Suggestions for good colleges

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sidartvader
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Suggestions for good colleges

Post by sidartvader »

My daughter (junior in high school) currently wants to major in chemical or biochemical engineering. She is a very good student (36 ACT, high GPA, etc., but no national recognition so to speak). We think applying Early Decision (ED) can help improve her chances of admission. What would be the best colleges (good probability of admission) where she can have interaction with professors, maybe some research opportunity, good prospects after graduating etc.?

She is a kind of student who typically needs some motivation (good teacher, interesting topics, etc.) to get going, and then tends to do very well, hence I think a smaller college maybe a better fit for her. Does anyone have an opinion on chemical/biochemical engineering departments in general? Although we live in the Midwest, we are open to sending the kid most anywhere in the country

AG1’s post (viewtopic.php?t=375030) has motivated me to get this groups combined wisdom earlier before the application process.
KlangFool
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Re: Suggestions for good colleges

Post by KlangFool »

OP,

1) What state are you in? Your flagship state university should be good enough.

2) <<Does anyone have an opinion on chemical/biochemical engineering departments in general? Although we live in the Midwest, we are open to sending the kid most anywhere in the country>>

Why? Undergraduate Chemical Engineering is equally good in all accredited colleges. Avoid biochemical engineering. Do not specialize in the undergraduate level. Stick with the major engineering discipline: Mechanical, Civil, Electrical, Chemical.

3) Did she take the PSAT test? What was her national merit ranking?

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Normchad
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Re: Suggestions for good colleges

Post by Normchad »

She sounds like a great student. I think fit is super important. And my guess is you’re right, that she would benefit from a smaller school and more hands on attention.

For the degree fields you mention, I’m guessing you really need an advanced degree there. So keep that in mind. For prestige minded people, if you know you’ll be getting an advanced degree, you don’t need a prestigious undergrad.

And of course there are financial implications with additional years of schooling. If I was getting advanced degrees, I’d go for the fully funded PhD route.

Best of luck to her. Figuring this all out can be a bewildering journey. It ain’t what it was when I was finishing high school.
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jabberwockOG
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Re: Suggestions for good colleges

Post by jabberwockOG »

One small school that really impressed us in terms of engineering programs, labs and facilities, and general on campus vibe was Harvey Mudd in Clairmont Ca. It is expensive but most get students some to a lot of assistance. We did not visit any Eastern schools.
abetaye183
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Re: Suggestions for good colleges

Post by abetaye183 »

Normchad wrote: Wed May 11, 2022 8:56 pm For prestige minded people, if you know you’ll be getting an advanced degree, you don’t need a prestigious undergrad.
This is not true on so many dimensions. For example, students coming from top schools are on average better prepared for graduate school. graduate school admission is easier if the applicant is from the top school, all else equal.

I still remember what one professor told me during a campus visit for grad school at Caltech. "Our grad students come from X, Y, and Z,. I have never heard of your university, so very unlikely we will offer you admission." I had top level general and subject GRE scores, a 4.0 GPA, excellent recommendation letters, undergraduate research experience etc. This is to say that the likelihood of getting admission to good grad school is higher if you go to good undergraduate school.
Last edited by abetaye183 on Wed May 11, 2022 9:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
ClassOf2021
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Re: Suggestions for good colleges

Post by ClassOf2021 »

sidartvader wrote: Wed May 11, 2022 8:45 pm My daughter (junior in high school) currently wants to major in chemical or biochemical engineering. She is a very good student (36 ACT, high GPA, etc., but no national recognition so to speak). We think applying Early Decision (ED) can help improve her chances of admission. What would be the best colleges (good probability of admission) where she can have interaction with professors, maybe some research opportunity, good prospects after graduating etc.?

She is a kind of student who typically needs some motivation (good teacher, interesting topics, etc.) to get going, and then tends to do very well, hence I think a smaller college maybe a better fit for her. Does anyone have an opinion on chemical/biochemical engineering departments in general? Although we live in the Midwest, we are open to sending the kid most anywhere in the country

AG1’s post (viewtopic.php?t=375030) has motivated me to get this groups combined wisdom earlier before the application process.

There are some top chem e departments in the Midwest state schools if you live in one of those states (Minnesota Wisconsin Illinois Michigan) that would be good choices. I did my undergrad at Illinois where we were residents (big advantage), and phd at Minnesota where essentially all grad students had full support. I liked that they were not tiny departments as are some other chem e departments (difficult for small colleges to host Chem e departments as it has a specific and extensive curriculum).
livesoft
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Re: Suggestions for good colleges

Post by livesoft »

I saw that someone's child recently chose Rice University in Houston, Texas after a long thread on what to choose. You can make this thread short by choosing the same university. :) And you linked the thread, so there you go.

Added: Rice is a small school. It has fewer students than my high school, my spouse's high school, my daughter's high school, and my son's high school.
Last edited by livesoft on Wed May 11, 2022 9:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Mainlandjones
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Re: Suggestions for good colleges

Post by Mainlandjones »

There seem to be a limited number of top tier-ish (ie ED worthy) small schools with engineering programs. Lafayette may be one worth checking.

