right arrow
Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04

Engineering Application Is Filled With Arts Activities -- Will This Hurt?

CCEdit_TorreyCCEdit_Torrey 26 replies226 postsEditor Editor
This aspiring engineering student wants to know whether having several arts extracurriculars will be a negative. https://www.collegeconfidential.com/articles/engineering-application-is-full-of-arts-activities-will-this-hurt/
31 replies
· Reply · Share
«1

Replies to: Engineering Application Is Filled With Arts Activities -- Will This Hurt?

  • racereerracereer 98 replies1 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    edited August 6
    S19 fits this description pretty well. He had very rigorous STEM course load by attending a competitive regional governor STEM school that included completing math through differential equations , college calculus based physics, and college chemistry. His ECs were almost exclusively show choir and theater except for his senior year he did a research mentorship at NASA that is being published by NASA, but publication came too late for the college applications. He did show choir all 4 years and was a feature soloist and was cast in every school theater production. During the summers he participated in community theater and did music and theater camps, even one on Broadway. He made the decision that he was going to focus on engineering for college but did not abandon the arts completely. Many of the schools he applied he submitted theater and music portfolios even if he was only applying for engineering. He finished HS ranked top in his class. This showed colleges that he could maintain an extremely rigorous academic schedule at a high level and still have time to participate in the arts at a high level. He definitely highlighted this in his essays and talked about needing balance of STEM and arts in his life. He also had good solid answers on why and what he wanted to do in engineering.

    Did not having major STEM ECs hurt him? Maybe with the very top schools like MIT and Princeton not have that national level STEM recognition hurt but even with that he may not have made it in either. He did get accepted to some top engineering programs in the country, Ga Tech, UICU, UofM (w/l), VT, UVA, and RPI. He is going to attend Ga Tech to major in Material Science Engineering and plans to Minor in Music. He has already signed up for Glee Club, is auditioning for Chamber Choir, and has put is name in for DramaTech.
    edited August 6
    · Reply · Share
  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 28759 replies56 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    My friends son got some very selective accepts for engineering (Cornell, Michigan, CMU. His test scores and grades were excellent but not near perfect. He didn’t have many engineering or math ECs at all as he was very busy with his music activities.
    · Reply · Share
  • lookingforwardlookingforward 33093 replies358 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    It's a risk, though. There's an engineering mindset and it strengthens through experiences, not just classwork. Not every college will allow a kid to just "want" engineering, without the collaborative math-sci ECs.

    Interesting point from Sally about tying some of theater work to engineering. But that would be difficult for a lot of kids.
    · Reply · Share
  • 1NJParent1NJParent 1151 replies31 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 7
    ucbalumnus wrote: »
    Seems like you cannot win with EC types.

    * Focused toward your intended major => too one dimensional.
    * Focused somewhere other than your intended major => not consistent with your intended major.
    * Varied => too unfocused or scattered, does not tell a compelling story.
    Here's what I advise applicants to do:
    Focus on two, and just two, completely unrelated EC activities, one of which must support the applicant's intended major.

    This strategy may work for awhile until these applicants are called too "two-dimensional".
    edited August 7
    · Reply · Share
  • lookingforwardlookingforward 33093 replies358 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    I'll agree CC advice goes everywhere, from just do what you want, to wow!, you're all stem, you're a lock!

    But balance works. Some ECs related to your major and others with peers because you have various interests. I wouldn't limit it to two others. If you want to show them you don't exist in a small box, then don't limit yourself to a small box.
    · Reply · Share
  • agreatstoryagreatstory 54 replies1 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    Showing evidence of creativity is valuable.
    · Reply · Share
  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 3673 replies16 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    So I think a balance needs to be taken but one thing that is lost in the above article is how currently colleges of engineering are setting the arts and engineering together on campuses with the idea of collaboration between engineering and the arts. The Mixture of right brain and left brain students was stressed at both the Northwestern and Michigan talks a few years ago. They want the engineering students to do more design and had teams of both engineering and art students to collaborate on this. This has been a trend for a while. This article is interesting http://www.helpingyouengineeryourfuture.com/art-engineers.htm

    https://artsengine.engin.umich.edu/funding/ a few grants in the middle on this subject
    https://engineering.cmu.edu/news-events/news/2018/02/16-engineering-arts-degree.html
    https://www.mccormick.northwestern.edu/about/engineering-art/
    I actually didn't find the articles I was looking for but some examples above.
    When I see people with two strong interests I tell them to merge them and Google combinations and see what comes up. It's facinating sometimes what the combinations searches comes up with. No one needs to be stereotyped to just one type of profession. At Michigan 1/3 of the marching band are engineers.
    · Reply · Share
  • Parentof2014gradParentof2014grad 941 replies12 postsRegistered User Member
    My D was accepted to engineering school with a full tuition academic scholarship with no engineering EC’s. Just a couple years of math club (her sister made her join), four years of music and three years of visual art. She decided just before senior year to pursue engineering. It was a little late to go find new EC’s. She did have strong coursework in all areas, including AP calc BC and AP Physics.
    Yes she graduated with an engineering degree (actually two, BS and ME in four years), at the tippy top of her class no less. Any engineering school not accepting kids with primarily arts EC’s is missing out, but there may be some that do miss out. The arts develop collaboration, communication, spatial skills—plenty of carryover.
    · Reply · Share
  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 6604 replies39 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    My D's main EC was music and theater too, but she was also a captain on the sci oly team and spent summers doing robotics and SWE programs. I will say that theater definitely definitely helps with communication skills. It's also still her main EC at Purdue where she's a chemical engineering major.
    · Reply · Share
  • EyeVeeeEyeVeee 672 replies7 postsRegistered User Member
    If your interests are artistic, wouldn't you want to attend a school that appreciates not only your interests but those of others with non-engineering EC's? Getting accepted to a school that prioritizes all engineering all the time would possibly make it hard to find people you want to be with for 4 years. Why go to a school that doesn't share your interest in diversity?

