Mines or DU?
January 19, 2010 10:22 AM   Subscribe

Help a student decide on a college: Mines or DU.

For a high school senior who wants to be a math or economics major and wants to keep their options open for different professions or graduate programs, which is a better option: Colorado School of Mines or University of Denver? Which will open more doors? Which is more highly regarded? Who are the typical students, and what is the social atmosphere at each school?
posted by Wordwoman to Education (14 answers total)
has this senior been able to visit either of these schools? I think this is too important a decision than asking Metafilter to decide.
posted by parmanparman at 10:31 AM on January 19, 2010

Why not get alumni magazines from the school and see what all the graduates are doing by reading the Class Notes section?
posted by anniecat at 10:39 AM on January 19, 2010

Go visit.
posted by silby at 10:41 AM on January 19, 2010

I went to DU, but not for Math or Econ, and it's been 10 years since I graduated, but that said, I'd take a good look at the cost of each university and maybe change the equation to Mines vs. CU. One of the main advantages (in my mind) was that DU is located right in the city of Denver. Mines and CU are more isolated in that way, but hardly anyone in Boulder complains about that. Some people don't care for the city life and head straight for the mountains on the weekends. Econ is relatively small program at DU and I don't think it's more "highly regarded" than CU or Mines in any area except maybe Law or Business (or programs that Mines doesn't offer).
posted by mattbucher at 10:45 AM on January 19, 2010

Response by poster: Visits are already planned, and of course will factor heavily into the decision.
posted by Wordwoman at 10:45 AM on January 19, 2010

Well, Mines has a great reputation in the sciences, which I assume extends to math as well. Don't know about econ. DU is a solid school, with more diverse programs, but would not, I don't think, look as strong on a grad-school app as Mines.

From what I understand about Mines's social scene, while there's still parties/drinking/pot like any college, it's on the quiet end of the scale. One of my friends who went there told me that there are an inordinate amount of married students. Not, like, older married people who attend, but young students who are married to each other. I don't really know what that says about the school's make-up, but it seems significant. Also, Golden is pretty goddamn boring (I would know, I grew up there).

DU's social scene is much more lively, what with it being larger and located in the city. It has the traditional greek system and everything, so a wild party life is much more possible there than at Mines. And it's located in a great part of town with lots of cool restaurants and bars, plus it's got all of the on-campus activities that Mines lacks, like theather, arts, and sports (DU's hockey team kicks ass).

Basically, Mines offers a quiet but excellent eduction, while DU's academics are slightly weaker (though not bad by any definition) but it provides a more immersive college experience.
posted by eggplantplacebo at 10:53 AM on January 19, 2010

Mines has a better reputation on the East coast if you ever feel like moving out here for grad school or post-grad work, that might matter.
posted by rmless at 11:32 AM on January 19, 2010

Mines has a high ratio of males to females (or did, when I went there in 1990-1992). I think it was about 5 to 1. Someone else can comment as to whether that is true more recently.

The difficulty in getting a date made some of our fellow students become embittered and regarded us as... well, bitches.
posted by marble at 1:01 PM on January 19, 2010

I got my Masters at DU 3.5 years ago (I was in my late 20's and married so I don't know if I have the right perspective for a high school senior but here goes anyway) and the undergrad students there seemed really ... entitled. I heard a conversation in the hallway about a girl who was pissed because she got in trouble with her professor for skipping class for a hair appointment. There are lots of designer labels around campus which is not surprising because it's an expensive school. That said, I had fun there, liked a lot of the people I met and there are some real quality programs. DU also has the plus (or minus depending on your personality) of being a hop, skip and a jump away from CU Denver and tuition comes with a light rail pass so there are lots of entertainment possibilities.

Now as to which one is better for you, that really depends on you. Even if one or the other is more highly regarded by some people, you should probably go where you feel comfortable and where the programs seem like a good fit for what you're interested in. If you enjoy where you are and what you're studying that will go a lot further than what some people may think about the school at some point when you graduate (esp. in this case where the two schools are comparable for the most part).
posted by Kimberly at 2:29 PM on January 19, 2010

I have no advice about Mines, but I went to DU as an undergrad in the 1990s, and the social scene there was really centered around the Greek system. If that's not your thing (and it definitely wasn't mine) then you probably won't get as much out of your DU experience as you might like. I really enjoyed the professors there, the classes were great (although I don't know if they were worth the tuition), but I felt really out of place, and ended up leaving after a year.

Also, keep in mind that although DU is in Denver, it's really isolated from most of the city as a whole, especially downtown (although that may have changed since I went there, now that there's a light-rail link between DU and downtown). Most of the people I knew at DU stayed in the neighborhood and never went anywhere else in the city. DU was deliberately built where it was in the late 19th century to keep its students away from the "temptations" of Denver proper -- in the mid 1990s, it still felt like it was miles and miles away from the excitement of the city.

If you do go to DU, make sure to be very careful of your financial aid. DU is notorious for giving people generous packages to go there for your first year, either as a incoming freshman or as a transfer student, and then rescinding them your second year. I ended up transferring to CU-Denver, and I met a lot of people at the Auraria campus who moved to Denver to go to DU and had their financial aid taken away or seriously reduced after their first or second year, regardless of their grades.

Regardless of which one you pick, good luck with your decision!
posted by heurtebise at 5:29 PM on January 19, 2010

I've known several people who attended DU as an undergraduate and hated the social scene. Their accounts of DU were very much like Kimberly's: the students are entitled, drug/alcohol abuse is common, and it can be a real pain if you're there to learn instead of party. Some switched to other schools (Mines among them), while others sucked it up and stayed for their whole degrees. Almost all of those who stayed were miserable by the time they left.

YMMV, but I think Mines has a healthier atmosphere.
posted by lilac girl at 5:43 PM on January 19, 2010

Go to the less expensive school, and the closer school. A good student will do well at even a middling but less expensive school (and perhaps better).
posted by verapamil at 6:57 PM on January 19, 2010

I was never a student at DU, but both of my parents did their masters there, and my Mother worked in the disabilities office for a year or two. Due to this, I ended up spending a significant amount of time on the campus, (which is beautiful), and hearing stories about the undergrads.

Echoing what's been said before, most undergraduate students at DU are of mediocre intelligence, come from money, and are there more to party than they are to learn. Of course there are exceptions, and the graduate students tend to be pretty on the ball, but on the whole, its not a thinking person's university (nor is it ranked and regarded as such).

Mines, on the other hand, is very different. A few kids in my HS graduating class ended up going to Mines, and IIRC, they were all very sharp, nice people. Mines will definitely give you a better academic experience, smaller classes, better professors. If I had to sum up the social atmosphere at mines, from the people I know there, would be nerdy, but not in an arrogant way.
posted by dantekgeek at 7:18 PM on January 19, 2010

Is there any particular reason you're not choosing CU? Boulder's math program is nationally ranked. If you do care about a social life, there's a lot more in Boulder than Golden; OTOH, I made it through 4.5 years at CU and had little to do with the infamous party scene.

Mines is a great engineering school, but if you're not going there to be an engineer, they don't offer many other options.

DU doesn't have much cachet beyond Colorado. It's not a bad school, but it's not Colorado College, either.

Yeah, I'm a little biased, but I think CU might be your best option for the fields you're looking at. If I had to choose between CSM and DU, though, I'd choose CSM.
posted by dw at 10:02 PM on January 25, 2010

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