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Evaluating the Strength of Engineering Programs

mh3353mh3353 55 replies14 threads Junior Member
Ok, so here's the deal. I am a high school senior with above average attributes but nothing atypical for this website.

Scores: (2260 SAT w/ 800 Math, 33 ACT, 4.0 UW GPA, Class Rank 1 of about 200)
EC's: (Local United Way Board Member, Cross Country Team Captain, School Newspaper Editor-in-Chief)
Essay and Recommendations: (Should be pretty good.)
Financial Status: (Income likely falls between 120k and 140k. I am second of five kids.)

Early in my college search, I, for the most part, only gave serious thought to schools close to home. Right now I am thinking primarily about South Dakota School of Mines and Technology and University of Minnesota Twin Cities.

I have a couple friends who are applying to some very selective schools, such as Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, Yale, UC Berkeley, Penn, etc. As it comes down to crunch time, I am wondering if I should invest some serious consideration in these schools, which would essentially involve starting the application process at square one and possibly cramming in a couple last-minute SAT subject tests.

So here is my question: How does the quality of an engineering education at say, Stanford or Yale, match up with an engineering education at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology or University of Minnesota Twin Cities? Let me know your thoughts. Do you believe that those highly selective schools are worth the high price and transportation?




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Replies to: Evaluating the Strength of Engineering Programs

  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 79088 replies703 threads Senior Member
    You may want to run the net price calculators on the various schools to check what they will actually cost.

    However, the Ivy League schools (besides Cornell) typically have their strengths mostly in other subjects besides engineering. Recruiting may be different -- the state schools may attract more engineering recruiters, versus management consulting and investment banking recruiters at the Ivy League schools.

    If you want to aim for highly selective schools strong in engineering, you may want to look at MIT, Caltech, and Harvey Mudd.
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  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids 84196 replies1035 threadsForum Champion Financial Aid, Forum Champion Alabama Forum Champion
    edited November 2014
    >>>
    How does the quality of an engineering education at say, Stanford or Yale, match up with an engineering education at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology or University of Minnesota Twin Cities?

    Let me know your thoughts. Do you believe that those highly selective schools are worth the high price and transportation?

    >>>


    here are my thoughts:

    This nations needs thousands and thousands of new engineers each year. A few schools can't and don't provide all that is needed.

    Virtually every state in this country has a vested interest in having at least 2-5 schools that have strong engineering. Calif has 35 schools with ABET accredited engineering....wow....but really the country needs 400+ universities graduating qualified engineers....year after year...after year!

    I'm from Calif, but I've lived in Alabama for several years now (moved with H's engineering job). Alabama is a relatively low populated state (around 5mil people)....Yet, the state of Alabama has ten (10!!) universities with ABET accredited engineering depts.

    So, if you're fine with your choices....AND!!!!....your parents have said that they will pay all the costs!!!! Then go where you want.


    What are your stats?

    How much will your parents pay?

    If you're OOS for UMinn,, will your parents pay the $32k or so to go there???

    edited November 2014
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  • mh3353mh3353 55 replies14 threads Junior Member
    Mom2collegekids, my stats are listed above.

    I think my parents are willing to pay for a portion of my education, but honestly I would like to avoid having them spend any more than 8-10k a year for my tuition, room, and board. That seems fair to me. I am figuring out that at a school like Princeton, after grant-aid and a big local scholarship, I might end up paying only something like 7k a year. Even in my families incomes bracket, Princeton financial aid supposedly covers 95 percent of tuition, for example. It seems to me that many Ivy League schools today are really touting their affordability.

    At University of Minnesota, tuition, room, and board would cost me about 23k since I live in South Dakota and we have reciprocity. I was told that National Merit Finalists receive an average of a 15k scholarship package. I have already been offered 10k. With a big local scholarship I might almost have my costs covered there. The same applies to School of Mines. So really I am just wondering what the advantages are of big-name, high-ranking schools. I recently spoke to a Harvard alumna, who majored in biology. In her opinion, she said, attending an Ivy League school offered an incredible experience, but she didn't necessarily think that the quality of education was leaps and bounds above state schools. She advised me to avoid the debt and go to U of M.

