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The University of Virginia

How this student rated the school
Educational QualityC Faculty AccessibilityC
Useful SchoolworkC+ Excess CompetitionD-
Academic SuccessB Creativity/ InnovationD
Individual ValueB- University Resource UseB+
Campus Aesthetics/ BeautyB+ FriendlinessB
Campus MaintenanceA Social LifeB-
Surrounding CityB- Extra CurricularsB+
SafetyA-
Describes the student body as:
Friendly, Arrogant, Snooty

Describes the faculty as:
Unhelpful, Self Absorbed

Male
SAT1250
Bright
Lowest Rating
Excess Competition
D-
Highest Rating
Campus Maintenance
A
He cares more about Excess Competition than the average student.
Date: May 21 2003
Major: Computer Science (This Major's Salary over time)
I was accepted to the college interterested in majoring in Physics but was interested in engineering school. I left the college after my 1st semester and entered the E-school and choose Computer Science as my major.

Almost all the courses, including 400 level courses, had 50 or more students in them. Entry level courses had as many as 100 students in them. Teachers were lecturers and had little time for their students. Some teaching assistants were helpful, but others had little interest in the students. This is not a program where you interact much ith your teachers. Many people minor in computer science and my impression was that this really drained the resources away from people majoring in it.

The eSchool seemed to be a gigantic grading machine. Everything was about "The Curve". After each test, the professor would draw a histogram on the board indicating where students grades occur then drew vertical lines showing where the A's B's C's D's and F's were. The lower the median on the curve, the higher your grade! My grades from all the courses I took in the college were straight A's, including graduate level biology courses, 3 years of japanese, and grauduate level french courses. My grades in eSchool were B average, even with studying maniacially. It's a very competative program. Everyone is smary and most everyone studies long hours.

At first I was excited about learning. But in this competative environment it is hard not to shift focus to getting good grades. And when that happens, it becomes difficult to find joy in the experience. I think the program really promotes this focus on grades.

90% of the time, teachers taught directly from books. Very few interesting projects or activities.

I found it difficult to participate in activities outside of eSchool while maintaining good grades. The Curve.

eSchool examples:

Calc class- In the college, students can buy an answer book listing answers to all the questions in the calculus book (to help prepare for exams). In the eSchool, the teachers include homework completion as part of the students grade, so they don't want to allow students to have access to the answer book. Must go to see the teaching assistant to get access to this book.

Friendliness - In a writing class I took in the college, the prof invited all the students to visit his home and to have dinner with him and his wife. I can't even imagine the eSchool teachers offering this…

Physics vs CS- In the college, physics majors get a special intro class taught by heads of physics faculty. They are eager to have you join the major and spend time preparing lectures that include interesting experiments. Teaching assistants are excited to share discussion with students. In the eSchool, the intro CS class had 150+ students, was taught by an associate professor, with time-challenged teaching assistant. No teacher-student interaction.

As for the program itself, the "Computer Science" program was too bland when I took it. Many people getting a degree in this program intend to become professional software developers, like I am now. But the program offered little in this area outside of general knowledge about operating systems, what a computer language is, etc. Most of the challenge of the program I found was the core weed out classes in mathmatics and physics, which are pretty much useless to me in professional life. I wish the program could have offered more instruction related to software development.

My advice to potential computer science majors at UVA is to:

1) find out how the program has changed in the past 10 years. If you want to get into the software industry, find out what the department is doing to help you to this goal?

2) Consider going to the college and minoring in CS. You get the best of both worlds. Take only the CS courses you really want and skip all the other eSchool requirements. Downside - no CS degree at the end. Frankly, even though many jobs require a CS degree now, few of the best programmers I know have them. What a waste of time for a piece of paper?

3) Business school offered degree in MIS too. Take a look. Back then the MIS degree was behind in terms of the programming skills (COBOL was their language of choice…) whereas the management oriented skills were more useful once you graduate, whereas the eSchool taught C and C++ and the more technical courses on higher level CS topics but threw in useless math and science requirements. Have things changed? The split between MIS in the BSchool and CS in the eSchool is kind of arbitrary IMO… The best might be to take the eSchool tech classes and the BSchool MIS classes and throw out the eSchool's math and engineering classes?

4) Make friends. Some people in the program are nice. Find them and hang on. CS majors are geeks to begin with and this program doesn't help any… Keep your eyes open for smiles.

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