Berkeley Engineering: Outrageous!!!!!!

<p>My S is trying to make his final decision. He is currently leaning toward Brerkeley over Cornell, Northwestern and UPenn. All Engineering Undecided or Undeclared. My job is to help him make a "educated" or "informed" decision, if you will. As I do my own research I came across a statistic that I have a hard time understanding: Fall 2004 Undergraduate Engineering Enrollments by Department and Class. Here is the summary:</p>

<p>Freshman: 457
Sophomore: 275
Junior: 730</p>

<h2>Senior: 1,152</h2>

<p>Total: 2,636</p>

<p>My best guess on drop in Sophmore is attition...a surge in Junior is transfers from outside as well as internal...another surge in senior is maybe because people can't graduate??? If my guess is right 40% of Engineering freshmen don't come back as Engineering sophomore. And the school accepts transfers about twice the size of the returning freshmen at the end of the sophomore year. Lastly about the size of an entire class will stay at school beyond 4 years. I hope my math is wrong or I am missing something big. Please help me understand.</p>

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<p>There's clearly a flaw in your reasoning but I'm not sure how to explain it. However, the statistics from the Spring indicate:
Freshman: 128
Sophomore: 466

<p>Freshman retentions / graduation rates at some engineering schools are relatively low (e.g. Georgia Tech (90%/69% respectively) but these figures are far beyond that.</p>

<p>Perhaps it is when they tally courses over two semesters. I'm just not sure. But Berkeley has an overall freshman retention rate of 96% and a graduation rate of 85% which is fairly good for a public university. Engineering mght be a tad below that but not in the ballpark that you would have to worry about. ANd as you see Spring enrollment figures are strange in there own right to look at.</p>

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<p>The spring data confuses me even more. If it is my complaint it is not to you hormesis but to Berkeley Engineering Admin. If the freshman enrollment in the spring of 2004 was 128 (now I realize that there are quite a few spring admits), they are saying they lost 70% freshmen after 1st semester. The data are useless!!! If the freshman numer 128 is spring admit, their total must be wrong.... If you do with your books, I mean accounting books, you can go to jail! Sorry, it was my way of expressing the frustration. </p>

<p>Anyway the data give me certain amount of discomfort. Freshman attrition may not be really a bad thing unless % is too big. The size of transfer and the size of people hang around beyond 4 year are definitely a concern.</p>

<p>The data is potentially a show stopper for me, meaning if my S's final decision is with Berkeley, which I will know in two days, I may have to object to it. I really really hate to over rule his decision, especially if it was for the wrong reasons. Please help.</p>

<p>might be better to ask the berkeley administration yourself. i'm pretty sure they'll have more statistics and info than anyone on cc can provide ya.</p>

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<p>Porcupyne, yes, I plan to talk to them tomorrow. But I don't want to totally rely on them. I may be wrong but we are talking about dealing with bureaucracy. And look at the data. Those are the ones from the same source that I may have to deal with tomorrow. I am looking forward to Berkeley students or recent graduates chiming in.</p>

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<p>this thread might be somewhat relevant. it might explain why you get that 40% number. students are competing against each other it seems. the best and the brightest might be setting the pace. maybe those that can't keep up initially try again the next semester? </p>

<p>i'm uncomfortable with giving opinions because, like many others, i'm not qualified to give it. i'm just a transfer student with the same access to published statistics that you have. the school is bound to have much more relevant info than i or most other people on here can give you. i'd hate to be a factor in depriving your son on what might be otherwise be a great education.</p>

<p>I'm not too surprised to hear that 40% of Engineering freshmen drop out after one year. Nationally, about 1/2 to 2/3 of Engineering freshmen eventually drop out of the major, after taking weedout classes like Physics with Calculus, Computer Science, Intro to Circuits, etc. That's certainly not unique to Berkeley.</p>

<p>Actually I am quite surprised that you guys are not that surprised at the percentage. I, who am mostly used to the over all university retention/graduation rate, still couldn't believe it. Do you have ideas about the retention and graduation rate difference btw Berkeley and the other three that my S got admitted to (Cornell/Northwestern/UPenn)? Ball park number would be good enough.</p>

