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2014 September 1

Where PhDs get their Bachelors’ degrees

Last year I wrote about a study that looked at where CS PhD students got their bachelors’ degrees. Now Reed College has extended that question to other fields as well: Doctoral Degree Productivity.  Their point was to show how high Reed ranked on the standard they chose: the number of students who went on to get PhDs divided by the number of students getting bachelor’s degrees.  I quote the tables and accompanying text below, but I take no credit or blame for the data—this is directly from Reed’s site:

Undergraduate Origins of Doctoral Degrees

Percentage ranking of doctorates, by academic field, conferred upon graduates of listed institutions.

Rank All Disciplines Science and Math Social Sciences Humanities and Arts
1 Calif. Inst. of Tech. Calif. Inst. of Tech. Swarthmore New England Conserv. of Music
2 Harvey Mudd Harvey Mudd Grinnell Curtis Institute of Music
3 Swarthmore Reed Reed Juilliard
4 Reed MIT Bryn Mawr Cleveland Inst. of Music
5 Carleton NM Institute Mining & Tech. Spelman St. John’s College
6 MIT Carleton Oberlin Reed
7 Grinnell Wabash Wesleyan Hellenic College-Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Sch. of Theology
8 Princeton Rice St. Joseph Seminary Swarthmore
9 Harvard Univ. of Chicago Harvard Oberlin
10 Oberlin Grinnell Pomona Amherst

Percentage Ranking by Specific Fields of Study

Rank Life Sciences Physical Sciences Psychology Other Social Sciences* Humanities
1 Calif. Inst. of Tech. Calif. Inst. of Tech. Univ. Puerto Rico – Aguadilla Swarthmore St. John’s, MD
2 Reed Harvey Mudd Wellesley Reed Reed
3 Swarthmore Reed Vassar Harvard Amherst
4 Carleton MIT Hendrix Grinnell Swarthmore
5 Grinnell NM Institute Mining/Tech. Pontifical Coll. Josephinum Univ. of Chicago Carleton
6 Harvey Mudd Carleton Grinnell Bryn Mawr Yale
7 Univ. of Chicago Wabash Swarthmore Thomas More College of Lib. Arts Thomas More College of Lib. Arts
8 Haverford Rice Barnard Oberlin Bryn Mawr
9 MIT Univ. of Chicago St. Joseph Seminary Coll. Bard College at Simon’s Rock St. John’s, NM
10 Earlham Grinnell Pomona Wesleyan Wesleyan
11 Harvard Haverford Reed Amherst Princeton
12 Cornell Univ. Swarthmore Wesleyan Pomona Bard College at Simon’s Rock

*Does not include psychology, education, or communications and librarianship.

Source: National Science Foundation and Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. The listing shows the top institutions in the nation ranked by estimated percentage of graduates who went on to earn a doctoral degree in selected disciplines between 2001-2010.

All the schools listed are private schools except Univ. Puerto Rico—Aguadilla and NM Institute Mining/Tech., but seeing dominance by expensive private schools is not very surprising—grad school is expensive, and students who can afford expensive private schools are more likely to be able to afford expensive grad school and are less likely to need to work immediately after getting their B.S. or B.A. A PhD is not a working-class degree—it is prepares one for only a small number of jobs, mainly in academia or national labs, so for many it is just an elite status symbol.  What is more surprising is how poorly the Ivy League schools do on this list—perhaps those who get their elite status conferred by their bachelor’s institution see no need to continue on to get higher degrees.

Reed does not report numbers directly comparable with the ones in the Computing Research Association report, which reports only on computer science PhDs, where

Only one institution (MIT) had an annual average production of 15 or more undergraduates.   Three other institutions (Berkeley, CMU, and Cornell) had an average production of more than 10 but less than 15.  Together, these four baccalaureate institutions accounted for over 10% of all Ph.D.’s awarded to domestic students.   The next 10% of all Ph.D.’s in that period came from only eight other baccalaureate institutions (Harvard, Brigham Young, Stanford, UT Austin, UIUC, Princeton, University of Michigan, and UCLA). 

