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Old 12-27-2007, 09:55 AM
 
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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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Old 12-27-2007, 03:08 PM
 
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I have a friend who went to both (started at U of M and then ended at U of I) and if your son has moderate-liberal leanings with his views - U of I probably isn't a good fit. If he's into sports, then he could probably find ways to enjoy himself outside the classroom, but from what I've heard the area isn't known for its energy/excitement.

U of I is an oasis inside miles and miles of farmland. Chicago is about an hour North of there. I visited one time and really, I don't see how anyone could spend 4 + years there unless they really wanted to be there.

U of M is in Ann Arbor and the city is very lively. If he has liberal/moderate views on life, then he'd probably fit in a lot better there. You don't have to be into sports to find something to do. (As you can guess, my girlfriend really wasn't into the sports scene). It's really diverse and is in one of the only cities in Michigan that most people can agree is a great town to visit or live. Despite the "economic downturn" here in Michigan, Ann Arbor is one of the cities that is actually holding its own and doing well.

I don't think it's possible to have a bad time in Ann Arbor because there is always something going on there or metro Detroit region. However, I can see where people would complain about Champaign-Urbana because outside the university - you are in cornfields until you hit Chicago.

Just my opinion.
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Old 12-27-2007, 10:42 PM
 
61 posts, read 106,358 times
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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?
xcalgal, Hi. We visited both U of I and U of M along with a few other colleges having good engineering programs. U of M was my son's first choice. And he ended up at U of M because they gave him some pretty good scholarships. He loves it at U of M. He is involved in a research program that is a pretty awesome opportunity for a first year engineering student. The research is part of U of M's UROP program. I recommend your son looks into that.

One thing to watch out for is if your son has a whole lot of AP credits and/or college credits from dual-enrolling in college while still in high school, consider carefully what he transfers to U of M. For example: my son has just finished his first semester as a freshmen. But since he transferred in so many AP and dual-enrollment credits, he is already ranked as a Junior before starting his second semester. That means his tuition went up a couple thousand dollars for the upcoming semester. And that is for an instate student. He is trying to get them to drop one AP course from his transcript so his tuition does not go up until next year. The course does not apply to his engineering degree. We are still waiting to hear back on whether or not they will remove the course. Just something to consider.

If your son is into music, U of M offers a dual major degree in engineering and music. My son was considering that. But ended up not signing up for the music major option. He was still able to get piano lessons from one of the piano professors (a 2-credit course) and play violin in one of the student lead orchestras. I thought I would just mention that in case your son is a musician.

Last edited by HotSauce; 12-27-2007 at 10:52 PM..
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Old 12-28-2007, 01:09 AM
 
1,029 posts, read 2,139,430 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snoopygirlmi View Post
I have a friend who went to both (started at U of M and then ended at U of I) and if your son has moderate-liberal leanings with his views - U of I probably isn't a good fit. If he's into sports, then he could probably find ways to enjoy himself outside the classroom, but from what I've heard the area isn't known for its energy/excitement.

U of I is an oasis inside miles and miles of farmland. Chicago is about an hour North of there. I visited one time and really, I don't see how anyone could spend 4 + years there unless they really wanted to be there.

U of M is in Ann Arbor and the city is very lively. If he has liberal/moderate views on life, then he'd probably fit in a lot better there. You don't have to be into sports to find something to do. (As you can guess, my girlfriend really wasn't into the sports scene). It's really diverse and is in one of the only cities in Michigan that most people can agree is a great town to visit or live. Despite the "economic downturn" here in Michigan, Ann Arbor is one of the cities that is actually holding its own and doing well.

I don't think it's possible to have a bad time in Ann Arbor because there is always something going on there or metro Detroit region. However, I can see where people would complain about Champaign-Urbana because outside the university - you are in cornfields until you hit Chicago.

Just my opinion.
There's a good deal of misinformation here. Chambana isn't as overtly liberal as A2, but it's fairly liberal like most college towns. In fact, I would call it exactly moderate-liberal while A2 is just liberal. I would say Illinois is like a cross between Michigan and Michigan State - it's both the flagship and ag school for the state. Unlike MI and CA, there is no close second when it comes to universities, which is both good and bad.

