Engineering schools in midwest for average student

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Discus: College Search and Selection: August 2004 Archive: Engineering schools in midwest for average student
By Deb92260 (Deb92260) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 03:02 pm: Edit

This is my first post, so be gentle! My son is a rising junior who is looking at engineering schools. He's a solid B-B+ student at a very competive public school. I would say his rank is in the top 1/3 to 1/2 (small school, under 80 students). We are in the midwest, based on tests he has taken, I would project that his ACT scores are 28-30 (I think that it convert to a 1250 SAT?).

We are stumped about where to even look at engineering schools. He would like to find a smaller school that specializes in engineering. He's really not thrilled with a big state school such as Ohio State or Michigan and would like to find other choices. He would ideally like to stay in the midwest.

Schools that we have thought of are Cincinnati (not sure of the co-op, which is big there), Michigan Tech (small engineering school in the U.P.), Purdue (I know it's big but has a good engineering reputation). I was thinking about visiting Rose-Hulman but I don't think that it's a school where he has any change of being accepted.

Would you visit a school that you really don't have a chance of getting in? Any other ideas of where we could visit?

By Drusba (Drusba) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 04:16 pm: Edit

Visiting a school you have no chance of getting into is not a good idea. However, until he has gone through junior year and taken the ACT or SAT test, you cannot really tell at which schools he has a chance. For example, Rose-Hulman considers as a definite plus factor grade improvement in junior year. One not to overlook in the midwest is Bradley in IL -- about 5,000 students and very good engineering department; others to look into in the midwest include: Kettering (MI), Valparaiso (IN), IIT (IL), Iowa State (larger school but top-notch engineering program), Marquette (Wis), Case Western. Don't rule out the larger school, e.g., as an Ohio resident you might want to look into Ohio University which is significantly smaller than Ohio State and has a very nice location and campus.

Also, most have coop programs; some emphasize them more than others. In no event are you required to do it, but many consider it a very good thing -- real job experience that is a help for obtaining later employment.

By Newnudad (Newnudad) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 05:01 pm: Edit

Check out Purdue and Iowa State. Family and D visited both of them last summer - Iowa State has a beautiful campus, and Purdue is almost as nice IMO, and they both have less stringent requirements than some of the other Mid-west Engineering schools.

Iowa State jumped up in Engineering rankings last year BTW.

Good Luck!

By Kwtortoise (Kwtortoise) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 05:12 pm: Edit

University of Missouri-Rolla (could be a safety)
small at 5-6,000
scholarships for out-of-state

By Peggy (Peggy) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 07:09 pm: Edit

In addition to Michigan Tech, check out Lake Superior State University in northern Michigan.

And if you decide to state in Ohio, my Husband graduated from Univesity of Toledo. May not be as elite as Univ of Mich or Purdue, but he got a solid education at a tuition he/his family could afford.


By Originaloog (Originaloog) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 07:26 pm: Edit

I wouldn't rule out OSU or other large universities because of their overall size. I graduated from OSU so I know first hand experience the advantages and disadvantages of large universities like the Big Farm.

Many of the colleges within a large university like OSU are relatively small and individual departments can be downright intimate. Unless a student is in the honors program, intro lectures will be very large, often 200+ in size. However they are usually suppleemented with small(20-30 students) recitation sections staffed by TA's. I found that the recitations were more often than not quite good. Labs also will be in the 20-30 student size. My experience that once you get to over about 50 students, size doesn't make much difference anyhow.

I found the College of Engineering to be ideally sized. My Civil Engineering class was about 35 students and I knew each and every one. In 2003-4 the entire College of Engineering graduated about 800 students with the largest departments being EE and ME with 180 and 162 graduates respectively. They were the only 2 with over 100 grads. The smallaest with under 10 grads were Ceramic, Met E, Ag E and Engineering Physics.

Once you get into the College of Engineering the class sizes deminish significantly too. In the Computer Science and Engineering curriculum this fall, 33 undergrad classes will have less than 10 students, 51 between 11-25, 27 between 26-40 and 15 with more than 40 students with most of those being in a couple of Business Computing courses that aren't for CompSi&Eng students.

One thing to watch out for at OSU and other state universities is a thing called enrollment controls. Getting accepted to OSU doesn't necessarily grarantee a student acceptance into the Engineering College. For instance, the gpa needed after after the first term soph year to guarantee admittance into the ME department is 3.0, though it is typically about 2.5. If my past experience is indicative of the present grading situation, calc, chem and physics are very difficult A's and tough B's too. The advantage of enrollment controls is that the individual departments can easily limit enrollments and their students will be well prepared to tackle the engineering course work.

After graduating from OSU I went to Cornell for graduate school. I found that OSU prepared me extraordinarily well for my graduate studies. I did not sense that my peers from Brown, Cornell, Berkeley, etc were any better prepared than I was.

By Mikemac (Mikemac) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 07:37 pm: Edit

I would be cautious about selecting a school specializing in engineering. Stats show that only about 1/3 to 1/2 of students who enter college intending to be engineers actually end up with an engineering degree (see So for the 50-66% that leave engineering, if you're in a school with few alternative choices you're not really in a good situation.

As for the coop program, that is a HUGE plus! Maybe it takes an extra semester or year to graduate, but a coop does 2 big things.

First, it lets a student decide if engineering is truly a good career choice before the college years are over. You'd be surprised how many people get an engineering degree with no real idea of what engineers actually do in their jobs, then once they're in it find out its not a good fit for them.

Second, employers love students who have coop or internship experience. It really jumps off a resume and shows a student has an idea of what the career entails (see previous paragraph). During interviews these students can talk about real work they've participated in rather than talking about classroom assignments and opining that they think they'd like engineering.

By Robyrm (Robyrm) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 08:00 pm: Edit

How about Miami of of those "public ivy/hidden gem" places. A friend's son is headed there to study "paper engineering" and evidently there are a range of other strong engineering programs as well...

By Boysmom (Boysmom) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 08:18 pm: Edit

If he definitely wants engineering, he might also check out Kettering University. It was formerly known as General Motors Institute (GMI). It is small, the campus is very nice and the dorms were the nicest we saw. All singles, with air conditioning and refrigerators and microwaves in the rooms. My son didn't care for it because it was too small and it was a co-op program, but yours might want to look into it.

By Thekev (Thekev) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 08:22 pm: Edit

Your kid is definitely above average in terms of ability.

Some suggestions:
Kettering U
University of Missouri-Rolla
Oklahoma State- (some call that midwest, others southwest, others south)
Kansas State U
U of Kansas
U of Nebraska
Marquette U
Toledo (waay underrated I've heard)
Iowa State

By Deb92260 (Deb92260) on Friday, August 06, 2004 - 08:06 am: Edit

Thanks so much for all of the suggestions. I will talk to my son about all of these options. Thanks for the advice about OSU. He seems relucent to consider such a big school but I think that OSU sounds interesting. Thanks also about the advice about co-ops. Some of the schools mentioned I didn't even know had engineering programs i.e. Ohio University and Miami.

I agree about finding a school that would have a back up plan if he doesn't enjoy engineering.

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