Illinois Institute of Technology or Caltech?

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khanofmongols
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Illinois Institute of Technology or Caltech?

Postby khanofmongols » Mon Apr 26, 2010 1:45 am UTC

Ok I have to make a decision about where to go for undergrad.I'm likely going to major in engineering (undecided about anything more specifically). I'm also undecided about going to graduate school. I have eliminate my choices of the schools that I was accepted at down to Caltech and Illinois Institute of Technology. Caltech would be 15k more.

Caltech:
Pros:
More Prestigious
More Challenging (i.e. you have to take Relativity and Quantum Mechanics)
Better Weather
Smaller School
Cons:
More Money (Probably have to take out loans).
Doesn't accept AP test scores
Further away

Illinois Institute of Technology is basically the opposite in terms of pros and cons.

What do you think? How much does it matter where you go to school?

Edit: I am a senior and have to make a decision in 3 days as to where I am going to go.
Last edited by khanofmongols on Mon Apr 26, 2010 2:26 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

a7d07c8114
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Re: Illinois Institute of Technology or Caltech?

Postby a7d07c8114 » Mon Apr 26, 2010 2:13 am UTC

Apply to both! Especially considering how selective Caltech is. Cost-wise, you should look into all the financial aid options available. And if you're good enough to get into Caltech, grabbing a bunch of scholarship money shouldn't be out of the question for you.
The exception would be if you don't think you can handle the work at Caltech - don't go to a school that you can't keep up with.
Also, there are plenty of other schools around that are good for engineers - consider Colorado School of Mines and other such schools. In the East, places like Rutgers or Rochester Institute of Technology (the latter if you're a computer person) are also good. Harvey Mudd in the West too.

Edwinem
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Re: Illinois Institute of Technology or Caltech?

Postby Edwinem » Mon Apr 26, 2010 2:32 am UTC

Apply to both! Especially considering how selective Caltech is. Cost-wise, you should look into all the financial aid options available. And if you're good enough to get into Caltech, grabbing a bunch of scholarship money shouldn't be out of the question for you.
The exception would be if you don't think you can handle the work at Caltech - don't go to a school that you can't keep up with.
Also, there are plenty of other schools around that are good for engineers - consider Colorado School of Mines and other such schools. In the East, places like Rutgers or Rochester Institute of Technology (the latter if you're a computer person) are also good. Harvey Mudd in the West too.


I think the poster has already applied to both. He is now making his decision on which one to go to.

Now to the main question. Are you the type of person that will enjoy taking a challenge? Cause if so then I would go to Cal Tech. It would be more enjoyable and you would probably also be surrounded by a lot of like minded people. Also with a degree out of cal tech especially with engineering you would not be that bad off with repaying your student loans.

The con of your AP score does not seem that much of a problem to me. Even if the AP says that it teaches things at college level, the college class will be more difficult. It is also not really going to hold you back in anyway.

About cal tech being farther away that is really something that you is up to you.

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lu6cifer
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Re: Illinois Institute of Technology or Caltech?

Postby lu6cifer » Mon Apr 26, 2010 4:20 am UTC

Definitely Caltech

Not many people get the opportunity to go one of the nation's most prestigious technical schools, and you shouldn't squander it.
The fact that you got in probably indicates that you are up to the challenge. But if you're not, that'd be the only reason, in my book, to opt for the other school. As for not accepting AP scores, that's not necessarily a bad thing. First of all, other Caltech students won't have their AP scores accepted either, so you'll all be at the same level. Plus, how much of your AP high school curriculum do you remember anyway? Having to repeat those courses will probably be a good review and prepare you for higher level classes. As for distance and financial considerations, I'd still say go for it.
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KestrelLowing
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Re: Illinois Institute of Technology or Caltech?

Postby KestrelLowing » Mon Apr 26, 2010 1:30 pm UTC

I would say that money should not determine where you want to go, especially if your parents are willing to co-sign for loans.

Another thing that is wonderful for engineering students is the possibility of co-ops and internships. Engineering co-ops typically pay quite well. (The lowest paid one I had I got right out of high school, and that was $11/hr. Right now I'm making $24/hr, and this summer I'll be making $20/hr) They're great experience, and they really help for paying for college.

You can also keep looking for scholarships you can apply to.

What is typically said is that the last school you attend is what people actually care about, so if you're pretty certain you're going to grad school, the prestige of the school doesn't really matter.

Another think to think about is the "Big fish in small pond" effect. My guess is that you were at or near the top of your class in high school. If you go to a very prestigious school, you'll only be an average size fish in a huge pond. If you're perfectly fine with that, it shouldn't matter. Don't underestimate the sociological effect of being a top student to just being average. (This happens at all colleges, but more so in more prestigious ones.) That being said, you should really just be conscious of that fact, and it shouldn't go too much into your decision, because it happens everywhere.

As to not accepting AP scores, well that stinks a bit, but it will help your first year of college be a bit smoother if you have already seen a lot of the material. True, you won't be able to graduate early, but you'll have a better foundation that is very valuable later on. Sometimes I wish I had retaken calc and physics and chem. I'll get out a semester early, but I don't have a rock-solid foundation.

