thisguy321
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I was wondering which is more lucrative out of an undergraduate degree in maths from the UK (e.g. Oxford or Cambridge) or the US (e.g. Harvard or Stanford)?
This is basically in terms of future job prospects and usefulness in life also looking at further education.
If I could get any help on the topic it would be greatly appreciated.
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Doones
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(Original post by thisguy321)
I was wondering which is more lucrative out of an undergraduate degree in maths from the UK (e.g. Oxford or Cambridge) or the US (e.g. Harvard or Stanford)?
This is basically in terms of future job prospects and usefulness in life also looking at further education.
If I could get any help on the topic it would be greatly appreciated.
Do you hold offers from Oxbridge and Harvard/Stanford? If not you don't have a decision to make.

You can apply to either Cambridge or Oxford, plus any number of US universities. Your challenge is to get the offers first.
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A Rolling Stone
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(Original post by thisguy321)
I was wondering which is more lucrative out of an undergraduate degree in maths from the UK (e.g. Oxford or Cambridge) or the US (e.g. Harvard or Stanford)?
This is basically in terms of future job prospects and usefulness in life also looking at further education.
If I could get any help on the topic it would be greatly appreciated.
at Cambridge you study 3 years of maths. at Harvard you study for 4 years on everything but maths except for the nice little 40% allowance. Cambridge is entirely superior.
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thisguy321
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(Original post by Doonesbury)
Do you hold offers from Oxbridge and Harvard/Stanford? If not you don't have a decision to make.

You can apply to either Cambridge or Oxford, plus any number of US universities. Your challenge is to get the offers first.
Im pretty smart and not in arrogance, it is possible. I'm in year 12 right now so no but I was wondering whether I should bother applying to the US.
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thisguy321
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(Original post by CollectiveSoul)
at Cambridge you study 3 years of maths. at Harvard you study for 4 years on everything but maths except for the nice little 40% allowance. Cambridge is entirely superior.
What about to employers? Are they the same really or is any one better?
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A Rolling Stone
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(Original post by thisguy321)
What about to employers? Are they the same really or is any one better?
In America, Harvard. In the UK, either probably will do. who cares, employers will be more interested in your work experience at this point.
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username3480226
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(Original post by thisguy321)
Im pretty smart and not in arrogance, it is possible. I'm in year 12 right now so no but I was wondering whether I should bother applying to the US.
Cambridge is more reputed for the quality of the course, and if you KNOW Maths is what you want to do, it's probably best there.
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A Rolling Stone
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(Original post by Karpdiem)
I agree: the acceptance (offer) rates at Harvard and Stanford this year are at about 4.7 or 4.8 percent. Obviously, getting an offer to study maths at Oxbridge is an extraordinarily difficult feat as well.