Note that five of the top producers of bachelor’s in CS who went on to get PhDs were public schools.  The CRA does not report PhD/BS numbers for individual institutions, probably because the numbers are too small to be meaningful for most colleges—you have to aggregate either across many colleges or across many fields before the denominators are big enough to avoid just reporting noise.  Reed did the aggregating across fields, while the CRA report aggregated across colleges, finding that research universities sent about 2.5% of their CS graduates on to get PhDs, 4-year colleges about 0.9% and masters-granting institutions about 0.6%.  They did have one finding that supports Reed’s analysis:

The top 25 liberal arts colleges (using the U.S. News and World Reports ranking) collectively enroll slightly less than 50,000 students per year in all majors and were the origins of 190 Ph.D. degrees between 2000 and 2010, collectively ranking ahead of any single research university.

Reed’s findings are also consistent with the NSF report that put the “Oberlin 50″ colleges highest at over 5% of their science and engineering graduates going on to get PhDs, compared to about 3% for research universities.  The NSF report supports somewhat the analysis that socio-economic status is important in determining who goes on to grad school—private research universities match the Oberlin 50, but public research universities have only about half as large a fraction of their graduates go on to grad school.

I found out about this site from The Colleges Where PhD’s Get Their Start, which has a copy of the tables that probably came from an earlier, buggy  version of the site, because Lynn O’Shaughnessy wrote

I bet most families assume that attending a public flagship university or a nationally known private research university is the best ticket to graduate school. If you look at the following lists of the most successful PhD feeder schools for different majors, you will see a somewhat different story. Not a single public university makes any of the lists. The entire Cal State system, however, is considered the No. 1 producer of humanities PhD’s.

I could believe that the Cal State system had the largest raw numbers of students going on to get PhDs in humanities, as they are a huge 4-year college, enrolling about 438,000 students [], with about 76,000 bachelor’s degrees per year []. Are there any other colleges in the US graduating so many BS or BA students per year? But the fact remains that Cal State is not the flagship university of California, and the University of California probably has a much higher percentage of its alumni go on to get PhDs.

In fact, one of the big problems with these lists is the question of scale—most of the colleges that come up high on Reed’s lists (which means high on NSF’s lists) do so by having very small denominators—they don’t graduate many students, though a high percentage of those go on to get PhDs.  In terms of raw numbers of students who go on to get PhDs, the public research universities produce many more than the private research universities, and the liberal arts schools are just a drop in the bucket. Of the top 25 schools in terms of raw numbers who go on to get PhDs in science and engineering, 19 are public research universities and 6 are private research universities—of the top 50 only 17 are private research universities.

When you are looking for a cohort of similarly minded students, you get slightly higher enrichment at some very selective private schools, but there are actually more peers at a large public research university—if you can find them.

2014 August 17

New bedroom furniture

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 12:58
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I’ve added some new furniture to the bedroom:

My new 42" rolling cabinet tool box.

My new 42″ rolling cabinet tool box. The plastic tool box on the top is my son’s.

For several years I’ve been planning to clean up the garage, put up shelving, and get all the “stuff” in the garage organized. It has been a firm commitment each summer, and each summer nothing happens (well, one year I got some nasty old shelving taken down and everything put into boxes, but that was sort of negative progress, as I never got new shelves put up).

Part of the plan was to get all (or most) of my tools into a rolling tool box, so that I could have easier access to them. I’ve often ended up buying a new hand tool because I couldn’t find what I was looking for in the garage. This summer I finally bought a 42″ rolling tool box from Harbor Freight for $370, after giving up on finding anything locally. The shipping from southern California added another $97 to the price (shipping weight is 289 pounds). Because most of the tools get used in the house, not the garage, I decided to keep the toolbox in the house. I’m planning to clear my son’s stuff out of the living room and into his bedroom when he leaves for college (so the robotics table, scroll saw, and drill press would move out of the living room, restoring it to a more livable space), so I didn’t want to put the tool box in the living room. Since I want the tools to be readily available when I’m working on electronics stuff, I ended up putting the tool box in my bedroom, which has gradually been becoming my workshop for computer and electronics stuff.

