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Where is your school?

by xphase_work (Pilgrim)
on Jul 17, 2001 at 17:52 UTC ( [id://97314] : perlmeditation . print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

After being out of school for a year now, I have found myself looking into heading back into academia. Currently I'm looking at Portland State University for computer science. I don't want to limit myself to looking at one school, but I'm not sure what other schools offer good, affordable programs.

I think that any perlmonks who have yet to look at colleges could benefit from any advice by monks who are, or were at college.

I personally am thinking about the following things while making my choice(in no order):

  • Location
  • Activities by Student Organizations
  • Activities not associated with the school
  • Active Groups in the area(Unix/Perl groups or Organizations)
  • Quality of Program
  • Research Opportunities
What colleges out there do other perlmonks go to? Teach at? Dislike? I'm curious and I suspect that some other monks might be as well.

Thanks to mexnix for his Formal Education Required? node which inspired this node.


P.S. I hope this hasn't been discussed before, as a search in Super Search turned up no discussions on the subject

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: Where is your school?
by dragonchild (Archbishop) on Jul 17, 2001 at 18:01 UTC
    I went to a very small (850 students), liberal arts college, located in the middle of Podunk, Nowhere. (Ripon College, for those who care, in Ripon, WI.)

    Its CS department was part of the math department, and had one "full-time" professor. All the basic CS courses were taught by math professors. The computing facilities were very basic (the Mac+'s went away my sophomore year) and I was considered one of the top computer gurus on campus, despite the fact I didn't own a computer.

    Sounds pretty rough, huh?

    I also received individual attention. Both my advisors knew me by name. The college president still recognizes me, 3 years later. I never had a class of more than 20. All my CS courses were classes of 10 (or less). Because we didn't have all the neat-o facilities, we had to study ... *gasp* ... the theory! I got to learn why something worked, in a way you can't in a class of 50+.

    About facilities ... you can always learn to do the same with more. Once you're spoiled, it's very hard to do the same with less.

    If you're looking for research opportunities, just do stuff on your own. That's what we did. :)

Re: Where is your school?
by VSarkiss (Monsignor) on Jul 17, 2001 at 19:11 UTC

    Another thing you may wish to consider is the affiliation of the Computer Science department.

    I did my undergraduate and some of my graduate work at Indiana University, where the CS department was part of the College of Arts and Sciences. For my BA, I had to take a full set of liberal arts courses: literature, music, "soft" sciences (sociology, psychology, etc.). At first I thought "Why do I have to take these silly courses? They have nothing to do with computing." Many years later, I really appreciate what I learned in them. Even for my MS (same department), which concentrated entirely on Computer Science, there was an "air of humanities".

    Later I went into the graduate program at UCLA, where CS is part of the School of Engineering and Applied Science. It seemed much more "dry" and uninspiring. I never did finish there, but that's a whole different story.

    I have to tell you that I'm describing 20-year-old experiences *cough, wheeze*, so the programs now may be very different. But the point I wanted to make -- which you seem to be thinking about already -- is to look at the program in context. I liked it a whole lot more when the department was in a science and humanities environment than an engineering one.

    Larry Wall has a paper on Natural Language Principles in Perl, so make sure you find a school that teaches those principles. ;-)


      I was actually going to declare a major of English Writing with a concentration of Fiction when I was at the University of Pittsburgh. So I have completed two years worth of classes for a liberal arts program.

      I think what you say is important, because a well rounded undergrad degree is better than a specialized undergrad degree.


Re: Where is your school?
by scain (Curate) on Jul 17, 2001 at 18:27 UTC
    Time for more biased opinions :-)

    I did my undergrad at The Ohio State University, which provides some contrast to dragonchild's Ripon College, since OSU is either the largest or one of the largest universities in the country (depending on the servey in a given year). I majored in Chemical Engineering, so I can't speak directly to what the CS program is like, but I did want to address what is implied in dragonchild's post: personal attention and small schools. Yes, there are around 50,000 students at OSU, but all of the professors in the ChemE department knew me by name and where always willing to talk, give advice or help, or whatever. So try not to hold a school's size against it.

    There are also considerable advantages to going to a big school. There is always something to do, no matter what it is you like doing. I could go into detail, but just use your imagination instead. Also, there tend to be more resources at a big school; at OSU for instance, there is one of four government funded super computer centers.

    I did my graduate work at the University of California, San Diego, where coincidentally, is one of the other super computer centers. I continued my work in Chemical Engineering, though since I was doing a lot of modeling, I wrote several thousand lines of code (though if it was rerendered in perl, it would no doubt be several hundred lines of code :-) The CS department is part of the Engineering school, so I occationally had contact with the CS undergrads, but not enough to form any real option. If it weren't for UCSD's location, I would fully recommend OSU over UCSD for computer science; but if that sun and ocean thing are for you, UCSD can't be beat (execpt possibly by UCSB, but that is beside the point).

