Hi everyone. I've been lurking here for a while, and this forum played a big part in my decision to go back to school to become an engineer, but this is my first post. I am now 28 but first went to school when I was 18. I studied physics at Boston University for two semesters. I had a GPA around 2.8 first semester, then dropped out halfway through my second semester due to personal issues (really big mistake, should have at least finished the semester, but I had a lot going on). I think I ended up with 3 W's and an F. After ten years of landscaping and construction jobs, I am finally going back to school again this spring. I am studying engineering science (my school's pre-transfer program for engineers) at a community college in New York State. I know I am capable of maintaining a GPA in the high 3's or 4 if I really dedicate myself, and I plan on doing so (always did really well in high school, graduated 3rd in my class, got 800M 700V on my SAT's, etc.; just blew off my first attempt at college). I am also already lining up a research internship during my first semester, and plan on joining the engineering club, etc. Anyway, with credit from AP classes and a few classes I took at BU, I will be able to transfer to a 4-year school as a junior for the fall 2011 semester. Assuming I do really well for the next two semesters (which is all that will show up on my transfer app), what are my chances of getting into a top-tier engineering school? Will the fact that I really screwed up ten years ago hurt me? Right now I am looking at UTexas, UNC, UCDavis, UCSD, and UCSB. I need to get some kind of ballpark idea what my options will be because my girlfriend of seven years is applying to PhD programs at the same time (in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, hence the somewhat strange choices: we're trying to narrow down schools with quality engineering and EEB programs) and she might have to pick a school before I know if I am accepted. Thanks for any help any of you can give me. I'm getting really stressed out about this whole process because I really don't know where I will stand. Even though they are about a year away, I know the application deadlines will come up really quickly. Also, I would appreciate any other suggestions for schools that would be good for both of us. We would prefer to go somewhere warm. Twenty-eight years of Northeast winters is enough.