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LAC -> Top Engineering School (first year advice)

woopsyoopsywoopsyoopsy 4 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
Hi everyone!
I am going to be a first-year student this Fall 2019 at a Top 10 Liberal Arts College and I am looking to transfer to a top engineering school to pursue Chemical/BioMedical engineering on a potential Pre-Med track (I know I know engineering is a killer major and I have to keep up my GPA for med school).

I am planning on applying as a transfer (incoming sophomore) to the engineering schools at Columbia, Penn, NYU Tandon, Cornell, Stevens, Rensselaer, CMU and a few with higher acceptance rates for transfers.

My question is what can I start doing now to optimize/maximize my chances of getting into an engineering school as a transfer?
I know the obvious big ones are to keep up a high GPA (3.8+). I want to know about any specific courses I should take to be as prepared as possible (Chem, Calc, Comp Sci, Physics).
What extracurriculars should I do? (I know I should do what I find interesting but out of the things I find interesting I should also choose what is best for my future goals)
I was thinking research in chemistry, maybe some volunteering at a local hospital (for the pre-med portion of my goals)

Some background about me:
Went to one of the top public high schools in the US
HS GPA: UW/3.86 W/4.28
7 AP Courses
ACT: Comp. 35 (E 33,M 35,R 35,S 36)
SAT Subject Tests [Chem 720, Math II 700 (weak, I know, should I retake?)]

Low-income, White, Male, Immigrant

Thanks so much!!
14 replies
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Replies to: LAC -> Top Engineering School (first year advice)

  • monydadmonydad 7821 replies158 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 15
    For Cornell, you might have best chances applying to the ag school (assuming there's a major there that interest you) and minoring in Biomedical Engineering. AFAIK the Engineering College is tougher to transfer into and also grades tougher once you are there (at least tougher than Arts & Sciences, not sure about CALS). Moreover, Chemical Engineering at least used to be regarded as a particularly tough major there, probably still is.

    You might want to screen U Rochester as a potential transfer target school.
    edited August 15
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 77733 replies678 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 15
    For a prospective chemical engineering major, the courses you need to take in the first two years are typically:

    * Math: calculus 1, calculus 2, calculus 3 (multivariable), linear algebra, differential equations
    * Physics: physics 1, physics 2 (for physics majors, not the courses for biology majors); depending on topic coverage, you may need additional physics courses
    * Chemistry: general chemistry (usually 2 semester sequence), organic chemistry (usually 2 semester sequence)
    * English composition (usually 2 semesters)

    If you want biomedical, throw in 2 semesters of general biology.

    But check on the financial aid and net price of each prospective transfer school.
    edited August 15
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 6989 replies49 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    The typical first year chemical engineering curriculum at my D's school:

    engineering design- 2 semesters (included a lot of CS)
    physics - 2 semesters
    calc - 2 semesters
    general chemistry w/lab - 2 semesters
    verbal and oral communications/english - 1 semester each

    Be aware that at many schools, the ability to transfer into engineering is very difficult.

    Are you unable to do BME at your LAC? In general, starting college with the intent to transfer isn't a great plan.

    For ECs - my D did a summer engineering internship, joined a professional engineering organization on campus, and is TA'ing an honors course (selection and training started second semester freshman year). She's not on a pre-med track so I agree with you that volunteering, shadowing, etc.... need to be on your radar.

    As you pointed out, engineering is a really tough major for pre-meds. Be sure that transferring into an engineering program is really what you want.