I’d recommend you and your daughter spend some time on the niche app, it lets you sort by major, size, etc, and you can drill down from there.

Another suggestion is to look at the number of students in the major at a given school, you may be able to find some mid/large schools with small number of Ch Eng students, so she’d get a more professor interaction, etc at least in her major classes.

Best of luck!
psteinx
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Re: Suggestions for good colleges

Post by psteinx »

Beyond the strong qualifications (ACT 36, high GPA), this is a fairly generic ask, and there are, I think, >3000 colleges in the US, so while you may get a lot of responses, they may not be very focused.

ex: I need a car. What kind of car should I get?

(Unfocused questions get unfocused responses.)

If you're really at the very beginning of thinking about this, then probably pick up some of the guidebooks out there, plus a copy of US News. Yes, you can pick a LOT of nits with the latter's rankings, but if you're starting from zero, they're better than nothing.

Distance matters. You may say you're open to anywhere, but there's a big difference between a kid in college 100 miles from home vs. 1000 or even 3000...

Your home state matters. Many of the midwest states have state schools with strong engineering programs. Yes, they're big, but that may not be so bad.

Finances matter. Actual net price you pay may be quite different from the "list price".

Your HS's counselor(s) may or may not be helpful. Less likely if she is at a public HS.

I would suggest a rather more detailed post from OP, if you want more concrete, useful answers.
Last edited by psteinx on Wed May 11, 2022 10:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
WildBill
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Re: Suggestions for good colleges

Post by WildBill »

livesoft wrote: Wed May 11, 2022 9:41 pm I saw that someone's child recently chose Rice University in Houston, Texas after a long thread on what to choose. You can make this thread short by choosing the same university. :) And you linked the thread, so there you go.
Howdy

Decent idea.

For Chemical Engineering Rice is first rate, as are U T Austin and Texas A&M. In Midwest, Rose Holman, U Wisconsin Madison, NWestern, U Michigan, Purdue. Any state flagship should have a good Chemical Engineering program.

Princeton, MIT, Caltech and Stanford probably have the best programs, but that is another level of selectivity.

Good luck to your student!

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Re: Suggestions for good colleges

Post by finite_difference »

You can get a great education at any of the top 200 schools in the US. Narrow it down from there based on your criteria like location, cost, class size, tutoring availability, student services, graduation rates, graduate hiring rates, etc. Visit some campuses and talk to the students. Send applications to a range of schools, like 5-15, both in and out of state. Include a couple safety schools.
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student
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Re: Suggestions for good colleges

Post by student »

abetaye183 wrote: Wed May 11, 2022 9:35 pm
Normchad wrote: Wed May 11, 2022 8:56 pm For prestige minded people, if you know you’ll be getting an advanced degree, you don’t need a prestigious undergrad.
This is not true on so many dimensions. For example, students coming from top schools are on average better prepared for graduate school. graduate school admission is easier if the applicant is from the top school, all else equal.

I still remember what one professor told me during a campus visit for grad school at Caltech. "Our grad students come from X, Y, and Z,. I have never heard of your university, so very unlikely we will offer you admission." I had top level general and subject GRE scores, a 4.0 GPA, excellent recommendation letters, undergraduate research experience etc. This is to say that the likelihood of getting admission to good grad school is higher if you go to good undergraduate school.
While it is true that it is easier to go from prestigious undergrad school to a top graduate school, I think the chance is still relatively good as long as the undergraduate is from a good enough state school. I teach at a R2 (think Ball State), we were able to send several students to top graduate programs in the country. I remember one time, I was even able to arrange for a student to work with a famous person (think Fellow of the Academy of Engineering) at graduate school, as I know him personally and I "vouched" for the student. I think my colleague was also able to arrange a couple of excellent students to his alma meter with "presidential" type scholarship at graduate school. Of course, we do not see such outstanding students very often at a R2 school. So whenever we see one, we provide all sort of research experience and give personal recommendation by emailing or calling faculty members at some top schools that we know directly.
Last edited by student on Wed May 11, 2022 10:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Colorado13
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Re: Suggestions for good colleges

Post by Colorado13 »

I recommend visiting the Abet.org website to search for accredited chemical engineering programs. This major doesn't require a graduate degree in order to obtain a good job after earning an undergraduate degree. Do NOT major in chemistry, Chem E. Is the way to go if a rigorous curriculum and extensive lab experiences are of interest to your daughter.
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Re: Suggestions for good colleges

Post by student »

livesoft wrote: Wed May 11, 2022 9:41 pm I saw that someone's child recently chose Rice University in Houston, Texas after a long thread on what to choose. You can make this thread short by choosing the same university. :) And you linked the thread, so there you go.

