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Chances of Transferring to Top-Tier Engineering School

  1. Jan 6, 2010 #1
    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.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 6, 2010 #2
    At the school that you attend, do they have some kind of 3+2 program with an engineering school? If you can get into a school that has a program like that it makes the transfer easier since the schools already have a partnership. GA Tech has programs like that if you're interested in Georgia. Check the schools that you want to transfer to and see if they have a program with a small liberal arts school in the area.
    It's possible man. But you'd have to pull some awesome *** grades to smooth your earlier mishaps over. Not only your grades but internships, jobs, volunteering anything to help make yourself more marketable. You really really have to show that you've gotten your act together. Getting anything less than a 3.3 will not assist you in getting to a top tier engineering school with that unfortunate background.
    I'm in the same situation as you...
  4. Jan 6, 2010 #3
    My school actually has a 2+2 agreement with RPI, but there are no quality grad schools around here for my girlfriend. We also both really want to get out of the Northeast.
  5. Jan 7, 2010 #4
    You're gonna have to call up some admissions people and ask them. The guys I know who've transferred into my school (a New York public school) from private and public schools and community colleges have had everything from almost nothing to about a year or two counted. But even the guys who transfer in as juniors almost always needed at least three more years of course work 'cause the transferred classes didn't count towards their requirements. I've seen all sorts of admissions caps for transfer credits, but that info is listed in the undergrad bulletin.

    You'll probably have to send them your BU transcript if you want them to evaluate it for transfer credit. Talk to the admissions people about this. At my school, transfer credits are evaluated from the original school the courses were taken at, even if the second school awarded credit for those courses.

    To be on the safe side, apply to some of the lower ranked schools that are a reasonable commute from your girlfriend's grad school. You're only gonna have 2 semesters worth of grades to apply for the transfer, (maybe even 1 depending on when your apps are due and when your fall semester ends, maybe 3 if you take summer courses) and it's community college level work. It's definitely a gamble.
  6. Jan 7, 2010 #5
    Personally, I'd suggest just transferring to whatever program your college has an agreement with, and if you want a "top tier" school on your record, get your master of engineering degree from one. That way, you still move out of the northeast, but you give it a few years.

    Of course, that's probably the path of least resistance, but it's the path I'm taking. I'm 27 and just finished up community college, after completing a semester and a half when I was 18. I was accepted to the local state school, Towson University, where I plan to finish off my BS degree. If things go according to plan, I'll go to a more prestigious grad school afterward.

    On the other hand, if you just want to move and get out of the northeast... then move, and get out of the northeast. It won't make things easy for you with your education, though. In my experience checking around to other schools, transfer credit is very hit or miss, and mostly miss if you're looking out of state.
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