If you've been made an offer from any of these institutions you have distinct decisions to make. If you attend Harvard you won't just be studying maths. You will have a four year program for your BA where you will be "majoring" in math which means only about 33 - 40% of your modules will be in maths. You will be required to take modules in disparate fields ranging from a required foreign language (until you've reached a certain level of proficiency) to literature modules, with plenty of options guided by what you find interesting. In addition to your maths work you will get the chance, to study 18th Century French art or slavery in America or Sartre or Kafka's tortured relationship with his father as evidenced through The Metamorphosis. In each term you will take four or five modules and, at most only two will be math modules...at least for the first two to three years.
Another comparison. The amount of weeks you actually are engaged with your studies within a year. Although the terms are far shorter at Oxbridge than at American unis, apparently the work is more arduous and intense. Oxford and Cambridge force you to learn by really stretching yourself. These "transferable" skills such as self-discipline, leadership, initiative are highly valued by prospective employers of Oxbridhe grads. You learn a great deal, more intensely, in a far shorter period of time. "Brainstorming" amongst a PhD tutor and two or three students required a depth of thinking and a level of communication that Harvard students rarely experience.
On the other hand,
As you also know, at Oxbridge once you begin your maths course you won't be able to take a module in a different course - ever, apparently. You won't have a chance at uni to read Madame Bovary or discuss Machiavelli.
Which comes to the answer: an undergraduate maths degree from Oxbridge is far more bankable than an undergraduate degree from Harvard. Once you graduate Harvard or Stanford with a BA you are not fully qualified for your careee. Without a Masters degree (at least) or an MBA you might not even get a job teaching maths at a secondary school let alone a job in tech or banking or in a think tank. Whereas when you complete your Oxford or Cambridge degree you are extremely recruitable...highly desired right out of uni. (I especially recommend doing that fourth year.)
As a very lucky person who happens to be holding offers from Cambridge (in Natsci which I can switch over into maths) as well as from Harvard and Yale. I have been tormented by what's most important: being a full-fledged recognized mathematician with great prospects the moment Cambridge confers its four-year degree or to be someone who used the university years to get a BA in maths, while also having a chance to study Plato and Renaissance art, the French Revolution, linguistics, geology and all the interesting, esoteric things I will never get a chance to focus on a past the age of twenty-two. But that Harvard BA, even summa *** laude, won't buy much notice, career-wise, until you augment that liberal arts education with another expensive degree.
superb post, Karpdiem! I do take a strong issue with the liberal arts system: at your younger years a 'good' education should be one which is broad because (as well as making you more well-rounded) it allows you to discover your strengths and identify the direction you should go in, making it more efficient.

But university is supposed to be the stage before your career. It is therefore almost by definition, stronger when it is more directed and helps you to become a specialist.

I have noticed that for such a right-wing "pull-up by your bootstraps" country, it's extraordinary how much more Americans are treated like kids than other countries - not being able to drink until 21; being forced to study subjects you don't wanna study during university (when you're paying for the privilege); even the way you hear young adult Americans being referred to "kids" which, save for recent Americanisation, would be extremely rare in the UK.

I personally believe you should firm Cambridge BUT do a masters at an Ivy, and that way you get the education and the Ivy name.

I also feel the need to correct you on one thing. you've said this: "Although the terms are far shorter at Oxbridge than at American unis, apparently the work is more arduous and intense."....This is categorically false! You will probably be quite stressed at Oxbridge because you will be stretched as you delve deep into your subject. But in terms of physical workload, you will be shocked at how un-arduous British university education is:
I read lots of US newspapers and I always hear people in your country ask the question "do we work our college students too hard?" in the UK, the same types of papers ask the question "do uni students drink too much?". American universities will work you a million times harder than British ones. The difference is that here, apart from for supervisions/tutorials you will work as much as you want to work, at the end of the day, an Upper Second (a Merit based on a Distinction, Merit, Pass, Fail scale) is got by 90% of all Cambridge students
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Doones
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(Original post by CollectiveSoul)
I personally believe you should firm Cambridge BUT do a masters at an Ivy, and that way you get the education and the Ivy name.
They don't have any offers, they are in Y12 and are yet to apply anywhere...
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A Rolling Stone
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(Original post by Doonesbury)
They don't have any offers, they are in Y12 and are yet to apply anywhere...
Karpdiem said he got an offer from Cambridge in his post, and was thinking of declining Emmanuel on another thread... are you sure?
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Doones
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(Original post by CollectiveSoul)
Karpdiem said he got an offer from Cambridge in his post, and was thinking of declining Emmanuel on another thread... are you sure?
Ah soz, I was referring to the OP.
:getmecoat:
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artful_lounger
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If you want to study Math in the US, Chicago, Princeton, MIT and Harvard are the places to be.I don't know why you would look at Stanford for Math, unless maybe you're interested in foundations and are thinking of the Symbolic Systems programme...and even then I think Oxford MMathPhil would be better for foundations specifically.

