Class size, price, location, and student life are all factors that every college applicant should consider. If you are applying to engineering school, though, you may have a few additional questions.
How do you know if the program is really good? How can you be sure you will get a job after graduation? Here are a few tips to help with your search.
Make sure it is ABET-accredited.
ABET stands for the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. An accredited program meets global standards, ensuring minimum requirements to effectively train you in the engineering field.
It also increases your chances of finding a job. Employers want to know that your degree is accredited before hiring you. The ABET website keeps a list of of accredited schools.
Check which degrees are offered.
Around 80% of students switch their major at least once in undergraduate school. That’s why many engineering schools teach general concepts the first year, with students declaring their majors as sophomores.
If you are waffling between two different engineering majors– or even engineering and another, unrelated degree– make sure your school has solid programs in both.
Ask about internships and research opportunities.
What can the school offer you outside of classes? A good internship, co-op or study abroad program can give you a leg up in the world of engineering. It might even help you land your first job.
How soon does your engineering school let students work in on-campus labs? Some schools won’t let freshmen do research, but a few will. Will your department help you find an internship? What have other students done? Don’t be afraid to contact a past or current student for answers.
Study the job placement rates.
Most schools publish student employment rates after graduation and average starting salaries for graduates. These statistics can give you a good feel for a program’s quality in a very practical sense. Keep in mind, though, that there are always outliers. In addition, your starting salary will depend significantly on wages in the country where you choose to work.
Be wary of college rankings.
Unfortunately, these rankings are based off of surveys where deans and faculty rate programs at other schools. Thus, the rankings are subjective. They also have more to do with a school’s reputation in the eyes of academia than anything else. If you can, visit college campuses and talk to students and professors to draw your own conclusions about program quality.
Fun fact: Engineering is the most popular field for international students in the U.S.
At some schools (like the University of Missouri–Kansas City and the School of Engineering and Technology at Indiana University-Purdue University–Indianapolis) international students make up over 95% of the student body!
An engineering school with more (or less) international students may be appealing to you. You might find that you’ll be more at home with other students from your country. Or, you may jump at the chance to learn about other cultures.
Maija Wallace is a freelance writer for college admissions blogs. Her website is located at www.travelinglang.us