UC vs. CMU: Much Needed Help.

Well…
Finally got my acceptance/rejection letters and I honestly have no idea how to make this decision.
I’ve been religiously following these discussions for a couple years now, but never thought about posting anything. Eh, but I really need the advice.

My interest has always been in design, especially Industrial Design though a small part of me sees myself doing Graphic/Communication Design as well.
CMU and UC DAAP were my top two choices because it was really important for me to be at a university…not schools like RISD or Pratt.
I got accepted to both these schools and now have to make a decision. I applied with the full intention of basing my decision on the amount of money I got from both schools (which I ultimately thought would lead me to UC) but CMU has actually given me enough money to make it a probable choice. So…with great misfortune :unamused:, I actually have to make a decision. I’d really appreciate some objective input…especially about the specific programs at both schools.

An overview of my situation:

CMU–
-Partial Scholarship–not totally finalized but I’ll end up paying about half so…$25-$30 grand a year. Compared to the $55, 000 regular tuition…this is now quite feasible for me.
-You don’t decide between Graphic/Industrial Design until the end of your Freshman year. The more I think about it, the more I think this may be important. It’s not that I don’t know the difference between the two–I just honestly haven’t had enough experience to know which is a better fit for me. I lean towards ID at the moment but I’m not 100% assured
-Strong Liberal Arts–pretty important to me. I’d like to take other classes…explore Minors, languages, etc.
-New city/location
-4 year program…and most kids CO-OP/Intern in the summer

UC DAAP–
-Free tuition (yes, I know. Good deal.)
-Practically home. (I’m grew up in Cincinnati)
-5 year program. CO-OP Program
-Committed to ID. Difficult to switch majors and let’s be honest DAAP’s Graphic Design program isn’t nearly as renowned as its ID program.

That’s pretty much it. Sorry that it’s practically a novel. Mass props to anyone who even took the time to read all that.
Basically, to Sparknote:

Both CMU and UC have top notch ID programs and I’d be lucky to go to either of them. But they both seem to take very different approaches…and that’s what makes me the most apprehensive about this decision.
5 year program w/ CO-OPs vs. 4 year program and a flexible ID/GD first year.
…I have no idea where I fit. I’ve visited both schools and I can see the benefits of both.

If anyone would like to share their experience at either school or with a similar decision, I’d love some input.

I’ve got a similar situation, and have thus been obsessing over these discussions for the last few days myself.

my vote: go to CMU. both i think are pretty much equally qualified, but its good to get away from your hometown a bit during the college years and if your not sure about what direction your going to go in, CMU would def. be a better fit.

Just to let you know, I love UC with a passion so I’m not saying CMU out of any personal bias,

(free tuition for UC though? god i’d love to be you)

hope that helps, sorry if it doesn’t

I’m at UC right now, thought about CMU pretty strongly but for me it came down to money being an Ohio resident and having to pay for college myself.

I feel like between a lot of the top schools it’s a little irrelevant where you go, and it’s really about the mindset you go into them with. I could make a huge list on all the reasons why I think DAAP is awesome, someone else could do that same thing about CMU and Art Center, and we’ll have a good ol’ pissin’ contest. I have seen really strong work coming out from CMU and only have positive things to say about it, but if I was offered a free ride there right now, I don’t think I’d transfer, and I would say its the same for any CMU student. You create the school and the environment that you want, I’ve explored and found so much great stuff at DAAP and on campus I’m like a kid a in candy store and I’m starting to think “damn 5 years isn’t long enough!”

As far as moving out the city goes, I can see that to a certain extent, this is my second degree and I know that out of high school all I cared about was getting the hell out of the tri-state area. I scratched that itch in Chicago for 4 years, and now I’m back in Cincy for 5 more! Free tuition is hard to pass up though, would you be taking on the loans yourself?

I go to UC, so I may be a bit biased, but I also have visted both campuses.

Free Tuition, I personally wouldn’t think twice about that. No financial burden on myself or my parents. The latter is honestly more important to me. But free tuition does sweeten the deal and allow you more freedom to splurge on some luxuries while in college. Nicer apartment, better computer, flights to visit random cities, better meals, spend more on making your prototype models, even a car if you don’t already have one.

While you may be practically home at UC while in school, you will also be able to co-op in a variety of cities. A good portion of my classmates are interning in Chicago, NYC, San Fran, and Boston areas. With a bunch in other areas. Austin, Buffalo, Columbus, Dallas, LA, Pittsburgh, Providence, and so on. So you do get the chance to go and experience other cities. The thing to take away from this is, everyone has to intern. If you don’t complete the minimum amount of internships, you don’t graduate. I’ve never heard of this, usually everyone gets in the full (5/6?) 3 month internships.

There are even 3 ID students right now in Wuppertal, Germany on our exchange program, so if studying abroad is something your interested in, DAAP has a good relationship with a couple of schools over seas.

