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Some help in engineering school options in US

  1. Oct 30, 2015 #1
    Firstly, hi :smile:.

    I'm currently an A Level student in Malaysia, for a year and will be finishing next June. So, now is the time to apply to universities, and I'm rather lost. Actually that is an understatement.:-p I still don't know what I want to do with my life but I still got to have a degree, right? So, after much thought, I decided on engineering, because I'm told that is a safe option. Anyway, since I took all engineering related courses in my A level,(Maths, Further maths, Physics, Chemistry) I thought I should just go all the way.

    In my region, universities that come to mind are NTU and universities in Hong Kong. Anyway, they are rather competitive, so it wouldn't be safe to bank all my hopes there. So my parents suggested US and Canada to me, and for the US I have taken all the necessary admission tests needed. My SAT scores are decent, not spectacular, so my chances of admission into those top schools are not high. My highest for SAT Math is only 740, my CR is 750 and my writing is only a 670. I have a 790 for SAT Math 2 and 750 for SAT Physics.

    Anyway, I have been very busy with my A Levels, and there are just too many universities in the States for me to choose which is best for me. So I hope that some here would give me some good suggestions. As the ringgit recently has plunged, tuition fees is a big factor.

    So I hope that you could give me some suggestions for schools while considering these factors:

    1. Low tuition fees, financial aid if possible
    2. A respectable engineering program
    3. Reasonable chance of admission

    I do know of the liberal arts as being rather generous with their aid, but I've been entertaining some thoughts of working in Asia after graduating, and I do worry that my degree from such colleges would not be recognised here, no matter how prestigious they might be in the States.

    So, any suggestions?

    Thanks for reading.:smile:
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 30, 2015 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    Your message comes across as "It's too much work for me to do the legwork on finding a college, but it's not too much work for you. Get to it! Chop chop!" That's not likely to produce good results.

    What work have you done in picking a US or Canadian school?
     
  4. Oct 30, 2015 #3

    SteamKing

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    Also, what type of engineering are you interested in? That makes a difference, as all schools may not offer a full range of engineering curricula to choose from. Some schools tend to specialize in some engineering disciplines, others not so much. There are also schools which offer a specialized curriculum focused entirely on engineering of one sort or another.
     
  5. Oct 30, 2015 #4
    I've read up quite a bit until I'm confused. Mostly I read the threads from the college confidential forum.

    My parents are encouraging me to apply mostly to liberal arts schools, but I went to the forums there and what I read scared me a little. It's said that the engineering 3-2 program is just a gimmick. So, I don't know because till then, I've mostly researched those liberal arts college like Macalester, Lafayette etc. The thing is they say they do offer financial aid, but only limited. Every single school. And I don't know which to choose. I can't be applying to too many...application fees themselves are going to kill me.

    And the state schools don't offer financial aid but I know Minnesota tuition is cheap.

    That's about all... I think. I've forgotten most that I've read since preparing for my AS exams about 3 months ago.

    Just hoping for some information beyond what's revealed on the schools' websites...that's all. :smile:
     
  6. Oct 30, 2015 #5
    Haha, I don't even know what an engineer does, really. So, how could I even choose which field?
    I'm always amazed that some know what they want right away, especially those asking on these threads. That does not seem to be the case among my classmates.
     
  7. Oct 30, 2015 #6

    SteamKing

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    Before picking a school, perhaps you should take a few minutes and examine the various engineering fields and see which one(s) appeal to you:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Engineering
     
  8. Oct 30, 2015 #7
    I said I don't really know because my own father is an engineer, and even he can't really explain to me what he does everyday in his office, when I ask him. He just tells me that he uses less than 10% of whatever engineering knowledge he has learned in his job.:)) He told me something vague like his job is to fix 'problems' in machines.

    But I think I would go for either chemical engineering, because chemistry is never much a problem for me, or electrical because I like all the electric topics I studied so far in physics.
     
  9. Oct 30, 2015 #8

    SteamKing

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    In common usage, there are "engineers" and "engineers". One group goes to school to learn how to design and build things using the principles of physics and mechanics. A different group is primarily concerned with operating and maintaining the machinery designed by the first group. For example, the person in charge of driving a train is typically called the "engineer", even though he may not have an academic background. Same with operating "engineers" who run buildings and manfacturing plants.
     
  10. Oct 30, 2015 #9
    Ah I see. So do you work as an engineer? And do you really use your knowledge every day? No offense, but honestly, I always thought that only the very brightest engineers can apply whatever they've learned in school because they could get a position for R&D or something like that in the industry. Where I'm from, this does not seem the case, for I have a god uncle, who used to work for Intel, and he told me the same thing as my father. Both do have engineering degrees, though.
     
