I go to a university in Canada. It's not really considered a top university (it is one of the best universities in the province but is ranked really low nationally). I study mathematics here and didn't bother applying to universities outside of the province because I wanted to stay close to my family. How important is the "prestige" of a university to your ACTUAL learning of mathematics (in terms of content, quality, knowledge, workload, etc)? I feel like I will be behind the pace of those at a top national university or those big American schools like M.I.T., Caltech, Harvard, etc as the years go by. Is there really a significant difference? I asked this question because I have several American friends that go to a state university, and one that goes to one of the top universities (in his case, M.I.T.) and we always joke about the level of difference between us. But one day, we got serious and we wanted to see if there was a big gap in our knowledge, and there wasn't. But I wanted to see others' feedback on this topic.

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    $\begingroup$ For undergraduate studies it may not matter that much (unless it is really-really a bad university with no facilities at all). For graduate studies you may want to apply to a better university...but coming from an under-rated one can be a little problematic to get accepted to a good one. $\endgroup$ – Timbuc Sep 16 '14 at 4:08
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    $\begingroup$ I think UofT and McGill both have strong undergrad departments and it will probably make some difference. In the end, though, it's not the prestige but having many people around you to really dig into math. If you have a good core group of math undergrads and good profs you'll be fine. Edit: to answer the question and avoid clutter, Waterloo is good, the location is terrible. $\endgroup$ – snar Sep 16 '14 at 4:15
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    $\begingroup$ Prestige is not terribly important. What can be very important is whether there are faculty members who are active researchers and are willing to give personal attention to undergraduates. $\endgroup$ – Robert Israel Sep 16 '14 at 4:16
  • $\begingroup$ @snarski How good do you think U of Waterloo is for mathematics? My friend's brother is considering going there for math and he wanted to know how good it was compared to let's say U of T. $\endgroup$ – calculusbyparts Sep 16 '14 at 4:17
  • $\begingroup$ @calculusbyparts, depends on what he wants to study for graduate studies. $\endgroup$ – IAmNoOne Sep 16 '14 at 4:25

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