CS/Engineering majors: What are the best schools in SoCal?

To keep the OP short and sweet, I’m looking for college recommendations for CA state schools in Los Angeles and/or San Diego.

My story: I’m a super-sophomore, completing my transfer credentials at a local community college. I had a very unsuccessful career the first time around, so I’m trying to make up for it with my current stint.

I have a current cum. GPA of approx 2.8 and a transferable GPA of 3.75 (as of Fall 2003, assuming my grades remain consistently A’s, which they have been recently). I’ve been shooting for UCLA, as it seems to be a consistent top five school for CS (my major, and where I have significant previous work experience). And then I’m looking at UC Irvine, which is also highly regarded.

But I’m not sure my record will allow me to get into these schools, so I’m trying to build a list of “backups.” I’m considering CSU Northridge, and maybe CalPoly Pomona and/or San Luis Obispo. Maybe UC Santa Barbara? Cost is definitely a concern, as I am financially independent, and will be financing this primarily through loans. So, most likely I will consider only state schools unless I get scholarships anywhere.

Well, so much for short and sweet. I will gladly provide more information if anyone wants it, but I’m really looking for recommendations for my backups from some people in the know.

I hope this doesn’t come off as jerkish, but have you really thought about being a CS. It is a dead field with huuuuuggge unemployment right now. And with the push for offshoring it probably will never recover to employ everyone trained. People with 12 years of expereince are having trouble finding job paying $40,000 a year. And I really don’t envy anybody comming into the field as entry level. Unless you have a deffinate in (a family member is high ranking in some company) the future doesn’t look good. I would seriously consider moving toward non-computer engineering fields if at all possible.

My SO has a bachelor’s degree in CS from UCSD.

In terms of San Diego schools, the state ones we’ve got are UCSD, SDSU and Cal State San Marcos. I have no idea what San Marcos offers, and I don’t know much about SDSU either.

But I came down to San Diego for college, and I’ve never looked back. I love it down here. So I’d say check them out and see if they offer what you’re looking for.

Well, like I said, I do have significant work experience in the CS field. I’d have been working in it the last few years if I had a degree. I went on a number of interviews, but my lack of degree prevented me from going to the next level. So, unless anything has changed in the last two years (which it certainly could have), I think it’s my best bet, as well as being what I enjoy.

I should have mentioned in the OP that I was thinking UCSD as third choice. I was originally planning on staying in LA for school, but I have recently been considering moving arond as necessary. I know a few people who go to UCSD and like it there. Do you know anything about the six college system they have there? I am really curious as to how that affects day-to-day life.

I’ve got a BS/EE from UCSD (Warren College) so I can tell you about that school. The six college thing isn’t really a factor in day to day life other than the “extraneous” courses you have to take for general ed and where you live (assuming you’re living on campus). Warren College has the fewest required gen-ed classes so it’s the most popular choice for engineers with their own high course load requirements. Revelle is the most academically challenging of the six but its also the most respected. The campus is nicer than any other in the UC system but living expenses are high (comparable to Los Angeles).

Most surveys I see rank it higher than UCI and UCLA but below UCB for engineering. Be warned that it is an incredibly tough school. When I was there, the drop out ratio in electrical engineering was close to 80% over four years. The competition to get in is likewise more competitive than any UC other than Berkeley.

From my experience, UCI is more respected than UCLA for engineering but it too is hard to get into.

Things have changed in the last two years with the acceleration of companies looking into off-shoring. Still, if it’s what you want to do and you think you’re good at it then go for it.

Good luck!

Thanks for your comments. I imagine that there is a bit of bias in most rankings. I’ve typically seen UCLA and Irvine higher in rankings that SD (specifically in CS, so engineering may be different), but I imagine that they are neck an neck in most respects.

Which college (of the six at SD) would you recommend? I thought that Reveile looked like the most prestigious, but it’s hard to tell from the outside.

I do have some friends and contacts at various companies that I was planning on using after graduation. Am I being naive in thinking that graduating from one of these first-tier schools will make it significantly easier to find a job?

Yea, the rankings I mentioned were for E.E., not C.S.

I won’t recommend one but I’ll give you a synopsis of each so you can decide.

Revelle: Very well known and prestigious but very hard to get into and requires a ton of science classes as general education.
Warren: The engineering oriented school with lower general ed requirements. This allows you more time to spend on engineering.
Muir: A more traditional college, Muir has broader general ed requirements including communication, business classes.
E. Roosevelt: Oriented towards social sciences and visual arts.
Fifth and Sixth: I can’t say. They opened just as I was leaving so I didn’t get to experience them.

Contacts are indisputably the most important aspect of getting a new job. If you don’t have contacts, a top tier school will definitely help. Many of the more research oriented companies will only higher from UC and above levels.

I will be a freshman at UCSD/Marshall in the fall. I believe I applied with Muir as my first choice and Marshall as my second; at the moment I am a history major, though.
gets out of the engineering thread

Thanks for the input, fellows, as well as the opportunity to bump this again.


Hey everyone. I happen to be a third year CS major at SDSU. Man, do I think the professors are pretty crappy. I don’t even have much working experience in the CS related field. What should I do?

I’m surprised UCSB hasnt gotten much of your attention. In addition to one of the best engineering programs (CS and EE included) in the nation - i believe it is top 10 now with Berkeley and UCLA - for public universities…it also has some of the best weather / beaches around! Not to mention greeeaaaat lookin women.

I got into Irvine, UCSD, Riverside, Santa Cruz, Davis and LA (didn’t apply to any CSU’s) and I’m extremely happy that I decided to go with UCSB. Its more of a traditional college campus. I dont like the fact that UCSD is more of a commuter school, nor the urban atmosphere of LA. For me SB was an easy choice.

Visit the campuses and see which ones you like. You’ll be spending four years of your life there (maybe more) and how well you do in your first year can be directly reflective of how comfortable you are in your new environment. In terms of the engineering programs…outside of LA / Berkeley…I’d say they were all pretty much the same.

Well as an umemployed CS guy who knows lots of unemployed CS guys my view may be somewhat jaded, but I don’t believe it’s too far off. The most important thing is to do your own research to make a decision. Read the CS trades, look at Beauro of Labor statistics, and see if you think staying CS is something you want to do. I would look seriously at refocusing your education. Some engineering fields seem to be better, as well as possibly pure math(I have heard that Insurance companies are heavy in need of statistics and actuarial types, but I havn’t checked it out myself yet).

If you do decide to stay CS, Spend every free moment from this second on working on getting an internship at a stable company. If you pop out of of school with a CS degree and no connections or expereince you will be screwed (in my opionion).

Excellent points. I had just started to consider SB when my SO told me about it. I originally come from the East Coast, so my knowledge of California schools has been sorely lacking.

Since I will be transferring, I hope to finish my degree in a maximum of two years. After that, I may consider grad school, depending on how much I want to attend, and what state the economy is in. If I do that, I hope to get enough financial aid to make it worthwhile.