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International (Dutch) student, second Bachelor in Aerosp. Eng. which school?

  1. Mar 20, 2007 #1
    International (Dutch) student, second Bachelor in Aerosp. Eng. "which school?"

    Hello everyone,

    I'd like to start off with a small disclaimer. I am new to these forums and know how it is - newbies posting threads that have already been widely discussed etc. Please believe me, I've scoured the net and found tons of threads on this subject but I would still very much appreciate a personalized one about my particular situation. So I hope you guys can help me out with this!

    OK here we go (I always like to type big opening posts so bear with me. I'll try and stick to the relevant facts). I am currently enrolled at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, in my fourth and final year of a bachelor's degree in computer science. A small confession: a bachelor's degree here in the Netherlands is supposed to take only three years.

    Before this, I studied mechanical engineering at another university here in the Netherlands for a year, but this didn't work out. So, this is the fifth year of my academic career.

    Well, here the plot thickens, because while I didn't like mechanical engineering, I don't particularly like Comp Sci either. I just wanted to finish a degree and didn't know what else to do until recently, anyway.

    Meanwhile, I've always wanted to study aerospace engineering. One year of geeky people and loads of maths whilst studying mechanical eng. just scared me off... However, we all become wiser with age (right?) and I realized that I should study what I WANT to study.

    Now, we have a perfectly good aerospace engineering program here at Delft University for (by American standards) very low tuition. Alas, one complication arose: I visited America (many times), fell in love and want to move.

    And so, in 2005 I applied for Utrecht University's exchange program with University of Florida. I studied there during the Fall of 05 semester and met my girlfriend who lives in Tampa. We've had a long distance relationship for close to a year now.

    Well, last summer I got sick of traveling back and forth between the US and Europe and not really doing anything constructive (academically/career-wise) except finishing a degree in a field in which I don't wish to have a career (well... I did loads of other stuff too but that's not too relevant here). I did a lot of soul-searching and came to the conclusion that

    A) I want to study A.E.
    B) I want to do it in America.

    This is definitely 'the hard way of doing things'. Obviously I would be paying out of state tuition no matter where I go, there's visa issues etc. - it would be costly and difficult. Still - it's what I want.

    I cannot give a very detailed description of exactly what I want to do in the field. But I know my interests lie in aerodynamics/design of aircraft/spacecraft, and propulsion.

    So, I looked into US institutions, applied, etc. But you know how it is - I've been occupying myself with this for about 6 months now, and feel like I am finally getting a grip on it, but by now most deadlines for applications have passed. And finally, we get to my situation as it is now.

    I've applied to three universities (there should have been more):

    1) Florida Institute of Technology
    2) Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Daytona Beach campus)
    3) California State University, Long Beach

    This must be quite a strange list. The reason is that I know a lot of people in Florida now, so naturally I looked for schools there, and these two seemed like good options because of their proximity to the Space Center, reputations (more on this later...) etc.
    As for CSULB... I just love Southern California and would love to live there. The university is a lot cheaper as well.

    Well then! Right now, I have been accepted at Florida Tech and ERAU, both with scholarships (they don't cover much of the tuition though and I'm still looking at roughly 20K a year for tuition + fees, books etc) and still waiting on CSULB's answer.

    Okay... Now for the past couple of months I've been driving myself crazy trying to make a decision. Let's say for the moment that I'll be accepted at CSULB too (because I'll need to get started on getting my visa etc. I need to decide relatively quickly)... What do I do?

    I've visited both Florida Tech and ERAU. They both seemed like really nice schools. Not sure about the cities they're in (Melbourne, FL/Daytona Beach, FL) - seemed sort of boring. I know I got bored with Gainesville in 5 months (I guess I am demanding).
    But the most important thing is their reps. Which one of these has the better reputations? And is either one of them really a good option?

    ERAU has the number one rating for AE, undergrad, at universities whose highest degree is a master's (so does this even mean anything compared to research universities?). Florida Tech is a third-tier school yet incredibly expensive.
    However, I have been hearing positive things about it from a friend who works at Honeywell and on forums etc. ("I heard the only good space programs in FL are FIT and UF") It was founded by NASA engineers so I suppose it must be a suitable place to study if you want to work at NASA...?

    Meanwhile a friend of mine says ERAU comes extremely highly recommended by NASA professionals etc. Yet I read (almost) nothing but bad things about this school on the net (overpriced, bad atmosphere etc) I suppose what I really want to know is: how good IS ERAU's reputation really?! Is it worth the money?

    Disturbingly I also read posts saying "don't go to either ERAU or FIT" but this is on airline pilot forums - those guys seem to do nothing but worry/criticize the industry etc. :wink:

    Finally, CSULB. It's a cheaper option (less than half the cost of the other ones which are roughly equally expensive) and I love that environment. But... (and here is where my lack of knowledge really hurts so don't be offended by these questions please - I just don't know!) are Cal State schools inferior to UC ones? I'd hate to end up in a place where I feel I am not getting the best education I could.

    After my new bachelor I intend to try and go to a great, prestigious grad school (Stanford, MIT, CalTech...). Right now, my grades just aren't there. So perhaps - the first few years don't even matter that much (99% maths anyway) so the cheapest, "most fun" option (I'd say that's CSULB) is best? But I don't know about that.

    As for college/party atmosphere - I've been there for 5 years now. That's not a high priority for me. I intend to work hard, yet I don't want to be around people who have no interests at all besides their study and work 24/7 (I hear it can be like that at places like Cal Tech, then again I'd be stupid to just believe what I hear about stuff like this).

    Money is also an issue but not the primary deciding factor.

    What it all boils down to is that I'd like ANY advice anyone can offer me about any of these schools. Opinions about what path I should chose are VERY welcome. I know that I will have to decide for myself eventually, and I also know that all three options have pros and cons. I'm sure any one of them will be great. But this is still an important decision and I don't have much experience with US universities (except UF which I liked a lot. Just don't want to live in Gainesville really, plus I like the idea of a specialized school, and at UF, the mechanical/aerospace engineering programs are identical the first few years).

    Thanks very much for reading my long post and I hope someone out there will have something to say about all this!

    Cheers

    Thomas.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 20, 2007 #2
    For the great grad schools, I can tell you that for international students they are very very selective. You have to be out there, not just an ordinary student. Take part to competitions, get involved in projects, all you can do, do it.
     
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