Added: Rice is a small school. It has fewer students than my high school, my spouse's high school, my daughter's high school, and my son's high school.
Rice has a very good chemical engineering program and chemistry program. I think they had a Nobel guy in chemistry but he died. I know several people worked and/or studied at Rice. Excellent school.
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Re: Suggestions for good colleges

Post by slicendice »

private, popular (most competitive schools) also not as many undergrads as the famous well known flagships

MIT, CalTech, Stanford, Rice, Northwestern, Carnegie Mellon, Johns Hopkins, Cornell, Princeton, UPenn, Brown, Duke, HarveyMudd

well known engineering public flagships near you (most 30,000+ undergrads/ campus):

UIUC, Purdue, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa State, Missouri S&T

well known engineering publics further away:

GeorgiaTech, VirginiaTech, UTexas, several UC's, Colorado SoM, UWashington

private, smaller, well known engineering schools (but less competitive than the top row):

Case-Western, RPI, WPI, Rose-Hulman, Lehigh

Her stats don't disqualify her from any of these schools. The top row is so competitive though, that barring a special talent i.e. high level athletic talent (Stanford/Duke/Northwestern) or conservatory level violinist (actually violist is even better), getting into one is sort of a lottery even with great academic statistics. The thing to keep in mind though at the undergrad level, you will not learn "less" chemical engineering at WPI than you will at MIT. The pedagogical approach to teaching engineering is very different at some of these schools and you should look closely at that. Based on your description of your kid, Rice could be a great fit for her, and you can up your odds there I think if you go ED at that particular school.
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Re: Suggestions for good colleges

Post by rockonhumblepie »

Far as Top-rated schools and quality of life in the community, I would choose Univ. of Washington or Univ. of Wisconsin.
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Re: Suggestions for good colleges

Post by Vulcan »

KlangFool wrote: Wed May 11, 2022 8:51 pm 1) What state are you in? Your flagship state university should be good enough.
If you don't know what state the OP is in, how can you be sure that their state flagship is "good enough"?

Or, alternatively, if you believe that any state flagship is "good enough", what does it matter what state they are in?
KlangFool wrote: Wed May 11, 2022 8:51 pm 3) Did she take the PSAT test? What was her national merit ranking?
OP's daughter has ACT 36, which is an equivalent of SAT 1600.

While that does not directly answer whether she is a NMSF, it is safe to assume that she is, but in any case, a perfect ACT score is significantly rarer than an NMSF qualification (approx 4,000 perfect ACTs vs 16,000 NMSFs anually).
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Re: Suggestions for good colleges

Post by Vulcan »

slicendice wrote: Wed May 11, 2022 10:21 pm The thing to keep in mind though at the undergrad level, you will not learn "less" chemical engineering at WPI than you will at MIT.
That depends on the kid. While it may be true for a particular student that they would learn as much elsewhere if they pushed themselves beyond the standard curriculum (though there is no way to run that experiment), the overall academic rigor simply can not be the same across the board at all accredited institutions.

Yes, the classes may nominally cover the same material, but they will not delve into it to the same level of depth.

Class assignments that take an average MIT student an average 10 hours per week per subject to complete would make it impossible for majority of students at many other institutions to get a passing grade.
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Re: Suggestions for good colleges

Post by Northern Flicker »

student wrote: Wed May 11, 2022 10:12 pm
livesoft wrote: Wed May 11, 2022 9:41 pm I saw that someone's child recently chose Rice University in Houston, Texas after a long thread on what to choose. You can make this thread short by choosing the same university. :) And you linked the thread, so there you go.

Added: Rice is a small school. It has fewer students than my high school, my spouse's high school, my daughter's high school, and my son's high school.
Rice has a very good chemical engineering program and chemistry program. I think they had a Nobel guy in chemistry but he died. I know several people worked and/or studied at Rice. Excellent school.
Richard Smalley and Robert Curl, both at Rice, and Harold Kroto shared the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1996 for their work on buckminsterfullerene. Richard Smalley died tragically, but Robert Curl is a professor emeritus of chemistry.
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Re: Suggestions for good colleges

Post by BernardShakey »

sidartvader wrote: Wed May 11, 2022 8:45 pm My daughter (junior in high school) currently wants to major in chemical or biochemical engineering. She is a very good student (36 ACT, high GPA, etc., but no national recognition so to speak). We think applying Early Decision (ED) can help improve her chances of admission. What would be the best colleges (good probability of admission) where she can have interaction with professors, maybe some research opportunity, good prospects after graduating etc.?

She is a kind of student who typically needs some motivation (good teacher, interesting topics, etc.) to get going, and then tends to do very well, hence I think a smaller college maybe a better fit for her. Does anyone have an opinion on chemical/biochemical engineering departments in general? Although we live in the Midwest, we are open to sending the kid most anywhere in the country

AG1’s post (viewtopic.php?t=375030) has motivated me to get this groups combined wisdom earlier before the application process.
Virginia Tech or Georgia Tech if you're interested in the South. Both great engineering schools. Large schools, all the trimmings (football, etc.). V Tech is in an interesting area of southwestern VA, kind of mild weather, pretty area.
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Re: Suggestions for good colleges

Post by Watty »

sidartvader wrote: Wed May 11, 2022 8:45 pm My daughter (junior in high school) currently wants to major in chemical or biochemical engineering.
Those degrees are a lot different than a computer degree or a mechanical engineering degree where a high school junior may have been working with computers or taking engines apart and fixing them for years.

How did she pick those? Has she been obsessed with doing at home chemistry experiments since she was in grade school?

She likely does not really know a lot about them yet and she may find that they do not fit her well or that they are not her strengths and she is much better and a more natural fit for some other major even if she stays with a STEM degree.

