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Carnegie Mellon (or "Why I want to attend CMU")

I had made up my mind a long time ago that if I were to ever pursue an advanced degree in technology my first choice would be Carnegie Mellon University. Of course I have alternate choices and would choose a different school if I was looking at something like an MBA, but for technology CMU is the Holy Grail for me.

I am currently in the application process to attend the H. John Heinz III College at Carnegie Mellon University in the Master of Science in Information Technology (MSIT) program. Invariably when I talk to people about pursuing my Master Degree they ask about my school choices, which is immediately followed by the question "Why there?" My response has always been "Because it's Carnegie Mellon," and usually includes what I am certain is a dumb-founded look on my face.

I believe it is the dumb-founded look that stops people from asking further along that line of questioning, so they ask about my second choice for schools, which is the Harvard University Extension School. Now it is my turn to receive a dumb-founded look.

Yes, Harvard University is my second choice, but I have continuously had a difficult time expressing the reason CMU is my number one school. For those people who are familiar with CMU's Computer Science program it generally makes sense without explanation, but what I have taken for granted as something "Universally Known" appears to be pretty unknown to most people. It is the universally known aspect that has really been the reason I haven't verbalized concretely why CMU is my school of choice. With today being the eve of my first visit to Carnegie Mellon for their fall open house it seems like the appropriate time to put into words what I know deep down inside.

The name and reputation of CMU in most of the Information Technology industry is generally reason enough to attend the school, but there is far more to it than that for me. Obviously with the name and reputation comes a given level of quality of the professors and the curriculum. Perhaps not a complete "given" for such an assumption, but in this case it is definitely true. Still, that alone is not enough of a reason for me.

Enter the quality of the students. This is a big reason for my wishing to attend. CMU accepts the best and the brightest, and rejects students that could find a home on almost any other campus without problem. In an academic lifetime where I have found very little challenge, this caliber of student raises the bar; thus requiring more challenging courses, which in turn raises the bar higher.

That is what I want. A bar set so high, brought about because of the incredibly high quality of students who continuously strive to hurdle that bar and set a new standard. That challenge. That level of knowledge and interaction. A school full of students and professors who will accept nothing less than the very best from everyone around them, because anything less than a persons best will leave them looking on from a distance as the class races ahead. That is why I want to attend Carnegie Mellon University.

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