  11. Oct 30, 2015 #10

    SteamKing

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    Yes, I'm an engineer. And I do use what I learned in engineering school almost constantly.

    Not all degreed engineers work in R & D. There are some pretty bright and clever engineers who work in day to day engineering. Some engineers may spend their time designing stuff; some may spend their time making sure that stuff already designed meets regulations; some engineers may spend their days in the field inspecting stuff which has already been designed and built, to make sure it's operating according to plan or to design modifications to it.
     
  12. Oct 30, 2015 #11
    Ok. If you don't mind, which type of schools should I apply to in my case? Liberal art, private or state?
     
  13. Oct 30, 2015 #12

    ZapperZ

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    Is there a reason why you are pursuing your A-Levels? Shouldn't your O-level-equivalent be sufficient to apply to US universities? Have you checked?

    Zz.
     
  14. Oct 30, 2015 #13
    Uhm yes, I think that A Levels is required by most universities to be considered for admission. Anyway, credit transfers are a good thing too.
     
  15. Oct 30, 2015 #14

    ZapperZ

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    Where did you get this info? Has the SPM standard in Malaysia dropped that US Universities now require A-Levels? I know A-Levels are required by UK universities and equivalent institutions. But in the US, your SPM exams are similar to US high school level.

    And yes, I have first-hand knowledge of students entering US universities from Malaysia with just SPM (or many, many years ago, with MCE) exams under their belt.

    Zz.
     
  16. Oct 30, 2015 #15
    MCE was during my father's time....that's maybe in the 70s? I'm not too sure about entering only with SPM...the route that I take is common back here. Finish SPM, then take up a pre-u course. The pre-u can be a foundation course, A Level, etc. I'm guessing those students entering with only a SPM took the American Degree Foundation programme, which is a year long.

    But I've read up on certain websites, and it is stated that they do expect A Levels from those taking the British patterned system. So I think I should take it. I've no regrets taking it though, I've learned much more in 3 months than my last 2 years of the SPM syllabus. And yes, SPM qualifications are not recognised by Singaporean and Hong Kong universities for admission. Everybody back here does no take the SPM cert seriously. It's a joke.
     
  17. Oct 30, 2015 #16

    SteamKing

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    In my limited experience with engineering education, most liberal arts colleges tend to specialize in the, you know, liberal arts.

    Some of the larger private and state schools have the resources to devote to colleges of engineering and the liberal arts, but most of the smaller schools do one or the other. At a smaller school, you'll have a chance to get to know your classmates and the faculty better than you would attending a large school where there may be 10,000, or more, undergraduates, and dozens of faculty and teaching assistants.

    I think before you start firing off applications to different schools, first, decide on what type of engineering you want to pursue. Making that choice alone could winnow the list of colleges considerably.
     
  18. Oct 30, 2015 #17
    Ouch...my mum is pushing me to apply by this year because she wants to save money on the rising tuition costs. All this while, I've just been busy studying....I don't know about anything else besides studying.:smile:
    Making such big choices is very hard.

    What if I'm set on either chemical or electrical?
     
  19. Oct 30, 2015 #18

    SteamKing

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    It sure is. But you should not make such a big decision about your life hastily or by yourself.

    As far as the financial aspect is concerned, tuition costs are likely to rise whether you make the decision now or a few months from now. Not all colleges cost the same: in the US, you can find colleges where the tuition is more than $50,000 a year and some where the tuition is much more affordable. Because this is such a big decision financially, you should investigate that aspect as much, if not more so, than deciding what engineering field to select.

    Do you want to start life burdened by crushing debt from student loans or do you want to graduate relatively debt-free? Should you seek scholarships to help defray the cost of college?
    There are many different schools which offer courses in both fields of engineering.
     
  20. Oct 30, 2015 #19
    I'm not making the decision. My mum is, since she's paying. Since she's dead set on me entering college by next year, I guess I have no say in this matter.

    Whether I can go to US depends on the financial aid I get. If it's too expensive, I won't go. So, the most important is scholarships, right. And all are limited, so it's competitive.

    I have been looking at liberal arts all this while, and since I do not have much time left to decide, I am panicking, haha. So I guess I should look at other schools and not liberal arts, right? If so, I have to convince my mum.
     
  21. Oct 30, 2015 #20

    Vanadium 50

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    Maybe she should join PF and ask directly.
     
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