3-2 Engineering or Transfer

Good afternoon everyone!

I am currently a 3-2 major at Oberlin college, but after a semester spent on a medical leave of absence and one part-time semester for recovery, I have fallen slightly behind.

I have been working to catch up, and I am only short 1 class. The issue is, Oberlin has the most insane and strict credit transfer policy (limit of 3 for people on medical leave and I have 3 already).

Now, I am currently appealing to take one or two extra classes while not on campus (class divisions and semesters were split), however, Oberlin is only referring me to dean after dean and trying to get me to stay for an extra semester (just for 1 or 2 classes). I have explored the possibility of overloading, but the schedule of classes that I need to take doesn’t allow for it, plus I am still in recovery from an auto-immune attack (I was dignosed with a condition called ADEM).

Oberlin is really not giving me options, so for safety, I applied as a spring transfer student to MSOE. They accepted and offered me a scholarship (I didn’t even now transfer students were eligible for this).

Now, I am honestly more interested in the 3-2 program with my time at the engineering school spent at either case western reserve university or Columbia, two schools Oberlin has an agreement with.

I know there are negative sentiments about 3-2 programs, but the graduation rate for Oberlin’s partnership is 96 percent or so (perhaps they are making this up).

Talking with the admissions counselor at MSOE, it turns out with the amount of credits I have I would actually spend less time in total at MSOE (4.5 years total as opposed to 5).

I am also in the process of just applying as a transfer student to my engineering schools of choice.

I get a lot of conflicting sentiments of 3-2 programs. Some say the BA is attractive. It denotes the possession of teamwork skills or something along those lines.

I also see people who say that it really isn’t worth it. On paper, it does seem like the added BA would distinguish me from other people my age, but the trade-off is less experience (Case has a Co-Op program I am interested in to help me get some experience).

Are there any 3-2 majors (past or present) that could help give me insight? Are there any engineers out there who could give the same?

For context I was a physics major, but I had to drop it because Oberlin placed me with the sophomore class instead of the junior class (which I technically am). This cuts me off from my needed courses (which doesn’t bother me too much because I am more interested in engineering). I was luckily able to at least finish a minor, but I understand that is somewhat insignificant.

Anyway, I am interested in a civil engineering program with a concentration in environmental engineering. With that said, I am of the mindset of transferring if Oberlin absolutely refuses to let me take an extra class or two. Is this mindset irrational? Any and all input would be greatly appreciated!

If you do the 3+2 thing, what major would you have at Oberlin?

Note carefully what admission is like at Columbia and CWRU. Check whether it is automatic based on grades/GPA or is competitive for you. Also note that Columbia does not promise as much FA to 3+2 transfers as it does to frosh and other transfers.

You may want to figure out total cost and debt for each scenario you are considering, since you seem to be concerned about needing an extra semester.

I don’t have direct experience with 3-2 programs, but have always been skeptical as one must pay for 5 years of school to get a bachelor’s degree, and none of those programs have shown data that their graduates make more money, or get better jobs, than others who have bachelor’s that took 4 years and/or did co-op programs.

I would seriously consider transferring to a school that takes as many credits as possible, allowing you to graduate as soon as possible. Transferring to a program with co-op, CWRU as you stated above, or Purdue, U Cincinnati, Drexel, just to name a few, may also be a good option for you and allow you to earn money and gain experience.

Columbia is competitive admission for those in 3-2 programs, and UCBalumnus is correct, they do not guarantee to meet full need for those students. I also agree with the above re: figuring out total costs/time to graduate/debt for all of the possible scenarios.

Good luck.

I’ve looked at requirements for both. I have guaranteed admission to Case which is my top pick.

In terms of competitive programs, based off my stats, work experience, extracurricular activities, and the like I think I have a shot. Furthermore, the majority of 3-2 majors from Oberlin go to Columbia. All these schools possess this agreement under the stipulation that I can complete the necessary engineering requirements in 2 years. They are partnered in this sense with the degree designed so that the engineering degree can be completed in 2 years.

I am interested in the civil programs with an environmental concentration. Case is preferable due to its relative proximity to my home state.

Additionally, I’ve been looking into the programs and opportunities and I am more attracted to Case. I am not particularly interested in anything “Ivy” affiliated, but it doesn’t hurt to apply since I meet the requirements.

I will apply to Columbia just as an extra option, but ultimately, Case is my top pick. The tuition is also less, which is important as I don’t qualify for financial aid.

With regard to MSOE, it is obviously the more financially feasible option and I am seriously considering it. I am just concerned about grad schools or employers getting the sense that I jump around from school to school.

Addendum: I would have a physics degree if scheduling works out this year. However, Oberlin’s partnership doesn’t require a degree. You obtain a general BA degree, but I am at the point where if I take 3 more classes, I would have completed a physics degree with a concentration in materials.

The issue is Oberlin’s scheduling for the department. It is small and I really got screwed over with my class placement (I am a junior, but because of my semester on medical leave for registration purposes I am a sophomore).

As a result, I don’t have access to any physics classes I haven’t taken already. I am currently trying to appeal to be placed with the juniors, but they are really not helping me out.

Seems like you will need to “jump around from school to school” to complete a degree in civil engineering that your current school does not have, whether you go to MSOE, CWRU, or Columbia. Lots of students start at one college (often a community college) and transfer to another to complete civil (or other) engineering degrees.