The town isn't as famous as A2, but it's a nice college town by all measures. It has a great historic campus with a cutting-edge engineering quad. The surrounding neighborhoods are safe with great housing stock. It's not an unbalanced college town by any measure. There are 100,000 residents living and working next to the 40,000 students. The Chicago Symphony often record at Krannert and the natural history museum is superb. There is a fantastic aboretum nearby. It's a very lively college town with the largest Greek system in the country. Best of all, it's not so damned yuppified like A2. There are fantastic restaurants and nice cafes like Espresso Royale, but you don't have to fight with Biff and Buffy for parking and a table. Parking in fact is quite easy.

I would say for overall day-to-day quality of life and academics, Chambana, Madison, and Bloomington are the best in the Big Ten. Faculty, staff, and even students can actually buy nice houses within walking distance of both campuses without any fear of getting mugged, panhandled, or stepping in feces - try saying that for "great" campuses like Berkeley and Cambridge.

Yes, Chambana is surrounded by rural areas, but so is A2 for cripes sake. Yeah the latter is closer to Detroit - so what? For the record, Chicago is more like two hours away up I-57, and there are towns in between like Peoria and Kankakee (where the Bears hold training camp). It's also quite close to St. Louis and Indy. How often do students even leave campus anyway from either school?

Overall, Michigan gets most of the press for academics in the Big Ten, but there is no contest when it comes to engineering. Illinois is tops in the Midwest and compares favorably with MIT, Cal Tech, Georgia Tech, etc. Comparing Michigan engineering to Illinois would be like comparing Illinois' law school to Michigan's. Illinois' law school is good, but it's not in the same league as Michigan's, especially when it comes to a national reputation. If you son is deadset on engineering, I would lean toward Illinois. If he might want to branch out, I would pick MI because it will go farther in CA and elsewhere in the country if he doesn't choose engineering.

Last edited by Cato the Elder; 12-28-2007 at 01:22 AM..
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Old 12-28-2007, 12:48 PM
 
696 posts, read 1,690,015 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snoopygirlmi View Post
I have a friend who went to both (started at U of M and then ended at U of I) and if your son has moderate-liberal leanings with his views - U of I probably isn't a good fit. If he's into sports, then he could probably find ways to enjoy himself outside the classroom, but from what I've heard the area isn't known for its energy/excitement.

U of I is an oasis inside miles and miles of farmland. Chicago is about an hour North of there. I visited one time and really, I don't see how anyone could spend 4 + years there unless they really wanted to be there.

U of M is in Ann Arbor and the city is very lively. If he has liberal/moderate views on life, then he'd probably fit in a lot better there. You don't have to be into sports to find something to do. (As you can guess, my girlfriend really wasn't into the sports scene). It's really diverse and is in one of the only cities in Michigan that most people can agree is a great town to visit or live. Despite the "economic downturn" here in Michigan, Ann Arbor is one of the cities that is actually holding its own and doing well.

I don't think it's possible to have a bad time in Ann Arbor because there is always something going on there or metro Detroit region. However, I can see where people would complain about Champaign-Urbana because outside the university - you are in cornfields until you hit Chicago.

Just my opinion.
I've put in a full response to this same question on the Illinois forum (I'm a U of I grad), but I just had to respond to two items here:

(1) U of I is definitely a liberal university (and being from Chicago, I know the meaning of "liberal"), so the comment about Champaign not having "liberal/moderate views" is way off base. It may not be quite the leftist haven as Ann Arbor, but you'll often find U of I on the top activist campus lists (and I'm not saying that's necessarily a good thing from my personal view).

(2) If you're on a Big Ten campus, you're rarely going to leave campus during your four years. I'm as big of a "Chicago snob" as anyone and the fact that U of I was surrounded by cornfields honestly didn't matter. 99% of your social activities revolve around being on campus. How many U of M students leave to go to Detroit on a regular basis during the school year for purely social activities (as opposed to visiting home or family)? It's an extremely small percentage - they'd rather walk out of their dorms/apartments and go out in Ann Arbor with their friends. It's the same thing in Champaign. For better or for worse, going to either U of I or U of M is almost like living in a bubble for four years - you're almost oblivious to the outside world when you've got 40,000 other young people the same age as you hanging around a relatively compact area.

