Help pick my college - WPI or Lehigh?

I’ve pushed the decision back to the last minute; I have about 18 hours to decide where to go to college.

I want to major in computer science and/or electrical/computer engineering.

I’ve narrowed it down to Lehigh University and Worcester Polytechnical Institute.

WPI is smaller, nerdier. Lehigh is larger, and a more diverse student body.

WPI is close to home, Lehigh is several hours away.

WPI has more these interesting interactive group projects, quite likely to be abroad, which looked interesting, and are required to get a major. For example, one group of students went to California to help Ebay develop some sort of system which better tracks users habits when they use the ebay site. Another went to work at NASA, something about putting together a satilite of some sort.

I could run on the track/cross country teams at WPI, but I’m not good enough to compete on Lehigh’s teams.

I’m good friends with a professor at WPI.

I would be able to stay with my rather long term girlfriend, who will still be in high school, if I go to WPI. I’m thinking that going to WPI just because of this would be a bad idea. However, we’re great for each other, and a long term committment is something we’d both be interested in (OK, we’re just a naive high school couple).

Now, anonymous members of the internet, tell me what the hell to do. I’ve been over pros/cons a million times, and am no closer to a decision than I was a week ago.

Go to WPI. Lehigh is evil, and it is on the side of a hill. I’m sure that is really obnoxious, especially in winter.
I must admit, I know absolutely nothing about WPI except what you wrote about it. But, Lehigh is evil.

(Obviously, to me at least, I’m a proud alum of Lafayette College)

Since you said more about WPI, it seems as if it’s actually your first choice. However, I’m an advocate of attending college far enough from your family residence that you can’t just go home whenever the impulse hits you. Then again, I was an English major. Nevertheless, I know Lehigh has a solid reputation for engineering, so my vote is for you to “slouch towards Bethlehem” (Pennsylvania).

WPI is a great school for that sort of stuff, as I’m sure you already know. Also, Worcester isn’t really that bad - it’s not a great place in and of itself, but it’s an easy ride into Boston, and there is SOME stuff to do in and around Worcester. I’m also an advocate of going decently far away from home, though - I’d probably pick WPI if the location wasn’t an issue, but Lehigh to get away is tempting.

It’s all up to you though, unfortunately! :slight_smile:


My advice is to pick the larger school, or the one with the most favorable ratio of potential mates to your gender. Engineering degrees – once you’re in a “class” of schools – are really shockingly similar, and you make a far larger difference in what you learn than the program does. That said, what I got out of college besides a degree was a group of lifelong friends that I’m going to hang out with this weekend, a beautiful fiancée, and memories and experiences I couldn’t have had anywhere else. The degree was my number one concern there, and I made sure I got it and learned what I wanted to; but when classes were over, I desperately needed friends to help me deal with the stress.

Do not underestimate the impact that student body size and mix have on your ability to find “fun.” Figure out how “Greek” the campuses are. If underage drinking and blurry hookups at frat parties are not your idea of a good time, then a 50%-Greek campus is going to be “half empty” on Saturday nights, and it’s going to seem a lot smaller and less social. Contrariwise, if you want to choose from several fraternities, don’t go to a campus with only two frats and a huge swath of a cappella groups and volunteer organizations.

If you’re happy, you will learn more readily; however, if you learn readily, but spend four years unhappy, you may very well burn out before you graduate.

Do not listen to Eureka… (poor Lafayette slobs… they don’t even realize that all of the air pollution is settling on them… :slight_smile: )

I went to Lehigh, Fankovich, and although I was a Biochem major, I had good friends in both the comp. sci. and EE programs. I loved my time there, and I still live fairly close. If you have questions, or if there’s anything I can help you with just let me know (e-mail’s in my profile feel free to contact me).

