Please help me decide... UMich, UW, NEU, etc. for environmental engineering?

Hello! I have almost all of my decisions and I’m extremely lucky to have amazing choices. I’ve narrowed them down to my top few. I would really appreciate some help weighing my options.

I think that I want to major in environmental engineering. Having said that, I would like to have the option to change my major. I have a lot of interests and would like to be able to take elective classes as well, including languages.

These are the schools I’m considering:

University of Michigan
Accepted to LSA (not engineering)
OOS cost of attendance: $67,802/year
Applied for some scholarships but have not heard back yet, and if I get any they won’t cover much of the tuition.
Thoughts: I really don’t know anything about Ann Arbor, the school, anything. I didn’t think I had a shot. I would really appreciate hearing anyone’s thoughts and experiences with the school. How hard would it be to switch to engineering if I wanted to?

Northeastern University
Accepted to CoE for Environmental Engineering
Cost of attendance: $72,932/year
Thoughts: I visited Northeastern last year, and I loved the campus. I was admitted to NUin (would probably go to Greece), and I’m sure it would be an incredible experience. I would be thrilled to be in and take advantage of the networking in Boston and on the East Coast. What makes me a little doubtful is constantly hearing that all Northeastern students are extremely privileged (I don’t know if this is true??), and that I would be missing out on the college town experience.

University of Washington- Seattle
Accepted to CoE for undeclared engineering
OOS cost of attendance: $53,688/year (including scholarship)
Awarded $3k/year P&G scholarship
Thoughts: Seattle genuinely feels like my type of city. I was only there for one day a few years back, but everything I’ve heard from friends, seen in movies, etc. has made it extremely exciting for me. I have only heard good things about the engineering program. I also like that it’s closer to home!

Also admitted at UVM (environmental engineering), Penn State (environmental health engineering), CU Boulder (environmental engineering), UC Santa Cruz (environmental science), McGill and UBC (both for science, but with no chance to switch into engineering). If you have strong opinions about these please let me know.

Waitlisted at UC Davis (environmental engineering) and Scripps College (3-2 engineering)-- is either worth really considering if I get off the waitlist?

Awaiting decisions from NYU, Tufts, Columbia, Barnard, UC Berkeley (not expecting to get into any)

I’m a California resident. My family can afford all three options, but would also like to make an informed decision not just based on ranking. I am very focused academically and am most productive in a higher pressure environment. I love spending time in nature, and really want to be close to places I can camp, hike, etc.

Thanks for sticking with me in this long post, I’ve tried to include all the info that is usually asked for to help with a decision. I would appreciate hearing your thoughts!!!

For Michigan, the process to change into engineering is described at Cross-Campus Students – The College of Engineering . You may want to contact the engineering division directly if you have more questions on how competitive it is.

For Washington, declaring major requires a competitive admission process for engineering undeclared students, although it is presumably less competitive than before frosh were admitted as engineering undeclared (before then, it was a free-for-all for everyone to apply to any engineering major). The process is described at Placement into an Engineering Major: ENGRUD Students Entering Fall 2020 and Beyond | UW College of Engineering . You may want to contact the engineering division directly to find out how competitive environmental engineering is.

For Northeastern, the big factor is the co-op-centered curriculum. Is that a good or bad thing for you? For many students, consideration of that will move Northeastern to first or last choice.

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UM - I’m guessing it is competitive to transfer into engineering at UM. If you want to be an engineer you need to gain a clear understanding of the chance you can successfully transfer into engineering and graduate on time. FWIW I know many people who went to UM planning to transfer into Ross and then were not accepted.

Northeastern - Do you want a northeast city? Does a coop program excite you? If so, it should be considered but the price tag is steep.

UW - Sounds like a very fit for you. Do the research and understand in advance how competitive it would be to get into the engineering major of your choice.

CU and UVM give you direct entry into he major of your choice which is a plus.

As a general rule, I’d stay away from any 3-2 engineering program. Anecdotally many students do not go on to do the engineering portion of the program as they either 1) don’t meet the requirements; 2) don’t want to leave a school they are happy at or 3) decide they don’t want to pay a fifth year of undergrad tuition. If you pursue this option do a lot of research and find out what percent of students who start in the 3/2 program actually complete it.

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@ucbalumnus @happy1 Thank you both so much for your thoughtful replies!
About the co-op program, it does excite me. A lot. I would be thrilled especially to get to travel and I love the idea of working in the field early on. I’m sure that for engineering especially this will be really helpful for the experience. It is a bit of a downside that it would probably take me 5 years to graduate, though (though nice that I would only have to pay 4 of tuition). I’m just trying to figure out of the co-op program is worth the price.

I don’t know much about northeast cities. @happy1 do you know anything specific about a unique college experience in Boston, or what I’d be missing out on?

I hadn’t considered the difficulty of getting into my major at UW, but as that is a path all engineering undeclared students will be taking, I’m willing to do the work for it-- unless you know anything that will make it not worth it?

As a Northeastern grad who attended thanks to a lot of FA, I wouldn’t be too concerned with student privilege. It’s more than a state school but not overwhelming or something central to social or academic life. tends to have a bit more of a higher index of full-pay kids, but that’s only the first semester.

To the college town experience, Boston IMO offers far more :smiley: There is something to be said for the “nontraditional” nature of Northeastern, but at the end of the day it’s still very much a college experience.

Given the info you provided, it sounds like Northeastern is the best fit, offers you the surest direct to the major path, and it comes down to price. With all three options being expensive, and that your family can afford all three, to me it sounds like Northeastern is worth it in this case and you’re in a lucky position to be able to pay that premium here, or at least it seems to me. You should 100% confirm that financial side before making any sort of commitment.

Obviously, if you get into UCB, that would be an immediate contender for the #1 spot so best of luck there! I’d probably put this decision on ice a bit as you’ll be hearing from that whole group quite soon, and return after.

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Hey guys, thanks for all your insight!
I was accepted to UC Berkeley last night so I’m 99% sure I’ll be going there.
The only one that would trump this for me right now is Columbia, but I think I’ve had all the luck I’ll get!