I'm not trying to be a U of I homer (I pointed out positives and negatives of both schools in the Illinois forum), but I just had to address these points.
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Old 12-28-2007, 06:50 PM
 
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I can't tell you diddly about the U of I but the U of M has an excellent engineering school. For some reason I spent years in the engineering dorms despite my unrelated major, and when my friends there graduated, they could virtually write their own tickets for any job they wanted. The grad students got in on excellent research projects and had great connections when they left.
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Old 12-28-2007, 07:00 PM
 
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One of the previous responses mentions U of M's law school. That is one of the top reasons why my son chose U of M over U of I. His current plan is to complete his engineering degree and then enroll in the law school at U of M.

Other reasons for picking U of M: Even if your son is not a musician, there's nothing like music and the arts to round out a person (especially an engineer). U of M's excellent music school is on the same campus as the engineering school. Hill Auditorium on Michigan's main campus draws national and international musicians, entertainers, etc. The University of Michigan's medical school and medical facilities are world class - people travel there from outside of Michigan for medical care. Ann Arbor is one great place to live. I am not at all liberal - though as a young adult I was very liberal. So I see the place from both points of view. I grew up in the Detroit area. As a young adult my friends and I went to Ann Arbor just as often as to Detroit for a night out. Ann Arbor is a whole lot more than a college town. We did not visit Ann Arbor because of U of M. We went there for the excellent entertainment, etc. And of course for a sports fan, nothing beats a Saturday afternoon at Michigan Stadium.

You indicated that your son will be majoring in aerospace. This is probably the top reason to pick Michigan. Call U of M's engineering school and ask them why Michigan would be the ideal choice for an aerospace major. Think work-study and/or internship. There will be a lot of opportunities in Ann Arbor for aerospace engineers/students - especially beginning in 2008.
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Old 12-28-2007, 07:14 PM
 
61 posts, read 106,358 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cliffie View Post
I can't tell you diddly about the U of I but the U of M has an excellent engineering school. For some reason I spent years in the engineering dorms despite my unrelated major, and when my friends there graduated, they could virtually write their own tickets for any job they wanted. The grad students got in on excellent research projects and had great connections when they left.
And as I mentioned earlier, undergraduate engineering students have the opportunity of getting an early start with these research projects through the UROP program at Michigan. My son is taking advantage of that opportunity during his first year at U of M. It is basically like a part-time job without pay. But I'm sure the experience will end up paying much more in his future than a part-time job at the local burger shop ever could.
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Old 12-28-2007, 07:27 PM
 
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Overall, it's like comparing Harvard University to MIT. Harvard is Harvard and Michigan is Michigan - great schools with national reputations. Ultimately, it's up to the individual to decide what they want. Illinois is like MIT in this comparison - you're constantly surrounded by a critical mass of the best engineering minds. The Grainger Engineering library is world-class. So is the Beckman Institute for artificial intelligence. Etc., etc., etc. You'll get a great engineering experience at Michigan, but Illinois is "special" for engineering if that's your thing.
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Old 12-28-2007, 08:28 PM
 
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My son is still debating between aerospace and mechanical as his declared major for undergrad studies at the University of Michigan. He said he is leaning toward aerospace. So we are also interested in how U of M's aerospace program ranks.

I pulled this from another forum. It looks like US News ranks U of M's aerospace engineering program 3rd only behind MIT and GIT. U of M's engineering site shows the same.

Rank by US News & World Report - Aerospace Engineering

1. Massachusetts Inst. of Technology

2. Georgia Institute of Technology
The School of Aerospace Engineering
http://www.ae.gatech.edu/

3. University of Michigan–Ann Arbor
Department of Aerospace Engineering
http://www.engin.umich.edu/dept/aero/

4. Purdue University - West Lafayette, IN
School of Aeronautics and Astronautics
https://engineering.purdue.edu/AAE/

5. Caltech - Division of Engineering and Applied Science
GRADUATE AERONAUTICAL LABORATORIES
http://www.galcit.caltech.edu/

Last edited by HotSauce; 12-28-2007 at 08:40 PM..
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