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Georgia Tech vs Berkeley


tornbetween
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Many different viewpoints - see this http://academia.stackexchange.com/questions/90/university-rank-stature-how-much-does-it-affect-ones-career-post-ph-d/

Quite a few profs I've talked to tell me that ranking does matter quite a bit - certainly profs from areas different than yours (so those not familiar with your work) are going to look at you more favorably if you're from a place like Berkeley. Same goes for the industry. On the other hand, if there's a group of people you really want to work with at GTech, that that could be the ideal place for you.

Do take into account the fact that your interests might change and depending on the areas you're interested in, Berkeley or GTech might be better.

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  • 2 weeks later...

If there is absolute no match, then pick Austin any day. Otherwise, think twice before choosing. I know a person who opted for UT even though he had one from UCB. It was a tough call for him.

Let me rephrase - will choosing Austin over UCB severly hinder after-graduation job prospects? Apart from the wormth in the heart from name branded degree, how much will one gain if he would choose UCB (or any other top4 school for that matter) over other school from top10 (I am assuming UT Austin is in CS top 10, correct?)?

Edited by ProspectiveGrad12
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Would you say that the difference between top4 (MIT, Stanford, Berkeley, CMU) and others in top10 (UT, Cornell, UW, Princeton, UIUC) is the same, or say Princeton is better than UT/UW/UIUC?

Another question - will cohort at UT mostly consits of the same people that got accepted to UCB/MIT/Stanford/CMU and chose UT for some reason, or there will be next tier of students (those who didn't get into Stanford)? Does it matter?

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Let me put it this way. Difference definitely exist between the top 4 and others. . In theory, princeton is definitely a better place than those places you mentioned , otherwise I don't have a high opinion of princeton (not a top 10 school for me). I'm assuming that you are able to get equally good advisors at all the places.

However, if u can get an advisor say sanjeev arora from princeton, or klienberg from cornell, then things are entirely different. In fact, I'll be happy to leave top 4 for these people, and people do that very often. My sister left a top 10 school and going to a 40th one because of the advisor. Infact, I'm also doing that :)

Edited by spark1989
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However, if u can get an advisor say sanjeev arora from princeton, or klienberg from cornell, then things are entirely different. In fact, I'll be happy to leave top 4 for these people, and people do that very often. My sister left a top 10 school and going to a 40th one because of the advisor. Infact, I'm also doing that :)

In theory, Princeton is a top school, better than CMU and Stanford. So brand-name wise Princeton is better in CS Theory than those two. Same goes for Cornell.

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Well for one thing, overall rankings are quite silly, and area-specific (theory, AI/machine learning, systems, PL, etc.) rankings are a bit more meaningful. Sure, Princeton is ranked higher than Georgia Tech, but as far as I can tell Princeton only has a couple of machine learning people, for example. Georgia Tech is a huge department, one of the particular strengths of which is machine learning (and robotics and computer vision). If you want to do machine learning, then unless Blei and Schapire are fighting over you, you would be shooting yourself in the foot to pick Princeton over GT. In a more extreme example, MIT is MIT, but Penn and Amherst, despite not even being ranked top 10, have great natural language processing faculty and a very big reputation in that area, so if you want to do NLP, it very well might be in your best interest to pick one of them over MIT.

For another thing, rankings in general, even area-specific ones, are quite silly. They're only really effective at discerning "pretty good" schools from other schools, in that it is a good sign if a school appears in the top 10 to 20. Research interest match with a single strong professor (who is also available and wants to work with you) in general is more important than a schools overall reputation. Beyond that, the academic and work environment of a school is another factor that might come up more important. MIT is supposed to be a vicious department, and I may have heard the same to a lesser degree about Berkeley. It is supposedly very easy to be unhappy at MIT.

Anyway, as for location, I'm an Atlanta fanboy (I'm from the country near there and I went to Georgia Tech for undergrad), but I've lived there and in San Francsico (going back to SF this Summer again), and I would say that Atlanta is about as much fun as San Francisco, just a little harder (but not that much) to get around and a loooooooot cheaper. I just ranted positively about the town in another topic so I'll keep it brief here, but despite what locals and outsiders alike will tell you, you can definitely live in Atlanta without a car and have fun and be in a walkable place. You just have to pick the right neighborhood (there are a number of good ones, one of which is the Midtown area just east of Georgia Tech's campus from where you could walk to campus really easily).