<p>I couldn't find information about the other schools, but here are some data for UIUC, another top public engineering program: 1386 FR, 858 SO, 1184 JR, 1977 SR, which is a 38% drop from FR to SO. It was published in the student paper that the first physics class for engineers (out of three) as well as the introductory class for electrical and computer engineering each had a failure rate of 20%. Considering all the other freshman classes like calculus, CS, and chemistry, a first-year attrition rate of 40% is not an anomaly for engineering, as I said above.</p>

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<p>At Michigan, only 70% of the students whop start out as Engineers end up getting degrees in Engineering. Cornell is about 75%. I am not sure about Northwestern.But it is seldom higher than 80%. That's why colleges with large Engineering colleges are at a huge disadvantage in USNWR rankings because their overall graduate rates are significantly lower.</p>

<p>RichardDad- If you search for the Common Data Sets on each university's website, you can most likely find the numbers you're looking for. Berkeley is world reknown in engineering. My major concern would be cuts in state funding. I hear that UCB has taken quite a hit with regard to the state budget, which means more difficulty in getting the necessary classes and graduationg in a "do-able" amount of time. This could be part of the explanation for the numbers you found. I would definitely speak with the Dean of Engineering to get an explanation that you and your S feel comfortable with. Good luck!</p>

<p>Unfortunately, most Common Data Sets indicate retention / graduation rates for the whole university not for individual schools within.</p>

<p>I think what one is seeing at Berkeley is a combination of kids taking time off (only 48% of students there graduate withn 4 years, although 6 year graduation rates climb to around 85%) and others switching to non-engineering majors.</p>

<p>The National Science Foundation gave a presentation highlighting the problem of students switching out from Engineering majors especially among women:</p>

<p>Only 54% of High School students planning on engineering had earned more than 10 credits (presumably in engineering) compared with 23% of women.</p>

<p>Most common reasons given for switching to another major from an engineering major: poor teaching, choice of engineering wrong, poor advising, lost interest, better education in other fields, curriculum overload.</p>

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<p>As far as statistics from Northwestern that Alexandre didn't have, you can put a picture together from statistics from their office of the Registrar:</p>

<p>New students enrolling in engineering 317-342 (depending on year) (this is out of a pool of 1915 Freshman and 141 transfers)
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<p>366 bachelor degrees awarded throughout year
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<p>Obviously, some are taking more than 4 years to graduate since total enrollment in the school of engineering was between 1320-1395 which is greater than the combined enrollment of four freshman engineering cohorts.</p>

<p>I believe Northwestern must do fairly well in retention since around 90% of females in engineering will graduate:</p>

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<p>I actually wouldn't be surprised that the overall retention rate is similar to that for females at NU ~ 90%. When I was in NU, I only knew of one person that dropped out and he switched to econ. I was in ChemE program, probably one the two most intense among all disciplines. I know 3 people dropped out of chemE (2 in my class and 1 a year below me) and switched to BME and IE. Northwestern's IE is very popular (highly ranked also) and it seemed to be a popular major for those who found pure engineering too dry to switch too. IE courses actually look very interesting; it's like a hybrid of engineering and managment. I think that combo appeals to many.</p>

<p>I had a chance to exchange emails with Assistant Dean. His response was prompt with clarity. I am impressed. In my opinion Berkeley is clear of any charge(?) regarding the issues I raised. The following is a summary of the input I got from him.</p>

<p>At the end of the freshman year, about half the freshmen receive AP or other credits to put them above the 60 credits needed to be considered a junior. That explains the huge drop in sophomore and a good portion of the surge in junior for which the main reason is still transfers as suspected. Last year, they accepted 30-40 internal transfers mostly from CL&S and about 160 mostly from California Community Colleges.</p>

<p>For freshmen who entered in the fall of 1999; 78.8% have graduated with Engineering degree, 10% graduated from another UCB College and 4% academically dismissed.</p>

<p>For those who entered freshmen and graduated during 2003-2004 academic year, 85% completed there degree in 8 symester or less, 14.5% finished in 9 semesters, and .5% needed 10 semesters</p>