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Hilltopmom

Pros & cons of a small polytechnic U vs big state U

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Kid going into computer science , maybe computer engineering.

 

If I took out the big vs small school part of my title and just left "polytech vs everything type state U, with decent CS/ Env dept)", whatcha think?

Both are state schools, one is a poly, one not.

 

Thanks

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It's hard to evaluate what it means to put a label on the type of school means. You need to get more info on the schools directly.

What research is going on?

What research do students have an opportunity to do?

Does either school have good internship connections?

What is typical job placement?

What is typical grad school acceptance

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Yes, we do know to look into those things. Thanks :)

 

Just, in general, I'm wondering about pros & cons of polytechnic schools.

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In general, there is no one right type of college. Once you set aside academic fit, this will be an individual fit sort of thing -- Which campus feels like home? Are the after-class campus opportunities appealing? Is your student the type to appreciate everything the art history program (for example) brings to campus or would they ignore it anyway?

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The only concern for me would be if your child were to change their minds re: major. In that case they would have more options at a big uni. Otherwise I'd think it would be preferable to go to a smaller polytechnic school.

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Well, one disadvantage of a tech school is that if the student decides that a tech career is not for them, they have to transfer rather than just switch majors, which is much more traumatic.

 

The whole small polytechnic can be set up to support and educate tech type students, which can be an advantage. The education probably will be more focused on the interests of techies. That is an advantage if the student's interests are all technical but can be a disadvantage if the student has widespread interests in nontechnical fields. For example, there might be fewer choice of history or literature classes and fewer foreign languages taught. There might be more choices for fulfilling technical electives at a polytechnic and the educational path might include more interesting technical classes right away, since the school is more sure that is where its students interests lie.

 

All three of our boys went to small technical schools. We found that access to labs and workshops was really unrestricted compared to those at our own large university and their education was much more hands-on and project oriented. (There might be less difference in cs.) We also found that their schools had realistic expectations about the students' abilities.

 

There might be more male students than female students. Quite a lot more. This might be good or bad.

 

The students at technical schools are ... mostly techies. This also might be good or might be bad.

 

Both schools our sons were at had policies to discourage cheating.

 

A small school gets smaller as you grow.

 

I think these differences would perhaps matter less for a cs degree, other than the typical big school small school differences? Maybe? I don't know. It would depend on how vibrant the cs departments were in both places, I think.

 

Our sons are really happy they chose their schools, despite the disadvantages. They got the educations they wanted in a way that suited them. None of us can really imagine them surviving the big flagship their dad and I survived. Nor can we imagine them getting set up for their jobs they wanted as well there.

 

Nan

Edited by Nan in Mass
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Son and I tackled this very question last year. My son is majoring in computer science/software engineer. He was accepted into a big school, over 40,000 students, 2 schools with student bodies around 15,000 and 1 school with 2300 students. He went with the smallest school. He liked the small class size and teachers able to bond with students individually. He is back now from his freshman year and I asked if he had any regrets choosing the small school and he said no. The personal attention came to fruition and he did really well.

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Son and I tackled this very question last year. My son is majoring in computer science/software engineer. He was accepted into a big school, over 40,000 students, 2 schools with student bodies around 15,000 and 1 school with 2300 students. He went with the smallest school. He liked the small class size and teachers able to bond with students individually. He is back now from his freshman year and I asked if he had any regrets choosing the small school and he said no. The personal attention came to fruition and he did really well.

Thanks. I went to a small school too, so the idea of going to a big U is just mind boggling to me!

My professors had us over for cross country skiing & dinners.

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I went to a smallish tech school so did my husband.

 

Pro side

Small campus. Some large schools really are large and take a long time to walk from one end to the other.

Personal attention from teachers. I knew most of the teachers in the mechanical engineering department and all of the math teachers. He knew all the computer science ones.

Lots of geeky people. If you are looking for that tribe, you will find it.

Usually good alumni networks. The people he met there and those connections have gotten him every job he has had. All of them.

 

Con side

Limited sports and recreation activities. There are just not as many people.

If you can't stand a certain teacher, they may be the only one teaching the class you need. I dropped the double major in math because I could not deal with a certain teacher and he was the ONLY person that taught a required class.

Not so many not geeky people. It you want to find super sports fans, they will be harder to find.

The Ratio. At least when we were there the men to woman ratio was as high as 7:1 in some majors. Computer science was one of them. Mechanical engineering was about 3:1. Chemical engineering was about 1:2 (yes, more women in chemical engineering than men)

 

If you have more questions I can try to answer.

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It's going to totally depend on the specific schools. Cal Poly SLO is a better school for Computer Science than many (most?) of the UC's. I don't know about the other Cal Poly's or OOS poly's.

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If you can't stand a certain teacher, they may be the only one teaching the class you need. I dropped the double major in math because I could not deal with a certain teacher and he was the ONLY person that taught a required class.

 

 

We've had that experience with huge universities as well as the smaller schools.  

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Son and I tackled this very question last year. My son is majoring in computer science/software engineer. He was accepted into a big school, over 40,000 students, 2 schools with student bodies around 15,000 and 1 school with 2300 students. He went with the smallest school. He liked the small class size and teachers able to bond with students individually. He is back now from his freshman year and I asked if he had any regrets choosing the small school and he said no. The personal attention came to fruition and he did really well.

 

We had the opposite experience.  Two of my sons were accepted into a tiny school with a graduating class of 600 students and one of the biggest state universities in the country.  They both chose the big university.  I thought it was a mistake, but they were both very happy with their decisions.  In fact, my dd is saying she wants to attend a small school and her brother is trying to convince her to go to a larger school.  He enjoyed being more anonymous in class and the thought of such personal attention in a small school freaked him out.

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If you have a techy kid that also likes to learn for the sake of learning, then a polytech school might limit the breath of learning.

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On ratio, yeah... There are very few females. He says he doesn't care.

Not sure he'll still feel that way a few years from now...

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On ratio, yeah... There are very few females. He says he doesn't care.

Not sure he'll still feel that way a few years from now...

^

the only real negative I could come up with

 

We are also in the same situation looking at a smallish Polytech versus large state U.

My DS would say the same.

 

When I went to college,  my school which turned coed less than a decade earlier had a ratio of about 4:1 - we did a fair number of roadtrips to nearby schools which were in the reverse situation. Many years later it is 50/50.

 

[  I am certainly giving away a big hint on when I went to college here :)  ]

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^

the only real negative I could come up with

 

We are also in the same situation looking at a smallish Polytech versus large state U.

My DS would say the same.

 

When I went to college, my school which turned coed less than a decade earlier had a ratio of about 4:1 - we did a fair number of roadtrips to nearby schools which were in the reverse situation. Many years later it is 50/50.

 

[ I am certainly giving away a big hint on when I went to college here :) ]

Lol, I went to a small women's college, down the hill from a big polytechnic... The odds were in our favor :)

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Lol, I went to a small women's college, down the hill from a big polytechnic... The odds were in our favor :)

As a woman at a tech school we said, "The odds are good, but the goods are odd."

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In this case, it's a state poly, so, cost is the same :)

Is it really the same? If so, you are lucky. You might want to look at the various fees to double check. A polytech education can require more expensive equipment than many university ones.

 

Nan

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