    So in summary, I'm just wondering if the quality if the education differs, and thus if post-graduate opportunities differ at highly-selective, high-ranking engineering schools. Let's just say that Cornell, for example, accepts me but it costs an extra 15k to go there. Do the education and opportunities there justify 60k of debt? Does my degree mean more?






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  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan 12668 replies29 threads Senior Member
    Quality of education likely will not differ much, but post-grad opportunities may (more consulting and finance companies recruit from Ivies/equivalents than the 2 you are considering).

    However, you're limited in how much debt you can take on (it's closer to $30K in total rather than $60K). So why not fire off an app or two to schools where net cost (from their NPCs) won't be much more than the 2 safeties for you (ergo Princeton but not Cal)?
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  • mh3353mh3353 55 replies14 threads Junior Member
    PurpleTitan, sounds like a good idea. Could you clarify what you meant by "you're limited in how much debt you can take on"? Are you saying 30k is the maximum amount of debt you want to take on? (By the way, I just threw out 15k for Cornell. Really I have no idea how much it would cost me.)
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  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids 84196 replies1035 threadsForum Champion Financial Aid, Forum Champion Alabama Forum Champion
    Princeton Yale and Harvard give unusually good aid. The other ivies are not as generous....and who knows if you'll be accepted.... An ACT 33 is good, but we know it's "average" for ivies. (everyone is amazing at ivies....lol)


    As for any private scholarships....have you looked to see if those are hard to win?? (most are) Are they for all FOUR years??? or are they only ONE YEAR only awards (most are).

    You might be able to cobble together some outside privates to bring down costs for ONE year, but what about the other four years?


    >>>
    Scores: (2260 SAT w/ 800 Math, 33 ACT, 4.0 UW GPA, Class Rank 1 of about 200)
    EC's: (Local United Way Board Member, Cross Country Team Captain, School Newspaper Editor-in-Chief)
    Essay and Recommendations: (Should be pretty good.)
    Financial Status: (Income likely falls between 120k and 140k. I am second of five kids.)

    >>>

    Thanks...sorry I overlooked your earlier posted stats. Was looking at my phone earlier.

    What kind of aid does your older sibling get at his/her college?


    >>>
    but honestly I would like to avoid having them spend any more than 8-10k a year for my tuition, room, and board. That seems fair to me.
    >>>

    Have you asked them? Are they paying that much for your sibling's college? If so, does that mean that they can pay $20k per year for both kids? If so, great....but maybe they can't. You need to get clarity from them.
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  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan 12668 replies29 threads Senior Member
    No, I mean that there is a limit to how much in direct loans that the government will extend to you each year (and it's not a big amount). It's not as if any 18 year-old can just take out $100K in loans just because they want to borrow that much.
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  • Erin's DadErin's Dad 33202 replies3927 threads Super Moderator
    As a student you are limited to $27K in direct loans. Anything above that will have to be borrowed by your parents or be cosigned by them. ABET accreditation makes engineering programs pretty close to others. After that it comes down to internship and coop opportunities.
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  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids 84196 replies1035 threadsForum Champion Financial Aid, Forum Champion Alabama Forum Champion
    @mh3353‌

    YOU can ONLY borrow the following amounts...

    frosh 5500
    soph 6500
    jr 7500
    sr 7500

    So, you need to make sure that when you're adding up grants, scholarships, summer work savings, etc....that the remaining costs can be covered with an above loan.

    ALSO.....keep in mind that at schools that "meet need"....they will subtract your aid - dollar for dollar - for every outside scholarship dollar you get.

    So, if School A says that your family should pay $20k, and they give you $40k in NEED-BASED aid....but then you get $5k in outside merit scholarships, then suddenly the school will give you $5k LESS in aid....they'll give you $35k....and you will still have to come up with $20k.

