Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Engineering Students: How to shortlist colleges that best fit you

Admit Data: Make Informed Admissions Decisions
By Mirae Kang

Choosing schools to apply to can be tough and time-consuming. That’s why you really need to know and understand what your priorities are and what you ultimately want to get out of your college experience. Below are some tips for international students seeking to study engineering in the U.S.

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#1. Pick 3-4 schools in your Dream, Fit, and Safe zones.

Putting all your eggs in one basket is a risky business. That’s why it’s important that you spread your eggs evenly. Your Dream zone will include schools that you’ve always dreamed of attending but may be a challenge to get into. It’s always better to have tried than to forever ask, “what if?” Your Fit zone includes schools that are a good fit for you. You either feel confident that you have a good chance of being accepted and/or the program course is what you are looking for. Lastly, your Safe zone will include schools that you are very confident of being accepted and if all else fails; this is a school that you would still want to attend. Be wary of application fees, however, so tailor a total number that is within your budget.

#2. Determine your research area and, if possible, be specific.

Within each engineering major, there are subsets of research that students can choose to focus on. For instance, within Biomedical Engineering, you can either focus on the more biological research or medical device research. So your dream may be to either have an undergraduate or graduate diploma in this field. However, make sure to take time and determine which specific area of research you would like to study. Some research fields require graduate degrees for career advancement, but many do not, so be aware of the different lengths of schooling for different career paths.

#3. Choose what kind of environment you will thrive in.

Some programs and schools have very large engineering departments that receive lots of funding and resources. However, this also attracts many students and can result in a higher student to faculty ratio. Also, many famous professors run large labs that can make it more difficult for you to have personal guidance and mentorship. Yet, some students will thrive in larger group settings while others do better in smaller groups with more individual guidance. So, it is very important that as you look at programs and reach out to professors and departments that you can ask questions on the size of their labs and what you can realistically expect once you arrive on campus. Find out if those departments assist students in finding summer internships or research positions, which are important for post-graduation employment.

#4. Get to know your competition.

Knowing the data on who’s coming to the U.S. can be an advantage for you. For instance, 48% of international students in the U.S. study Electrical Engineering alone, while only 9% of students are studying Chemical Engineering, which could an advantage if universities are recruiting more international students like you. Likewise, going to a university that has a large number of international students can mean more competition, but also a larger community of international friends for you. For example, attending University of Florida which has 1,635 international graduate students in engineering can mean comfort if you want to have friends from your home country but can also mean more competition as many international students are applying to this same school.

These four tips of advice are only the starting points of your journey. Don’t let this be a burden but have fun as you learn about different programs and talk to different people. However, the last tip of advice would be to stay professional when talking to professors, admissions officers, current international students, and/or alumni. Remember that through each and every person you meet, you are building a network.


Mirae Kang is a Research Associate of the Research and Advisory Services team for World Education Services in New York. She manages WES Student Advisor, an initiative to help prospective international students find free and reliable information about studying abroad in the U.S. She helps organizes free monthly webinars, connecting international students to admissions officers. When not helping students, she likes to cross oceans and relax with a great fiction novel.

1 comment:

  1. dear,
    website author
    Student loan debt, the college drop out rate, increasing tuitions, the economy and lack of jobs, questions about the traditional learning model, etc. are causing more and more people to take a sobering look at college and consider alternatives. College may be right for you, but you should justify the college option before your exercise the option.
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