right?  What other questions should I be asking? What state schools have good OOS merit based scholarships and honors programs?

 

 

Edited by lewelma
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I was curious were the top American math students end up. Since I'm home with a sick baby, I looked up the 2010 USAMO Winners. The results were so lopsided they were less interesting than I had hoped:

 

MIT

Harvard

Carnegie Mellon

MIT

MIT

MIT

MIT

Korea

Harvard

Harvard

Trinity College, Cambridge

Harvard

 

Clearly Harvard and MIT need to be on the table...

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The USA IMO coach is a (very nice) prof at Carnegie Mellon, Po-Shen Lo. He & others are currently building up the department and math culture there. Here's an excerpt from his web page:

 

Note to high-school students

In 2010, I and my Associate Department Head John Mackey, with the direct support of Carnegie Mellon President Jared Cohon and two significant alumni donors, launched a new “ultra-honors†talent incubator program for extremely motivated and advanced students. The curriculum is individually customized to suit each scholar's background and aspiration, and all students are personally mentored by myself and John.

If you enjoyed the high-school Olympiad competitions, and are interested in the possibility of joining our program, please feel free to contact me for further discussion. For example, if you were in my classes at the Math Olympiad Summer Program, or if I met you at an international competition, please let me know if you send us an application for undergraduate admission. I will try my best to help you.

 

 

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Chicago and CalTech would both be great schools for a math person as well. Have your son email the math departments and see what they can do for him.

 

As far as your question about good public universities with strong scholarships for out of state: University of Alabama is the poster child school for that. I know nothing about their math department, though.

 

It may be the case that you won't have a US public university on your final list that fits as well as Auckland does: Public universities often suffer from housing crunches, which seems to be a big deal to your DS. The ones in urban centers (like Berkeley, UW-Seattle, etc.) are either really good (and thus don't have to give big merit awards) or are commuter schools for the locals (and thus likely can't meet the desire for housing and might not challenge your DS at his level).

 

There are some small liberal arts colleges (like St Olaf in Minnesota) that that ultimately produce a surprising number of math PhD's, if he is interested in a small school. But, again, these liberal arts schools do not tend to be found in urban settings. And, because these schools don't have graduate programs, he would need to find a professor he wants to do independent studies with because he would run out of classes to take.

 

 

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Don't forget the universities in the UK.  I've heard of mathy kids heading there, and sometimes American students enroll their because it's cheaper.  

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With their lavish out of state sholarships, University of Alabama would probably be cheaper than Auckland, but based on where they send their graduates, I don't think it would be a good fit. This may well be true for most state flagships with super generous out of state scholarships.

 

https://math.ua.edu/math-department-recent-graduates/

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Carnegie Mellon looks great! I'm so glad you pointed it out, Kathy. I'll get ds to try to track down Po-Shen Lo at the IMO. But can I also say Wowzer!!! It's 10K more than MIT and Harvard!  Sounds like my next goal is to understand how financial aid works in the USA.  The calculators I have used get very confused with our 1040 form (which we still have to fill out even though we have lived in NZ for 20 years!). It looks like we have no income because we subtract out all the income that we have already paid taxes on here in NZ. 

 

Cal Tech: I've looked at it, but it is far from family and it is *very* suburban.  I'm not sure how ds would feel about either of those.

 

UK universities: well, I kind of threw them out from the beginning because they are *very* far from family and I don't think they will even consider any of his homeschool credits.  Their system is exam based, and although ds has taken the NZ system of exams, he has not taken the scholarship exams and has no interest in doing so.  Without them, his chances may be low. Don't know. 

 

University of Alabama: Isn't this where 8fill's son goes.  Sounds like it has done very well for him.  If it can give ds the same experience as Auckland for less money, then I'll look into it.  Looks like I need to hunt down the OOS scholarships for all the flagships.  That sounds very time consuming!  eeek!

 

 

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Guaranteed Full ride scholarship list:

 

http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/financial-aid-scholarships/1348012-automatic-full-tuition-full-ride-scholarships.html

 

Competitive full-ride scholarships:

 

http://blog.prepscholar.com/colleges-with-full-ride-scholarships

 

You may not need to start from scratch on your research, there are several lists like these online.

Edited by Lawyer&Mom
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The CMU mentoring program run by Loh et al is called the Knaster McWilliams scholar program, & comes with merit money (not need based). How much $$ and how many scholarships are difficult to determine online. But it's certainly worth a shot!

 

from the page linked above by Lawyer & Mom:

 

The students on the team are all part of Carnegie Mellon's Knaster-McWilliams Scholars program, which has been funded through the generosity of a physics alumnus and a mathematics and electrical engineering alumnus. It is one of only a few scholarship-supported programs in the country that also is paired with an honors program that features increased access to faculty and early research opportunities.

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With their lavish out of state sholarships, University of Alabama would probably be cheaper than Auckland, but based on where they send their graduates, I don't think it would be a good fit. This may well be true for most state flagships with super generous out of state scholarships.

 

https://math.ua.edu/math-department-recent-graduates/

I don't think that link means what you think it means. Those are the places where their phD graduates are now teaching. I picked one name from the list and googled it: http://math.sewanee.edu/facstaff/duffee.php

 

Fwiw, my ds is also doubling in math. He doesn't spend much time in the math dept, but of the people he knows one is attending UMich for math, another Vanderbilt for Econ, another UT- Austin for math. And none of those kids were superstar students, just good ones.

 

Definitely not a good option for grad school, but UG to grad school is not the same as grad school-post. If a dept lets a student participate in direct research with a professor and take grad level classes, students can make a dept work. Better than Auckland, probably not. But Auckland would probably not be a bad choice. I don't believe that only certain schools can meet the needs of top students. Depts that won't work with students= a big problem. Depts that are willing to work with them=great opportunities. I think my ds will be very competitive for top grad programs. For my Dd, finding depts willing to work with her levels took a lot of time, but depts that are willing to work with her are willing to do exactly that.

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Wow, you guys are awesome.  I'll start going down those lists. We do not need a full ride; we can pay a decent amount, more than Auckland.  BUT 70,000 US dollars per year turns into 100,000 NZ dollars per year, which is kind of a lot!

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Re Lawyer & Mom's list of where math competition winners go: (forgot how to quote) I wouldn't narrow my list by assuming that the only top math students are winners of math competions. Those kinds of competitions don't appeal to everyone. My son has never had any desire to participate in them and was actually wary of attending a school that focused so strongly on them. For Lewelma's son however that might be a pro for his list since it seems to be where his interests lie.

 

Edited to add: I'm not so sure Auckland wouldn't be a good school for this student as long as there are enough upper level/grad classes available. Being a big fish can be a benefit in undergrad. Being a superstar in undergrad can lead to great research opportunities and Letters of Recommendation which factor greatly in grad school admissions. Save the big name school search for the PhD when it really matters (and is funded and therefore free! I think 8 fill the heart and I have a similar perspective on college. There are many schools out there that can get a student to where they want to be).

Edited by Butler
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