Full Disclaimer - I attended in the late 1980’s, much may have changed, but some lessons learned at the end may be helpful to some prospective students/parents, and are true of engineering curricula in general.
I’ll also say my experience is drawn from data points gathered by an immature, mostly depressed younger self, and partly I’m writing this to exorcise some demons.
The institute functioned primarily as a filter to identify the elite 20% or so with the intelligence and or grit to endure the somewhat grim ordeal that was its educational experience, and the 'tute really existed to identify them on behalf of those coming to campus to hire. Another 20% or so would be culled due to outright failure or the attrition of those self-aware enough to realize they weren’t a good match for the 'tute’s draconian style of pedagogy. Of the remaining 60% many were merely casualties of the process, though with pretty good job prospects nonetheless.
With some notable exceptions (A. Bruce Carlson, Don Millard, Prof. Balaguer, and my Semicon & Elec. Devices prof.) the professors were drawn from the left-hand side of the Bell curve in terms of aptitude and motivation to communicate and convey knowledge and understanding. Their job was primarily to arrange a suitably difficult obstacle course for students to overcome, and observe and classify the results. ‘Teaching’ was not their concern. Broader context, purpose and meaning were also to be supplied entirely by the student. The overarching theme was adversarial. The institute’s primary mission of filtration meant that extra assistance that might help a particular student grasp a key concept more easily was given stingily, less it mess up the curve on the other side of the filter. I have to admit, there is a certain logic and brutal beauty in what the 'tute was doing, but it’s not suitable for everyone, and I think the middle 60% could have learned a lot more, a lot more pleasantly, in a more pedagogically friendly environment. The 'tute in that era was viewed with real animus by a significant minority of the student population, including me. Wise thing for such people is to leave, but such people, self included, typically have crappy grades, and options are limited, and one needs to accept heading to a much ‘lesser’ institution in that case - why not make a wiser pick in the first place? Hindsight. Hopefully things have changed for the better.
FOR ANY STUDENT THEN OR NOW CONSIDERING A TECHNICAL INSTITUTE:
- Know thyself. Do you really, truly want to be an engineer/scientist? Do you prefer to be around people mostly like you, or do you prefer more variety? If you have any doubt whatsoever about these questions, take up engineering/science at a broader university instead, you’ll have more options if you change your mind later. Or, consider one of the few lliberal arts colleges that also offer engineering.
- It will be hard, necessarily so. You will require a lot of self motivation, even if the program is more ‘friendly’ than the one I described above. You will spend time in the pain cave. Your time management skills will be vital. That said, mastery of a challenging subject can be incredibly rewarding.
- Fully engage. Attend every class, do every reading assignment, every homework problem. Be aware when you don’t get something and act immediately to seek resources to correct it. Falling behind is like being dropped from a peleton, it can be exceedingly difficult to catch up.
- NEVER CHEAT. If you are a person of conscience, as I was/am, it is incredibly self-damaging. The shame and regret, and (deserved) loss of self-respect/esteem will leave a mark, and is difficult to recover from, trust me. It is far, far better to fail honestly and try again than to cheat and ‘succeed’.