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Liberal Arts College Bad Choice for Engineering

cleveland132cleveland132 Registered User Posts: 11 New Member
I know that many liberal arts colleges have 3/2 programs with schools like Wash U and Case - but it seems crazy to me that you would do 3 years at a school like Grinnell or Kenyon and then transfer junior year and do 2 more years - 5 years total - just to get your BS in Engineering.

Seems like if you have a kid who thinks she may want to do engineering she should just go to a school that has that has engineering. The 3/2 programs seem more like marketing around the fact LAC don't have engineering. Transferring junior year, not graduating with your friends and doing a 5th just for a BS in engineering seems like a bad deal.
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Replies to: Liberal Arts College Bad Choice for Engineering

  • wisteria100wisteria100 Registered User Posts: 4,074 Senior Member
    There are some liberal arts schools who offer engineering as a 2/1/1/1 program. So you do you junior year at another school while classmates may be doing junior year abroad, then come back senior year and graduate with your class and then do a 5th year back at the partner university That seems better than a 3/2 program.
  • MAandMEmomMAandMEmom Registered User Posts: 1,513 Senior Member
    There's Lafayette as well.
  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan Registered User Posts: 11,969 Senior Member
    And there is no guarantee that you will be accepted to the engineering school later (Columbia got rid of their guarantee recently).

    Though some LACs (with scholarships) could be cheaper and easier to enter than the final engineering school.

    But yes, I would not recommend 3-2 programs for someone who is certain they want to get an engineering degree.

  • Materof2Materof2 Registered User Posts: 262 Junior Member
    You mention LACs with 3/2 programs, but your subject line mentions LACs in general. I will give my opinion renthe LAC question.

    Yes, there are great engineering schools like Georgia Tech. However there are also phenomenal LACs who have ABET certified engineering programs.

    There are many reasons students choose their colleges. So long as the program is ABET certified, then the student should have the knowledge to enter into their chosen engineering career with success.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 74,612 Senior Member
    I think the 3/2 programs are good for kids who aren't really sure about engineering.

    Seems like the students who are least sure of engineering are the ones least likely to be careful of jumping through all of the hoops to make the transfer in a 3+2 program, so that they will be even less likely to complete an engineering degree than intending 3+2 students overall.

    But there are LACs with ABET-accredited engineering majors, as well as small engineering-focused schools (both public like SDSMT, NMT, CSM, MUST, etc. and private (Caltech, IL Tech, RHIT, MSoE, Stevens, etc.). Harvey Mudd arguably fits into both LAC and small engineering-focused school categories.
  • sylvan8798sylvan8798 Registered User Posts: 6,667 Senior Member
    I used to adjunct at a school with a 3-2 program. It wasn't particularly popular, but we did have students who did their 3 years and transferred to engineering schools to get their degree. The program resulted in 2 Bachelor's degrees - one in engineering from the transfer school and one in business from the LAC. In addition to getting both degrees, the courses at the LAC were much smaller and more personal than those at the typical engineering schools to which these students transferred.

    As for people starting and not finishing, that holds true at regular engineering schools as well. Many students transfer to other majors because they are not cut out for engineering. In addition, many, many students take more than 8 semesters to finish.

    Even though it is not the most popular route, I certainly don't see 3-2 programs as intrinsically a bad deal.
  • CheeringsectionCheeringsection Registered User Posts: 2,287 Senior Member
    Another LAC with engineering is Valparaiso University. Graduating in 4 is the norm.
  • OHMomof2OHMomof2 Registered User Posts: 12,294 Senior Member
    And Smith is a great LAC with engineering too, if you are female.

    I know a kid who planned a 3/2 but decided to do 4 at the LAC (had a full scholarship) then did a post-grad BS/Eng and MS program. He's very happily engineering at a large aerospace company now.
  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse Registered User Posts: 26,498 Senior Member
    I can see a number of reasons to do a 3-2 program, particularly at a LAC. I'm a great proponent of LACs in terms of nurturing students and giving them attention that is unlikely to happen at large schools. Engineering has a tough curriculum with a lot of drop outs. THat extra year to get through the program (something a number of engineering programs are adding anyways) and the two years of excellent academic prep and support can bolster a student's chances in getting through what is a very rigorous course of study.
  • DustyfeathersDustyfeathers Registered User Posts: 3,318 Senior Member
    edited March 18
    There're also the 4+1 program with Haverford/Bryn Mawr and UPenn. You do four years at H or BMC and then a final year at UPenn for a BA and Masters degree, both.

    What I like about LACs for starting out, especially with the teaching philosophies as H and BMC, is that the students are nurtured and closely involved in the program. There aren't weeder classes with, you know, 200+ people in a lecture hall. The students also graduate with their LAC class instead of missing out.
  • MWolfMWolf Registered User Posts: 565 Member
    Harvey Mudd isn't just a LAC with engineering - it has arguably one of the best undergraduate engineering programs in the country.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 74,612 Senior Member
    I can see a number of reasons to do a 3-2 program, particularly at a LAC. I'm a great proponent of LACs in terms of nurturing students and giving them attention that is unlikely to happen at large schools. Engineering has a tough curriculum with a lot of drop outs. THat extra year to get through the program (something a number of engineering programs are adding anyways)

    Engineering programs are generally nominally 4-year programs, though not-as-strong students often take extra semester(s) or year(s).

    But 3+2 programs are nominally 5-year programs, so the not-as-strong students may take more than 5 years to complete them. Remember that the extra year is filled with doing a liberal arts major at the LAC, rather than taking light loads in an engineering program.

    A student who wants a regular 4 year engineering program in a small school can choose a LAC with native engineering (e.g. Harvey Mudd, Swarthmore), a small engineering-focused school (e.g. Caltech, South Dakota Mines), or a small university with engineering (e.g. Tuskegee, Kettering).
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