Helping Prospective Students Find the College That Will be Best for Them

Boulder, CO — What’s key to selecting the best school? A strong sense of community, building friendships, and working together: these are central to enjoying college.

College is really stressful. Having fellow students to work with, focused on making everyone successful, helps tremendously. And it’s worlds better than the brutal (and unnecessary) environment of some schools where everyone is focused primarily on themselves.

codewarsquoteThe participation rate in student code wars and hackathons is a very good measure of the depth of community within a school. And not just community, but also the love of programming for the pure joy of programming to be found in these schools. When seeking a school where the students love programming and have a strong sense of community, look at the participation rates at events like The Windward International Collegiate Programming Championship, which takes place February 1, 2014.

This should not be an only measure — and for many people it may not be an important one. When going into computer science for the money, having fellow students there for the love of programming is irrelevant. When desiring to be left alone, a strong community among the students could be a negative.

There are nine schools that consistently have a large number of students participating in the Windward Code War.

What’s really interesting about the list is that five of the nine are on many of the top 10 C.S. schools lists (Mudd, Maryland, Georgia Tech, Purdue, & Penn). It is proposed that students visiting colleges do see that these schools have students who have created a community and love programming. And if that is really important to the prospective student, they’ll also attend one of these schools. And if these traits are not important, then they’ll also consider the other top schools.

There are also four hidden gems in the above list, Victoria, Mines, Alberta, and CSU. They’re not top 10 schools, but not every student is going to get in a top 10 school (nor is a top 10 school the best place for many students). But what these other four clearly offer is a student body with a strong sense of community and students that love programming for the pure joy of programming.

On the flip side, a handful of schools have been contacted each year and the response has been zero interest by the students in anything like this. So a school can be a very good academic institution and yet have a student body with no strong sense of community and no deep love of coding for the pure joy of it.

If a prospective student loves programming, and if this student wants a school that is a community and not just a set of classes to attend, some of the above schools should absolutely be on the candidate’s schools list. Many schools can teach the fundamentals of computer science. A school like the above ones makes the four years a lot more fun.

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