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Browsed through quickly... in my experience school location also can matter when looking for a job. If you want to remain local to MN, then it could be advantageous to get your degree at UofMN. If you want to be local to Pittsburgh, CMU would be preferable (just my guess). Not the only thing to look at, but that's my experience seeing recruiters at the few schools I've gone to (plenty of national recruiting as well from the bigger companies at both schools of course).

you should finish your degree where a lot of asian people are --- southern california, seattle, hawaii, british Columbia

you appreciate asian culture because it is a good fit for you --- remember, just because you are attracted to a particular culture doesn't mean the culture is all good --- good and bad people exist equally in all cultures --- some cultures are just a better fit for certain people --- the great thing about the world is you can find your place and then choose to live where you want and decide to associate with good people and avoid the bad to the best you can

magika said:   LtWaldo said:   If I attend U of M, I plan to include CMU on my resume for the namebrand - how does "Completed 3 years of coursework at Carnegie Mellon" under Education look?

That would look terrible, it send an immediate red flag up to anyone reading the resume - you attended but could not complete a degree. Not an experience you want to highlight on a resume. Also, I think you vastly over estimate the prestige of Carnegie Mellon. It is a good school, not a great school. I'd rank many public state universities as much more prestigious, particularly in liberal arts and social science degrees (UVA, UNC Chapel Hill, etc.). This isn't a name brand ivy league we are talking about here.


I semi-agree. In the sciences and engineering, CM is a well-known and prestigious school, but I bet there are a lot of successful college-educated managers out there who aren't familiar with its reputaion at all. UVA, Berkley, and Michigan are roughly comparable schools, better known but not overall "more prestigious" nationally to those in the know. In Virginia and the South, UVA will be seen as more prestigious. I think it is inaccurate to say that "many public state universities" are "much more prestigious." In particular fields where they specialize, yes, but not overall.

In certain very elitist fields, such as finance or law on Wall Street, or teaching at a top-10 ranked university, a degree from an Ivy or equivalent (Stanford, MIT, CalTech, Duke, Williams, Amherst, maybe Chicago) is considered a near-requirement and I think CMU would fall outside of that perceived "first tier" of schools, meaning that without inside connections or something special on one's record/resume, a person would need to be ranked in the top 1-5% or so of his/her graduating class to be considered. Aside from connections with invididuals in the upper classes that one might encounter at an elite college (which might pay off with leading to a potential client base of businesses and wealthy individuals), such snobbishness is rather silly. I went to a school that was rated by Barrons as "Most Competitive" back in the days when the list of such schools was less than half as long as it is now, and in the social sciences, the two smartest people I met in my entire educational history were in grad school, both were notably more brilliant than anyone I knew as an undergraduate outside of the science fields, and both had attended minimally competitive state commuter schools for their undergraduate degrees - education is largely what one makes of it. I also once had a long flight next to a lawyer who played football at Harvard ("The only way I could get in - I wasn't smart enough to go there otherwise") who got a "gentlemen's B" average (graduates of the mighty Harvard must all be seen as successes) and based on that, got into UVA Law School, which he described as about as close to a party school as exists amongst the law schools, where almost no one kills themselves with their studies, everyone gets decent grades, and there are 700 recruiters on campus every year eager to hire their graduates. We also had a classmate in grad school whose fiance was the same year as us at Harvard and she was allowed to complete her last year of school with us because of "relationship hardship" or something similar, paying in-state tuition at less than half the rate of Harvard's tuition, yet she still received her Harvard graduate degree. She said she had to work harder at our state university than she did at Harvard.

In my mind, unless there is a very specialized field that is very highly rated at a particular school, it does not make sense to pay high-end private tuition to attend anything less than a very top-tier college or university. I don't think that a school like Carnegie Mellon, Georgetown, Johns Hopkins, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Vanderbilt or Washington Univ. gives quite enough value for their increased tuitions - a good state school on the level of any of the major state universities in the Midwest will give you as good of an education (if you apply yourself), a much more fun college experience (except ND), and a much lower student loan debt when you graduate. Yes, you may have to work a bit harder to make sure you're in the top 10% of your class, but anyone at the top of their class, in a class of 8,000+ students, is going to be a smart, reasonably hard-working person and most employers know that.