    Hope that helps,

      Did you do CIS undergrad in OSU? A friend of mine is currently taking courses there..... Just wondering what graduates of that school thinks of that ( what looks to me ) horrible thing called RESOLVE/C++

      I was just looking through some of the things when I was asked a question, so I don't claim to know much about it, but it didn't look like a good language you teach programming with, albeit somewhat intersting

      Just curious

        No idea. Since I was a ChemE major, I only took FORTRAN.


Re: Where is your school?
by agent00013 (Pilgrim) on Jul 17, 2001 at 18:23 UTC
    I'm attending school at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln. Ok, I admit, it is Nebraska. Not the best location.

    Hmm... student organization activities aren't awful. They had a few decent bands come through (Switchfoot), a couple comedians (David Spade), and an author (Maya Angelou).

    Uh... there's bowling, some restaurants, some bars (never been, not old enough).

    They've got a few computer related groups (Husker Linux Users Group, for example), an anime group, and probably others. (Not sure about PERL, though.)

    The program isn't stellar, but it's improving from what information I've gathered. As expected, the focus of the classes is Java. (It was C++ last year, when I was a freshman, but they just switched them over.)

    Research opportunities... I have no idea, actually.

    What I think: I like UNL, although most people would probably be driven nuts. Maybe it's just the T3 hooked up to the dorms I like so much. The atmosphere of Lincoln is friendly, and there's good people at the school. But if you live on the far West coast, it's most likely not the best choice.
      But if you live on the far West coast, it's most likely not the best choice.

      Oddly enough I live on the far east coast, about 40 minutes from the Atlantic. I, unlike many people I know, have no problem with moving to the other side of the country, even if it is just for two years of college.


        unlike many people I know, have no problem with moving to the other side of the country, even if it is just for two years of college

        You are braver then I. I could've gone to Georgia Tech or Virginia Tech, but I opted for a closer location (I'm from Colorado). Possibly a foolish mistake that will haunt me throughout life, but it hasn't bothered me yet. I figure if I continue to get nice internships (such as the one I have at Qwest this summer) they will look nearly as good on a resume as having a degree from a finer institution.

        As for coming from the coast, I do have one friend from Maryland that's at UNL. He seems to like it. Only problem is you can only get to the coast on maybe two or three of the vacations we get (Spring Break, Winter Break,...)
Re: Where is your school?
by arashi (Priest) on Jul 17, 2001 at 22:52 UTC
    Hmm, ok, I'll try to give you the plug for the school I attend:

    I attend the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. It probably could be considered a medium-sized college, about 5000 students last time I heard.

    Location - Platteville is a rather small town, about 10,000 residents total. Besides the college and 2nd Street (bars) there isn't a whole lot to do in the town. It's located about 20 minutes east of Dubuque Iowa (the "Biggest Little Town in America") which usually solves any yearning I have for a larger city (stores, food, entertainment, etc...), and if that doesn't cut it, Madison Wisconsin is about 1 hour and 15 minutes east of Platteville, that that has everything else.

    Clubs - On campus there are plenty of different student organizations to keep one busy. I'm a member, and an officer of two clubs, The Society of Platteville's Anime and Manga Maniacs (SPAMM) and the Platteville Gaming Association (PGA). SPAMM is the largest anime club in Southwest Wisconsin, with about 40 regular members during the school year, and has showings every Tuesday. The PGA is the area's largest collection of gamers, with my guess (since records are poor) of 30 to 40 regular members plus some enthusiastic community members, and alumni.

    I haven't really explored organized activities outside the school, my guess is that they're pretty sparse since it's a small town, but Dubuque and Madison aren't too far away, and should have just about everything.

    The Programs - There are three different options for CS people at UWP, the first, and the one I'm enrolled in is Computer Information Systems. The professors are great, the classes are reather informative, but for me, I don't learn well from lectures, I do better at hands on things, so I probably don't get as much out of class as I should. There is also a Software Engineering Degree. I have several friends in the program, they say the courses are hard, but they learn a lot when they're done. There is also a new Computer Technologies Degree, which looks like a cross between the Software Engineering degree and Computer Information Systems.

    As for research opportunities, I use my job to do that. There are many areas in the IT staff on campus for students to work, web development, helpdesk, resnet, and as interns. For "real" research, you'd probably have to go to The University of Wisconsin-Madison as a graduate student.

    Costs for attending the university are listed here. If you're interested in any further information about UW-Plattevile, I'd be happy to help out.

    Good luck on making your decision.


    I'm sure Edison turned himself a lot of colors before he invented the lightbulb. - H.S.