Undergrad Engineering Schools

  • #1
So, it's getting to be deadline time for college admissions. I'm an aerospace engineering major, and I'm wanting to transfer to an engineering school in Texas; and yes, I know I've made several topics already, but I'd like PF's opinion on this. The problem I'm facing is which one to apply for.

I've already applied to the University of Texas at Arlington. I believe it's a done deal with my transfer GPA (which hovers alternately between 3.9 and 3.55 from gen-ed and science/math courses, respectively). The advantages of UT-A are more scholarships; cheaper housing; tuition is guaranteed; and it has an Honors College system (essentially, you take the most rigorous classes with the best professors, have small class sizes, are considered for more scholarships, and you get a degree with honors, among other benefits). The problem is, UT-A isn't even ranked by most ranking systems. The oft-cited Newsweek ranking places UT-A in the tier 2 ranking, which is below the top 75. I'm concerned that this may hurt my chances of getting into a good grad school, or worse, affect my viability in the job market.

The other two options are UT-Austin and Texas A&M. The former is generally considered very respectable. My problems with it are, I don't think I could get in (and the application fee is high); it is much more expensive; and it has a reputation as a party college, and I take my studies seriously (and I have a low tolerance for noise). My problem with the latter is simply the attitude. I've been jerked around by them for months now. I also don't know if I can get in, and the application fee is again high, and like UT, the tuition/housing/meals might not be covered entirely by financial aid. I could spend $120 just applying to these two schools, which, to me, is a sizable chunk of change. I'm told that I have a solid chance at getting into A&M, but I was also told I would probably have to wait until June or July for admission; I am unable to get started with my housing applications until proper admission, which would be long after most of the housing has been taken up.

Should I apply to UT and A&M? Should I apply to one and see what scholarships come in? Do the rankings really matter enough to go through the process? Please help, PF!

Edit: I should also mention that I have at least one letter of recommendation, possibly two if I can work up the courage to ask my physics professor.
 
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Answers and Replies

  • #3
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1
I have yet to understand how important a college's ranking is when it comes time to look for a full-time job and/or grad school. Thus I can't really give you any advice on whether UT-A is a good choice for you or not. I guess it depends on how important going to a prestigious college is to you.

Both UT-Austin and Texas A&M are good schools. Whether UT-Austin is considered a "party school" or not should not influence your choice, IMO. It is a large enough school that you would be able to find students seriously interested in science/engineering as well as students who just want to party. Nobody will drag you to parties and pour liquor down your throat, lol. You can wear earplugs to study and sleep if it gets noisy.

Regarding A&M, the fact that they're jerking you around is irrelevant to the quality of education you will get there.

IMO you should apply to both if you can manage to come up with the $120.
 
  • #4
If you do end up going to Arlington, the ranking of your school should not affect your chances of getting into graduate school significantly. Grades, GRE scores, letters of recommendation, research experience etc... are all far more important than your school's ranking. This is not to say that going to a well respected school doesn't help your application...but not going to one will not hurt it significantly. Just for an example, I went to a tier 3 school for undergrad and now I am in a top 20 school for graduate school.
 
  • #5
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I am finishing up my bachelor's degree in math at UT-Austin in May, so perhaps I can provide some insight. While it's true that UT-Austin has the reputation of being a party school, that has a lot to do with its size. Think about it: you group 50000 people together, and a lot of parties are going to happen. Also, we have the whole 6th Street thing going on. None of this has anything to do with the quality of the academics. It is one of the best public universities in the country. Almost every engineering department is ranked top 10 (at the graduate level.)

I will give you that the cost of living in Austin is higher than that in Arlington and College Station. But UT has enormous amounts of financial aid available - some of it is need-based, some of it merit-based, some of it is both. I think that if finances are a problem for you, UT recognizes that, and does its best to accommodate you.

A&M is also a good school, especially for engineering. I don't think it would at all be a mistake if you attended there. Really, it boils down to what sort of atmosphere you like. The people at A&M are definitely more conservative than those at UT. As far as not liking loud noises, well, that all depends on where you live. I live in a quiet area (about 15 minutes from campus) that is much cheaper than the areas adjacent to campus, though a little older.

If you do well at UT-Arlington (get involved in research, get to know professors, make good grades, etc.), then you will be just fine for graduate school. But, going to a better school will give you more opportunities for different research topics, as well as better known professors, and challenge you more. I have taken classes at UT-Arlington, and have several friends who have transferred from there. The general consensus is you get a much better, though more challenging, education.

To summarize: I would go to A&M or UT-Austin, if you can get the money for it.

Are you from the DFW metroplex? If so, then that makes my recommendation to UT or A&M that much stronger. Living in a new city is a good experience, and allows you to have somewhat of a fresh start.
 
  • #6
I appreciate the advice. I'm going to apply to UT Austin as well, but I'm still on the fence about A&M. I'd love more opinions on this subject though.

By the way, yes, I'm from D/FW, and it's one of the reasons why I find A&M and UT Austin more appealing than UTA.
 

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