Match Me - Need Suggestions Engineering in NE, NY, PA

Please help refine a potential list of schools for my rising senior son. He’s looking to study Engineering (likely Civil) and would like to stay in New England, New York or PA. He doesn’t have a strong preference for school size, but would prefer not to be in the middle of a large city (i.e. He liked the Tufts, but BU and Northeastern felt too busy).

US citizen
State/Location of residency: CT
Type of high school: Competitive public
Gender/Race/Ethnicity: White
Other special factors: None

Intended Major(s)
Engineering (most likely Civil)

GPA, Rank, and Test Scores
Unweighted HS GPA: 3.9 / 4
Weighted HS GPA: 4.54 / 5
Class Rank: Top 3%
SAT: 1560 (780/780)
ACT: 34

Completed AP Classes: US History, Chemistry, English and Seminar
Senior Year AP Classes: Calc BC, Literature, Psych, Physics, Computer Science

NHS, Tri-M Honor Society (officer), Latin Honor Society

Crew, band, writing tutor, math tutor,lifeguard, election poll worker

Not completed yet, but should be quite strong.

Cost Constraints / Budget
Will not receive financial aid. Could afford to pay full price, but trying to balance the quality of school with available merit aid. I fully realize that merit aid isn’t available at many of the schools listed below.

Below is my son’s initial list. Looking for additional suggestions. I haven’t yet grouped by Safety, Likely, Match, Reach. Of particular interest would be quality engineering programs that might offer merit aid.


Your son would see merit at RPI.

Clarkson, a safety, would also give him merit $ and honors college admission.


Your son would also see merit at Manhattan College, which is highly respected in NY area for engineering in general and civil engineering in particular. Don’t worry, it’s not in Manhattan but in affluent Riverdale in the Northwest corner of the Bronx near Van Cortland Park. Much like Tufts’ residential neighborhood but more upscale.

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In PA, esp for Civil, Penn St is considered better than Bucknell, Lafayette, and Villanova, but you’re unlikely to see any aid. You might see Bucknell ranked high in US News (not sure about Villanova/Lafayette), but note the category. They’re in colleges where doctorates are not offered.

Engineering is often better at the large schools TBH. They have more “toys.” That said, Lehigh is worthy of consideration too. It depends on the environment you’re looking for (among the PA schools).

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University of Buffalo. Buffalo is a large school, but it’s suburban. Great engineering–my cousin is doing mech engineering + crew team +lifeguard, funnily enough. He absolutely loves it and has made tons of good friends.

Thank you all for the recommendations. I will add them to our research list! Please keep them coming!

My son has similar stats - we are in NJ. He wasn’t picky about the location of the school, but was looking for strong engineering programs. Here’s a list of the schools he applied to & was accepted to, and the final COA after merit scholarships. Might not be exactly what you’re looking for, but I thought it might help to see his list:

Maine 0rono (honors college) $15,184.00
Case Western $42,126.00
Colorado School of Mines $40,482.00
Rowan (honors college) $7,952.00
Rutgers (honors college) $21,834.00
NJIT (honors college) $4,560.00
Pitt (honors college) $28,250.00
Rose Hulman $41,690.00
Clarkson $30,998.00
Georgia Tech (honors program) $44,710.00
Northeastern (honors college) $43,362.00
RPI $44,904.00
Stevens $48,520.00
Michigan $56,506.00
Cornell $47,682.00 (this COA was after financial aid - no merit here)

He got denied from MIT and Caltech, and waitlisted, then denied from Harvard.
LMK if you have any specific questions about any of these schools!


Looking only a stone’s throw past PA, U of Delaware might strike a nice balance between the vibe of the PA LAC+Engineering schools that he likes, and the manageably-sized-flagship qualities of UMass and UVM. If he has any interest in the coastal/ocean engineering end of the CivE field, Delaware has those specializations in addition to the usual civil/environmental. It has a lovely suburban campus that seems to fit the pattern of what appeals to your son… and there are merit possibilities, and an honors college.

@scritch That is extremely helpful information. Thank you so much. The amount of merit aid your son received is encouraging. How were your son’s EC’s? Or did he have some other hooks? I didn’t list everything my son has done, but his EC’s certainly aren’t as impressive as other folks that I see listed on this forum. That’s probably my main area of concern with his resume.

@aquapt Thanks for the recommendation of Delaware. It hadn’t been on our radar, but you’re right it certainly is much further south than PA. I’ll check it out too.


Definitely no major ‘hooks’ - just the standard white male from a NJ public high school. However, I think his absolute love of all things technology shone through in his application - he had completed many personal projects at home for his own enjoyment, and also was constantly helping people(family, friends, etc) build, fix, or install pretty much anything that was technology, engineering, or automobile-based. It was tricky to get this passion across in the Common Ap - he used the ‘extra information’ section to give details for some of his activities that couldn’t be summarized in the short amount of space in the activity section. Don’t be afraid to list things that are not common, cookie-cutter ECs. His most ‘impressive’ EC was probably being selected for and attending our state’s Governor’s school of engineering & technology, and getting a paper he co-authored there published in a student journal, and presenting it at an MIT conference. Besides that, it was pretty normal stuff.

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My daughter with similar stats from NJ received $17,000 a year from UD (nothing from Villanova but offered honors), UCONN offered $22,000, I think another daughter with similar stats was offered $18,000 from UMASS.

