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Need Help Choosing Engineering Schools.

MonsterCrwuMonsterCrwu 17 replies2 postsRegistered User Junior Member
Hello I am a Senior from MN and i have been admitted to ( Surprisingly) a lot of good schools for engineering. The list of the schools i have been accepted to are.

1) UIUC
2) Worcester Polytechnic
3) Iowa State
4) UC Boulder
5) Stevens Institute of Technology.

1) I can't attend UIUC because even with a scholarship they gave me its coming out to be about $26000 a year, so the only schools i am left with are 2-5. so i'll talk about the campus visits one be one.

2) It was a great school and had a lot of opportunities for me but it was lacking the big engineering clubs and robotics that were offered at UIUC and Iowa State. Worcester is around $18500

3) Iowa State was amazing, the campus was beautiful, the engineering program is top notch ( They told us it is routinely ranked among the Top 20 for Undergrad Engineering). The students were very good, but the dean told us that they don't mess around and students have to work very hard ( They typically weed out 50-60% of their freshman class to keep the top students, and this opinion is actually quite prevalent so i am assuming it is true). It had many many engineering and robotic clubs and many of the clubs were sponsored by companies like Boeing and NASA and Google. They are also going to represent America in the Solar car race in Australia. So overall i really like it. Iowa State is costing me $17000

4)UC Boulder is similar to Iowa State and UIUC but it is very far and again expensive it is going to cost me $24000

5) Stevens was again a very good school, it felt like a small close knit school with great resources and some very nice engineering programs, it costs the same as Worcester after scholarship and stuff.


I want to know as to which school should i choose ? I like Iowa State and it is cheaper as opposed to others, but i am afraid i might get weeded out ( Coz that seems to be very prevalent there) . As for the others they are the same for me. can you guys give me an input as to which ones you think is better ? ? Thanks
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Replies to: Need Help Choosing Engineering Schools.

  • ciervociervo 729 replies215 postsRegistered User Member
    Didn't you have make a decision by the May 1 deadline?
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  • MonsterCrwuMonsterCrwu 17 replies2 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    I chose Steven's but i am not sure, so i asked for the public engineering schools( Mentioned) if they could give me some time ( I had a family problem also, so i had to explain them that and they agreed) so i have until 30th june to tell them my decision.
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  • aquaptaquapt 1950 replies37 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    You seem like you really want to go to Iowa State, but you're just intimidated by the attrition rate.

    Still, for the cost to be as low as it is for OOS, you must have gotten a pretty big merit offer, right? So it seems you are probably one of the more well-qualified students they admitted, and you can interpret the merit money as a vote of confidence.

    Do you like the idea of being farther from home and right outside NYC? The culture shock would be real - would you welcome the new experience, or would you more readily thrive in a more familiar, midwestern culture? How much would you value being one state away from home and being able to drive your stuff back and forth and visit home when you want, vs. having to fly? Does the smaller and more close-knit environment at Stevens really appeal to you, or does it just feel like the "safer" choice. Stevens is a great school, but in your case it sounds like it may have been caution rather than enthusiasm that prompted the choice

    I don't know. You already committed to Stevens, and you've had almost two months to get used to the idea, and you still sound like you feel like you'd be missing out on all the stuff you liked at Iowa State. It sort of seems like you should follow your heart and just resolve to stay on top of the work, be proactive about getting help when you need it, and get through the weeder classes successfully. You sounds like you're more than qualified to do this as long as you are prepared to work hard.
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  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone 22404 replies14 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    I think they are all going to have the same weed out rate for YOU. Your work is going to be the same at most schools. Most will have the same courses and sometimes the same Calc book or chemistry course. If you like the engineering work at Iowa state, you'll most likely like it at Boulder or Stevens.

    The incidental costs - movies, transportation, eating out - are going to be higher in NYC or Boulder than in Ames.
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  • Engineer80Engineer80 452 replies0 postsRegistered User Member
    edited June 2018
    @MonsterCrwu- "3) Iowa State was amazing, the campus was beautiful, the engineering program is top notch ( They told us it is routinely ranked among the Top 20 for Undergrad Engineering). The students were very good, but the dean told us that they don't mess around and students have to work very hard ( They typically weed out 50-60% of their freshman class to keep the top students, and this opinion is actually quite prevalent so i am assuming it is true). It had many many engineering and robotic clubs and many of the clubs were sponsored by companies like Boeing and NASA and Google. They are also going to represent America in the Solar car race in Australia. So overall i really like it. Iowa State is costing me $17000"

    Irrespective of college rankings in general being a meaningless game (particularly USNWR), Iowa State's USNWR ranking in USNWR is 43 of engineering schools. That isn't in the top 20, so whomever at I State told you that is simply engaging in advertising puffery.

    All engineering schools are hard. "Boasting" that a school "weeds out" 50-60% of its freshman class is not a figure of merit- in fact, that is a terrible statistic and should raise more than one red flag. If it is true that Iowa State loses 50-60% of its freshman engineering class, it is because something is terribly wrong with any or all of: 1. Their faculty are ineffective teachers, unknowledgeable of the material they are teaching, and/or ineffective in communicating the material to the students; 2. They accept marginal students who are not capable of effectively learning mathematics, science, and engineering or of doing engineering work; or 3. The classroom environment, facilities, academic and non-academic infrastructure, esprit du corps or camaraderie of the students, social atmosphere, student psychological health/well being, and/or student support/advising services are deficient and the students really don't want to stay in such an environment. A good school should not lose 50-60% of its students. Do you think MIT, Stevens, Caltech, Princeton, et al lose 50-60% of their freshman class body? They don't, despite having highly rigorous and tough academic programs. The students want to be there and thrive in the environment. If they do not at Ia State or any other institution you may be considering, you should ask some hard questions as to why that is.

    Stevens, the school to which you were accepted, has the fifteenth highest return on investment of tuition of all schools in the United States (source, Bloomberg Business Week/Payscale survey "What's Your College Degree Worth, 2018"), a ranking based upon actual analysis of student post-graduation outcomes, in contrast with the subjective popularity game that is USNWR for example.

    94% of the freshman students return for the second year. Stevens by the way won the Department of Energy's Solar Challenge a couple of years ago for the best entry of a solar/sustainable house and is represented in many other major national competitions. And, by the way, Boeing, NASA, and Google regularly recruit there. Congratulations on an excellent choice!
    edited June 2018
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  • carachel2carachel2 2956 replies23 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Engineering is hard. Choose the program that acknowledges they are tough but has the resources for students and a supportive faculty.
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  • user4321user4321 155 replies2 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    When you sit down and think about what "weeding out" really means, you may find that you really don't want to have any part of it
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  • Engineer80Engineer80 452 replies0 postsRegistered User Member
    edited June 2018
    Schools should not actively try to weed out students but they also should not provide extra chances repeatedly or ad infinitum to students who are not capable of handling the work. If I'm interviewing a candidate for a position and I see from the transcript that he/she took several tries to pass a number of courses (granted, one course may be an anomaly) I would have reservations regarding that person's ability to do the job. Most good engineering schools have collaborative projects in which an atmosphere of cooperation rather than one of merely competition. The vast majority of schools will allow a student to repeat a course. If WPI needs to apply this policy on a frequent basis then that would support my caveats above.
    edited June 2018
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 77080 replies671 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    "Weeding out" has two components:

    A. "Natural" attrition because some find engineering to be too hard. This is mostly related to admission selectivity, since weaker students are more likely to find engineering, or college, too hard.

    B. Capacity based weeding where students must compete by GPA to get into the major after enrolling because there is not enough space for all who pass the first year courses and are still interested.

    The type of weeding in B is the undesirable type. Check each school to see if it is done.
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  • Engineer80Engineer80 452 replies0 postsRegistered User Member
    edited June 2018
    A. "Natural" attrition will be high in schools that accept students who are not capable of doing the work as I pointed out in Caveat #2, above (I taught in one for example that had low standards of admission - a medium size public university- and as a result had a high "natural" attrition rate). Any respectable school should not offer admission to students who have a high probability of academic difficulty in engineering. If they do, they are doing both the student and themselves a disservice.

    B. Schools that engage in capacity based weeding out in my view are dishonest. They should not admit more students than they can accomodate expecting some may leave due to other reasons (akin to airlines selling more seats on a flight expecting that some passengers will cancel). I would ask the school if they have enough places in their various engineering majors for all the originally admitted freshmen/women. Stevens for example does not admit more students to a major (or to the engineering school and university in general) than it has the ability to teach in terms of capacity of the facilities and faculty.

    C. If a significant portion of students leave in the freshman year due to the factors I named in Caveat #3 above, that is also a major red flag. If you take campus tours ask the students how they like their school, environment, social atmosphere, et al. If more than a few have reservations in these areas, I would take that as a significant caveat emptor.

    All the best and best to you in your academic endeavors.
    edited June 2018
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  • Gator88NEGator88NE 6412 replies197 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Don't worry about Iowa State's "Weed out" %. All of these schools have similar levels of program rigor.

    If you look at the number of freshman engineering students enrolled at Iowa State, vs the number of junior level engineering students, the drop is only 10% (not considering transfer students).

    As a rule, engineering programs don't want to weed out students. Admissions should have already ensured that the incoming students are capable of doing the work. Engineering programs want to retain their students, so all of them have different retention programs (like WPI).
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  • Engineer80Engineer80 452 replies0 postsRegistered User Member
    edited June 2018
    @Gator88 - The OP said that the dean at Ia State told him/her that "50-60% get weeded out as freshmen". So, how does that jive with your statement? Does the junior class make up 40-50% of that freshman "weeding out" with transfer students (well, you said that that number is exclusive of transfer students, so something doesn't add up here).

