Effect of IIT on Illinois PhD decision

IIT experience was a total massacre. Away from IIT, at SIC-Carbondale, had no fears and was able to study at the pace that was suitable for me – among the best in the world. After one semester University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, offered me admission to their PhD program. A scholarship awaited me.

Urbana Champaign was rated number 4 (not 6 as mentioned elsewhere on this site in management education). Guite good I thought. Not number 1 like the Stanford but 4 was quite tolerable considering my 6.83 GPA at IIT. Even getting admission at Urbana was a great feat.

Talked to Unbana Champaign’s professor. He told me that they had not seen reference letters like for mine ever. For that I thank Dr. Marvin Troutt, my operation research professor, whom I helped in research, and a few others.

I visited the campus and met an Indian student and asked for his opinion. and advice.

One think I liked was that Illinois was a powerhouse in computers too.. I think it was rated #2 in the USA, and people who have watched 2001: A Space Odyssey, the cute HAL was perhaps made there.

I thought I could do both – management and computers. Seemed golden.

But then, I remembered IIT. What will happen if it is like IIT. Being a well known school like well known IIT, how will it be.

I visualized screaming and angry professors, fellow students trying to pull me down and hiding books from the library. In short, a horror story.

Something else happened (will write some other time) and I didn’t go there.

A few years later when I took courses at equally good University of California at Berkeley, I realized I was perhaps wrong about my perception of Illinois. Friendly professors, friendly students, all eager to learn and teach, totally different from IIT, was the case in Berkeley and perhaps would have been the case in Urbana-Champaign.

Last time I was in IIT, a few years back, a young professor assured me IIT of today is different from that of my time. I don’t know. I think for new students who want to learn, why take the chance on IIT. No point.

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