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UW Madison Direct to Engineering (and other schools; University of Washington)

MidWestMom5MidWestMom5 12 replies1 threads New Member
Hello -

Question about direct to Engineering programs. Can indicating Engineering as a major hurt a student of being admitted to the university in general? If denied to the engineering program would there be an offer for a different program? DS who if STEM orientated. Very solid ACT score yet lowest section was math - numbers... (Perfect in English)

He is also possibly interested in Medicine after undergraduate work.
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Replies to: UW Madison Direct to Engineering (and other schools; University of Washington)

  • wis75wis75 14106 replies64 threads Senior Member
    UW-Madison admits students to the university as a whole. Some students may also get a direct admission to some engineering and business majors. Students not getting direct admits to these two may apply after being at UW but chances have been changing in recent years with changing policies for numbers directly admitted as freshmen. Some fields, eg Nursing and Education, are competitive and require an application based on one's UW record et al. Some engineering majors are more competitive than others. Majors generally have requirements such as minimum gpa's in the field.

    Admission to UW is not based on proposed major but all applicants are in the same admissions pool. Getting one's preferred major, such as in engineering or business, can be competitive (due to space available in classes to be taken).

    Any major will do (as will any college) for medical school purposes. Premed is the intention to attend medical school, it is not a major. Many physicians will have chosen a STEM field because they like it. Most premed students will change their minds or otherwise not get into a medical school. It is good for your son to major in a field he actively likes and to keep in mind medical school course requirements along the way. There are usually premed clubs of some sort on college campuses that will help with knowing the hoops to jump through.

    I am a woman physician who was a UW honors Chemistry major eons ago, chose that over grad school/research. Your son can keep being a physician in the back of his mind while choosing classes for a proposed major. He will firm up his path once in college. UW is excellent in many STEM fields. Be sure he does not try to game the system by attending a school because many students there get into a medical school- that can backfire. He should not try to game the system to get top grades, the good grades will come if he knows the material presented. One chooses a major not based on best subject but on interest plus ability.

    Short answer- apply to UW. Consider family finances, especially if OOS, as UW is not known to be generous with merit aid.
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  • MidWestMom5MidWestMom5 12 replies1 threads New Member
    I am also an alum. Go badgers! No he is definately not trying to “game the system”. Huh? He simply wants engineering. (Medical/grad school is too far away to put that into the plan now.) We were told that all of engineering (at both uw- - Wisconsin and Washington) is direct admit and yes engineering is much more competitive especially out of state.

    Anyone else out there who has more recent direct to engineering experience???
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 7613 replies61 threads Senior Member
    My D looked into UW (Wisconsin, not Washington) and my understanding is that you are required to choose a secondary, non engineering major, as a back up if you are not accepted direct admit. That would imply that you could be denied for engineering but accepted to the secondary major. I believe U Wash can deny students from direct admit but offer admission into a pre-major. (Hopefully someone else can add more clarity to that).

    How low was the math subscore? If it was below 30, I would try to have him retake and focus on that section. Wisconsin doesn't superscore, but Washington does.


    You didn't directly ask this but I will caution you that if your son really wants to major in an engineering field, being denied direct entry should be considered a soft rejection. It can be extremely difficult to transfer into the major later.






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  • MidWestMom5MidWestMom5 12 replies1 threads New Member
    edited May 8
    Thankyou momofsenior1. That is helpful. Yes, he was told at both colleges not to plan on being able to trasfer into engineering. I wonder also about how the specific major applies to admittance. Something was said about popular choices and limited seats.

    I just wonder if he would be better off with chemistry, biology or computer science. And there always is graduate school for engineering if that is still in his heart.

    He is asking to take the act again so hopefully can pull up a point or two in the math for composite 34/35. (At washington on tour it was implied (by students) that out of state, male engineering students have around perfect act scores and a lot of extra work in engineering really showing their interest. My kid works, is a seasonal athlete and a difficult courseload - but hasn't done the solar car club etc

    I get how schools are needing to do this but declaring majors before entering college further complicates the process.