    But, if a school gives you a large MERIT scholarship, then unless they have rules against it, if you get an outside award of $5k, that $5k can go towards any uncovered expenses. (only some schools have rules against this...many/most will let you stack an outside award on top of a univ award. Usually only some privates won't let you stack like this)
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  • mh3353mh3353 55 replies14 threads Junior Member
    So you are saying that if I get a need-based award, that essentially becomes my maximum award, correct? I will have to pay, with my/my family's own funds, the remaining costs, correct?
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  • mh3353mh3353 55 replies14 threads Junior Member
    Pardon the separate post. If that is the case, how does Princeton say that 75-percent of their undergrads graduate debt-free? Does that just mean that the students' parents already paid off the debt? Or the student used his/her own funds? (Funds not from scholarships)
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  • AlfonsiaAlfonsia 818 replies7 threads Member
    Go run the princeton calculator and put yourself out of your misery. Also look at the common data sets and see where a 33 ACT might put you then adjust for engineering. If you see merit awards in a school such as princeton I really doubt a 33 ACT is going to cut it. Your peers might all be applying to great schools but that is all, they are buying into the advertising just like anyone else. I am more surprised by the kids I meet whose stats are way higher (the 35s, the big ECs, the real service oriented kids) who never apply to schools with huge EFCs because they know already how futile it is when their parents might be richish on paper but not richer enough to pay out 120K-260K on a degree.
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  • xraymancsxraymancs 4672 replies19 threadsForum Champion Graduate School Forum Champion
    You might qualify for some of the merit scholarships at private engineering schools which are part of the AITU. However, total cost and ABET accreditation should be your main guides and so if SDSM is the best option financially, stick with it.
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  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan 12668 replies29 threads Senior Member
    Well, roughly half of Princeton's undergrads come from families so rich that they can afford to pay the full-cost of going to Princeton without taking any loans.

    The other undergrads with no loans are so poor that Princeton's (generous) fin aid grants along with whatever other money they/their family contribute is enough to cover all costs.
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  • mh3353mh3353 55 replies14 threads Junior Member
    Alfonsia, sorry if this is a dumb question, but what do you mean by common data sets? Also, I am already pretty certain that schools like Princeton don't offer merit scholarships. If they did, the competition would definitely be ridiculous.
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  • xraymancsxraymancs 4672 replies19 threadsForum Champion Graduate School Forum Champion
    The common data sets are statistical data about admissions and attendance published by each university. For example, my university, Illinois Tech publishes their information at

    http://www.iit.edu/oiir/common_data_set.shtml

    A Google search will provide you links to the information from the schools you are interested in.
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  • mh3353mh3353 55 replies14 threads Junior Member
    So why go to Cornell rather than University of Minnesota Twin Cities? Would anyone even advise that given the difference in cost? The general consensus seems that all ABET programs are pretty similar in nature. If the education is virtually the same, does it just come down to college experience and internship/coop opportunities?
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  • xraymancsxraymancs 4672 replies19 threadsForum Champion Graduate School Forum Champion
    People have lots of reasons for going to their universities. if you simply look at the forum, you will see those who just have to be at an Ivy League school or have fallen in love with a particular LAC. The question is whether the choice is affordable for the family and how much it matters to them to be at an "elite" school. Personally, I have sent my children to the local State University and my own school, where I have a great tuition benefit. So far they have been able to get into strong graduate programs or to get excellent jobs without trouble.
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  • eyemgheyemgh 5603 replies122 threads Senior Member
    The schools you have chosen both have good engineering reputations. Plus, they both have reputations as good undergraduate institutions. You could go to a "prestigious" institution only to find you ended up in more debt and got a less useful education. Playing the name game can be risky. If you want to stay in the upper Midwest, Wisconsin also has a good track record for undergrads. Good luck.
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  • mh3353mh3353 55 replies14 threads Junior Member
    While, as it stands, no one has given me any concrete reason to go to a super "prestigious" university. At this point, I just don't see any justification in the cost. "Need-based" aid, it looks like, would still leave me paying a pretty hefty amount given my family's financial situation- and for an education that really isn't any better.
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