So OP, don't even think twice about it, go to MN and don't look back on CMU. What's better, having a successful GPA that will help get you interviews, or worrying about explaining away what will be seen by many as a unsuccessful, even failing, college career, where you may not even be getting the interviews very easily?

lousygolfer said:   In certain very elitist fields, such as finance or law on Wall Street, or teaching at a top-10 ranked university, a degree from an Ivy or equivalent (Stanford, MIT, CalTech, Duke, Williams, Amherst, maybe Chicago) is considered a near-requirement and I think CMU would fall outside of that perceived "first tier" of schools, meaning that without inside connections or something special on one's record/resume, a person would need to be ranked in the top 1-5% or so of his/her graduating class to be considered.The OP has not mentioned having any interest in one of those fields, but, if he did, with respect to law, his GPA and LSAT score are the two primary factors that will determine what law schools he can get into. A poor GPA from CM is going to be an enormous hindrance to him.

When it comes to applying to law school, an applicant with a very high GPA from a state school is going to be in a FAR better position than applicants with poor GPA's from much better known private schools. Once he is in law school, law school quality and his law school grades and class rank is what will primarily determine the jobs that will be available to him. His undergraduate institution will be of pretty minor importance.

...UVA Law School, which he described as about as close to a party school as exists amongst the law schools, where almost no one kills themselves with their studies, everyone gets decent grades, and there are 700 recruiters on campus every year eager to hire their graduates.Things have changed quite a bit over the past few years. Although the worst is most likely behind us, the legal market for new law school graduates remains exceptionally difficult.

It is absolutely true that before the recession, first year associates at elite firms would start getting recruiter phone calls the first week that they were there. This isn't happening anymore and even the top law students at the top law schools don't have nearly as many choices as they would've had before the recession.

In my mind, unless there is a very specialized field that is very highly rated at a particular school, it does not make sense to pay high-end private tuition to attend anything less than a very top-tier college or university.I very much agree.

By the way, even with the most highly regarded schools out there, the decision to pay full tuition can easily amount to a big mistake. Chances are that if you can get into the most highly regarded schools out there, you can also get scholarship offers from somewhat lower regarded schools. In my humble opinion, in the vast majority of cases out there, the latter is the better way to go about it.

geo123 said:   When it comes to applying to law school, an applicant with a very high GPA from a state school is going to be in a FAR better position than applicants with poor GPA's from much better known private schools.

True, but not always fair, unless one is talking about really dreadful grades that clearly indicate substantial problems. I dated a woman who attended a very average state university and she did well there, ranking someplace in the top 10% in her class. I helped her on a few of her papers, and written work that she had been handing in that got her A's at her school would have been graded a C or C+ at my school.

To clarify, my conversation with the Harvard B.A., UVA J.D. took place about 20-23 years ago.

And to add to what someone else said, if you are staying in-state, a degree from your most competitive public university might well be as valuable or more valuable than one from an Ivy-level school, depending on the field and the state. I suspect that a 'Bama or Auburn grad at the top of his or her class might have an easier time job searching in Birmingham or Montgomery than a Cornell or Columbia grad with a middle-of-class ranking.

CMU. If you intend on doing business and/or living in China for your long term future, you will get 10X the respect for having a degree from a school that is "prestigious". Your first job out of school will be the only one that seriously cares about your grades, and you can always use the excuse that you were busy working to support your parents and/or helping take care of a sick grandparent(family is hugely important in Chinese culture and one of the only marginally acceptable excuses for bad grades).

lousygolfer said:   True, but not always fair, unless one is talking about really dreadful grades that clearly indicate substantial problems.I certainly agree. My response was made in the context of the OP's post, in which he mentioned that his CM GPA would be around 2.0, which is dreadful.

Hypersion said:   self-designed degree
or
International Relations and Politics

What kinds of job can you get with these degrees? Get something more marketable even if it takes you longer to graduate.


Local school does the "self-designed" degree and they call it Business of University Studies or BUS for short. When friends ask my opinion about that program I tell them they call it BUS because the only job it will get you is driving one.

Thank you for your responses, everyone. I do not plan on going to law school, although the field interests me a bit - I don't see the reward, as my father is a corporate tax attorney, and hates his job. I do plan on going to grad school, although I haven't really decided the subject, as I would like my future firm to pay for it (FWF mind). Through an inheritance and my saving, I will not go into debt for school.