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No one has mentioned WPI. Carnegie Mellon. MIT are both Unlikely but worth a flyer. RIT. Stony Brook. You can look at Trinity in Hartford for a small school experience. A bit outside your zone but Rutgers is solid as well. Good luck.

Hi Scritch,
This is very useful information…thx for sharing.
My son has similar stats, we are from NJ too and my son is targeting many of the schools in your list.
Which one did your son pick…and why?

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He picked Georgia Tech! Not the cheapest, not the closest or best location, but to him it was the most ‘inspiring’ and seemed like the best fit. Highest rated for his major, amazing facilities, huge selection of clubs and organizations, and the whole place is all about ‘tech’. The place makes techie kids seem cool. Probably the best opportunities to work for exciting high-tech companies. It also has a great sense of school spirit and pride. He’s thrilled to be heading down to Atlanta in a few weeks. Fingers crossed it’s as amazing as he thinks it’s going to be!

If you have any questions about the other schools on his list, I’d be happy to answer. I feel like I spent a year of my life working as a ‘college consultant’ for him!


Congratulations to your son! I’m sure he will have a great experience at GA Tech.

Since you offered :blush:, my kid, with similar stats, will be applying to Mines, Michigan and Cornell this coming cycle for engineering. Would love to hear any thoughts or insights you have into these schools, whether it’s regarding their academics or their culture. Thanks in advance!

We visited Mines on preview day. I know you are talking about Colorado but South Dakota has a good one too.

Boulder is great as well and more similar to the other. Both are a safety for the OP. MInes has better merit.

Mines is going to be small…but neat….predominantly male and while not simple you can get to the airport by public transport easy enough. It’s in a cool little town b4 you hit the mountains to the west. If you were a skier it’s be a nice choice. I thought the campus and food were nice but the students said the food was done extra special for that day. I loved Mines. The stats for placement are great. If you read niche though there is a lot of not great reviews about the profs, I think more than the norm.

CU is like the others (well UM And Ga Tech) and is strong in sciences. It’s in Boulder which is an expensive, but very cool town. Cornell, while not quite a flagship, has the academic and to a smaller level athletic diversity.

I’m throwing out Boulder because Mines is so different and if you like Colorado CU can be a safety valve.

All are great choices. Good luck.

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It does seem like a great choice.

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For Mines: Apply as early as possible. DS received his acceptance and merit within about three weeks of applying in October. It was really nice to have this first acceptance. The top merit scholarship for OOS last year was $14k. Then, there are other scholarships to apply for. The big one - the Harvey Scholarship - requires essays. When DS saw the essay question, he decided not to apply - it was about ‘why you deserve’ this scholarship, and seemed to be geared towards underprivileged students. While we could really use the money, we don’t consider him ‘underprivileged’, so he decided not to apply. That pretty much eliminated the school for us, since we didn’t consider it worth the price tag, compared to our in-state schools.

Michigan: We don’t know a whole lot about this school. I think it’s on-par with GA Tech as far as academics, but the two factors that keep it out of his top 3 were price and location(it’s far from the closest airport). Also we’ve heard that the engineering campus is separated from the rest of campus, which we weren’t crazy about.

Cornell: I could write a book about Cornell. I went to Cornell undergrad for engineering, as did my brother. It is a wonderful school. However, there are a few reasons that DS did not choose it:

  • It is an engineering college within a liberal arts university. The entire place is not tech focused like GA tech.
  • They do not take nearly as many AP and dual enrollment credits as GA tech, or other public schools.
  • There are many liberal arts requirements.
  • As a freshman, students only take one ‘intro to engineering’ class, and all else are general classes(math, physics, etc.). You don’t even declare your major until Sophomore year. For my son, who is ready to dive right in to EE classes, this was not ideal. There are also a lot of cross-major requirements which didn’t really seem to make sense - you have to take engineering classes, but ones that are not in your major. This we learned from studying each school’s program requirements and curriculum flow chart for DS’s major. At GA Tech, he will dive in right away to engineering classes.
  • Clubs. Cornell has a very unique setup where students have to ‘apply’ to be in lots of the clubs. They call them ‘Project Teams’. It is VERY competitive to get in - you have to write a resume, cover letter, and have multiple rounds of interviews. You have to apply to many, hoping to get a spot, and many students don’t get into any of them. So, if you want to be on the Baja Racing team, or Solar Boat, you can’t unless you apply and are ‘selected’. At most other universities, you just join. While I do think there are advantages to this(everyone on the team should be pretty well invested, and wiling to work hard), I think it’s a pretty big gamble, and adds a ton of unnecessary stress to freshman year. They don’t even let you begin applying until spring semester, so you’ve lost almost a whole year before you can even participate. There are lots of clubs that don’t require the application process, but the big ones all do.
  • Cornell Financial Aid department is almost impossible to get ahold of. They are so incredibly busy, and must be understaffed, because it takes them weeks and weeks to reply to an email. You literally can’t get ahold of them on the phone. This makes decisions really difficult to make. This past spring, many admitted students didn’t get their financial aid packages until well AFTER the decision deadline. It’s crazy, and made us VERY nervous.

That’s all that I can think of now - let me know if you have any more questions!


Seems like a balanced list of likely, matches, and reaches. You might also want to check out Pitt, WPI, and University of Rochester. DS is currently at Tufts, but he also liked those schools and they all offered decent merit money.