Change of Plans, Looking into Engineering...

Warning: VERY LONG.

I’m a HS Junior- wasn’t really stressed about college (I used to be, so I decided to relax), however, the other day one of my teachers told me I should be an engineer. So I did what everyone else would do: I researched it. (Skip the next two paragraphs if you want).

I like to come up with solutions to problems, and not just “cookie-cutter” problems, but problems where you have to think outside of the box. On top of that, I’m an outdoorsy person, a Scout, and I work with the environment.

It wasn’t that hard to find a field of engineering- environmental was calling my name. Working with water, sanitation, streams, agriculture, infrastructure, utilities, etc. HOWEVER…I have a few red and yellow flags on my transcript, and I need some advice.

Info: HS Junior. Took the ACT’s back in February. I’ll be taking them again, but for now: I have a 29 composite. Math: 27, Science: 28, Reading: 31, English: 30. (SAT Conversion: 1340, math score: 640). I’d call this a “yellow flag.” It’s not that great a score- I can maybe improve, but is this too low?

Historical Grades: I had health issues freshman and sophomore year. My poor, poor math grades…(Standard Algebra 1: C-, Standard Algebra 2: C). Yes, it hurts…Sciences are better…(Hon. Intro Earth + Physical Sciences: 94, Hon. Bio: 89).

Previous Grades: So far, 1.5 months (and a few quizzes and test) into Junior year: Geometry: 91. Standard Chem: 99. (I have A’s in every other class besides APUSH this year).

Freshman and Sophomore GPA: 3.37 unweighted, 3.64 weighted.

Junior Year (so far): 3.83 unweighted, 4.03 weighted. Combined Junior/Freshman/Sophomore if I keep these grades: 3.52 unweighted, 3.82 weighted.

Possible Senior Year Classes (if I work hard): AP Gov, AP Lit, AP Chem, Hon. Physics, Hon. BC Pre-Calc, Hon. Wind Ensemble, and EITHER AP Latin, AP Stats, or nothing due to workload.

Some EC’s: Almost Eagle Scout, for my Eagle Scout Project I’m establishing biological control of the invasive Mile-A-Minute Vine in my town to help control it. Also in Marching Band, Jazz Band, and 100+ volunteer hours in general.

Phew, that was a LOT. Sorry. So now back to the main question: Is engineering out of reach for me? Should I go for another undergrad degree? Am I setting myself up for failure? Would I get admitted anywhere?

Possible Schools: UConn (in-state), UVM, UNH, Clarkson, UBuffalo, WPI (reach), Bucknell (reach).

Thanks. You’re a trooper if you read this whole thing.

If you are interested in engineering, go for it. Your gpa and test scores are fine. My S (also an engineering major) had a 3.0 gpa with a 32 ACT and got in to almost everywhere applied, with great merit and even an honors invite at UMaine. I think you have a shot at all of the schools on your list, and have correctly identified the two reaches. I’d call Clarkson a safety (and one of my favs on your list - it’s such a great school for engineering). UVM for environmental is a great choice, and I love UNH as well. Do you have a budget you need to work within? Also, you might want to look into the ACE Mentor program. Not sure where in CT you are located, but they have quite a few chapters throughout the state. It’s a great program and definitely solidified S’s interest in engineering. It’s also fantastic for networking. This spring, while a senior in hs, S was invited to shadow at an engineering firm. I have no doubt they’d take him on for an internship or coop. Best of luck to you!!

@taverngirl Thanks for the response!

Even with the low underclassmen math grades, can the ACT can cancel those grades out- mostly? I mean, most of the math on the ACT is just algebra and geometry…

I love Clarkson too. Lots of outdoor opportunities- and skiing! Along with great alum outcomes.

Budget-wise, my parents and I would like to top it at $40K-ish a year (tuition + board), so UConn is fine, and if some if these schools give merit I’ll be OK. We can run the Net Price Calculator and get an even better idea of what we’re looking at. Do you know if the New England Tuition Break would cover anything?

I checked the ACE mentor program, closest to me is a little over 30 minutes away, which is pushing it, but maybe I’ll check it out since it is (according to them) mostly virtual this year.

Thanks again! I have found myself some more confidence!

Can’t say for sure if or which schools might ding you for the Alg grades, but you have an upward curve, which is great. If you were my kid, I’d advise you to reconsider that senior schedule. Don’t go crazy with the APs, especially non STEM. If you’re serious about engineering, focus on the AP Chem, Honors Physics and BC precalc (didn’t even know that was a thing!) That’ll be tough enough. Consider taking advanced or honors humanities. If you’re not eligible for financial aid, several of those schools are going to be expensive. You may get merit at UVM and you’ll definitely do well with merit at Clarkson. Not sure if you’ve considered an ACT tutor, but my son went from a 26 to a 32 (we originally hired her just for the math section but she was so great we did additional sessions for some of his other lower sections). Happy to share her name - it was all done via Zoom. Also, UConn engineering is pretty competitive, even being instate. I might look for another safety unless you’re completely happy with Clarkson, which it does sound like you are.

Often engineering students are strongest on math/science. In my high school (1980) I was unusual to have same Math and Verbal score (actually 640 like yours, and I went to Clarkson for engineering). I worked hard and did OK, but I really loved math and problem solving… math team was my high school “sport”,

If you have a chance to talk AP Calc and Physics, that could help validate your engineering choice.

Note - Clarkson is a great school… But when I was there, it was not all that easy to go skiing. I only brought my skis to campus Freshman year. It is a very rural setting, and when I was there they had a very active outing club.

I know kids with stats not all that different from yours whom were admitted to WPI and RPI. The RPI kid was an athlete. Also, take a look at the Environmental Engineering options at SUNY ESF in Syracuse. A bonus of ESF is that you can enroll at classes (cross-registration) at Syracuse University across the street. Admission to SUNY Buffalo is very competitive.