LtWaldo said:   Thank you for your responses, everyone. I do not plan on going to law school, although the field interests me a bit - I don't see the reward, as my father is a corporate tax attorney, and hates his job. I do plan on going to grad school, although I haven't really decided the subject, as I would like my future firm to pay for it (FWF mind). Through an inheritance and my saving, I will not go into debt for school.

Are you going to grad school right after finishing your undergrad?

I think that will matter here. If you go on to grad school then your undergrad grades matter even less on your resume when you get to job hunting point.

Getting into grad programs with mediocre undergrad GPA may be another problem though.

If you plan on finding a job in China after you graduate, you might want to know what the hiring managers there look for. For example, CMU might not be as "well-known" as say University of Southern California simply because USC has more graduates working in China.

Pics of your Chinese "friends"?

jerosen said:   LtWaldo said:   Thank you for your responses, everyone. I do not plan on going to law school, although the field interests me a bit - I don't see the reward, as my father is a corporate tax attorney, and hates his job. I do plan on going to grad school, although I haven't really decided the subject, as I would like my future firm to pay for it (FWF mind). Through an inheritance and my saving, I will not go into debt for school.

Are you going to grad school right after finishing your undergrad?

I think that will matter here. If you go on to grad school then your undergrad grades matter even less on your resume when you get to job hunting point.

Getting into grad programs with mediocre undergrad GPA may be another problem though.


Not to be negative, but there is no way the OP is going to get into a decent program within the next 5 years and even then he is going to need excellent work experience etc to even have a shot. The chances of him getting that experience and finding an employer who will pay for grad school given his background are also fairly remote. People bringing up stories of how 10 years ago they had a poor gpa but used a little pluck to get themselves in the door are so far removed from today's employment market that it isn't funny. OP needs to get his head out of the clouds and start facing reality. He probably needs a couple of years in school so he can get some internships/co-ops that might lead to permanent employment. The last thing he needs is a "design his own major." Design your own majors are for honor students who can work that into a cogent discussion for future grad school/law school/fellowship applications. You want a j-o-b. Study something they've heard of.

jerosen said:   LtWaldo said:   Thank you for your responses, everyone. I do not plan on going to law school, although the field interests me a bit - I don't see the reward, as my father is a corporate tax attorney, and hates his job. I do plan on going to grad school, although I haven't really decided the subject, as I would like my future firm to pay for it (FWF mind). Through an inheritance and my saving, I will not go into debt for school.

Are you going to grad school right after finishing your undergrad?

I think that will matter here. If you go on to grad school then your undergrad grades matter even less on your resume when you get to job hunting point.

Getting into grad programs with mediocre undergrad GPA may be another problem though.


No, not immediately, but I am not averse to the idea, if I can't find a job/internship within a certain timeframe.

beyond827 said:   If you plan on finding a job in China after you graduate, you might want to know what the hiring managers there look for. For example, CMU might not be as "well-known" as say University of Southern California simply because USC has more graduates working in China.

Pics of your Chinese "friends"?


CMU is something like 20% Asian. When I mentioned it in China (in the Chinese name for it), people recognized it, especially if they had been educated abroad.

Here are my thoughts:

1) If your GPA is less than certain minimum (3.2-3.3) in my experience, your resume gets dismissed upon the first look by any medium to large company. No exclusions (unless you will be going through as a referral). Nobody would care to call you and inquire why it was low and whether you worked hard to correct it. Understand it from the employer side: they receive hundreds, literally, hundreds of resumes for each job every day. They will select maybe 5-10 to call and maybe 3 for in-person interview. To even make it to a phone screen your resume must not be thrown into trash at first. If the choice is between a better school and a better GPA I would definitely chose GPA over school.

2) Work hard at getting the best possible internship/co-op while in college. Linkedin, networking meetups - anything possible to meet the right people from the right companies. When you graduate, your resume will have 1-2 great internships and you will be much more likely selected for interviews. Not to mention, many students get hired after graduation by companies they had internships at during college.

3) Network. Network, network, network. Statistically, more than 80% of jobs are found through networking. If you know enough people on linkedin, you can pretty much get a referral to any company in US. And referral almost always means at least a phone screen. You will be surprised at how many people are actually willing to help out (not to mention, nobody minds getting a referral bonus for recommending you to their company).