My wife has been patient with the gradual conversion of our bedroom into a workshop, but I think that we could make the room more comfortable by rearranging the furniture. I hope to get the floor of the bedroom mostly cleared of junk before school starts, though that may require getting some shelving that fits under the window to tidy up the junk that has accumulated while still leaving it mostly accessible. I’ll probably have to buy the new bed she wants, though this will require some careful selection, as there won’t be room for bedside tables and our current bedside lamps are not tall enough to work with a conventional bed.

I spent some time yesterday getting the tool box into the house—the delivery service wouldn’t even put it on the porch, so I had to uncrate it on the driveway, remove all the drawers, then get my son and my wife to help me put it up the front steps. While I had all the drawers out, I lubricated the slides with paraffin (the T9 lubricant I use on my bike chain). I then spent most of the afternoon unearthing tools in my garage and organizing them in the tool box. I couldn’t get all the hand tools into the toolbox, but most of them fit.

At the end of the day, I had my son go through his tool box and mine, selecting what he would take to college. He ended up with a somewhat smaller set of tools than the rather large list I had put together, rejecting the socket wrench set and the screwdriver security bit set as too big.

  • metric Allen wrenches (from a set from Harbor Freight, I’ll keep the English and star bits)
  • screwdrivers (he already had a handle and bit set)
  • claw hammer (he already had one)
  • mini hammer with screwdrivers
  • mini level (which comes with a warning for people with pacemakers, which is pretty silly considering how weak the magnet on it is)
  • adjustable wrench (an 8″ one with a 1″ jaw opening, the second smallest of the set of laser-marked ones from Harbor Freight)
  • measuring tape (he’s only taking one of the two 25′ ones he already had)
  • razor knives
  • Leatherman pocket tool (which he already had)
  • zip ties
  • velcro cable straps
  • needle nose pliers (2, which he already had)
  • diagonal cutters (which he already had)
  • end nippers (which he already had)
  • self-adjusting wire strippers
  • electrical tape
  • multimeter (from his chemistry lab kit)

There were also several leftovers from my first prototype run of the circuits course:

We still have some things not added to his tool box, which is already full:

  • bike patch kit
  • stainless steel bike tire levers
  • needles and thread
  • tweezers
  • Arduino and Freedom KL25Z boards
  • power supply for Arduino boards?
  • Ethernet cable
  • USB cables
  • soldering iron and stand (my old Unger iron, or perhaps he’ll take the one bought for his company)
  • Power strip with surge protector
  • solder
  • 22-gauge wire for breadboarding
  • first aid kit: band aids, larger gauze pads, antibacterial ointment, paper tape, medic scissors, thermometer, ibuprofen, antacid, simethicone

We’ll have to go over the previous list to check for other things he might need, but I think this list has most of the things I’m responsible for.  We might make a trip to Home Depot on move-in day to pick up a few other things.



2014 July 31

College tool box

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 22:33
Tags: ,

It is getting late enough in the summer that we have to start putting together packing lists and figuring out what stuff we’ll need to buy for our son’s trip to college.  Because he’ll be taking the train to college, we won’t have the problem some people have of him bringing a Ford Expedition full of junk and not having room in his dorm for it all.  We have to be much more selective than most families in deciding what he should pack.

Of course, there are some large shopping areas within an easy bike distance of UCSB, including K-mart, Costco, and Home Depot, so it isn’t necessary to pack everything he might need. (Though the Yelp reviews for K-mart indicate that it is a very badly managed store—I don’t know if that is a K-mart universal or specific to the Goleta store.) But some things are worth having around because when you need them, either there isn’t time or it isn’t worth a 5-mile round trip to the store.

