College Visits and Eloquent Ruby [ARCHIVE]

by Isaac Sanders

This past weekend I went on a trip with my family to check out colleges. We went to Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, in Terre Haute, IN and University of Illinois, in Champaign, IL. I enjoyed both schools, but was able to walk away realizing a few things.

  • I want to go to a big school. Having a lot of people allows me to make my own community and it will be more likely that there are people with my same interests. It is also easier to be anonymous with 40,000 other students walking around. I like the freedom to be as visible as I want.
  • I want a school with people a lot smarter than I am. On Sunday, I “got lost” on the UIUC campus, and ambushed a few CS students/faculty. I met Sariel Har-Peled, an Associate Professor in the department, and he told me something memorable. He said, when speaking of what kind of school I should be looking for, that “it is better to the tail of the lions, then to be the head of the wolves.”
  • I would like to do research as an undergraduate. Being able to work on the cutting edge sounds like a once in a lifetime experience, and going to a strong research university would enable me to do just that.
  • I want a university that has support for open source. I really and truly believe in open source’s ability to accomplish anything and couldn’t see myself somewhere that was not supportive of open source.

After realizing these few things, I have a renewed enthusiasm for my college search. I can’t wait for my last trip, which will be next week, and we are going to Carnegie Mellon University, in Pittsburgh, PA. I hope that any advice that you all have you will share with me beforehand.

While I was on this trip this weekend, I finished one of the best technical books that I have ever read. Eloquent Ruby by Russ Olsen (@russolsen) is simply the fullest and most interesting Ruby book that I have read. From the chapters about iterators, to the benefits of an External DSL, it is a wonderfully educating read. Russ is funny and wise in every chapter. I will be referring to it for a long time to come, due to the wealth of insight that it has. I would suggest it to anyone who is learning Ruby. The next book I will be reading is Design Patterns in Ruby, another book by Russ Olsen, and I am sure that it will be just as useful.



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