While she would want to make sure that any college she selects has strong chemical and biochemical engineering programs it would be good to give a lot of weight in finding a strong overall engineering department just in case she changes to a different type of engineering.

At some colleges it is also a lot harder to change majors so be sure to look at that when you are comparing colleges since she may want to change majors.

It varies a lot with the college and degree but as I recall there is a often a minimum GPA requirement, like 3.0(???), for some majors to be allowed to transfer into it and event then a transfer request to change majors may not be automatically approved. With her lack of motivation if a chemistry related degree is not right for her she may not have a great GPA and she may find it difficult to change majors at some colleges.

Some engineering collage will allow(or even require) engineering freshmen to start out as "undecided" without specifying what type of engineering until they have had a semester or two of general engineering classes and special classes for undecided engineers where they can try out several different engineering majors. If she starts out "undecided" it might be a lot easer to get into the engineering program she wants than to start out in something else and try to transfer into it.

If the college she picks allows it then starting out as an "undecided" engineer may be a good choice to consider.
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Re: Suggestions for good colleges

Post by Valuethinker »

sidartvader wrote: Wed May 11, 2022 8:45 pm My daughter (junior in high school) currently wants to major in chemical or biochemical engineering. She is a very good student (36 ACT, high GPA, etc., but no national recognition so to speak). We think applying Early Decision (ED) can help improve her chances of admission. What would be the best colleges (good probability of admission) where she can have interaction with professors, maybe some research opportunity, good prospects after graduating etc.?

She is a kind of student who typically needs some motivation (good teacher, interesting topics, etc.) to get going, and then tends to do very well, hence I think a smaller college maybe a better fit for her. Does anyone have an opinion on chemical/biochemical engineering departments in general? Although we live in the Midwest, we are open to sending the kid most anywhere in the country

AG1’s post (viewtopic.php?t=375030) has motivated me to get this groups combined wisdom earlier before the application process.
You may have an excellent in state option: Illinois for example. You can check rankings.

However:

- I did computer science at a large public university in North America. It was tough-- and lonely. The Engineers (separate faculty) seemed to stick together more, partly because of a common first year (and really into 3rd year) set of courses. Nonetheless it was a big commuter campus, dead at weekends etc.

The big midwestern schools seem very into "Greek" ie fraternities and sororities. You have to want to be part of that sort of association. Also things like Football are huge campus events - again that has to suit.

It is really important that your daughter is comfortable with the campus & living arrangements. That matters more than the absolute rank of the school.

These schools will offer an excellent education but it can be a cold shock going from a small high school (private, in my case) to such an environment.

There are good private engineering colleges:

- superstar ones like Caltech and MIT. Cornell may fit in here, too (there's been a lot of discussion about Cornell, pluses and minuses, on another recent thread about a computer science intended major). These places provide both a fine education, great brand on CV, and a truly tough peer group. They vary in the environment and support they give the student.

- good colleges that may not have the name recognition, but provide more individual attention. In engineering, as opposed to liberal arts, that's more difficult because those colleges won't necessarily have a good research ranking.

I am all for individual attention and instruction though. Those early years of one's adult life are so important, a lot of the learning is not about what you learn in books, but what you learn about yourself and other people. You make the friends that, in my experience, you hold for the rest of your life (or at least until very late 50s, so far).

Names that occur, and people here will know: Harvey Mudd college (California); Worcester Polytechnic Inst (Mass). There is also Rensselaer (in New York State) which is larger but has a good reputation in engineering. For chemical eng I would also look at Rice U in Houston (because the US oil majors are HQ'd there) -- but I am not sure where biomedical engineering fits in.

The situation on student debt is so chronic, even though engineering is a good paying profession, that you need to make a serious assessment of what funding your child will need, what support you can provide, what the cost is. That's a conversation you will also have to have with your child.

One thing to understand is that for, at least the first 2 years, the education almost anywhere will be similar - same basic material, taught in large lecture classes. What matters is the atmosphere - commuter v non-commuter school; whether collaboration is encouraged. Except at the smaller places, the tutorials will be led typically by graduate students (IME their English could be a problem).
Last edited by Valuethinker on Thu May 12, 2022 4:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Suggestions for good colleges

Post by Valuethinker »

Colorado13 wrote: Wed May 11, 2022 10:10 pm I recommend visiting the Abet.org website to search for accredited chemical engineering programs. This major doesn't require a graduate degree in order to obtain a good job after earning an undergraduate degree. Do NOT major in chemistry, Chem E. Is the way to go if a rigorous curriculum and extensive lab experiences are of interest to your daughter.
In my undergrad days:

- many Chem majors were aiming at medical school. But it was a tough road to follow because grades were lower than "softer" sciences and it was highly competitive major (a lot of people dropped from major to minor)

- otherwise they were total Chem nerds - I see one of my fellow undergrads is a Prof here (ie in London)-- he was a fabulous guy, I've seen him present on TV here. Again that's a hard route to follow because you need really good grades & recommendations (research work etc) even to get in to a highly ranked school, and only w a highly ranked PhD are you going to get anywhere near a tenure track academic job (increasingly rare). Industry jobs tend to be quite specialised so it's hit and miss.