    Forget about them wanting you....do you want the culture and limited focus at a school that doesn't appreciate the arts?
    · Reply · Share
  • racereerracereer 98 replies1 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    @EyeVeee when my son visited schools, even if he was just applying for engineering, he would visit the music and drama departments to see what was available to him even if he was not majoring in either.
    · Reply · Share
  • happymomof1happymomof1 29476 replies170 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Once these people are out of college and in the working world, they may very well want more to their lives than just their day job. As parents, we need to remember that we know working engineers who participate in community theater or play in a local jazz band or coordinate things for a drum and bugle corps or sing in a church choir. We need to trust that college admissions teams know people like that as well.

    Serious interest in engineering and in theater? Have the kid check out the Entertainment Engineering program at U NV Las Vegas.
    · Reply · Share
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 77098 replies671 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    1NJParent wrote: »
    Here's what I advise applicants to do:
    Focus on two, and just two, completely unrelated EC activities, one of which must support the applicant's intended major.

    This strategy may work for awhile until these applicants are called too "two-dimensional".

    Of course, ECs where the student shows depth of commitment and high achievement (what colleges supposedly like in ECs) often are the ones started early in high school, often long before the student has any idea of a college major (some do not decide major until in college, and some college students change major).

    So choosing ECs in 9th grade with an eye on college major may not result in a "correct" guess for many. But then perhaps the super selective colleges just have unrealistic expectations of applicants, because a few may have gotten lucky that one of their long term ECs that they started in 9th grade and achieved highly in is one related to their eventual application major.
    · Reply · Share
  • TheBigChefTheBigChef 512 replies5 postsRegistered User Member
    EC's - at least the kind colleges care about - take a lot of time and dedication. In my experience, the only way a kid is going put in the time and show the dedication is if he/she is doing something that they are interested in and enjoy. DS 19 will major in engineering. He had top grades and test scores, but his EC's were music heavy because that's where his passion and non-academic talent lies. He didn't apply to tippy top programs like CMU, Cornell, MIT, Cat Tech etc ... They would not have been good fits and in any event, his lack of STEM EC's would have precluded any realistic chance for admission. That said, he did get into some good schools and the school he is attending has an music engineering minor, which was a big attraction for him.
    · Reply · Share
  • 1NJParent1NJParent 1151 replies31 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    I'm a proponent of students doing what they're truly and deeply interested in outside of their classrooms, if their circumstances allow. However, the current college admission process creates severe distortions. My guess is that on average the majority (up to 80%, perhaps) of students' ECs are done primarily for the purpose of college admissions. Is that healthy? Or is it a huge waste of time and other resources? Why is there an EC arms race? Because inflated grades and test scores have rendered them nearly useless in distinguishing good students?
    · Reply · Share
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 77098 replies671 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 7
    1NJParent wrote: »
    My guess is that on average the majority (up to 80%, perhaps) of students' ECs are done primarily for the purpose of college admissions.

    That may only be the case for students and parents aiming for the most selective colleges. ECs are of little or no relevance for moderately selective colleges that admit mostly based on stats, and not relevant at all for admission to open admission community colleges.
    edited August 7
    · Reply · Share
  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 6604 replies39 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    I can't imagine forcing my kid to do ECs for college admission. She had been participating in most of her activities since she was a teeny tiny.
    · Reply · Share
  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 3673 replies16 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Many families do force their kids to do certain tracts for college admissions sadly.
    I think mixing engineering and whatever just makes the applicant more interesting. Interesting to me is one key factor in acceptance. I mean how many kids are engineering and do math tutoring... A lot. But how many do those plus are a good painter, actor, vocalist, (there are a lot of musician though) Opera singer, etc. To me it just adds more flavor or color to their application.
    · Reply · Share
  • 1NJParent1NJParent 1151 replies31 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 7
    ucbalumnus wrote: »
    1NJParent wrote: »
    My guess is that on average the majority (up to 80%, perhaps) of students' ECs are done primarily for the purpose of college admissions.

    That may only be the case for students and parents aiming for the most selective colleges. ECs are of little or no relevance for moderately selective colleges that admit mostly based on stats, and not relevant at all for admission to open admission community colleges.
    Yes, the EC arms race is among those who aim for highly selective colleges. However, their number is large since so many students and their parents are led to believe they have a chance due to the obscurity and ambiguity of the admission process. Consequently they account for most of the EC activities as those who choose colleges that admit based on mostly stats don't have nearly as many EC activities (at least the fancier ones).

    The EC arms race, like a real arms race, is also expensive. It's one of the most unequal elements in college admissions.
    edited August 7
    · Reply · Share
Sign In or Register to comment.

Recent Activity