UVA or VA Tech for Engineering - Help with a tough decision!

My S has a hard decision to make. UVA or VA Tech for engineering and I was wondering if you all could help with our pros and cons. S was pretty sure he was going to Tech until last Friday when he heard he was accepted at UVA. He has visited and likes both campuses. He feels he would fit in both places. He thinks he might want to study Biomedical engineering, but doesn’t really know for sure yet.

He is competitive, not sure about joining a fraternity, is social, but not a partier, wants to play club soccer.

As far as we know, both schools are pretty evenly matched. However, he thinks that if for some reason he decides against engineering (changes his major) he will want to be at UVA.

He does plan to attend the accepted student days at both schools.

This is a good, but difficult dilemma and we would appreciate any input the CC community could provide.

It’s rare than an applicant feels equally comfortable and at home at both universities. In my experience the engineering students that choose VT generally prefer to have the fewest liberal arts classes possible. VT requires students to complete a minimum of courses in their curriculum for liberal arts electives. More liberal arts enrichment courses (honors or otherwise) are available but VT doesn’t force the students in that direction. VT’s engineering college motto is “hands on - minds on”. UVA prides itself on trying to produce a “well rounded engineer”. An “Engineering in Society” course at UVA probably would be much better received by students than a similar course at VT. The bottom line is that a student can get a quality education at either university and will have opportunities for research, co-ops and summer internships. He will be most successful at the university where he becomes the most involved in the opportunities that are available. He’ll be more inspired to be involved where he feels the best “fit”. Good luck with the visits to both UVA and VT.

@ChrisTKD Thank you for your thoughtful answer! Very interesting. I think you are 100% correct about involvement - that is the key.

Does anyone know the average engineering class size at Tech and/or UVA?

@ACollegeFan do you mean the # of Freshman Engineering students, or what the average size of a given Freshman Engineering class is?

@bboop42 I’m sorry I mean’t approximately how many students are in the classroom.

It depends on the class. Based on the Fall 2014 actual Engineering required classes (before any AP credit), the average class size was - Enge 1215 Foundations of Engr (average class 29), Math 1225 (Calc) average 32, Chem 1035 (average 261). The other Freshman classes are normally GenEds and can vary widely. Hope this helps.

@bboop42 that is very helpful, thank you. Those class sizes are much smaller than I expected at Tech (except for Chem 1035 wow!).

@ACollegeFan keep in mind that the Sophomore level Engineering classes are much larger. Most of the freshman classes are not truly “Engineering” classes when you think about the major. For example, Sophmore level classes (depending on major) consist of ESM 2104 Statics (120 students per), ESM 2204 Deforms (70 per), ESM 2304 Dynamics (80 per), etc.

I don’t know if class sizes will be significantly different between UVA and VT. It’s difficult to judge class size because while some classes may be huge (e.g. 260) they may break up into working sessions of less than 30. I think my son had one class that met Mon, Wed, Friday. One day was a huge lecture while the other two days were devoted to the “working” groups. I don’t recall the correct terminology for those groups unfortunately. My nephew studied engineering at JMU for more than twice the price of UVA/VT. I was under the mistaken impression that a private college would have much smaller class sizes. NOT!

@ChrisTKD I might have read your post wrong. JMU is not a private school and the base tuition & fees is less (at least in-state) than VT by about $2k per year before any additional cost associated with the “per Engineering credit” add on at VT which in the later years runs anywhere from $400-$500 per semester. Maybe you didn’t mean James Madison University?

My brain wasn’t working. I meant Johns Hopkins University. Thanks for catching the mistake

Whew…thought I had missed a bill from JMU and with both kids in college this year, I don’t need any unexpected ones!