Need Suggestions for Schools to Visit

I’d like some suggestions for where DS and I can go on a “big” college visit this spring. I’m open to flying and spending a few days on the trip. Older DD picked Philadelphia and it was such a great way to spend time with her before the craziness of college apps took over. I’d really like to do this with DS ('19), even though he is most likely to go to nearby State U. (Although I think I’m going to have to fight DH over who gets to go on the trip!) He doesn’t have a list of schools in his head and is open to suggestions.

In general, I’d like to target one area with multiple schools we can visit over several days. At least one of those schools needs to be a match and would love to find a safety. General info for suggestions:

Major: MechE - Loves robotics and physics

  • ACT: 34 one sitting (35 math and 35 science) Close on PSAT for national merit, but that’s good for nothing.
  • GPA: Meh. Almost at a 3.5UW, but not quite there. (His grades are not good sophomore year. He did have a major acute medical issue and was monitored by neurology for most of the year. Not sure if it’s an excuse that would make a difference in apps, but he will not write his essay about it. It still upsets him to talk about it.) Shocked everyone including himself with a 4.5W last quarter. Will have 7-8 APs by graduation, school offers ~20 AP classes.
  • Class rank: Thankfully school doesn’t rank. It’s very competitive.
  • ECs: Pretty darn good. (I think I can honestly say this.) Shows dedication, passion and commitment to a few areas with a very big leadership role in one. Also works a job about 6-16 hours/week most of the school year.
  • Finances: We can pay $30,000/year parental contribution + whatever DS can contribute (workstudy, summer job and the $5500 loan). EFC is a bit higher than that, so he will need merit aid to be able to afford anything OOS.
  • No hooks

We haven’t done many visits, but DS likes a walkable campus, some type of engineering team he can join (robotics, solar car, etc.) and having multiple food options for his meal plan. He doesn’t care about sports teams, weather, or how crappy the dorms are. He did shoot down one school because it had “liberal arts like” requirements in the early years, so I guess that type of school is out.

What schools would you suggest that we can string together for a visit? (DH keeps suggesting GA Tech which is a high reach and almost certainly not affordable so I keep brushing it off.)

Boston seems a natural destination. Many, many schools. In a couple of days you can visit MIT, Harvard, BU, Northeastern, Tufts, Boston College, Brandeis, Worcester Polytechnic, etc. Lots to see and do in the area, making it as much a vacation as a college tour.

I would not bother with some of those schools with a 3.4 GPA. Schools he might like would be RPI or WPI.

If you are interested in scholarships, I recommend a southern route for Ole Miss and Bama. Ole Miss is unique with the Manufacturing floor. I’d advise a tour to each department and not just the general tour.

How about a trip to Ohio and Indiana? Try Purdue, Rose Hulman, University of Evansville, and, if you are willing to consider Catholic colleges, U of Notre Dame in Indiana and Case Western, U of Dayton, Ohio State, U of Cincinnati, in Ohio.

New York area. Stevens, RPI, Rochester, RIT.

Adding to @Longhaul 's suggestion, Alabama is offering automatic merit. Check their scholarship page. Huntsville offers more aid than the flagship, if I’m not forgetting something somewhere.

Also if you go northeast, you could land in NYC/ Newark. Either start at Stevens and work your way up the Hudson and then go west and circle back. Or, go west and circle back down the Hudson.

  • Stevens Institute of Tech – in Hoboken, a short ferry ride out of NYC and back in
  • RPI–Drive up east bank of Hudson
  • Union–Over to west bank of Hudson
  • SUNY Nanotech in Albany nearby – unique program –
  • WPI–Western / Central Mass
  • RIT–Far western NY State–as are the rest of these–
  • Alfred Glass engineering --unique program –
  • Clarkson University – great under-the-radar school
  • Cornell (but he may not have the grades for this)

If you want some very-far-apart options that are cheap and good (small classes; excellent academics; highly successful grads) look at NM Tech and SD Mines. Located in between and the same type of school, but better known and more expensive, Colorado School of Mines. You could almost fly to one and either drive north or drive south and see some great scenery along the way.

Thanks for the suggestions! WPI had been on my radar, as had been U of Alabama (with or without Huntsville). But lots of new suggestions here I hadn’t thought of with many I’ve never even heard of. Going off to do a little research…

Want to add - He and I both know that it isn’t worth the time or money for him to even apply to HYPSM, Cornell or the likes. I’m not sure whether it would be worth our time to visit either.

It never hurts to introduce them to HYPSM now for GRAD school later.

I firmly believe in smaller schools for undergrad, teaching schools. That’s how we’ve raised our kids: small teaching schools first. Find your personal footing and area of interest. The Ivy-types are lovely for grad school. That’s where they shine IMHO

Great suggestions. The tough part is finding a “safety” in mechanical engineering with a 3.5 GPA. I might head to Pittsburgh and visit Pitt/Carnegie-Mellon/Penn State. None of those are safeties but Pitt might be a match. For safeties, check out some of the larger Midwest state universities. A friend’s son with similar stats will be attending NDSU in engineering. It was his safety but he liked it a lot. What state are you in?

You know you could do philly again.
Drexel, Temple, across the river is Rowan U and also TCNJ.
All have Engineering and give merit aid, though TCNJ gives the least of the group

Clarkson in NY would probably be considered a safety.

Going with the Philly idea, York College is also known for their engineering - less than 2 hour drive from Philly- both my daughter (nursing) and a friend of ours son (engineering) got decent merit aid and grants, and they are not tippy top students, probably high average

On a totally different note, you can talk to his guidance counselor about whether he/she could include information about his health issue in their recommendation letter. You could ask the guidance counselor whether he/she thinks this would help much. I think if your S is on the edge, this information might push him over into the admit pile. I don’t know how much more of a help it would be.

Not necessarily doable for this trip, but as far as schools to apply to, I would suggest you look at Iowa State as a safety. It has an excellent engineering school, but admission is not that competitive. And they also give decent merit aid to out-of-state students. Good luck!

Stats similar to my S1 (ME Auburn) and D2 (getting last applications out). You can get a great education at any ABET accredited school. Some that made our short lists:
Auburn - friendly mid-size campus, better ME than Alabama and UAH and good guaranteed money for OOS stats
Case Western Reserve - nice mix/balance private, attractive urban area of Cleveland, decent merit
Colo. School of Mines - great location, good engineering and career placement, OOS merit just OK
Ohio State - enormous well regarded state school with good money for OOS stats
RPI - check RPI medal (auto 25k/year) nomination by your HS by Feb junior year
Virginia Tech - Solid all-around school, OOS merit just OK
Note - GaTech is an outstanding school, but locally getting a bad rep for being an endurance contest to graduate

Cleveland/Pittsburgh (Case, Pitt, CMU etc), Atlanta (Emory, UGA, Alabama, Auburn, Clemson etc), Rochester RIT, U Rochester, Cornell, Ithaca, Syracuse etc) , Chicago (Loyola, Northwestern, U Chicago, Marquette, MSOE, Wisconsin, etc) Seattle, Dallas (UT-D, TAMU, SMU, TCU, Baylor etc), Columbus (Ohio State, Ohio U, Purdue etc)

@melvin - His GC will eventually send out a form for parents to fill in and I will include all the information about what he went through in the section about adversity. Honestly, it’s a fascinating story of how one thing set in motion a domino effect of events over many months with a drastic culmination that would probably make a good essay if he’d write about it.

@MariettaDad Thanks for the heads up on the RPI medal!