As much as I love Lehigh, in the long run, you have to pick the school that suits you best. It sounds like you are currently leaning strongly toward WPI. One question, you mentioned a girlfriend who will still be in high school… Does your girlfriend have any idea what her future plans might be? If she’s planning on a school several hours away after she graduates, that might be a factor to consider as well.


(spelling errors in this post are not the fault of Lehigh University… they tried)

I didn’t go to WPI, I went to Clark which is also in Worcester. However, I did have a friend who was a computer science major at WPI at the same time, and he was a very sought-after commodity after graduation and had several very nice job offers.

WPI’s campus is nice, and I met plenty of interesting (albeit nerdy, not that there’s anything wrong with that) people when I visited there. Worcester is not nearly as terrible as people like to pretend it is. It’s actually a very interesting place if you bother to go out and explore; it has its own unique gritty charm. I often found the people that complained the most about Worcester were the people who never bothered to step off campus. My friends and I were always able to find fun stuff to do, and Worcester holds a special place in my heart to this day.

I’m not sure if this is too late or not, but here’s my $0.02:

I went to Lehigh, I majored in CheE. I liked it there. Had a lot of fun. The town’s pretty sad though. Not really a ‘college town’, more like an ‘abandoned steel mill’ town. But in engineering, Lehigh still has a pretty good reputation, and I think I got a very good education. When I got there (in '93) the Male/Female ratio was close to 8:1 (poor due dilligence on my part), and about 50% of the campus was greek. When I left, I think the male/female split was closer to 4:1, and I’m not sure, but I’d wager the greek percentage was probably about the same if not slightly lower.

Overall, go where you want to. In retrospect, I wish I’d have chosen a larger school in more of a college town atmosphere, but things worked out well, and I have no real regrets. If the education you want is there, you should be able to find or create the social atmosphere you’re looking for.

WHATEVER you do, just don’t go to Lafayette.

I’m going to have to disagree with this. I went to an undergrad school that had fewer than 5000 total. I went to a grad school that had 20,000+. As a freshman coming from a small town, I would have DIED at the larger school. I liked that in undergrad I knew my teachers and they knew me. I never had more than 25 students in a class and I never had a t.a. I would not have had that as an undergrad at my grad school. So, that shouldn’t be a factor.

Take tours of both campuses and then decide. Oh, wait, you don’t have enough time to do that. Well, that was my advice so now I am out of suggestions. . . . damn.

Go with what your gut tells you. In the end, no one cares what school you’ve graduated from. It won’t be a deal breaker in any job interview.

Seemed to me like you already know what you want to do. Reading your OP you seem to mostly list pluses for WPI, with little or no pluses for Lehigh. What is motivating the question? Is someone else pushing you to go to Lehigh?

I’m surprised by petelin’s estimates of the male/female ratio at Lehigh. I attended Lafayette at about the same time and it was pretty close to 50/50. Of course, Lehigh is larger and better known as an engineering school. Also, I reacted very poorly to Lehigh as soon as I saw it (the afternoon after I fell in love with Lafayette).

Also note that while Lehigh may be larger compared to WPI, it is hardly in the category of a large school.

I also wanted to mention that I was always amused by the vehemence with which some people at Lafayette dislike Lehigh (And probably the reverse) given the numbers of people who apply to both schools and the general similarities between the schools.

Of course, I’ve never really grasped that whole sports rivalry thing in general.

And Drat! I forgot the other other reason I was going to post a response. I got my B.S. in Chemical Engineering at Lafayette. My classes were about 50/50 male female, except for the general engineering courses, which contained more men.

Party Schools 2001
Lehigh was 15th, WPI was unranked.

Party Schools 2002
Lehigh was 23rd, WPI was unranked.

Just something to consider…

Yea, looking back, I did post a lot more pluses for WPI.

That’s probably because I wanted to convince myself I’d be happier there…cause I really really want to stay with my girlfriend.

However, I asked myself the question: If we were to break up 5 months after school starts, would I wish I had gone to Lehigh instead? Probably.

There’s a few things pushing me to Lehigh:

-I live about 5 miles away from WPI, and have spent a heck of a lot of time in Worcester.
-My cousin, and several people from my high school are also attending. I’m not exactly the most outgoing person…I’d probably spend a lot of time with people I already know, and not take advantage of the “college experience.”
-Lehigh just seemed like a nicer place to live


I have nothing terrifically useful to add, but I wanted to chime in and say that I hate both Lehigh AND Lafayette. But I almost went to Bucknell, so what do I know for shit?

Sorry - don’t know anything about WPI, so I can’t help you there. FWIW, though, when I went to college I went to the biggest and farthest-away school that I got into: Syracuse.

Frankovich, your most recent definately balances the WPI/Lehigh scales a little more closely.
My best advice is to try to keep your concerns about your girlfriend out of your decision making process. (and I know that’s hard). You need to pick the school where you feel you will have the best experience/education (and your engineering education will be good from either Lehigh or WPI). Keep in mind that you will be living a separate life from your girlfriend no matter where you go to school. College and High School have vastly different demands, different schedules, and different time management needs. Even if you stay close to home, you are probably not going to be able to spend as much time with your girlfriend as you do now. It might actually be an easier transition for your relationship if you went to school farther away because your girlfriend would not be as likely to resent the demands that your workload, activities and college friends will place on your time. With e-mail and internet chat, in addition to phone calls, you will still be able to keep in daily contact if you want to, and it is college, not prison, you can always go home for the occassional weekend if you wish.
I definately recommend that you visit both schools (for a dorm overnight if at all possible) without your parents. Meet some current students, and try to get a feel for what it’s like to be a student there.

On a personal note, as a shy person, from a very small town, I highly recommend going away to school. It forced me to reach out, and meet new people. If I had stayed home, and gone to a more local university with a bunch of people that I knew from high school, I probably would never have gotten to know many new people, or joined activities. Because I went to college without anyone I already knew I met a huge variety of people (many of whom were very different from me) and participated in all sorts of things, that I would have never guessed I’d like.
BTW, I’m female, so the male/female ratio at Lehigh was just fine by me :slight_smile: But I should mention, that most published male/female ratios for Lehigh include the graduate students (the graduate student population has significantly more men than women). The undergraduate ratios are generally not significantly skewed (although there definately are more male than female students)

The Lehigh/Laffayette thing is also fun :slight_smile: [My freshman year I could not believe they were actually handing out awards to people who had attended 50 games or even more]

Good luck with your choice. I really struggled with that decision myself, so I do sympathize. And again, I lived on campus for 4 years, and I still not too far away, I’ll be happy to try to help if you have any questions about the area or the school.
Hi petelin :slight_smile: looks like we were at Lehigh at the same time (I’m class of 96) maybe we shared a chem class somewhere along the way

I’m torn. My personal view is you will grow more, enjoy the experience more by “going away” to college. But if you are extremely dependant on your girlfriend, you run the risk of being so obsessed with it, you won’t be able to do your studies.

I had a roommate who dropped out because he couldn’t get away from his love sickness. He now works in a factory.

But if you stay at the local college, it is my feeling it will be just an extension of high school, and you will have passed up the chance to meet a wonderful new set of friends and experience new things.

At 42, I still have good friends from high school. And good and wonderful friends from college and more friends from various jobs. And they are all different and all have enhanced my life in different ways. I so want to say go to Lehigh, but I also prefer to say go where you know you will graduate.

I guess I haven’t helped much. I wish you luck though. Please let us know what you decide.

I don’t know much about Lehigh, but I do know one thing: The Worcester Polytechnical Institute is in Worcester.

That’s all I’m gonna say.

Lehigh might not be the school for you.

The only thing you need to know about Lehigh is that Lafayette Sucks.

I’d say WPI because everyone I know who went there loved it. They were very sought after once they graduated.

On a side note - what high school do you attend?