My wife will take care of ensuring that he has the bedding and clothing he needs—I’ll try to make sure that he has the tools he needs.  So what tools does he need?  Let’s break it down into categories:

  • Study tools: computers, calculators, writing implements, books, paper, …
  • Bike tools: helmet, lights, patch kit, …
  • Dorm repair tools: hammer, pliers, wrenches, screwdrivers, …
  • Electronics tools: soldering iron, wire strippers, …
  • Living supplies: fan, refrigerator, …

In each category, we’ll need to look at what he has, what he’ll need, and whether he should take it with him or buy it there.  I’ll probably come back to edit this post later on, crossing out stuff he decides not to take and adding stuff I think of later.

Study tools

  • Small laptop for note taking+charger.  He already has a Chromebook that is adequate for this task.
  • Larger laptop to use as a desktop machine+charger.  He selected and we just purchased a Unix laptop for him (a 17″ Kudu Professional from System76)—in fact, UPS tried to deliver it today when everybody was out—he should get it tomorrow.  The laptop has VGA and HDMI ports, so he should be able to connect up to data projectors (though there are often problems with not having the right drivers on Unix distros).  The laptop comes with Ubuntu, but he is considering installing a different distro—he’s got about 2 months to play with that before college starts.
  • Calculator. He has several graphing calculators that he won in grade-school and middle-school math contests—he’ll take one with him, in case there is an exam that allows calculators but not computers.  He usually prefers using a computer for calculation these days, when he has a choice.
  • Ethernet cable (the dorm rooms have both wireless and Ethernet, but I bet the Ethernet service is better—they are not, however, allowed to add routers to the Ethernet connections).
  • Printer I think that a printer is too heavy to be worth carting around.  He gets a fair amount of free printing on campus.
  • Back-up drive? He doesn’t store much on his Chromebook (using it mostly to access the web and storage on the cloud), but he may need a backup device for his new laptop. A small drive is not very expensive.
  • USB flash drive.  He already has a moderately good one and we can supplement that with a a couple of old cheap ones, for when he has to lend a file to a friend, so that he doesn’t lose his good flash drive.
  • Laptop lock?  We have one, but is it worth the trouble of using it?
  • Cell phone + charger.  He has one that he uses rarely (usually to call us when we require him to check in) and we’ve bought a pre-paid AT&T plan that costs $2 a day to use, but only on the days he uses it, and then it allows unlimited talk or messaging, but data is 1¢/5kB.  The biggest problem is that the prepaid amount expires after a while, unless you add more, so the plan costs $100 a year whether you use it that much or not.  Given how little he uses a phone, that was the cheapest rate we could find.  If he starts using the phone a lot more, we can add more money to the account easily.
  • Pens, pencils, and markers.  We’ll send a few random ones with him, but expect that he’ll buy what he really needs at the bookstore.
  • Pencil sharpener.
  • Dry-erase markers?  (He can buy pieces of marker board at Home Depot and get them to cut it down to carryable sizes.)
  • Clipboard?  I like carrying a pad of paper on a clipboard in my backpack for note taking, doodling, and writing drafts of things. I don’t know whether he would want one or not, but having something to write on when studying outdoors or in a place that doesn’t have convenient tables can be handy.
  • Binders, composition books, folders, ruled paper, post-it notes, … and other heavy paper items should probably be bought once he gets there. We’ll probably send him with a small pad or pack of paper, so he has something to write on until he buys what he needs.
  • Ruler
  • Scissors for paper
  • Protractor?
  • Stapler and staples
  • paper clips
  • push pins?
  • Transparent tape (buy there?)

Bike tools

He doesn’t do major repairs on his bike, and there is a bike shop not far away in Isla Vista that he could walk his bike to, but he’ll need to take a few things with him:

  • Bike helmet.  They’re not fashionable in UCSB, but he normally rides with one, and I’d be happier if he brought his with him, rather than counting on getting one there.
  • Bike headlight + charger. He has a nice rechargeable LED headlight that can serve as a flashlight also.  It is small enough and expensive enough to be worth carrying rather than getting a new one.  He will have to remember to bring the light and the helmet home for holidays, though we probably have a spare helmet at home he could use if he forgets.
  • Bike taillight.  These are cheap enough that he might want to leave his here and get a new one once he gets a bike at UCSB—he’ll probably have to get a new mount for the tail-light anyway.
  • Bike lock
  • Patch kit
  • Tire levers. We have good stainless steel tire levers, which we’ve found much easier to use that the fat plastic ones that seem to be all most low-cost bike shops carry.
  • Frame-fit or smaller pump.  There are some good floor pumps scattered around the UCSB campus.  According to a news article, there were four bike tool stations installed in 2012 “located adjacent to the De La Guerra Dining Commons, Santa Catalina Residence Hall, San Rafael Residence Hall, and San Clemente Villages graduate student housing complex.”  None of those are very convenient to Manzanita Village, where he hopes to live, so unless the dorm he is in has a floor pump, he might want to buy one there.
  • Allen wrench set (3mm, 4mm, 5mm, 6mm)
  • Small adjustable wrench?
  • update 2014 Aug 3: bike panniers

I don’t think he will need to bring a chain tool, a spoke wrench, cone wrenches, sprocket removers, or any fancier bike tools.  First, he probably doesn’t know how to use most of them, and second, he can go to the Associated Students bike shop in the center of campus and borrow tools (and get instruction in using them) there.

Dorm repair tools

One can buy tool kits specifically marketed to dorm residents (like the Apprentice Tool Kit), but he already has a tool box and many of the tools he would need, so I’d only use a kit like that to suggest things that might be handy to include in the tool box he takes.

  • claw hammer
  • Allen wrenches
  • screwdrivers (Phillips and slotted—maybe with a bit set)
  • jeweler’s screwdrivers
  • mini level
  • adjustable wrench
  • socket wrench set (metric and English)?
  • ViseGrips?
  • tin snips?
  • measuring tape
  • spring clamps (plastic or steel)
  • razor knives
  • Leatherman pocket tool
  • machine screws and nuts
  • wood screws?
  • nails?
  • calipers?
  • micrometer?
  • zip ties
  • velcro cable straps
  • duct tape
  • Elmer’s glue?
  • Sewing kit: packet of sharps, spools of buttonhole twist (black, white, grey), small embroidery scissors, needle threader?, spare buttons?

Electronics tools

This will be a little different from the ones I specify for my applied electronics course for bioengineers (see the Winter 2013 or Spring 2014 list) , but we have a lot of the things on hand.  The initial list is almost certainly too much stuff.

  • needle nose pliers
  • diagonal cutters
  • tweezer set
  • wire strippers (should I give him one of the self-adjusting ones like I use?)
  • solder
  • soldering iron and stand (my old Unger iron, or perhaps he’ll take the one bought for his company)
  • solder sucker
  • solder wick?
  • PanaVise Jr? for board holding?  Or just a cheap alligator-clip 3rd hand?
  • breadboard
  • multimeter
  • USB oscilloscope??? (Is there one that plays nicely with Linux boxes?) Small pocket oscilloscope?
  • resistor assortment
  • ceramic capacitors
  • electrolytic capacitors
  • electrical tape
  • heat-shrink tubing?
  • spools of 22-gauge wire for breadboarding
  • jumper wires for headers? (female-female or male-male)
  • double-sided breakaway male headers
  • Arduino boards? Freescale KL25Z board? Power supply for boards?
  • USB cables
  • Small, closable tackle box for keeping bags of small parts sorted?

Living supplies

  • Power strip with surge protector
  • Extension cord?
  • Small room fan
  • Refrigerator (definitely a “buy there” item—needs to coordinate with roommate)
  • desk lamp?
  • bed lamp? (perhaps one that mounts on the bed posts)
  • alarm clock
  • laundry bag
  • book ends? (probably better to buy there, if needed at all)
  • Rolls razor
  • shaving brush and soap
  • coat hangers (buy there?)
  • first aid kit: band aids, larger gauze pads, antibacterial ointment, paper tape, medic scissors, thermometer, ibuprofen, antacid, simethicone
  • nail clippers
  • lock box for passport, insurance card, and other important papers?
  • backpack (he and I both need new backpacks for carting books around)
  • knife, fork, spoon
  • bowl
  • mug
  • resealable food containers (to avoid rodent visits)
  • Can opener (on Swiss Army knife?)’
  • umbrella

2014 May 2

Holding colleges accountable

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 08:21
Tags: , ,

Earlier this week I signed the petition: “Hold predatory career colleges accountable for abusing students and ripping off taxpayers“.