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  • 1NJParent1NJParent 1263 replies34 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    You may be interested in the 3+2 engineering program offered by a number of engineering colleges. Among them are Caltech, Columbia and RPI. You'll get two degrees: a BA degree from your LAC and a BS from the engineering college.
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  • woopsyoopsywoopsyoopsy 4 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
    edited August 15
    @1NJParent Hi! Yeah my school actually has a 3+2 with Thayer... wasn’t too sure about it because I haven’t heard much about programs like these. Are they worth the extra year? Wouldn’t the 3 and 2 years be slightly awkward?
    edited August 15
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  • woopsyoopsywoopsyoopsy 4 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
    @momofsenior1 Thanks for your detailed reply, unfortunately my LAC only offers a 3+2 program and I don’t know how smart it is to tack on an extra year to my graduation without getting any additional benefit in the future for my career.
    Do you know of any schools where transferring (specially for engineering) is relatively easier?
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  • woopsyoopsywoopsyoopsy 4 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
    @ucbalumnus thanks for your reply! Since my LAC doesn’t offer courses specific to engineering I should just try to take those closest to the ones in a first years curriculum at an engineering school right? For max chance of successful credit transfers
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  • woopsyoopsywoopsyoopsy 4 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
    @monydad Thanks for replying, so you believe my best bet would be to try transferring into a Cornell school with a relatively higher acceptance rate than the others? Then maybe perform an internal transfer even?
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  • 1NJParent1NJParent 1263 replies34 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    @1NJParent Hi! Yeah my school actually has a 3+2 with Thayer... wasn’t too sure about it because I haven’t heard much about programs like these. Are they worth the extra year? Wouldn’t the 3 and 2 years be slightly awkward?

    These 3+2 programs are specially designed so they don't look awkward at all to future employers. In fact, some employers may look at them positively since you'll likely gain additional breadth with such programs. You may lose some credits with direct transfer as well, so you need to compare such a program with direct transfer career-wise, both academically and financially.
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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 3953 replies16 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 16
    This is just not a great plan. Each target college will have their own set of required classes that you will need for transferring. BUT not all those colleges are going to take your credits from your current school. I would find this out first, like now, this might give you a better idea of which schools to target later.
    Many people try to do what your attempting. It's noble, but a very hard get. Some succeed. Lots of students find out their first semester /year if this is the right direction to take. College in general is much harder then high school.
    edited August 16
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  • mom2twogirlsmom2twogirls 2243 replies29 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    You might end up needing to spend an extra year at whichever school you transfer to anyway. That’s often what happens with someone just changing majors to engineering, let alone with a college change as well. Look carefully and ask questions because you make a final transfer decision to know what credits will be counted for requirements. It might make staying where you are and doing the 3+2 a better option after all.

    I think monydad wasn’t necessarily telling you to transfer into a college in Cornell that has easier transfer and then switch to COE. (Which would also make it more likely that you would be spending at least an extra year on your undergrad, BTW because I’m pretty sure you couldn’t immediately switch and could only do it after at least a semester). But he may have been referring to the biological engineering program that is in CALS. That program might be a bit easier to transfer into and still be what you are looking for. I believe it’s the only engineering program at Cornell not in COE, but it is ABET.
    https://admissions.cals.cornell.edu/academics/majors/biological-engineering/
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  • monydadmonydad 7821 replies158 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 17
    To clarify, I was suggesting you do this minor while enrolled in CALS
    https://www.bme.cornell.edu/bme/programs/undergraduate-programs/bme-minor
    and stay in CALS, majoring in whatever strikes your fancy. Do not switch to engineering.
    I think that's your best chance of :
    a) getting in to Cornell, at all; and
    b) if at Cornell, getting the kind of grades you would need to get into medical school.
    But I am no expert on admissions or subsequent college performance, I may be all wrong. YMMV.
    edited August 17
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 77733 replies678 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    If your state of residency is a state where there are affordable state universities with the desired engineering majors, then you find it more realistic to consider transferring to such a state university, rather than a "top 10" or whatever university, if completing an engineering degree is your primary goal. But if your state of residency is some place like NH or PA where the state universities are unaffordable for students from low income families, that may not be much of an option.
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  • merc81merc81 10254 replies155 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 18
    Yeah my school actually has a 3+2 with Thayer . . . Wouldn’t the 3 and 2 years be slightly awkward?

    Note that Thayer offers a 2-1-1-1 option with certain liberal arts colleges (check for availability) that may be more conducive to smooth transitions across schools.

    https://engineering.dartmouth.edu/academics/undergraduate/dual/
    edited August 18
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