I have visited CMU and the campus night life does seem a bit more vibrant than UC’s campus, maybe because Pitt is right next door, so there are a lot more students around. The CMU/Pitt campus area does look nice and is in a pretty nice area of the city. Cant say the same about UC.

But I do believe that DAAP’s facilities are far superior, as far as computer labs and rapid prototyping go. Even the studios seemed a bit nicer, and I never really considered UC to have top of the line studio spaces. Plus half the time your in studio all day anyways so you get little time to enjoy the city anyway :wink:

However UC I believe is combining their Graphic Design program and their digital design program. Allowing students in their later years to take specific studios tailored to their interest, whether s its motion, after effects, web design, etc. Not sure who you could talk to, but it may be possible for non majors to take these specific studios. Again, this isn’t in effect till 2012, so the details probabbly are flushed out yet. But some food for thought.

This is probabbly on the long side a bit. But I’ve seen a lot of UC vs CMU vs RISD vs CCS threads popping up recently, so hopefully this’ll clear up a few things for many.

I don’t go to either, but I do live in Pittsburgh (I go to Pitt) and have been over to CMU many times.

Here’s how I’d compare them from a non-academic standpoint:

Campus: Either
CMU has a great campus. It’s pretty spread out and has that quintessential “college campus” feeling. On the other hand, I really liked UC’s when I visited. Much more urban and vertical. But I assume you’ve been to both, so it’s a personal preference.

Surrounding Area: CMU
The neighborhoods surrounding CMU are very nice, and you’ve got a few other colleges right in the neighborhood (Chatham, Pitt, Carlow within a mile or two). Outside of the campus, UC isn’t exactly in a desirable location.

Tuition: UC
No-brainer on this one. CMU is expensive any way you slice it.

Reputation: Either
I can’t really say for the design world, but CMU is much better known if you were to step outside the strict “designer” field. CMU is in the top 30 for the country as a university, whereas UC is basically just a state school with a really good design department.

Social life / other: Probably UC
CMU has somewhat of a reputation for being nerdy, and unfortunately I can’t disagree :frowning: . I’ve seen some unkempt people walking around there. That said, the design, art, and theatre departments are a different breed and I’m sure there’s cool people everywhere. Pitt is nearby as well, although you’ll have to go over there to really interact with anyone.

However, I still feel that CMU lacks the normal, everyday university students that a large state school like UC has. It just depends on what type of people you want to be around.
Overall:
Personally, I’d go with UC, if only for the free tuition. Pittsburgh isn’t that far away, so it’s not like you’re moving to an entirely new part of the country/world. Plus, with the money saved with UC (combined with the co-ops) you’ll be able to travel more/further away than CMU would allow.

However, if you’re unsure that a strict design major is for you, AND you can afford it, then consider CMU. It’s a great all-around school in a great city. You can cross-register at any of the nearby schools, so the overall flexibility might be worth it.

Man, I wish I had that choice to make. I know there are a lot of UC fanboys around here, and I’m debating whether I should go to UC myself, but I think CMU is the better option. It’s not just because CMU has brand name appeal (within the design world, saying you went to DAAP apparently is just as impressive), but although UC has the Co-op program, CMU has just as many connections to major companies.

But, the reason I believe you should go to CMU over DAAP despite the costs, is that you seem to want to have options. DAAP is great for Industrial Design and Interior Design, and Architecture, but so is CMU. CMU also has the number 1 communication design program, as well as top programs in Engineering and Computer Science. There are a lot more opportunities at CMU.

I guess that has always been my issue with UC. If you are 100% sure you want to do ID or Interior Design or Architecture, then it’s the place to go because you’ll get an education in those areas that are as good or better than anywhere else. However, if you think you might want to try other things, perhaps you’d like to take some non-design classes, then you’re really not going to have as good of an experience as you would have had at CMU. In all areas other than design, UC can’t really compare to CMU.

So mindless what did you decide?

Biased cause I’m at CMU, but here’s some reasons you might want to choose us

CMU’s got top programs in lots of disciplines. CS? number one. Engineering? Most in top 5 if not in top 10. Business? Top ten. Humanities? Got that too. HCI (hot money these days, esp with ID degree)? number one. It’s pretty easy to get minors/double majors if you really really want it.

Small, tight community in the school, dorms, majors etc. Yeah, there are cliques, but where aren’t there? If you really want, you are able to be acquainted w 90% of the school.

Pittsburgh is also America’s number one livable city (according to Forbes America), so although it gets a bad rap for its weird, unpredictable weather and cold winters (really not that cold if you compare to other northeast cities), it’s a nice place to be. No shortage of restaurants, bars, places to shop, etc.

You get what you pay for, and CMU’s full of nice helpful people. Yeah.

Not to mention stuff like this happens at CMU: