Carnegie Mellon Engineering Grind

Even a drive through campus can help. Grab any student you can and ask them specific questions. You may not see labs or classes or dorms, but you can get a strong feel. That’s what we did at RPI, because we hit Troy on the weekend. It was clear from that it wasn’t going to be “the one.” ALTHOUGH…the EMPAC building is one of the coolest on ANY college campus. Look it up just for curiosity sake.

You’ve got time too. He isn’t even applying until the Fall. Things should be a bit better by the.

Good luck!

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This is totally an aside, but my D hung out with a bunch of RPI students who were involved in theater and she had a great visit experience there. She was also wowed by the facilities, not just the EMPAC, but also the new biotech center. ARCH though was just starting and enough of a concern that they didn’t make her top 3 list.

I love the “schools that came off your list” thread because it does highlight the subjectivity of the college visits even in non covid times.

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In Science Hall (not sure what they call it today) there was a six or seven floor staircase with a poured concrete floor at the bottom. Every so often someone would paint a bullseye on the floor at the bottom of the staircase, and it was aptly named “Architects’ Leap”, because several students had committed suicide by jumping there. I am not sure if suicide is a problem at CMU today, but it certainly was in the early 1980s.

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So if you look at QS world rankings for engineering and technology you find that the schools mentioned above have a very high employer and academic rating, and most rankings systems consider these

So most top schools are difficult and i dont think you’ll find a top engineering school that isnt hard

Like most university rankings, QS is no less worthless than the rest for undergraduate engineering. It relies HEAVILY on institutional REPUTATION, not rating. This is determined by what’s published. It also relies on literature citations, a derivative of publications. Rankings purport to be judging the undergraduate experience, when in reality, the methodologies are mostly built around what their PhD programs produce.

The USNWR is no less skewed towards doctoral research.

What then happens is that great schools that do not have doctoral programs, like Harvey Mudd, Cal Poly, Olin, etc. get ranked lower or unranked completely.

Rankings have ruined the college seeking experience for most who simply don’t know better.


You won’t find ANY ABET accredited engineering program, even at the most Podunk Universities that isn’t hard.


Eyemgh, it is interesting that you mention polytechic schools like Harvey Mudd and Olin. We are looking seriously at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (RHIT), which is ranked #1 among schools that don’t offer PhDs in almost all the science and engineering majors. Our son is scheduled to go there this Summer for their Catapult STEM program.

So far, I am very impressed with RHIT. Their graduation rates and outcomes (salaries, grad schools, etc.) are on par with UofM Ann Arbor, which was our first choice initially (we live 1.5 hours away and would get in-state tuition). They appear to be a feeder school to graduate programs at Carnegie-Mellon, GA Tech and Purdue, with quite a few grads going to Cornell and U Penn. As a policy, their classes are capped at 30 students, and they are all taught by full professors. In my mind, RHIT is to CMU/MIT/UofM for STEM what Williams is to Harvard or Yale for liberal arts - a less prestigious school that by all objective measures provides a better undergraduate education.


That’s certainly the way my son felt about it. He had the stats to get into nearly every big name school, but had no interest in giant lectures and labs taught by TAs. I kind of lump Rose, Olin, Harvey-Mudd and Cal Poly all into the same category. CP is a bit different because it’s much bigger than the rest, so it has more of a typical college experience. That’s one of the reasons my son ended up there (plus there’s no way an outdoorsy kid from Oregon was going to Terra Haute :laughing:). They still have small classes (not capped as small as Rose) taught by instructors with terminal degrees.

The rankings are a bit funny, if it’s USNWR you’re talking about. CP ranks 2 in AE, 3 in BME, 2 in Civil, 2 in Computer Engineering, 2 in EE, 1 in IE and 3 in ME, but 8th overall. :rofl: They move around every year, usually vying with Rose. I guess that’s how they sell subscriptions every year, by changing things that really don’t fundamentally change in such a short time frame.

Best to your son!


@JackH2021 My son is also doing Catapult this summer. I think our kids will get a great taste of college through this program. I’m thrilled that it’s still running in person after others he got into went virtual. Next weekend, we have a scheduled tour of Rose Hulman (and unofficial visit to Purdue @momofboiler1). @eyemgh I wish CalPoly was closer!

Rose is doing a fantastic marketing job during Covid, presenting themselves as a super supportive, but rigorous school. I worry about reputation even as I try to hone in on their very positive data. It seems like it could be a good solution to the issues at CMU.

I go back and forth about CMU. I’ve been thinking a lot about the Gladwell thread today. My son would not be a top student at CMU. It would be a struggle, and I don’t know if it’s worth the potential risk to his mental health. If all engineering programs are tough, what’s the disadvantage of going to somewhere like Rose Hulman that prioritizes student success?


Search2022, my son was accepted to UofM Ann Arbor’s Summer STEM program last summer, but it was cancelled due to COVID, and this Summer they are only doing virtual. We only learned about RHIT’s Catapult program a couple weeks before their application deadline, so I am glad my son was able to slide in. We are already planning a visit to Purdue on our way home from RHIT this Summer. This is a crazy Spring for our son with a heavy course-load, ACTs, SATs and three AP tests, so we are not visiting any colleges until after the school year is over.

CMU would be a reach for my son, but depending on his SAT/ACT scores he might have a shot. I am an alum, so that might help, but better that he be admitted on his merits. Our thoughts are that it would be better for our son to attend a school where he is in the top quartile of incoming freshman academically, than in the bottom quartile. I think fit is more important than ranking, and from what we have learned so far, our son would do better at RHIT than at a state school with class sizes in the hundreds or one where he is just a number.


At our OOS public high school, we only had one kid get accepted to UoM this year for a stem program he was a legacy and also was accepted to Columbia, Berkley and Dartmouth. My son and one of his classmates got accepted to CMU and will be attending Carnegie Mellon this fall. However, both got waitlisted at UoM COE. Another classmate got accepted to Cal Tech and will be attending Cal tech in the fall but he got waitlisted or denied to UoM. OOS UoM COE acceptance was like winning a lottery ticket this year at our high school. Unless you are in state for UoM, don’t count on it to be an easy acceptance for COE even with perfect stats.


Sleepingbear, we are in MI and live within 1.5 hours of Ann Arbor. A few years ago the MI state legislature got on UofM for accepting too many out-of-state students since they are a land grant university that receives funding from the state (they were accepting a large number of international students who paid full freight). We are fortunate to have a world class university in our back yard. While my son would be in the running, we are not counting on him being accepted at UofM.

We realize that our residency will work against my son when/if he applies to other schools on his list like Purdue and UIUC.

Look at the Purdue Data Digest, here, , which provides information on an interactive basis about all sorts of things. If you look at the links for student enrollment, and applications/admits/matriculations, it appears that for the last couple of years (not for those students just now admitted) the non-resident (in the U.S.) and foreign students in the College of Engineering are approximately 70% of COE undergraduates (if I am reading those numbers and doing my ciphering correctly). So being an OOS applicant at Purdue shouldn’t be the problem that it is with some other state universities.


Nice find. For the Fall of 2020, College of Engineering enrollment (I am assuming new student enrollment) was 24% in-state, 25% foreign, and 51% out-of-state.

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Gandalf, thanks for the link and information about Purdue.