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I'll just add in my two cents and say that these comments are great, and that ranking don't really matter in the long run. I think that the focus should be on the research lab and research area.

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I'm not sure how you could even have this be a close decision. Berkeley blows both Tech and Austin away. They are all good but those two are not in the she class as Berkeley.

Not sure if you're a troll, or ignorant. I have a feeling that you're a combination of the two. All three programs are great in CS and have their own strengths and weaknesses. Berkeley is no exception.

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Quite a few profs I've talked to tell me that ranking does matter quite a bit - certainly profs from areas different than yours (so those not familiar with your work) are going to look at you more favorably if you're from a place like Berkeley.

Were those profs Americans? If so, they must be shallow, since rankings are a shallow indicator of a program's strengths. For example, Wisconsin has a superior program for computer architecture compared to, say, MIT, even though CS program rankings put MIT higher. Plus, graduates are judged more often by their time in the program and who they worked under, not where they went to school.

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Were those profs Americans? If so, they must be shallow, since rankings are a shallow indicator of a program's strengths. For example, Wisconsin has a superior program for computer architecture compared to, say, MIT, even though CS program rankings put MIT higher. Plus, graduates are judged more often by their time in the program and who they worked under, not where they went to school.

Yes they were American. And while rankings are a shallow indicator, for someone not familiar with a particular subfield, it's one of the few indicators they can and do rely on. Of course what you do in your graduate study is vastly more important but unless you're a superstar in the field, going to a better ranked program can help you get an interview for a faculty position.

And by rankings I mean, the ranking of the program in the particular subfield. So if you're doing NLP at USC/JHU/UMD, you'll be better off than doing it at say MIT. Similarly for architecture if Wisconsin has a better rep in that area compared to MIT.

Edited by jjsakurai
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Lets not be misleading here. While its better to choose a university based on the faculty fit, numbers are numbers, and the fact is if you want to do academia a more prestigious department is important.

http://pages.cs.wisc.edu/~estan/alumnistatistics/top25/Alumni_matrix.html

Its not everything and advisor is more important but i really think you need to take this into account (especially if the lesser ranked program is not better in a particular area). Of course what is left out is subject area in CS. Anyone who thinks that department prestigious is entirely unimportant is kidding themselves.

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@mathgeek282: That could just be an effect of better students going to higher ranked places. But I agree with your general point that while not as important as faculty fit, rankings are important. In addition to the prestige value, a higher ranked place also on average has better students which is extremely important if you want to have good collaborations. Plus if your interests change or your choice for an advisor leaves, a higher ranked place is more likely to have a good person you can work with.

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I would only pick GT over Berkeley if your advisor is actually better known/regarded in your subfield. Otherwise if u actually want to do academia u might be shooting yourself in the foot.

Advisor strength/connections is paramount in getting positions. I don't know what your subfield is but you ought to make sure there isn't a strong advisor at berkeley who could advise you before making your decision...

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Yes they were American. And while rankings are a shallow indicator, for someone not familiar with a particular subfield, it's one of the few indicators they can and do rely on. Of course what you do in your graduate study is vastly more important but unless you're a superstar in the field, going to a better ranked program can help you get an interview for a faculty position.

But that's totally not how faculty search committees work. I've spoken with enough faculty from different universities, seen enough related talks on the faculty search process, and attended way more seminar talks than I care to remember to know that university prestige is a weak and shallow indicator in the faculty search process. There are way more useful indicators that those faculty search committees can and do rely on that helps them narrow down the selection process: whether the faculty candidate can contribute well to the program (e.g., grant writing experience, scholarships and grants awarded), whether the faculty candidate is a compatible fit to the program (e.g., is in a research field that can provide strong cross-department collaborations), whether the faculty can expand the program's "name brand" through publications (e.g., number of works published, news articles coverage on his/her research), whether the faculty candidate can teach (e.g., teaching and teaching assistant experience), whether the faculty candidate is a great communicator (e.g., faculty candidate interview), etc. There are so many factors that go into the faculty search committee process that to say that university prestige is one of the few major factors is very misleading. At the very most, search committees may use it to help weed out borderline cases, but it's far from being a dealbreaker, as strong and well-rounded candidates from less "name" schools will triumph over candidates who heavily rely on university namesake alone.

Additionally, it should be noted that a large number of graduate students don't just go to academia, but also go on to major Industry R&D divisions and national research labs. The latter ones definitely do not use university prestige as a factor in their hiring, and I've seen quite a few cases where those employers choose graduate student candidates from less "name" universities such as satellite state schools over the prestigious "name" schools just because the former simply had stronger academic portfolios.