Finally, as for being far away, it can be stressful, but it's not that bad. I grew up in Metro-Detroit, and I go to school in the upper-peninsula of Michigan. Yes, it's the same state (in-state tuition!), but I'm a 9 hour drive away from home (Lake Michigan is rather annoying for being in my way!). I only come home thanksgiving and Christmas, but it's not that bad. If you're worried about staying by your friends, I wouldn't worry too much. You will naturally drift apart, but the friendships worth having will be able to survive distance, especially with the internet.

My guess is you'll have to fly to California, but I've known plenty of people who fly to school and do pretty well. You might have to ship things and try to fit everything into a couple suitcases, but once again, it's not that bad. In fact, you'll thank yourself if you keep your load light.

Personally, I think you should go to Caltech, but if your gut is saying no, go to Illinois. Go with your gut.

a7d07c8114
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Re: Illinois Institute of Technology or Caltech?

Postby a7d07c8114 » Tue Apr 27, 2010 1:52 am UTC

Ah. Well, if you've made it, then I'd say definitely Caltech unless there are some extenuating circumstances. My advice would be to go Cal, work hard, and land a good job. Caltech's pretty good on the landing the job you want thing.
In the meantime, spend your next few months gathering as much scholarship money as you can. $500 you don't pay now is $500+interest from loans you don't pay later.

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notzeb
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Re: Illinois Institute of Technology or Caltech?

Postby notzeb » Tue Apr 27, 2010 9:47 am UTC

Caltech is not as challenging as it is made out to be. You will only set your self up for disappointment if you think of it as a magical place where the classes are a thousand times more advanced than anywhere else (and, quantum mechanics and relativity are not as exciting as psuedoscience writers like to make out). That said, I have seen people "flame out" distressingly often - playing Starcraft is bad for your grades, and your parents aren't here to tell you to stop (that doesn't mean that there are no students who find the classes are simply too hard).

The students here are very fun to hang out with, though - and very smart. And if you are motivated enough, it is possible to pretend that you are a graduate student if you want to challenge yourself (well, you also have to take the required classes, so you'd be doing more work than the graduate students if you tried this). You get out what you put in.

It's also not as expensive as it is made out to be, at least if you are good at being poor like I am. So far my parents haven't paid a dime on my education, and I have taken out 0 loans (it's called a need-based scholarship). OTOH, people who are not me complain about the tuition. A lot. YMMV.

I find that highschoolers shopping for colleges tend to focus on all of the wrong features. At least, I did. The price of tuition matters less than you think it does. So do your AP classes. So does reputation. Maybe I should list what I see as the Pros and Cons:

Pros:
- Interesting classmates
- Professors are happy to have one-on-one with students, and often back students on summer research projects
- Honor Code - almost all exams are take home, you are encouraged to work with friends on almost all homeworks. Most professors are very laid back
- Living on campus means being practically next door to your classrooms. Living off campus means being (up to) a few blocks away from your classrooms.
- There are challenging classes if you go beyond the requirements

Cons:
- Scary suicide rate - you probably shouldn't come if you don't handle stress well
- Knowledge from highschool may not be as valuable as you thought it was - a lot of potential math majors (my major) here realize they don't have what it takes when they are exposed to proofs for the first time in Ma 1 (a required course)
- It is actually sort of expensive for people who don't know how to work the financial aid system
- Core (aka required classes). It doesn't seem so bad until you find out you have to take four years of Humanities/Social Sciences as part of the package, and after freshman year you really don't want to put up with bullshit anymore (you only put up with it in highschool because you didn't know better)
- Due to smaller size, some classes are not offered/offered rarely

I don't know anything about the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Edit: I left out the most important Con:
- Next to nobody plays Go here. There's me, the Go club president, and one other guy. We had more members but most of them graduated/gave in to their problem sets. If you play Go, come here! Don't leave me alone!!
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Kain
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Re: Illinois Institute of Technology or Caltech?

Postby Kain » Thu Apr 29, 2010 8:32 am UTC

Well, I turned down Illinois Institute of Technology for the Florida Institute of Technology, but only for three reasons:
The weather at IIT was atrocious, and they were going on about how nice and warm it was; FIT offered me a better scholarship; IIT wouldn't stop talking about civil engineering, and I wanted to be an Aerospace Engineer.

Unless you want to do civil engineering, I would have to say your best bet is Caltech (damn you, my 2380 SAT was not enough to make up for my 3.1 unweighted GPA... either that or I rolled a 1 on my essay...). The weather is nice, they do indeed have some good scholarships you could apply for, and their freshman classes are pass/fail. (Don't fail them).
Look, you know it's serious when a bunch of people in full armor and gear come charging in to fight a pond of chickens - Steax

khanofmongols
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Re: Illinois Institute of Technology or Caltech?

Postby khanofmongols » Wed May 05, 2010 12:35 am UTC

Ok well I made me decision and am going to IIT. I just really didn't want any debt.


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