By contrast Chemical Engineers had a much wider range of employment opportunities -- and some went on to do MSc & PhDs and find academic or industry research jobs.

I have seen Chem Eng in Finance, Consulting, Sales roles etc - ie not working in the field in which they studied.
Last edited by Valuethinker on Thu May 12, 2022 4:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
Chardo
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Re: Suggestions for good colleges

Post by Chardo »

How can we have this discussion without budget?
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Re: Suggestions for good colleges

Post by KlangFool »

Vulcan wrote: Wed May 11, 2022 11:35 pm
KlangFool wrote: Wed May 11, 2022 8:51 pm 1) What state are you in? Your flagship state university should be good enough.
If you don't know what state the OP is in, how can you be sure that their state flagship is "good enough"?

Or, alternatively, if you believe that any state flagship is "good enough", what does it matter what state they are in?
KlangFool wrote: Wed May 11, 2022 8:51 pm 3) Did she take the PSAT test? What was her national merit ranking?
OP's daughter has ACT 36, which is an equivalent of SAT 1600.

While that does not directly answer whether she is a NMSF, it is safe to assume that she is, but in any case, a perfect ACT score is significantly rarer than an NMSF qualification (approx 4,000 perfect ACTs vs 16,000 NMSFs anually).
As far as I know, you cannot qualify for NMSF if you do not take PSAT test.

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Re: Suggestions for good colleges

Post by Vulcan »

KlangFool wrote: Thu May 12, 2022 6:36 am As far as I know, you cannot qualify for NMSF if you do not take PSAT test.
Correct. But the fact still remains that a perfect ACT puts OP's daughter into a more exclusive club than an NMSF would.
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Re: Suggestions for good colleges

Post by Jack FFR1846 »

Some off label comments:

A college somewhat below her scores would be more likely to give her more money to go there.

I don't think it was mentioned, but if she starts at one school then transfers, many colleges give zero merit to transfer students.

Fit is important. DS was at a college where he had complete access to nearly every professor who taught the course. But the school was filled with lots of students who were not at all serious and seemed to major in goofing off. Transferred to a much better college and once he changed major to what he really was interested in (EE to CivE), he had access to the structural engineering professor and ended up with him as his academic advisor and advisor for his senior project (creating a modeling program for buildings in earthquake zones).

It was mentioned that some colleges require not declaring major until after some number of semesters. Early engineering courses are in all areas and include "weed out" courses. I can remember being in that course in my engineering undergrad and thinking it was a breeze while students who didn't fit failed. I'm a EE and am absolutely sure that if I were in a Chem weed out course, I'd jump out a window.
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Re: Suggestions for good colleges

Post by BarbBrooklyn »

University of Delaware.

https://cbe.udel.edu/

I have a niece who did Chem. Eng. there. Full free ride. Great campus experience and good mentoring.
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sidartvader
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Re: Suggestions for good colleges

Post by sidartvader »

Thank you so much for your replies. Someone mentioned budget - at this point, we know she will not qualify for any financial aid, and we can support her - so no student loans should be needed. We really want to use the ED option in applying to maximize her chances and that locks you in. We were looking at Rice University (which several posters have suggested), Johns Hopkins, Duke University, Northwestern, Vanderbilt etc. I don't think Harvey Mudd has chemical engineering, only general Engineering which I am not sure about. (I am sure she will apply to public universities but they don't have the ED option).

I do agree with some posters who have asked if she is 100% sure about chemical engineering. She is not, so some amount of flexibility would be helpful.

Thank you - if you have any insights, please do share.
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Re: Suggestions for good colleges

Post by firebirdparts »

I'm a chem E, 40 years, published, fellow, world traveler, etc etc. and I think it's pretty regional. My opinion.

Also it's going to depend on whether she's interested in a Bachelor's degree and work. My experience is that nobody is out there saying "oh you have to get your bachelor's degree engineers from the Schmuckatelli Institute of Technology". We don't see that. At the PhD level, there is at least such a thing as a national appeal, but even that is pretty weak in the marketplace.

In engineering, we're fortunate that there appears to be the huge benefit/cost ratio at highly regarded schools that are partly taxpayer funded. Some of the very best rated undergrad engineering schools are just inexpensive. No other word for it.

If you want a combination of small and fabulous, I guess I would pick Cal Tech in the #1 spot there. There are other great small programs, but no name recognition. I guess somebody who went to MIT would want to claim they're small too, I don't know. A midwestern school with a powerful reputation for chemical engineers would be Wisconsin. But of course that's not small. Internet says 100 chemical engineers produced per year (that's what "not small" looks like). Obviously you know everybody in a class like that.
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LuckyGuy
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Re: Suggestions for good colleges

Post by LuckyGuy »

My wife and I are both retired chemical engineers. Both of our kids are engineering majors (not chemical), currently in college but close to graduating.

I recommend that you highly value a great co-op program when choosing a college. There are a large number of benefits your child will learn during their co-op. And the big plus is that the student might have a job when graduating, if they choose that path.
Nowizard
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Re: Suggestions for good colleges

Post by Nowizard »

+1 LuckyGuy. Provides a combination of finding a fit with potential job opportunity.