4) Not having debt is important. You never know where you will be in 5, 10 or 20 years (financially and health-wise)

I intend to network like crazy wherever I am. That is why I ask. Is CMU worth the networking potential? There are clubs at CMU that are pretty much just about maintaining an alumni contact list to send cover letters+resumes out. Through a good connection, you can get your resume at least looked at past the initial low GPA, maybe a phone screen.

I don't know about CMU. You can network anywhere, even when you do grocery shopping (and it doesn't cost you 45K a year). I am sure if you use linkedin and meetup and other career-related sources you will connect with people. If you are strictly considering whether CMU tuition (say, 45K/yr, so 90K) is worth for its networking opportunities, I saw n

I say UM. As a college prof at another Big Ten university, I have made many positive impressions with my degree from a Big Ten university, especially overseas. Personally, CM is a great school but so is UM, and you are more likely to encounter an HR person who graduated from a Big Ten school and is familiar with their reputations than perhaps CM. I would not let reputation of the school color your choice, because I don't think they are as far off,reputation-wise, as you might think. I also think the other variables (cost, degree options, opportunity to focus on courses you want) are more important. Also, when you finish, I would not worry about the low GPA from CM, even if you have to show transcripts. I don't know how many people I have worked with who have your background (went to college, goofed-off, flunked-out, etc., then got their act together). Folks are more forgiving than you might think.

LosDeus said:   Counterpoint here: in my experience (and industry) the only time your GPA counts is when it's for your first job. After that, no one asks about it anymore. YMMV If you have the time, I agree with other posters that, if possible, you should take the time to do the degree over, preferably in something more marketable.

Thanks for this comment. I am working on my last 35 credits for my B.S. and have maintained a 3.8+ GPA at a private university. I was considering just bombarding myself with term after term until I'm done.. If I finish with a 3.4 GPA or 3.9 GPA, I really don't think it matters. I am almost 30 now and have had 2 professional jobs already. I swore GPA doesn't really matter as long as you're above something decent, like a 3.0.

And OP.. go to U of MN. I think you need to forget about CMU and move on. U of MN is a great school.. Call me biased, I live in MN.. but. Try to get some general credits transferred though.

jnheinz said:   LosDeus said:   Counterpoint here: in my experience (and industry) the only time your GPA counts is when it's for your first job. After that, no one asks about it anymore. YMMV If you have the time, I agree with other posters that, if possible, you should take the time to do the degree over, preferably in something more marketable.

Thanks for this comment. I am working on my last 35 credits for my B.S. and have maintained a 3.8+ GPA at a private university. I was considering just bombarding myself with term after term until I'm done.. If I finish with a 3.4 GPA or 3.9 GPA, I really don't think it matters. I am almost 30 now and have had 2 professional jobs already. I swore GPA doesn't really matter as long as you're above something decent, like a 3.0.


GPA certainly matters towards getting that first job. Clearly a 3.9 is better than a 3.0 in that respect. If you do end up with a 3.0 then that will close a lot of doors and change the path of your career.

jerosen said:   jnheinz said:   LosDeus said:   Counterpoint here: in my experience (and industry) the only time your GPA counts is when it's for your first job. After that, no one asks about it anymore. YMMV If you have the time, I agree with other posters that, if possible, you should take the time to do the degree over, preferably in something more marketable.

Thanks for this comment. I am working on my last 35 credits for my B.S. and have maintained a 3.8+ GPA at a private university. I was considering just bombarding myself with term after term until I'm done.. If I finish with a 3.4 GPA or 3.9 GPA, I really don't think it matters. I am almost 30 now and have had 2 professional jobs already. I swore GPA doesn't really matter as long as you're above something decent, like a 3.0.


GPA certainly matters towards getting that first job. Clearly a 3.9 is better than a 3.0 in that respect. If you do end up with a 3.0 then that will close a lot of doors and change the path of your career.


