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Small program vs big program


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Hey guys!!

I got accepted in Meng programs at Cornell Tech and Berkeley in operations research and I really don't know which one to choose.

Location: Cornell Tech is basically in Manhattan and Berkeley well... near SF and close to the Silicon Valley (advantage for Berkeley, to me)

Cohort size: only a handful of students at Cornell Tech (like 15) and about 50 in Berkeley (not sure about my preference)

Reputation: Cornell Tech's program is extremely recent but relies on Cornell's for credibility, the faculty is good and sounds motivated while Berkeley's program is known to be one of the very best but the faculty seems less involved in it

Funding: I got some funding at Cornell Tech but none at Berkeley

So yeah, really tough choice... if I had gotten funding in Berkeley, I'd have probably chosen it but now I really don't know.

What would you pick? :P



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What is the difference in cost to attend each of these schools?

When you say 50 students, is that the size of the classes, or is this simply the cohort size and class sizes are capped at a smaller number?

Edited by thelionking
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How strong is the job market in your field and what sort of starting salary do you expect to make? If job placement rates are extremely high and the starting salary is high as well, I'd probably choose the program with the stronger reputation, longer track record and larger cohort.

But it also depends on how much attention and assistance you like to get when working on large projects.... It sounds like this faculty is very hands off. So you have to be someone who is very independent and able to figure out answers on your own without collaboration from others (or at least able to figure out what you need to know by collaborating with other students). The profs will get to know your work, especially if you stand out, but not really get to know you.

If you went with the smaller school, are you the sort of person who can network easily with others? If so, you could find other ways to network with working professionals while you are in school to make up for the small cohort. Make it a priority from day one and by the time you graduate you will have lots of connections. Additionally, if you network with the cohort that's one year ahead of you and the future cohort that comes in when you're in year 2 then you will be able to network with 44 people in the program (if it's a 2 yr Master's program), plus others in the community. So this is where your networking skills can make a big difference in how this plays out for you.

If networking is not your forte, you might like the advantage of being in a larger cohort. (Although, keep in mind that in large cohorts small groups form and people generally prefer to help a friend over an acquaintance in getting a job at their place of employment, so this is something to keep in mind too).

At the end of the day, you should pick the program where you will thrive the most. When you thrive you do your best work and you build a reputation of being good at what you do. People will notice you and this is the best way to make connections and to get opportunities after graduation. And of course, only take on as much debt as you can comfortably afford to pay back.

Edited by thelionking
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