Tim
KlangFool
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Re: Suggestions for good colleges

Post by KlangFool »

sidartvader wrote: Thu May 12, 2022 7:52 am
Thank you so much for your replies. Someone mentioned budget - at this point, we know she will not qualify for any financial aid,
sidartvader,

She does not qualify for need-based financial aids. But, as a female with good scores aiming for a STEM degree, she may qualify for merit-based financial aids.

For example, if she can get into Rice university, she probably qualify for some merit-based financial aid.

https://financialaid.rice.edu/types-aid ... holarships

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Watty
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Re: Suggestions for good colleges

Post by Watty »

Jack FFR1846 wrote: Thu May 12, 2022 7:11 am Fit is important.
+1000

One quote I remember from when I was helping my son with his college selection was something like, "Helping your kid select a college is not about selecting the best college, it is about selecting the college that is the best fit for your kid."

One other thing to research is that she might be tempted to get a BS in Chemistry instead of an engineering degree. Be sure to research the job prospects for that since as I recall people have posted about there being limited career paths with just an undergraduate degree in Chemistry. That is apparently very different than Chemical Engineering. Not all STEM degrees are in high demand.
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Re: Suggestions for good colleges

Post by CoastLawyer2030 »

It is hard to respond to this open-ended of an inquiry, so my criteria would be two-fold:

1. Go somewhere that matches her personality (others have alluded to this as "fit"). I like anonymity so a big state school was for me. Some like the private school feel where it is basically a bigger high school. Etc.

2. Go where she eventually wants to work. This is less important than it used to be but it if you want to work in Ohio then go to Ohio State; if you want to work in North Carolina then go to UNC/Duke/NCSU/Wake/etc.
Valuethinker
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Re: Suggestions for good colleges

Post by Valuethinker »

CoastLawyer2030 wrote: Thu May 12, 2022 10:05 am It is hard to respond to this open-ended of an inquiry, so my criteria would be two-fold:

1. Go somewhere that matches her personality (others have alluded to this as "fit"). I like anonymity so a big state school was for me. Some like the private school feel where it is basically a bigger high school. Etc.
A big public felt more like "high school" for me than a smaller college would have. However I went from a small private high school to a very large North American public university.
2. Go where she eventually wants to work. This is less important than it used to be but it if you want to work in Ohio then go to Ohio State; if you want to work in North Carolina then go to UNC/Duke/NCSU/Wake/etc.
I think with something like engineering you have to think nationally for a career? Certainly the employers will take a graduate from a highly ranked national programme over someone from a local programme?

In that the chemical engineering jobs are (I imagine) primarily on the Gulf Coast - but they won't only hire from schools in Texas and the South.

Tech jobs there is that huge orientation towards Northern California. Etc.
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Voltaire2.0
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Re: Suggestions for good colleges

Post by Voltaire2.0 »

Retired engineer's opinion here.

The top-tier engineering schools (e.g., MIT, Stanford, CalTech) are great but they're not all small and competition for admission is an Olympic event. Maybe a stretch goal.

The "flagship" state U approach works for many, but it is at odds with the stated desire for personal attention. Further, in some cases admission to the university doesn't guarantee admission to the engineering school, and you may still be looking at a 5 year slog.

Mid-sized schools with strong engineering academics and a good reputation include:
WPI
Drexel
RPI
Carnegie Mellon
Rice
There are others, of course, and admission to these schools is no walk in the park.

The "small college with an engineering school" option was beaten to death in another thread. Engineering is a challenging discipline and if you want to achieve, a college where engineering is an afterthought is not the best training ground.

The selection process can be stressful, but try to enjoy it.
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Re: Suggestions for good colleges

Post by Valuethinker »

LuckyGuy wrote: Thu May 12, 2022 8:18 am My wife and I are both retired chemical engineers. Both of our kids are engineering majors (not chemical), currently in college but close to graduating.

I recommend that you highly value a great co-op program when choosing a college. There are a large number of benefits your child will learn during their co-op. And the big plus is that the student might have a job when graduating, if they choose that path.
I have a friend, both of whose children are in engineering at a big Canadian university.

Both of them are doing Co-op years (work experience years after 3rd year, I believe). This is new (at that university) since my days in the 1980s, and I think it's a win-win for both the students and the employers.
srt7
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Re: Suggestions for good colleges

Post by srt7 »

abetaye183 wrote: Wed May 11, 2022 9:35 pm
Normchad wrote: Wed May 11, 2022 8:56 pm For prestige minded people, if you know you’ll be getting an advanced degree, you don’t need a prestigious undergrad.
This is not true on so many dimensions. For example, students coming from top schools are on average better prepared for graduate school. graduate school admission is easier if the applicant is from the top school, all else equal.

I still remember what one professor told me during a campus visit for grad school at Caltech. "Our grad students come from X, Y, and Z,. I have never heard of your university, so very unlikely we will offer you admission." I had top level general and subject GRE scores, a 4.0 GPA, excellent recommendation letters, undergraduate research experience etc. This is to say that the likelihood of getting admission to good grad school is higher if you go to good undergraduate school.
I would agree with this poster. If you're going after prestige (nothing wrong with that) then go for it in your undergrad. Most of the time the friends and connections made in undergrad are far stronger than grad. Most of the time.
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srt7
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Re: Suggestions for good colleges

Post by srt7 »

KlangFool wrote: Wed May 11, 2022 8:51 pm OP,

1) What state are you in? Your flagship state university should be good enough.