I've already had professional jobs? This is not like my first real job out of college after an internship. I want to be able to get a job that pays $20K/year more when I graduate. I work in IT. I don't think I could lower my GPA to a 3.0 if I tried anyways. A better question here might be, what is the point where resumes get tossed.. someone said 3.2-3.3GPA, is this somewhat accurate for large corporations? I don't for see my GPA moving more than a 0.3 swing in either direction, as I've never gotten anything less than a B... and the worst of the classes not related to computing that I hate are almost out of the way.

jnheinz said:   jerosen said:   jnheinz said:   LosDeus said:   Counterpoint here: in my experience (and industry) the only time your GPA counts is when it's for your first job. After that, no one asks about it anymore. YMMV If you have the time, I agree with other posters that, if possible, you should take the time to do the degree over, preferably in something more marketable.

Thanks for this comment. I am working on my last 35 credits for my B.S. and have maintained a 3.8+ GPA at a private university. I was considering just bombarding myself with term after term until I'm done.. If I finish with a 3.4 GPA or 3.9 GPA, I really don't think it matters. I am almost 30 now and have had 2 professional jobs already. I swore GPA doesn't really matter as long as you're above something decent, like a 3.0.


GPA certainly matters towards getting that first job. Clearly a 3.9 is better than a 3.0 in that respect. If you do end up with a 3.0 then that will close a lot of doors and change the path of your career.


I've already had professional jobs? This is not like my first real job out of college after an internship. I want to be able to get a job that pays $20K/year more when I graduate. I work in IT. I don't think I could lower my GPA to a 3.0 if I tried anyways. A better question here might be, what is the point where resumes get tossed.. someone said 3.2-3.3GPA, is this somewhat accurate for large corporations? I don't for see my GPA moving more than a 0.3 swing in either direction, as I've never gotten anything less than a B... and the worst of the classes not related to computing that I hate are almost out of the way.



Yes in your situation if you're adding a degree mid career then GPA will matter less. Especially if you stay at that job and the degree gives you a promotion or such. I waasn't clear on your purpose for the degree or where you were taking it.

My point was that yes I agree that GPA doesn't matter as much after that first job but for the first job it definitely matters.


I work at a large tech company. Last I heard my employer had a minimum GPA of 3.0. However it had been 3.5 minimum before that. They may have raised or lowered it again, I don't keep tabs.

jerosen said:   jnheinz said:   jerosen said:   jnheinz said:   LosDeus said:   Counterpoint here: in my experience (and industry) the only time your GPA counts is when it's for your first job. After that, no one asks about it anymore. YMMV If you have the time, I agree with other posters that, if possible, you should take the time to do the degree over, preferably in something more marketable.

Thanks for this comment. I am working on my last 35 credits for my B.S. and have maintained a 3.8+ GPA at a private university. I was considering just bombarding myself with term after term until I'm done.. If I finish with a 3.4 GPA or 3.9 GPA, I really don't think it matters. I am almost 30 now and have had 2 professional jobs already. I swore GPA doesn't really matter as long as you're above something decent, like a 3.0.


GPA certainly matters towards getting that first job. Clearly a 3.9 is better than a 3.0 in that respect. If you do end up with a 3.0 then that will close a lot of doors and change the path of your career.


I've already had professional jobs? This is not like my first real job out of college after an internship. I want to be able to get a job that pays $20K/year more when I graduate. I work in IT. I don't think I could lower my GPA to a 3.0 if I tried anyways. A better question here might be, what is the point where resumes get tossed.. someone said 3.2-3.3GPA, is this somewhat accurate for large corporations? I don't for see my GPA moving more than a 0.3 swing in either direction, as I've never gotten anything less than a B... and the worst of the classes not related to computing that I hate are almost out of the way.



Yes in your situation if you're adding a degree mid career then GPA will matter less. Especially if you stay at that job and the degree gives you a promotion or such. I waasn't clear on your purpose for the degree or where you were taking it.

My point was that yes I agree that GPA doesn't matter as much after that first job but for the first job it definitely matters.


I work at a large tech company. Last I heard my employer had a minimum GPA of 3.0. However it had been 3.5 minimum before that. They may have raised or lowered it again, I don't keep tabs.


That helps. Thanks. I have worked in IT, the degree is in the appropriate field.. and I plan to stay in the field, so I can't possibly imagine them stressing out over a 3.5GPA or a 3.8GPA. I just can't see myself going below a 3.5GPA .. I have really stressed out about keeping it above a 3.8GPA.. but I am almost to the point of where.. if I know it won't matter if I get a 3.5, 3.6 or 3.9.. if it gets me the $20K/year I believe I'm worth, I will push harder and get done faster.