I've said this many times before, and I'll say it many times again: it's not where you go to grad school, but how you spend your time there. The "name" schools have the advantage of having more resources and better connections, but it's always about opportunity spent at that school that's most important whether one goes to industry or academia. University prestige is largely a myth.

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But that's totally not how faculty search committees work. I've spoken with enough faculty from different universities, seen enough related talks on the faculty search process, and attended way more seminar talks than I care to remember to know that university prestige is a weak and shallow indicator in the faculty search process. There are way more useful indicators that those faculty search committees can and do rely on that helps them narrow down the selection process: whether the faculty candidate can contribute well to the program (e.g., grant writing experience, scholarships and grants awarded), whether the faculty candidate is a compatible fit to the program (e.g., is in a research field that can provide strong cross-department collaborations), whether the faculty can expand the program's "name brand" through publications (e.g., number of works published, news articles coverage on his/her research), whether the faculty candidate can teach (e.g., teaching and teaching assistant experience), whether the faculty candidate is a great communicator (e.g., faculty candidate interview), etc. There are so many factors that go into the faculty search committee process that to say that university prestige is one of the few major factors is very misleading. At the very most, search committees may use it to help weed out borderline cases, but it's far from being a dealbreaker, as strong and well-rounded candidates from less "name" schools will triumph over candidates who heavily rely on university namesake alone.

Additionally, it should be noted that a large number of graduate students don't just go to academia, but also go on to major Industry R&D divisions and national research labs. The latter ones definitely do not use university prestige as a factor in their hiring, and I've seen quite a few cases where those employers choose graduate student candidates from less "name" universities such as satellite state schools over the prestigious "name" schools just because the former simply had stronger academic portfolios.

I've said this many times before, and I'll say it many times again: it's not where you go to grad school, but how you spend your time there. The "name" schools have the advantage of having more resources and better connections, but it's always about opportunity spent at that school that's most important whether one goes to industry or academia. University prestige is largely a myth.

So this is just not true. I dont mean to be a jerk about it, but i just dont think youre right (and this is from several years working with a professor at MIT). And i am strictly talking about academia because you are perhaps right about industry positions although i dont know much about it.

While i concede what you do in grad schools is far more important, and some of the other factors are very important as well, a lot of at least top faculty positions are going to be hard to get not coming from a top school. As jjsakurai pointed out, the caliber of student and even faculty are going to be higher at top places and will increase the quality of your collaborations, publications and just overall training. Like i said, having a well known good professor at a top school is going to be paramount in where you end up (of course barring as you said the student actually performs well).

So while you are right that nothing can make up for a good performance in grad school, the stark reality is that unless you are a rockstar at your university, ending up with a faculty position at a top school is going to be hard if you did not coming from a very good (top) graduate program. I dont mean to be elitist, and surely there are tons of other really great schools and they have a lot of faculty positions from other very good schools as well, but having talked to many faculty members again at a top school, i just wanted to correct what you are saying, because although that would be the ideal situation, it is not the reality.

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So this is just not true. I dont mean to be a jerk about it, but i just dont think youre right (and this is from several years working with a professor at MIT). And i am strictly talking about academia because you are perhaps right about industry positions although i dont know much about it.

While i concede what you do in grad schools is far more important, and some of the other factors are very important as well, a lot of at least top faculty positions are going to be hard to get not coming from a top school. As jjsakurai pointed out, the caliber of student and even faculty are going to be higher at top places and will increase the quality of your collaborations, publications and just overall training. Like i said, having a well known good professor at a top school is going to be paramount in where you end up (of course barring as you said the student actually performs well).

So while you are right that nothing can make up for a good performance in grad school, the stark reality is that unless you are a rockstar at your university, ending up with a faculty position at a top school is going to be hard if you did not coming from a very good (top) graduate program. I dont mean to be elitist, and surely there are tons of other really great schools and they have a lot of faculty positions from other very good schools as well, but having talked to many faculty members again at a top school, i just wanted to correct what you are saying, because although that would be the ideal situation, it is not the reality.

And let me add, that i meant all this for the field you are in. I.e theory at princeton, NLP at Columbia etc.There are certainly great professors at non-top schools that you should take over a top school, but unless you are working for one of them, it is better to go to the school with better faculty and students.

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