2) <<Does anyone have an opinion on chemical/biochemical engineering departments in general? Although we live in the Midwest, we are open to sending the kid most anywhere in the country>>

Why? Undergraduate Chemical Engineering is equally good in all accredited colleges. Avoid biochemical engineering. Do not specialize in the undergraduate level. Stick with the major engineering discipline: Mechanical, Civil, Electrical, Chemical.

3) Did she take the PSAT test? What was her national merit ranking?

KlangFool
+1 on #2

While I agree with #1 OP is looking for smaller schools so their kid can get more focussed attention and not be lost in large groups. Most state flagships I know are quite large. But most LAC don't offer engineering either so that's a tough one.
Taking care of tomorrow while enjoying today.
smackboy1
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Re: Suggestions for good colleges

Post by smackboy1 »

sidartvader wrote: Wed May 11, 2022 8:45 pm My daughter (junior in high school) currently wants to major in chemical or biochemical engineering. She is a very good student (36 ACT, high GPA, etc., but no national recognition so to speak). We think applying Early Decision (ED) can help improve her chances of admission. What would be the best colleges (good probability of admission) where she can have interaction with professors, maybe some research opportunity, good prospects after graduating etc.?

She is a kind of student who typically needs some motivation (good teacher, interesting topics, etc.) to get going, and then tends to do very well, hence I think a smaller college maybe a better fit for her. Does anyone have an opinion on chemical/biochemical engineering departments in general? Although we live in the Midwest, we are open to sending the kid most anywhere in the country
Our child just accepted an offer to attend a medium sized private school as a mechanical engineer on a scholarship. We also have a few engineers in the family. Here are some observations from our own experience:

- What does your daughter want for her undergrad years - ignoring academics and rank? In order to do well in school, a student has to be happy and be able to make friends. The experiences of similarly ranked schools can be very different. A school with 10,000 engineering undergrads will have different feel than a school with 200. Will she be OK in 300 person lectures? Is weather important to her? Women engineers may be an underrepresented group. Does the schools demographics matter? Would she want to be at a tech university that is 70% male? Social scene? Would she be interested in Greek life or a school with competitive sports teams and lots of school spirit, or a quiet more nerdy school? Some schools have a reputation for being very high pressure and stressful, while others are more laid back.

- There are 2 types of universities: the traditional type has separate schools and students apply to and are accepted to engineering school. Typically the engineering program is more selective compared to arts and sciences. Students are discouraged from switching schools enrolled and there is a transfer application process. Other universities admit students to the entire university as a whole and they choose their majors freely with no barriers between the different schools.

- It's unlikely a 17-18 y.o. has enough experience to know that chemE or biochem is right for them. At the undergrad level all 1st year engineers will take the same basic courses including a broad overview engineering 101 sampler course which will expose them to all the engineering fields along with some hands on projects. They won't take specialized courses until 2nd year, when they will also declare their major. What is plan B? Not all engineering schools offer all majors, like aerospace, or biomedical, or polymer science. Some schools have double majors and/or minors available. If she decides she wants to minor in Russian literature or switch majors, not all schools offer that.

- Location. Is the university located somewhere with good access to corporations or institutions with internship or co-op opportunities? Are the professors and the placement office well connected? Some students do extremely well in a co-op program and graduate with experience and maybe even a job offer. Other student's find co-ops disrupt the traditional college experience and makes it difficult to maintain their social relationship with friends.

- Size and resources can matter. Visit the schools and talk to the students. Engineering programs are expensive to operate and resource intensive and not all schools' engineering programs are the same. Personally we sought out schools that had MS and PhD programs. To us those schools seem to be better resourced and have a greater emphasis on research. Furthermore, nowadays it seems that to be able to climb the ladder as an engineer requires more than a BS, so the ability to work with graduate students or submatriculate and earn an MS and BS at the same time seemed valuable. Industrial equipment is expensive. We looked for universities that had bigger and better labs and makerspaces with access to 3D printers, laser cutters, water jets cutters, CNC milling, TIG welding, PCB printers, hydraulic press, forges, wind tunnel, etc.. Is there a startup incubator? Are the professors well networked to help their students get research opportunities, jobs, or into graduate programs? For example, for aerospace engineers, having ex-NASA engineers as professors and/or aerospace companies nearby can be helpful.

- What advice does her school's college counselor have to offer? Depending on their knowledge, that person could be a wealth of knowledge - or completely useless. If the latter, try to make up the loss by talking to current engineering majors or recent grads. Try to get some good objective information about schools. Fiske Guide is pretty good. Rankings like US News ranking of undergrad engineering programs are sort of useful as long as you realize a lot of the rank is based on reputation when asking deans of engineering schools. The most important tool is the scattergram for your daughter's HS. Together you need to create a good realistic list of reach, target and safety schools.
Disclaimer: nothing written here should be taken as legal advice, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.
TotalFool
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Re: Suggestions for good colleges

Post by TotalFool »

Just to add, Bogleheads provided their wisdom a few weeks back when I was trying to figure out similar question for my daughter. She was a NMF. She is going to UCF to do computer engineering largely due to guidance from this forum. It is pretty much a full ride - May have t shell a few thousand if she wants to do summer program abroad.

