Not all applicants aim for the top engineering schools. Some applicants – like those who have lower GRE scores or GPAs – are smart enough to apply only to those schools where they believe the odds are more in their favor. However, most clients who I have worked with have wanted to earn their degrees from an institution they believe will open more doors for them in the future.
How Do You Choose the Best Engineering Program for YOU?
No matter which schools you apply to, it is important to learn as much as you can about the school’s engineering program and curriculum, the student culture, and what the location may mean for you in terms of internship and networking opportunities. Just as you are aiming to find the perfect match for you, the schools are also searching for the applicants they believe will help to complement the peers in their class. Although all schools seek applicants with credentials that reflect past success and the abilities to do well in their academic program, there are nuances among the qualities sought by different schools.
Identifying and Matching Your Goals with the Program’s Goals
MIT Engineering, for example, boasts that their students and alumni have launched 32,000 active companies. They describe the culture as stressing innovation from day one on campus. Berkeley Engineering emphasizes study abroad and global partnerships. The Cornell Tech program in NYC emphasizes entrepreneurship and technology.
To ensure a successful application, you must research each school you apply to and write your statement of purpose accordingly. Each essay should be individualized to emphasize which of your experiences, and your career goals, match well with the values and mission of that particular engineering program.
The Importance of Making REAL Connections to Get to Know a Program
While thoroughly reading the website is important, it is not enough. To truly learn about a school’s culture, it is best if you can visit the campus and meet with students, professors, and admissions ambassadors. If it isn’t possible for you to arrange a campus visit, then reach out to students and alumni. How? Some school websites list contact information for student club officers. You can also contact the admissions office and ask if there are students willing to speak about their academic experience with applicants. You can also join LinkedIn where you can perform advanced keyword searches to find each school’s students and alumni, and connect and contact them there.
If you network with those who are studying or graduated from the institution of interest, you will learn more about classes, internship opportunities, professors, and student organizations than you will from reading only what is included on the school’s website. You can also include a sentence or two in your essay reflecting what you learned from these contacts, which shows you made an effort to obtain information, proving your interest in the school.
Determining Your Competitiveness at Your Target Engineering Programs
To determine your stretch and safety schools, visit each school’s website to see if they list average GPA or GRE scores. You can also read U.S. News and World Report’s Best Engineering School rankings to gather information on GRE scores and acceptance rates. If you are concerned about your scores, refer to Applying to Graduate Engineering Programs: What You Need to Know. Remember, however, that scores alone are not sufficient for admissions acceptance. Schools seek applicants that match their criteria. They also are concerned about the percentage of students who decide to enroll once they are accepted, so it is helpful to them if you indicate if this school is your top choice.
Check out our Masters Application Package and work one-on-one with an expert admissions coach to help you determine your career goals, align your strengths with the strengths of your target programs, and then submit a winning application that will get you ACCEPTED! Learn more here.Want Karin to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!
• Fitting In & Standing Out: the Paradox at the Heart of Admissions, a free guide
• Focus on Fit, a podcast episode
• Why Should I Apply to Graduate School Now?