It is worth noting that Harvard, as above, has an acceptance rate of about 5%; you don't apply to a specific course and so this is across the university. Cambridge Maths has a success rate (i.e. acceptance rate) of about 20%, which is approximately in line with the university on the whole. Thus, Cambridge is technically "easier" to get into.

In terms of relative prestige within the Mathematics community as an undergraduate course, the Cambridge BA and Harvard AB are about the same for Maths, putting aside any "general" prestige (where Harvard has a little more weight due to the highly selective course). If you include the Part III (MMath/MASt) at Cambridge, it certainly edges out Harvard for Maths specifically and is similar overall maybe.

Provided your intention and interest is to study Maths, and Maths alone, Cambridge is clearly the superior choice. You can focus purely on your subject of interest, whereas at Harvard you have to take (and thus, can fail and weaken your GPA aka degree classfication) courses in other areas that you don't care about. Also the nature of assessment in the US is quite different and in general quite variable, but broadly speaking there are many more "small" elements that add up to the full grade, that you need to keep on top of through out the semester. Whether this is better or worse than the alternative at Cambridge of having only formative assessment throughout the year in supervisions but all the summative assessment coming from the end of year exams (which after first year are cross sectional i.e. most/all courses appear on more than one paper and some courses appear on all papers - so you can't just cram for a specific exam paper, so much), I can't say.

For continuing in academia, then taking the option that will allow you to maximise your mathematical background is by far the best choice. This would then be any UK course, generally. For just going into banking or something then really Oxbridge/Harvard are about on par, with Harvard being a bit "better" specifically in the US (it's viewed about the same as Oxbridge in the UK as I understand). While in the US going to e.g. Harvard/MIT/Princeton/Chicago helps in getting a "foot in the door" for the grad programmes a those universities, Oxbridge will generally place you in the same level as them if you apply for grad school in the US.

Finally a Maths degree, from anywhere will have approximately the same "usefulness in life"; which is to say zero. Or I suppose infinite, if you deeply enjoy mathematics and find it in everything you do. It's a bit of a meaningless metric to apply. I'd say no degree is generally "useful in life" beyond what you personally take away from it; maybe if they introduce a degree in "moving things around" that could change. I suppose Sport Science degrees do exist though :>

I'm from the US (originally) and my aunt went to Harvard (although she did not concentrate in maths), incidentally, in case you were unsure of my familiarity with the matter
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A Rolling Stone
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(Original post by Karpdiem)
Thank you for your informative response. I agree American students are infantalized. The rules and regulations are mind boggling. No drinking to twenty-one is insane. I was quite struck when I saw a student film about Emma College by current students. These are first years who already refer to themselves as mathematicians or classicists.
What I meant by arduous is each student does need to pull his weight and produce work worthy of the tutors' time and attention. It is actually the admissions officer at one college who explained the reason for the extraordinarily look vacations between terms. She said students need to recharge. But the way I see it, if one is self-motivated and stays on top of one's work there should be a great balance at Oxbridge between social situations and belonging to societies with other hard working students. The spirit at each college I'm sure stems in part from having the opportunity to unfurl at a pub and go out for theatre or a sport. What I especially find amazing, getting back to how American colleges "belittle" their students: the student housing is generally deplorable at even the most august unis. Students are forced to share tight quarters with another student. Rooms are not cleaned. Kids are crammed in. In short it feels more like students at American Universities are incapable of desiring the having the sophisticated living style at Oxbridge whereby students are offered a range of options the Oxbridge singles at every College denote that once you arrive you are a true scholar and deserves to be treated with respect: to appreciate lovely housing options. No such recognition afforded the most illustrious students at even schools like Harvard. One is generally assignment roommates the spaces can get quite cramped for freshers and second years.
I suppose American students complain about their work load because there has been no uniform standards regarding what one can actually achieve at university.
I suppose I'm just nervous about what one does with six week of breaks after eight weeks of course work. American unis run from September to mid December (with a four day break for Thanksgiving. That's the fall term. The winter/spring term commences mid January and runs through mid May (generally) with a week off for spring break.
The quality of life at Oxbridge is freer and the balance is better from what I understand. Even dinners. No uni in the US serves sit-down meals with wait staff...eating in a civilized manner. Four years of junk food and cafeteria-style eating depresses the hell out of me.
sorry i meant to reply to this the other day. i mentioned how Americans are treated like kids with the high drinking age, being forced to study subjects you're not interested in at college and use of the term kids... i was going to add a fourth which is that at US colleges you have to do homework 'busywork' and a lot more spoonfed study like in school, whereas at British universities the focus is on independent-study...but the kink is that at Oxbridge you actually DO have school-like homework which you bring to your tutorials to discuss!