The purpose of the petition is to get the Federal Department of Education to hold colleges, particularly for-profit colleges, responsible for providing the education that they promise to students who take out massive loans. Although I worry a bit about over-regulation of colleges (politicians and regulators can too easily do serious damage by imposing ideology), the particular measures that are being proposed in this petition seem reasonable:

  • Providing financial relief for students in programs that lose eligibility. Schools with ineffective programs that lose eligibility for federal aid should be required to make whole the students who enrolled in the program. Providing full relief to all such students is not only fair, it also creates a greater incentive for schools to quickly improve their programs.
  • Limiting enrollment in poorly performing programs until they improve. Under the proposed regulation, poorly performing programs can increase the number of students they enroll, without limit, right up until the day the programs lose eligibility. Instead, the rule should impose enrollment caps until a program improves.
  • Closing loopholes and raising standards. The proposed regulation is too easy to game, and its standards are too low. For example, programs can pass the standards even when 99% of their students drop out with heavy debts that they cannot pay down. Unscrupulous schools can easily manipulate job placement rates or evade accountability by limiting program size. They can exclude the debt of graduates who enroll in a program for just one day, and can enroll students in online programs that lack the accreditation needed to be hired in the states where the students live. These types of loopholes need to be closed and the standards raised.
  • Protecting low-cost programs where most graduates don’t borrow. Low-cost programs where most graduates do not borrow at all – such as community colleges—should automatically meet the standards because, by definition, these programs do not consistently leave students with unaffordable debts. Burdening these programs with a complicated appeals process could prompt more schools to leave the federal student loan program and lead to the closure of effective, low-cost programs.

The “financial relief” part only makes sense if the failing colleges are paying back the money that they scammed out of the students, not if the Federal government is providing a backstop for them.

Keeping the low-cost community colleges free from the bureaucratic burdens imposed on the predatory colleges seems also like common sense (and so is unlikely to Federal bureaucrats).

2014 April 26


Filed under: home school — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 22:33
Tags: , , , ,

Some readers of my blog and e-mail posts have been asking where my son will be going to college.

He filed his “Statement of Intent to Register” (SIR in UC jargon) and paid the deposit for University of California, Santa Barbara.

This post is a partial explanation of why he chose UCSB. I’m somewhat constrained, as I’ve been asked not to detail precisely where he did and did not get accepted. Suffice it to say that the number of acceptances was not different enough from the expected number to reject the null hypothesis that acceptances are random based on the probabilities inferred from the Common Data Set.  (Of course, with a sample size of one, that is not a very strong statement.)

As a family, we’re all pretty happy with UCSB as a choice, despite its reputation as a party school, the conservative community, and the difficulty of reaching it by air from northern California. What sold him on UCSB was the College of Creative Studies (CCS), which seems to be the best honors program in the UC system.

His major will be computer science, but it will be computer science in CCS, rather than computer science in engineering. What this means is that he basically crafts his own degree together with a faculty adviser. In his first quarter, he’ll take a special CCS freshman seminar with the other 10 or so CCS computer science freshmen, during which the instructor will try to assess the current level of expertise of each student and fill any holes they have in their prior learning, to place them in the right CS courses in future quarters.  The class is tiny (usually around 10 students) so the instructor doesn’t have to do one-size-fits-all teaching or advising. Because my son has already had UC-level applied discrete math (through concurrent enrollment at UCSC), he’ll be able to take upper-division courses like formal languages and automata theory right away. In fact, I suspect that he’ll end up skipping almost all the lower-division courses in CS.  He may end up opting to take some of them for review, or so that he’ll have an easy course on his schedule so that he has more time for research or acting, but he won’t be forced into huge lecture classes that have nothing new for him in them.