    Admissions may not always ensure that the students are capable of doing the work. At any reputable school the admissions office/dean of engineering should be doing their job. There are some schools (probably not Iowa State) that cannot fill their classrooms, hence, they are not very selective and will accept students whom they know will not be able to complete a four year engineering program.

    Again, if the dean is correct in his/her assertion that 50-60% drop out in the first year, you should ask some very serious questions why that is the case. I know I would if I were the student.
    edited June 2018
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  • eyemgheyemgh 5538 replies120 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    I agree with the others about Iowa State. Go there if it resonates with you.

    I do want to correct something about WPI. Clubs are to get hands on experience. WPI'S project based curriculum provides more hands on than many schools in the nation, making the club necessity less germane. You can still do clubs, but it isn't vital like it is at other schools.

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  • jamgolfjamgolf 101 replies4 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    Great points made by Engineer80
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  • MastadonMastadon 1730 replies49 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Out of curiosity, did you hear the "weed out" message from the Dean of Engineering, or one of the Associate Deans ?

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  • MonsterCrwuMonsterCrwu 17 replies2 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    @Mastadon The Dean told us about the weed out thing, he had the individual college deans with him, and said that they really cant do much about that because of state policies that makes them accept a certain amount of students to the University. So the only way they can retain quality students is using this process. the Avg ACT of accepted students is 26-32 and usually the students left are ones with 29-33 ACT ( They were telling us the type of students who succeed and while they did have a 90% retention rate most students change their major after the 3rd semester)
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  • MonsterCrwuMonsterCrwu 17 replies2 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    @Engineer80 the ranking that you looked at were the US News Graduate rankings. For Undergrad US News Iowa State is 36. ( Not actually 36 but since there are so many ties it pushes the school to 36). If you look at the Wall Street Journal rankings (14), The college choice rankings(12), the Value Colleges ranking(23) and the employer rankings Iowa State (16) is in Top 15-25 in all of them. so I think the numbers the Dean had were right, he was talking about undergrad.

    Now I don't know if they were boasting about the attrition rate but the at Iowa State weed out "thing" seems to be genuine, for three reasons
    1) I have head from a lot of students there and from many people who know the school.
    2) It accepts about 80% of the freshman class ( Due to state policies that they have no control over, only for undergrad, for Grad it is very competitive more than any other school that I have listed here apart from UIUC)) and the Avg ACT of Engineering students accepted is 26-32. In order to compete with other schools ( Purdue, UIUC, Wisconsin, Minnesota) in the region for quality of students they produce, the school has to weed out students to retain the best ones..
    3) The school has a graduation rate of about 43%, which is much lower then their Peer schools , Virginia Tech, Colorado Boulder, UC Irvine and etc.

    From what I have seen Iowa State has more national and international competition participation than many schools in the US and rivals schools like Michigan and UIUC ( Coz I see them listed in almost all the engineering competitions that are listed nationally, and they usually are the Top 5 ranked school in the competitions). Now while I loved Stevens, its just far away and don't think has that much to offer me apart from a ROI, which is also due to the fact that most people go into grad school and banking jobs that pay more. Thanks for the opinion though. I'll keep your points in mind

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  • MonsterCrwuMonsterCrwu 17 replies2 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    @eyemgh Thank You for that information about WPI, I'll keep that in mind. What do you think about Iowa State's reputation nationally, do you know as to how it compares with the schools that I mentioned. I know that UIUC is at the very top in the country, but what about the others ?
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  • Engineer80Engineer80 452 replies0 postsRegistered User Member
    edited June 2018
    @Monster - Again, USNWR is a popularity game largely based upon subjective opinion of college administrators and others on a questionnaire. It means little regardless of what their ranking may be. Regardless, 36 is not in the top 20, and even so, I would dispute that ranking given that Iowa State is almost essentially an open admissions school with an acceptance rate of 80%. Maybe that is why they may have a 50-60% attrition rate in the first year, with that percentage of students accepted they may in fact accept many prospective engineering students who cannot do the work. That is not a good thing. A 43% graduation rate is also a pretty bad statistic. To my mind, an 80% acceptance rate and a graduation rate of 43% isn't the stuff of which a top school is made.

    With respect to Stevens (37% acceptance rate and an average high school GPA of accepted students of 3.8), the high ROI (15th in the nation) is not due just to going into banking and grad school. That ROI is based upon the immediate (starting salary) of the graduates as well as the 15 year mid-career ROI, which is listed separately. While some Stevens students go into banking, 63% or so still go into traditional engineering and STEM careers. Going to graduate school full time yields a salary of little or nothing, therefore those students would actually reduce a school's initial ROI score, not increase it. Many students (in many schools) go to graduate school part time while holding full time jobs (in many cases the employer pays their tuition).

    New York and the NY metropolitan area is the engine that drives the nation's - and the worlds' economy. It is the center of practically everything in our modern technological society. Of course, nobody will deny that it is a big change to move from Minnesota to the New York area, but you wouldn't be the first one to do so. Have you been to NYC or the metro area? If you visited Stevens you got a taste of it I am sure.


    edited June 2018
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