I had straight As yet had trouble finding a teaching position. The jocks who could Coach football with barely a 2.0 GPA beat me out every time for the job. Employers are looking more to see how your skill set matches their current needs.

LtWaldo,

I personally think you have two great opportunities in front of you and both are good options. Some thoughts:

1. UofM or CMU -- IF/WHEN the question comes up: Explain your 3 years at CMU simply as difficulties paying for school and that you were faced with higher priorities/responsibilitles in your personal and family life that required you to stop school. It was a decision. You had to help your family(yourself) and you were presented with an opporutnity to work in China to broaden your horizions and follow your passion for Asia --School could not provide that. It was a maturing experience and you were able to pay your bills and additionally save $2k/month to finish school. As you matured you decided to go back to school and finish off the degree.

2. CMU -- The alumni network as someone metioned *can* be valueable --only if used. If you are confident you can finish by working your butt off then this is a good route --if you can graduate. Getting straight "A"s is significantly harder than passing a class with all "B". I personally get diminishing margin of return on my grades where it takes a significant amount of time/effort/energy studying and practicing to get my work from "B" to "A" quality. The CMU degree will have more value over time when your GPA fades.

Also consider your next job as a sacrifice for the job experience and for the GPA to become less important over time. Do well there and get the references for your next big career job where GPA will not matter. Your back up plan is to work in China again where you have developed those connections and have references. Keep in contact with them every few months so they don't forget you.

Good luck and let us know what you decided.

Mike

I would take state university with no to very low student loans anytime over CMU .
Going to CMU didn't help me get a job any faster or better than what I have right now
Good luck

jerosen said:   Wouldn't employers want to see transcripts from both schools and therefore see the older poor grades from CMU?

A little off topic but I am kind of curious what field asks for transcripts? I've only heard of employers asking for GPA but that is usually only for first job out of college. Most senior positions I see usually want to see that you have relevant experience or for sales they want to see a portfolio of hitting projected targets.

As for the OP, I would normally agree with the higher GPA UofM route but if you see yourself living internationally in Asian countries it might be better going CMU. Asian cultures are heavy on well known schools.

bkslim said:   

A little off topic but I am kind of curious what field asks for transcripts?


A technical field like accounting. They want to see how well you did in your accounting courses and gauge whether you have a realistic shot at passing the CPA exam.

Many companies ask for transcript for school, GPA and graduation verification purpose for entry level positions.

LtWaldo said:   After fits and starts, I've returned to school to finish my BS/BA.
Me:
Age 27, worked for another major private Univ as IT guy (lvl 2 Helpdesk -$50k/yr salary) for 1 year, taught in China for 2 years
Like Business/Finance/Entrepreneurship - first company when I was 16, investing since I was 12, currently manage my own portfolio (12% for last year)


Would age be a bigger issue for OP? He's still working on his bachelor's at 27 when most people are working on their master's at this age?

LongDongSilver said:   LtWaldo said:   After fits and starts, I've returned to school to finish my BS/BA.
Me:
Age 27, worked for another major private Univ as IT guy (lvl 2 Helpdesk -$50k/yr salary) for 1 year, taught in China for 2 years
Like Business/Finance/Entrepreneurship - first company when I was 16, investing since I was 12, currently manage my own portfolio (12% for last year)


Would age be a bigger issue for OP? He's still working on his bachelor's at 27 when most people are working on their master's at this age?


I'm worried about this, as well. But I look younger. Plus in Asian cultures, it's better to be older. I have to decide by tomorrow in order to get a refund on my tuition for CMU. Anybody else have advice/opinions/questions?

I'm with others on the UM choice. CMUs brand isn't good enough to pick up the slack. I had lousy grades at a top tier school which disqualified me from some interviews.

CMU is a great school, but it doesn't have the Cache of the Ivy League, even a lesser Ivy like Cornell (not commenting on quality, just perception). UM is a top-notch public school that is top 25 in several programs. They have one of the best history programs in the country, for example.

My point is that CMU is not really a clear-cut better choice than UM, especially once you consider the price differential.

Thank you for all the help. I've decided to attend UM.



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