    Thanks everyone!
    edited May 8
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  • treschicostreschicos 229 replies21 threads Junior Member
    Even though the admit is direct to engineering, students have to meet progression requirements to stay in the major. Therefore it isn't automatic that the direct admit will mean the student can stay in their preferred engineering major or even in engineering.
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  • MidWestMom5MidWestMom5 12 replies1 threads New Member
    Yes, fully aware of that. It does sound like changing of majors are common within engineering. And some do not make it. The schools plan for attrition for the freshman class so it doesn’t necessarily open up spots.
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  • treschicostreschicos 229 replies21 threads Junior Member
    But if med school is the preferred end goal, it's pretty hard to keep up GPA in engineering vs. a liberal arts major.
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  • MidWestMom5MidWestMom5 12 replies1 threads New Member
    Yes, that is interesting. I wonder if difficulty of major is taken into consideration. Really i dont think son has a clear idea yet of long term goals. I could see him in some bio medical engineering field. Carl illinois has a med school incorporating engineering throught the entire program. Something like that. He is a techie kid.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 7613 replies61 threads Senior Member
    CS is more competitive than engineering for admission at most schools, and many pre-meds major in chem or bio which makes those majors difficult as well. I think he just needs to apply to the program he feels most passionately about, while having good match and safety schools on the list.

    If he opts to major in chem or bio, it will be more difficult to apply for engineering graduate programs because there will be engineering specific course requirements. It could add a year to his undergraduate degree to get all the necessary coursework.

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  • MidWestMom5MidWestMom5 12 replies1 threads New Member
    edited May 8
    Computer science is outside of most engineerung departments. Computer engineering of course is inside. Some students are choosing cs if they cant get into direct applucation to engineering. Similar but different specialties. Like i mentioned, we went into this just thinking about schools and are finding he is needing to make hard choices about majors and potential career paths early on in the process.

    Thanks again everyone for the helpful information!

    I think we all agree, us parents just want the best for these young adults as they find their way. Everyones path is unique and equally special.
    edited May 8
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 7613 replies61 threads Senior Member
    Correct that CS is outside of engineering. My D goes to Purdue and CS and Data Science in the College of Science have lower acceptance rates than engineering.

    You are smart to be narrowing in on this now. At many schools, admission to competitive majors are much more difficult to gain acceptance than the school as a whole. Many families don't realize that and don't plan their college lists accordingly.
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  • MidWestMom5MidWestMom5 12 replies1 threads New Member
    Does anyone else have confirmation on what /momofsenior1 wrote about also declaring a major outside of engineering? That makes all of us feel better about just declaring his interest in engineering but having back up. I read somewhere of a stellar student being denied and his thoughts were it was because he declared a popular engineering major. I was thinking that sounded not quite right. It seems these bright kids should be offered a backup plan if they really have their heart set on a particular school.
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  • MidWestMom5MidWestMom5 12 replies1 threads New Member
    Thank you for saying that. Momofsenior1. I was feeling we were in a completely different process than those seeking other programs. I do not think the school counselors or even info online has caught up.
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  • MidWestMom5MidWestMom5 12 replies1 threads New Member
    Purdue is also on his list!
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  • Tabitha18Tabitha18 67 replies1 threads Junior Member
    I have kind of the same question than MidWestMom5. My younger son will be applying to UW-Madison this Fall either to College of Engineering or CS in College of Letters & Science. If he applies 1st choice to College of Engineering and 2nd choice as undeclared in CLAS and if he’s denied direct admit to College of Engineering, what’s the chance for him to be admitted undeclared to CLAS?

    Or would it be better for him to apply 1st choice as undeclared in CLAS? Or it doesn’t really matter? Thank you.
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  • MidWestMom5MidWestMom5 12 replies1 threads New Member
    Purdue is also on his list!
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  • MidWestMom5MidWestMom5 12 replies1 threads New Member
    Purdue is also on his list!
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  • MidWestMom5MidWestMom5 12 replies1 threads New Member
    Tabitha18 - although it sounds like our young people may be in “competition” for the same seats, i would be interested in what info you find with regards to engineering applicants. And i would guess it will only get more competitive with googles presence in madison. 🙂
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  • wis75wis75 14106 replies64 threads Senior Member
    As of this date CS, in L&S, does not have enrollment caps. There was a recent article about how popular the CS major has become. Caps could follow if too many students choose the major and there isn't enough room for them to get their classes.

    btw- liberal arts include the sciences- versus engineering. I was a chemistry major but never considered chemical engineering. Likewise computer science is not computer engineering. Different people prefer differ aspects- theory/software versus applications/hardware is one way to put it. Engineering is no more difficult than many other majors!

    Students need to choose majors based on interest and ability.
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  • cargar44cargar44 4 replies0 threads New Member
    When you apply as a direct admit to engineering or business, they make you name another secondary major as well. That way, if you fit the college as a whole but may not have the math scores they are looking for you will get in with your secondary major.
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