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Unread 12-27-2007, 08:53 AM
 
248 posts, read 329,203 times
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Default university decision

My son is trying to decide between University of Michigan and University of Illinois (aerospace engineering). Being from the west coast, he only has had a weekend at each school. Both schools rate pretty high for engineering, so I guess that I am seeking information on the intangibles that you don't get in the US News report. Any thoughts?
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Unread 12-27-2007, 08:59 AM
 
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I would probably go to Michigan if I was accepted there
I hear that the town of Ann Arbor is more fun that Champaign Urbana (cornfields, etc )
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Unread 12-27-2007, 10:08 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xcalgal View Post
My son is trying to decide between University of Michigan and University of Illinois (aerospace engineering). Being from the west coast, he only has had a weekend at each school. Both schools rate pretty high for engineering, so I guess that I am seeking information on the intangibles that you don't get in the US News report. Any thoughts?
I'm an Illinois grad, so I have a natural affinity for the school (I'm off to Pasadena this weekend), but I'll try to give you a few thoughts. Michigan has a more geographically diverse student population since it draws a large contingent of students from the East Coast, while Illinois has a high concentration of Chicago area natives. However, both are pretty similar in terms of racial diversity. Ann Arbor is a more cosmopolitan college town since it's connected to a major metropolitan area, while Champaign feels more rural when you move away from the campus area. That being said, the U of I campus has an incredible amount of activities since you have 40,000 top-notch college students in a concentrated area (and you'll find a similar environment at Michigan). There's more than enough to do no matter what your interests are (whether academic or extra-curricular) on either campus.

Overall, though, the differences between Michigan and Illinois are really splitting hairs - they are huge Big Ten schools with very similar types of students and almost identical types of job prospects (particularly when it comes to engineering and business). I think you can reasonably say that Ann Arbor is a nicer college town, but it also has a higher cost of living, as well. At the end of the day, they are both big-time residential colleges (i.e. almost everyone stays on campus during the weekends - it's too much fun to want to go home).

How much is cost a factor? For me, getting in-state tuition at U of I was one of the best bargains you could possibly get. I do think it's ludicrous for someone from the state of Illinois to pay out-of-state tuition to go to U of M when you'll get almost the exact same experience at U of I for a fraction of the price. By the same token, if I were a Michigan resident, I wouldn't pay extra to go to U of I when you could go to U of M for a lot less.

Since your son is presumably coming from out-of-state, making the in-state tuition factor moot, I would say that if one school has a package that is significantly less expensive than the other school, choose the less expensive school. Both U of I and U of M have excellent aerospace engineering programs (like I've said before, the job prospects are almost identical) and are going to provide very similar types of college experiences, so there's no reason to incur significantly more debt (or out-of-pocket expenses, as the case may be) for one school over the other.
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Unread 12-27-2007, 07:00 PM
 
Location: Chicago
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I can only speak to UIUC. It's a great school, diverse, and your son will have a lot of options upon graduation. I can't speak to U of M, but I'm assuming the same can be said for that school. I agree with the other poster who suggested looking at the differences in tuition.
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Unread 12-27-2007, 11:15 PM
Status: "Maple tree is leafing out!" (set 6 days ago)
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
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Also look at the chemistry between each school and your son. One probably simply appeals to him more. One thing I would add to the decision-making process is that it is probably easier to get in/out of Ann Arbor via air than Champaign. I would check into that. I had two kids go to college out of state, and it is important to be able to fly home fairly easily.
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Unread 12-28-2007, 09:07 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pittnurse70 View Post
Also look at the chemistry between each school and your son. One probably simply appeals to him more. One thing I would add to the decision-making process is that it is probably easier to get in/out of Ann Arbor via air than Champaign. I would check into that. I had two kids go to college out of state, and it is important to be able to fly home fairly easily.
There are few options flying out of Champaign proper. Most people drive 2 hours to Chicago and then fly out of either Mdway or O'Hare, where there are obviously tons of options. For Ann Arbor, you'd most likely fly out of Detroit Metro, which is about an hour away from campus.
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Unread 12-28-2007, 09:18 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jenrik2714 View Post
I would probably go to Michigan if I was accepted there
I hear that the town of Ann Arbor is more fun that Champaign Urbana (cornfields, etc )
Honestly, the cornfields really didn't matter when I went there, and I'm about as much of a Chicago "snob" as anyone. The fact of the matter is that when you're put into a town with about 40,000 other people your age, you just don't leave campus much at all since there's too much to do, whether you're talking about academic-minded lectures, cultural events such as symphonic concerts, or the straight-up bar and party scene. Ann Arbor might be close to Detroit, but honestly, who the heck wants to go to Detroit? I'd rather be 2 hours from Chicago than 1 hour from Detroit, anyway. Regardless, the common thread between Ann Arbor and Champaign is that 99% of student social activities are either on or within walking distance of campus (this is in contrast to a lot of even non-commuter schools such as NIU, which clears out on the weekends). If you want an urban experience, then neither U of M or U of I would be a good fit. If you want a traditional college town atmosphere, though, the two schools are pretty similar. For better or for worse, when you go to a school such as U of M or U of I, it's almost like living in a bubble or alternate universe for 4 years - they are very self-contained environments, so it really doesn't matter if there are cornfields off-campus or a big city next door.
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