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Does what college you go to matter?

Looking to apply for CS, and wondering if whatever college is suitable for this. Will it affect my chances in succeeding

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Nitin’s Answer

This is a good question. College rankings do matter to an extent. Going to a higher ranked college does offer you better education and more opportunities to succeed in future due to higher job placement rates, connection with top employers and strong alumni network. But with hard work and right effort, you can succeed with a quality education from any good college. Do your research with regards to the acceptance criteria and admission requirements for different colleges and then apply to several to see where you land. Regardless of which college you land, keep your focus and intent for learning and make the best out of opportunities offered. Always look for landing a co-op and internship while in college as that helps you convert and land full time job once you graduate. In addition to education, work on improving your soft skills and overall professional development as that goes a long way in succeeding in your career in future. Hope this helps, Good Luck!
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Ruben’s Answer

It matters but is also very important that it is the right fit, there are small colleges and large colleges that are more tailored for your needs, also the range of prices / costs is relevant in the decision making process. The prestige of the name of the entity is important but as time evolves the reputation and prestige of the institution diminishes.

It will also depend on the career path or industry that you're interested in entering.

Computer Scientists are in such high demand now that you have greater school options to choose from and it will still guarantee a good outcome.

We also suggest applying for several colleges to ensure you are accepted into at least one.

Another path to enter into a brand name school, would be going to community college for the first 1-2 years and then transfer to a more well-known school.
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Gloria’s Answer

Hi Simon,

You can get a good education from any accredited university. They have been given the right to give degrees, so there is a minimum standard being met. And many companies are not looking at where you graduated from. If anything, they are looking at what you can do and maybe your GPA. And that's a big maybe. So if you are looking to get into Computer Science, you need to be prepared to show what you can do. However, you should do some research to see what people online think about a specific university. I would ignore school rankings done by magazines. Whenever you can, see if you can get information from someone who attended that university directly. You can search various social media sites for university where they went. (I would recommend LinkedIn.)

Overall, there are some people in Computer Science who never graduated from college. You need to consider if you can get what you need from certifications and learning on the job.

Gloria
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Matthew’s Answer

Choosing the right school is very important for college success. CS is a great field, and the job prospects of graduating from comparable schools (i.e. similar in graduation rate, research programs, etc. ) will be pretty similar. However, the college experience is one that you only get one time and you should consider the following factors:
1. Where will I be compared to the rest of the student body? For example, your college experience and opportunities will often be linked to where you sit amongst your peers. Going to a "higher ranked" school may offer you a greater number of connections and smarter peers, but you also may be a "Small fish in a big pond". In this situation, it is easier to be overlooked for research opportunities or harder to connect with professors. Going to a lower ranked school may give you the opportunity to be a "Big fish in a small pond" and there you can get superior opportunities because you stand out amongst your class. This is all within limits, as the schools must be of comparable nature, but don't feel like you have to go to the best ranked school to have success.
2. Follow the money! - A college education is worth it. It pays dividends in salary, career mobility, and is well worth the investment. However, financing college can be an issue. Taking out loans is okay, as long as those loans won't put you in a situation which you cannot get out of. When choosing a school, it can be hard to figure out what you want to do afterwards. For example, if you know that you want to go to graduate school after college and are not taking a job right away, it would be wise to save some money during the undergraduate process so that you can pay for graduate school. Additionally, how your loans are financed can have an impact on how much money you have to pay back, so make sure that you understand all payments and expectations of loans before you take them.
3. Wholistic college experience - For most, there is less time spent in the classroom than there is in other areas of campus life. Choose a college which you can have the best experience as a whole - hold leadership positions, participate in clubs and organizations, fits your living style, etc. Sometimes when making the college decision, rankings overwhelm our brains as we choose the absolute best academic institution on paper. However, the time spent outside of the classroom is just as important.
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Dan’s Answer

In general, you should always try to attend the best college that you can afford and that will accept you. However, in order to provide a better answer, I would ask you to define your use of the word “succeeding”.

If “succeeding” means you have plans to be elite and to earn the maximum salary for your career then you should attend an Ivy league university. Top CS salaries are $140,000 or more per year ($67.30 per hour).

If “succeeding” means you want a secure job that treats and pays you well, then an Ivy league is not necessary as there are plenty of state universities that provide good CS degrees. Average CS salaries are $105,000 per year ($50.29 per hour).

The Ivy league university degrees will certainly open up more opportunities for you, for both job and salary but I will repeat my words from above: “always attend the best college that you can afford”.

Computer Science careers require a lifetime of learning and growth so your interest, ambition, motivation, and people skills will enable most of your growth for the last 90% of your working career.

Note that the referenced salaries are average for the country and similar individuals will earn more or less depending on location, industry, and company. Note also that high-cost areas like New York will usually pay higher salaries than low-cost areas like Pittsburgh, PA or Huntsville, AL.

I attended a local community college for my associate degree and then transferred to a “not well known” college (not even a university) to earn my bachelor degree in engineering. I earned a very good salary, moved to management and was able to retire at age 59. I had a lot of control and opportunities over my career and worked with hardware, software, and management (some of my indicators of success). I believe that I “succeeded” even though I did not do as well as Bill Gates.
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Madisyn’s Answer

Hi Simon,

The college that you attend can have some effect on the ease of success after college. Certain colleges are known for specific practices (e.g., Accounting, Computer Science, Engineering, etc.) and therefore recruiters from those practices may spend a lot of time and effort trying to hire people from those colleges. Does this mean you need to go to the #1 college for CS or your chances of success are doomed? Not at all! There are other things beyond the name of your college that affect your chances of success. These include the networking you did in college, your GPA, your extra curricular activities and so on.

I think the advice in the other answers is quite accurate. You should try to go to the best college that you can afford and from there, you should make your best individual effort to get into the CS field.
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Temi’s Answer

I think you should always aim to go to the best college. Since you are looking to get into computer science you can research what schools within your city or state has the best program and have a good graduation rate. However, the college you go to does not necessarily matter, what matter the most is what you make out of the college experience and how you apply yourself. So make sure to keep up with your gpa and to be involved on campus, join student organizations and also learn a skill that can apply to your program. So for computer science you learn python, scrum master, or anything else that can help you stand out from others. You should also work on side projects and certifications if you can and just apply yourself while in school. Last but not least enjoy it while you can now, try out whatever you want, if you fail pick yourself up and try again. Best of luck in choosing a college.

Temi recommends the following next steps:

Research school within your city /state
Find what school offer a computer science degree and is the best
Look at the graduation and retention rating
Apply to school that is of beat interest and matches what you are searching for
Compare cost and scholarships offers
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