TotalFool.
Pdxnative
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Re: Suggestions for good colleges

Post by Pdxnative »

Some good lists of schools already and other things (those schools and tiers sliceanddice lists would be a great starting point). I’ll add a few random thoughts.

—start with a safety or two first. Schools your daughter would be okay with socially, academically, financially where she is sure to be admitted. For many this is the state flagship. Maybe honors college if they have one. This is the most important thing because it frees her up to eliminate schools that don’t seem better and to focus on more selective schools. There is no point spending time researching schools like RPI, case western, various schools with merit money, if for example her safety is Michigan, Purdue, Wisconsin, and she’d be happier at those.

—don’t underestimate importance of peer group. Most 36 act students are pretty far down the skinny (and long) end of the tail in terms of academic talent and curiosity. They need the stimulation that being around peers can provide. Study groups, class participation, social opportunities, etc. A lot of schools can provide some of that but the vast majority of engineers and engineering students at most engineering programs aren’t necessarily in this group. So don’t assume that good engineering school = intellectual peers. (I’m not knocking engineers; just pointing out that many of these programs are taking reasonably good students and training them for a vocation. That’s sufficient for the vast majority but a standout intellect might be happier with access to a sufficiently large group of other super bright students, which some but not all engineering schools provide). Peer group is going to substitute for some of the drive and direction that in HS often comes from teachers and in college you might assume comes from faculty (but doesn’t always, even in small school context).

—related to the above point, my experience with these sorts of kids is that they are interested in a lot of things and in talking to other people that are interested in a lot of things. If that’s true of your daughter I’d think about opportunities to explore those sorts of interests and to be around people with the same bias. This might lead you to a school like Rice or Princeton or Stanford or ? that might not jump to the top of the list for a working engineer but is very strong in other areas and allows a lot of exploring across boundaries.

A few informal visits over the summer might help eliminate include types of schools, geographic regions, etc.

Good luck!
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Re: Suggestions for good colleges

Post by Parkinglotracer »

Sounds like a smart young lady. Is she in good physical condition and Has she considered getting a world class engineering degree at a military academy to be a future leader in the Air Force, army, navy, marines, or coast guard? Each service academy class has about 20% women and the opportunities are endless. I would venture to say if one wanted to be an astronaut there is no better start than a service academy. Or if she wanted to be the CEO of a major company; what a start - head of Lockheed Martin is an AF Academy graduate. F-35 pilot? Ship captain? 4 star general? Not for everyone, but a challenge that fits some of our nation’s best and brightest. She can learn about the challenge on line and get a pre candidate questionnaire started there.
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khangaroo
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Re: Suggestions for good colleges

Post by khangaroo »

My Alma Mater Oregon State University has a solid chemical and bioengineering program and I really enjoyed my time there. She will also get to experience the awesomeness of the Pacific Northwest so what's not to love?!?

Furthermore, all the other engineering programs at OSU are also well renowned so if she ends up not liking that specific field of engineering she could always switch. For example, I went in thinking I was going to do electrical engineering then switched to civil and then finally to construction engineering management when I learned I only had to take half of the engineering classes! The best part of my program? Pretty much 100% of the graduating classes had job offers by the end of their sophomore year due to internships, the program's reputation, and the industry's needs.

Check them out!
https://engineering.oregonstate.edu/
https://cbee.oregonstate.edu/
https://cce.oregonstate.edu/content/con ... management
quantAndHold
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Re: Suggestions for good colleges

Post by quantAndHold »

One suggestion is that she might want to choose a school near where she wants to live after graduation.

Surprised nobody has mentioned Cal Poly Pomona.
Yes, I’m really that pedantic.
dekecarver
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Re: Suggestions for good colleges

Post by dekecarver »

BarbBrooklyn wrote: Thu May 12, 2022 7:33 am University of Delaware.

https://cbe.udel.edu/

I have a niece who did Chem. Eng. there. Full free ride. Great campus experience and good mentoring.
Never been there but neighbor's kid goes there I hear it is a beautiful campus and good vibe. (?)
ponyboy
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Re: Suggestions for good colleges

Post by ponyboy »

Ursinus. No one ever heard of it but it's a great school. Wife went there. Small private school in collegeville, pa. It's expensive though.
Naismith
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Re: Suggestions for good colleges

Post by Naismith »

Some large universities have an Honors program that turns the big U into a smaller program. They have Honors dorms and special Honors classes to fulfill the general ed requirements (history of beer was particularly popular). Those classes have the best teachers, since senior faculty enjoy teaching bright students. Some classes are held in the honors dorm, and PJs are acceptable.

Your daughter should qualify for such a program.
malabargold
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Re: Suggestions for good colleges

Post by malabargold »

Berkeley College of Chemistry is top drawer.
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