It doesn’t matter where you start and where you end. All the programs are abet certified. That’s the important thing. Msoe is more regionally known VS Columbia and Case. It’s also a pretty small school but the area is nice in Milwaukee. If Case is less expensive and they are taking your credits I would bolt for that…

We don’t know all your circumstances but not loving Oberlin not working with you during these times. With such a small school you would think they would let you test into the physics class or at least try.

So… No advantage at all to have a 3/2 program except that you get to take some extra classes.

It’s not a matter of testing into the class. It’s literally unavailable to me with the way they scheduled the covid-updated trimester plan.

My goal is definitely to get to case, which would be easier through the 3-2 program as they require transfer students to take some engineering classes, which I simply cannot at Oberlin since there is no engineering program. The 3-2 requirements cover all their gen-ed requirements, but it is different for transfer students.

I can’t take classes elsewhere during the fall.

I have decided that if Oberlin doesn’t help me out in the few couple weeks I will transfer. I already committed to be there in the fall so until then I will keep exploring my options, but I one-hundred percent agree with you.

Oberlin is in massive debt following some stupid lawsuits which are not connected to me (or a majority of the students for that matter). They are doing everything to obtain as much revenue as possible to at least survive, but with their actions it seems like they are trying to profit.

I completed less than one month of a semester before I went on medical leave and they didn’t refund me one bit. I will do everything I can to bolt from Oberlin. The 3-2 option is the most favorable for case and transferring is the most favorable for MSOE. I will mull these options over and maybe look to other schools for potential transfer. Thank you again!

Have you tried just applying to CWRU as a transfer? You could still apply for spring.

The dual degree really shouldn’t carry much weight. You can always add breadth at your transfer/3:2 school.

Pitt is another good option that shares a lot of attributes with CWRU, and has a really nice civil/environmental program with co-op.

^^^^this. Need another choice of school? Look at Iowa State. Really good engineering program.

Also depending on your scores /GPA it’s pretty easy for most to get in https://www.ccee.iastate.edu/

But like all engineering it’s tough to stay in. I know many people that have graduated there with multiple offers. Plus great school spirit.

I would just email schools with your story to admissions counselor and see what your realistic options are. All schools are down students due to covid and international students numbers down. Take advantage of that if you can. If your high school GPA unweighted and stats were strong this will be helpful.

I don’t yet meet their transfer requirements. They require some engineering classes for transfer students and Oberlin doesn’t have any. Furthermore, I won’t be able to take any elsewhere until spring because I am committed for the fall at Oberlin.

I’m looking into Pitt right now and am definitely interested. I finished a transfer application and in the meantime will consider all my options. Thank you!

“I am interested in the civil programs with an environmental concentration. Case is preferable due to its relative proximity to my home state.”

IT SOUNDS AS THOUGH YOU WENT 3/2 TO GAIN A FULLER SET OF GROUP PROJECT AND TEAMWORK SKILLS. Check out the actual undergraduate and project development reports (if available) at your targeted universities. This is what Project Based Learning (PBL) does. These skill sets are best developed in programs where you actually have to suffer with your teammates to develop an actual working solution. You have identified the need for an important skill set, but one needs exercise in the “group think” process to develop and test it.

By way of example see https://www.wpi.edu/academics/departments/environmental-engineering/major-project and read around. Case and Pitt should have like information. You will see the caliber and range of their activities in these areas that actually involve real undergraduate research.

Focus on programs that will emphasize actual undergraduate research opportunities and project experience. All ABET accredited programs now required a “capstone” sort of experience, but that does not mean that they all have the same programs. Look toward flexibility and depth of these offerings as reflected by their student experiences.

By reputation, I would encourage Case Western, but I really have no first had experience at either University.

Case has one of the most flexible policies out there, as far as changing/adding majors. Have you looked at whether you could transfer in as a physics major (possibly even Engineering Physics?) and transition into your desired Civ/Environmental program after finishing the prereqs?

I didn’t consider that, I will definitely look into that. I am two classes away from completing a physics major at Oberlin so perhaps it is feasible. I will look into this possibility more deeply.

Another idea I had was to contact the 3-2 department to see if they would agree to let me transfer the credits I need directly to CWRU. Oberlin won’t because they have a limit of 12 transfer hours (3 classes). I am not confident case would agree to this either as it would mean I don’t finish the BA at Oberlin.

If I don’t hear back from Oberlin within the next week, I will gather my teacher recommendations and apply to transfer. I believe I might have mixed up CWRU’s transfer policy with another school. This means transferring might be more than possible.

Usually, when you transfer, your new college will assess transfer credit directly from each previous college (or the College Board for AP scores), rather than take indirect transfer credit through your most recent college. But check CWRU for its specific policies.

However, if the unwillingness of Oberlin to take transfer credit prevents you from completing the BA at Oberlin as the “3” school in the 3+2 program, that would be a separate complication; you would have to see if CWRU still considers you eligible to transfer and complete the civil engineering degree there.

You might be just able to transfer to Case and finish up what they require for their engineering program regardless what you did at Oberlin.


It might take a bit longer or not. That is why you need to send your transcript even unofficial to Case et AL and talk with them or email them.