2023 - What is Cooper Union Engineering REALLY like?

Hi, I’m looking to apply to Cooper Union’s Mechanical Engineering program this january for RD, but I’m still on the fence.II know that they are well respected by many schools and markets, but I’ve also heard a lot of bad information in regards to how the school functions. Please, if you have any factual stats or personal experiences regarding the school recently that you feel an applicant must know of, please share. Thank you!

@drewkm7 sorry that no one has responded to your post for about 1 month now. lemme try to give you an honest answer.

Cooper is a very small yet extremely rigorous engineering school. Im currently a sophmore chemical engineering student taking 19.5 credits (all required) and I must say, I have never worked this hard in my life before. One reason why Cooper is so difficult is because of the amount of courseload we have to take. Most engineering programs are already structured to have about 120+ credits by the time you graduate. I don’t know the exact number, but I think Cooper makes you take more than the average number of credits at a regular engineering school (correct me if I’m wrong here). Some of my friends in other schools actually have a credit maximum, where they’re only allowed to take 16 credits at most.

In terms of school functions, I haven’t seen anything that has been atrociously bad. The student government here at Cooper has a lot of say in how the school functions. Some upperclassmen have said that the student government here has more power than student govs at other schools (but I can’t really validate this statement). Of course there are limitations. If the dean of the engineering school issues a new policy, it will happen. This is just my personal anecdote of how the school is being run. We have a president and a dean of engineering that are both really understanding and are willing to talk should you desire to so.

I hope this helps you in deciding whether or not you still want to apply to Cooper. Best of luck

@drewkm7 Hello, I am a Cooper Mech E sophomore.

I hate being brutally honest, but Cooper is like nerd heaven. If you are not a nerd, you will probably be miserable here. And I am not talking about “smart”. Everyone here is smart. I am talking about “I barely have a social life” nerd. Those type of people thrive at Cooper. They all become friends and have an amazing time laughing about how much work we have and how every Professor sucks.

If you are not a nerd, I don’t suggest coming here. I read reviews like this and ignored them. I knew I wasn’t a nerd, but I thought “It can’t be that bad.”… I hate to say, it is 100 times worse than I ever imagined. Every day I cringe. The social life simply consists of talking about HW and complaining. Roles are switched. Nerds rule the school and act like the normal people.

Before you think I am just an idiot and I am upset because the school is so hard and I am not “smart” enough, let me tell you exactly what happened to me. I was so excited coming into cooper. The first day was amazing. I was filled with ambition. I kept that attitude for the whole semester and I questioned all the people that were miserable. I was so excited about my accomplishment of getting into the school that I’d even tear up sometimes. That semester I had one of the highest GPA’s and I was invited multiple times to join the honor society which I was among like the top 10% or something like that. Then the second semester I started to realize the truth.

I started to realize that most of the professors suck. My first project-based class that I was so excited about was actually a complete joke and we ended up doing nothing useful. I realized that I was teaching myself most of the material. I realized that Cooper Union’s “amazing reputation” is only amazing if you know about the school, which is only true for some employers in NYC. Outside of NYC? Forget about it. I realized that I don’t get along with 99% of the school. In a school this small, not getting along with most of the school is horrible because you are with the same people every semester. All Mech E’s are together for most classes. Same with the other departments. Because of this I was extremely unmotivated and my grades went down A LOT. I stopped listening in class because it was pointless. Department head of physics told us that his lectures were only 5% of what we need to know. The other 95% we have to teach ourselves. What is the point of coming to class and wasting 6 hours for a 4 credit class every week when class time is only 5% of what we need to know? Oh ya, attendance was mandatory. Thank god they recently changed this and made it so that most courses meet 1 hour per credit.

Anyway, now my GPA isn’t even that good anymore and I struggle every day to come up with the motivation to do well. I am stuck here because my GPA isn’t good enough to transfer to a good school, even though at a CUNY or a SUNY I could probably get a GPA in the 3.7+ range. All because Cooper is unnecessarily hard. It is hard to get a job unless the employer knows about Cooper. Then they are a little bit more lenient about how all GPAs here suck.

However, I think every die hard nerd needs to come to this school. It is amazing for nerds. A lot of opportunities if you take advantage of them. A lot of similar people to meet. A lot of professors to become close to. A lot of cool projects you can take part in. I just personally don’t think it is worth being unhappy in the environment. You may not be a nerd and are thinking “Oh it sounds so good academic wise, and there are a lot of project-based opportunities”. That excitement will die really fast when you realize that if you do take on extra projects outside of the 18-20 credits you are REQUIRED to take, then you will have no life and your grades will probably suffer. Failing a class is not an option unless you want to fall behind A LOT since many of the harder courses are only offered one semester a year.

Also, not all professors suck. Some really good professors are at Cooper, like Mintchev and Smyth. Most classes are so hard that the exam averages are below 50/100. Thankfully, those professors usually curve.

I know I said a lot of bad things about Cooper, but the truth is, it is not completely horrible. At the end of the day, it all comes down to the type of person you are. You either absolutely love it, or you absolutely hate it. My advice is to really think about your personality. It is hard to define what I meant by “nerd” earlier, but I guess that is up to you. I read a review similar to this one before I went to Cooper. I knew I wasn’t a “nerd” and I knew that the review was telling “people like me” not to go to this school. I ignored it and regret that every day I step foot in this school. If you are willingly ignoring the fact that you are not a nerd, then you should probably stop ignoring it and stay away from here. I can’t stress this enough. Cooper nerds are not just nerds. Yaa every school has nerds, especially engineering schools. But imagine a small school with 120 kids per year of which 99% of students are nerds. A non-nerd will not survive in this environment. In bigger schools there is more variety of people. At cooper, there isn’t. Sorry for this long rant lol. You can probably tell how much I regret coming here.

Seriously, I will pray for you. I feel your pain.