while having 2-3 roommates sounds dreadful in the US, again, be aware that just like Cambridge's science buildings aren't beautiful, neither are many of the accommodation buildings many of which were built in the 60s and 70s...and i might be wrong but i think fancy dinners with robes, wine and 3-course meals are only once a week, that was the case at my uni (St Andrews).

Do you mind if I ask what grades you took with you to apply for Ivies + Cambridge? No worries if you'd prefer not to say
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Doones
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(Original post by CollectiveSoul)
and i might be wrong but i think fancy dinners with robes, wine and 3-course meals are only once a week, that was the case at my uni (St Andrews).
Depends on the college but usually "formal" dinners are entirely optional. Many people only go to them to celebrate a mate's birthday or similar.
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KingCrepe
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(Original post by Doonesbury)
Do you hold offers from Oxbridge and Harvard/Stanford? If not you don't have a decision to make.

You can apply to either Cambridge or Oxford, plus any number of US universities. Your challenge is to get the offers first.
There's nothing wrong with finding out information before deciding what to do with offers. Also that is not the only decision. Deciding to apply there which is an investment of time and money is a decision he will have to make, hence it is worth finding the information.
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A Rolling Stone
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(Original post by Karpdiem)
The quantity of homework given, and tests during the term, at American unis is quite a lot. While professors will assign reading, of course and other wor (depending on your course) it's as if the teachers are monitoring your commitment to study what you are allegedly passionate about. It's odd how many students do the work out of fear rather than from an intrinsic desire to learn and make progress. Mature, scholars-in-the-making should readily do their work instead of living in fear of being caught off-guard by a professor. While I understand many accommodations at Cambridge are located in ugly newish buildings, the accommodations are still palatial compared to the living situation at even the most prestigious schools in the US. Fresher universally share rooms...even at the top unis. There is a bit of leeway and slightly nicer and larger rooms at Harvard and Yale; Columbia has the best living quarters for freshers. I find shoving two grown men into a room that's about 55 squar meters ridiculous. It's just one room with clothes, books, dishes, food, dirty laundry, cleaning supplies, hygiene products, boots, television sets (almost every kid comes to Uni with his own tv!) sporting supplies (even skateboards and hockey sticks) and two 6' tall guys all in one hideously outfitted space. There are no sinks for washing up in the rooms, either. Most students loft their beds and put their desks beneath their beds and work in de facto caves. Americans can be loud and fairly inconsiderate...living with roommates doesn't seem to cure those issues. Nobody ever cleans the students' rooms. The bathroom and toilet set-up is also quite unappealing. At £52,000 per year it strikes me a really unfair disadvantage to treat these amazing,
did the end part of your comment get cut off?
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Emboite
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Yes! Sorry...I guess I should take the hint that my response was way too long and boring!
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A Rolling Stone
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(Original post by Karpdiem)
Yes! Sorry...I guess I should take the hint that my response was way too long and boring!
no, no not boring at all, you have a perspective that is somewhat unique for TSR

I was just curious what qualifications you took to your Cambridge application, given how different the systems are, did they require SAT IIs etc?? what about the ivies?!
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Doones
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I've moved this to the Mathematics forum.
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