I looked over the lower-division (first two years) of CS at UCSB and it looks like my son has covered almost all of it already. He’s had several different programming languages (Scratch, C, Scheme, Python, Java, with bits of C++, JavaScript, Logo, assembly language), though he is most proficient now with object-oriented code in Python. One course (CMPSC 56) may have a little new material on exception handling and threading, and he might choose to take something like that to formalize his knowledge—when one learns a subject by reading reference manuals to do particular programming tasks there are sometimes unexpected holes in what you learn.  He’s done a fair amount with threading in Python, but not a lot with exception handling. CMPSC 64, on computer architecture and digital logic also has some new material for him.  The computer architecture will seem fairly simple to him after how deeply he’s been diving into the KL25 ARM Cortex M0+ architecture for programming both PteroDAQ and the light gloves, but some of the combinational and sequential hardware design will new.

One strong plus is that he’ll be able to join a research team his first year—CCS makes a concerted effort to get their students into research groups (in fact, one faculty member he met with when visiting UCSB has already tried to recruit him to a project). The UCSB computer science department is pretty good (their website claims top 10 for grad programs, but even allowing for hype they are probably in the top 20), and the department is fairly large with 32 tenure-track faculty, so there are a lot of different research projects he could join.  Computer engineering is lumped with EE in Electrical and Computer Engineering at UCSB, so there are more faculty and more research projects he could join there.

Another plus of the CCS program is a relaxing of the often bureaucratic nit-picking of general-education requirements. The CCS general-ed requirements are

  1. two courses in fields related to the student’s major, as determined in consultation with a CCS advisor;
  2. eight courses broadly distributed in fields unrelated to the student’s major, as determined in consultation with the advisor. These may be selected from courses offered by the College of Creative Studies, the College of Letters and Science, and the College of Engineering.

One of these courses must fulfill the Ethnicity Requirement: a course that concentrates on the intellectual, social and cultural experience, and history of one of the following groups: Native-Americans, African-Americans, Chicanos/Latinos, Asian-Americans. This course may be selected from a list of courses that fulfill the Ethnicity Requirement offered through the College of Letters and Science, or it may be a College of Creative Studies course that is classified as such.

Students also have to satisfy UC-wide requirements:

The reduction in bureaucratic bean counting means that he can probably satisfy all his general-ed requirements with fun courses in theater, linguistics, physics, math, and so forth.  The only rather arbitrary course is the Ethnicity Requirement, and he can satisfy that with any of several courses, including some theater ones.

One minor problem (shared by almost every college he applied to) is that he gets little relevant credit for his Advanced Placement exams. He’ll probably get 18 credits toward graduation (out of the 180 needed to graduate), but not all the units count towards his major requirements. He gets full credit for the calculus BC, but physics gives only useless non-STEM physics credit for the Physics C exams, the AP CS exam credit is pretty useless, and I’m not sure about chemistry (the page says “Natural Science 1B”, but there does not seem to be such a course—if they mean “CHEM 1B”, then it is useful credit towards his science requirements, assuming he does well enough on the exam in 2 weeks).  Because he is interested in taking some modern physics (quantum mechanics), he’ll probably end up either retaking calculus-based physics or talking his way into the more advanced courses and bypassing the huge lecture courses.

He should also get transfer credit for the community college Spanish courses and the UCSC math courses he has, which could mean another 16–18 credits.  These extra credits will not significantly speed his graduation, but they may give him the flexibility to avoid taking a heavy load some quarter, or to take an internship or study-abroad opportunity without falling behind. One normal benefit to having more credits is getting registration priority, but he already gets that as a CCS student, so that is less of a benefit for him than for others.

One little bonus for us as parents—UCSB is substantially cheaper than the private schools he also applied to, and we have saved enough in his 529 plan that we won’t need to take out any loans and he won’t have to work a meaningless job—he can spend his spare time doing research projects at the University or working on engineering projects for the startup company he and his friends are forming.

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