Engineering at an LAC

<p>(Warning: Long Post! :D)</p>

<p>Hello everyone! </p>

<p>I'm an international student from India, and as the title says, I'm planning to do my Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering/Computer Science at a Liberal Arts College. To be more specific, I'm planning to apply to Occidental(3+2 program with Caltech or Columbia), Lafayette and Trinity. I'm new to the concept of LAC's, so I don't know much about them. I really like the feel and the system in LACs and am planing to apply to these, but have a few questions about them. I'd be very much obliged if anybody could answer them. </p>

<li><p>In what way will an Engineering major at an LAC differ from one from a university, apart from the fact that there is greater emphasis on humanities, social sciences and language? is it considered any weaker?</p></li>
<li><p>Will my job and internship opportunities be the same at LACs(specifically at those above) as they will at universities? Will I get good jobs?(Big Silicon Valley companies; Google, Facebook; the like)</p></li>
<li><p>Value/Respect/Prestige of the degree. I don't mean I want people to say "Wow" when I say those names. I want to know if the degree from one of those colleges or from an LAC in general is valued by employers and grad school.</p></li>
<li><p>Undergrad research opportunities and facilities/resources. How are they?</p></li>
<li><p>Entrepreneurial culture? I know this varies by college, but on an average.</p></li>

<p>Thanks a lot for your time! :D</p>



<p>First, make note of which LACs (and other smaller schools) have engineering as a “native” major (e.g. Harvey Mudd, Swarthmore), and which have it only as a 3+2 program. 3+2 programs have their own special considerations to look at carefully.</p>

<p>An ABET-accredited engineering degree program anywhere will have to meet a minimum standard in both engineering courses and breath courses (humanities and social studies). However, actual course offerings beyond the minimum needed for accreditation will vary between schools (LAC or otherwise). This can be noted by checking course catalogs and schedules.</p>

<p>LACs and other small schools typically have smaller frosh/soph level courses, but fewer offerings of junior/senior level courses. But you want to check each school’s course catalog and schedule, since there are often exceptions.</p>

<p>For 3+2 programs:

  • Note that total nominal time is 5 years, meaning likely extra cost versus a normal 4 year degree.
  • Check how financial aid is at both the “3” school and “2” school (probably little or none in most cases for international students).
  • Check whether transfer admission to the “2” is guaranteed by meeting a GPA, or if it is competitive.
  • Check whether major at the “3” school is limited (often to physics or chemistry, which can limit the number of additional humanities and social studies courses you can take; Brandeis is one school with unrestricted major, though you still need to take the math/physics/etc for engineering).
  • Check how many students actually make the transfer, since many students end up not wanting to transfer away from the “3” school (often chosen from smallness) to a “2” school (that is often a larger school).</p>

<p>There are a number of smaller colleges and universities which offer Engineering programs, as ucb mentions. Look into CUA, Lehigh, Union, Olin, and Clarkson, as well. </p>

<p>3+2 is doable if you have the funding, but another point to consider would be if it would defeat the purpose of your attraction to an LAC rather than a larger University. Most LACs have student life that very much revolves around a 4 year span of study. I can’t imagine missing out on that 4th year of my experience to attend a different school as a newbie, while my class was all back at my “real” school enjoying their senior year.</p>

<p>Thanks for your replies, ucbalumnus and BossyMommy! Yes, I’ve done my research. Trinity and Lafayette offer ABET accredited courses in CS and engineering. Occidental only offers a minor in CS, but you can major in math or physics and go to caltech/Columbia for a BS as a part of the 3+2 program. Both offer aid, though limited, but since very few people go for this from every LAC, I think that shouldn’t be a problem. Any comments about the rest of the points?</p>

<p>Occidental’s 3+2 FAQ is here: [3-2</a> Engineering FAQ | Occidental College | The Liberal Arts College in Los Angeles](<a href=“]3-2”></p>

<li>Transfer admission to Columbia is automatic if you meet Columbia’s GPA requirement.</li>
<li>Transfer admission to Caltech is by competitive application, reviewed by Caltech.</li>
<li>Appears to require majoring in physics at Occidental.</li>
<li>About 20 students per year are interested as frosh; typically no more than 3 are still in it by junior year.</li>

<p>On your other questions.</p>

<li><p>It is not necessarily a given that a LAC has more H/SS requirements than another school. You have to check the actual requirements for each school. Do you want more H/SS courses, or fewer?</p></li>
<li><p>Big companies tend to recruit more widely, due to greater recruiting resources and needs. Local schools are often favored for convenience. Bigger schools may be favored due to more recruits per visit. Of course, you can always make the extra effort to look for and apply to non-local non-large companies on your own, rather than waiting for them to show up at the career center.</p></li>
<li><p>Engineering and CS are not as school-prestige-driven as some other fields like investment banking and management consulting. While school-prestige can affect recruiting right out of school, it becomes less important after you have work experience.</p></li>

<p>4 and 5. There is no general answer, as it depends on the school. You might not get a lot of good answers, since few people are in a position to make a direct comparison.</p>

<p>Thanks a lot, ucbalumnus! That was helpful.</p>

<p>Look into Haverford’s 4+1 program with Penn: same kind of deal (you major in a pre-approved major and it’s automatic admission if you have a certain GPA) but you get to do the 4 years at a LAC, then get a MS from the Ivy league, in only one year.</p>

<p>Yeah. I’ve seen that. But haverford will be a bit of a reach for me. My Reading score is below the 25th percentile. Do they consider interest? Like, if I apply for ED2, will my chances go up?</p>

<p>“Both offer aid, though limited, but since very few people go for this from every LAC, I think that shouldn’t be a problem.”</p>

<p>Uh oh. Back up. Never, ever think that getting aid “won’t be a problem,” especially as an international. LACs are not mostly self-pay with a precious few who apply for aid. The student body is smaller, yes, but aid is given at a rate comparable to larger privates, for the most part. Most students at LACs apply for aid in some form. DO NOT count on being one of only a few applicants. It won’t happen.</p>

<p>You need to realistically look at what you and your parents can afford to pay out of pocket and take it from there.</p>

<p>Oh, thanks BossyMommy. Their websites say they meet full demonstrated need, so thought they give out aids more generously. Anyway, I can afford upto a certain extent. I don’t need full aid. But of course, if the aid isn’t good enough, I won’t be able to afford those.</p>

<p>Most meet “full demonstrated need” for US citizens. Make sure you look at the aid availability for internationals. It’s almost always significantly less available.</p>

<p>Also, with 3+2 programs, you have to be concerned about cost and financial aid at both schools, which may have different financial aid policies.</p>

<p>What kind of cost constraints do you have?</p>