What Should I Expect from Engineering College Admissions?

Dave Slovak

There are literally thousands of universities offering engineering degrees throughout the world. Engineering college admissions departments seek to recruit the best and brightest students. Most schools look for students with strong backgrounds in math and science, including high grades in high school, preparatory school, or community college coursework as well as above-average scores on standardized exams such as the Scholastic Aptitude Test and Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) and the American College Testing (ACT) exam. Many students who gain entry into engineering programs have successfully completed and achieve high scores on advanced placement exams as well. If you are applying to an engineering school or program, you can expect that the engineering college admissions process will involve a thorough review of your previous coursework, exams, extracurricular activities, and the quality of your college entrance application.

Doing well on standardized tests can help a student get into an engineering college.
Doing well on standardized tests can help a student get into an engineering college.

Standardized tests provide engineering college admissions departments with a benchmark for comparing applicants. Most students that succeed in engineering courses receive high scores on the math components of the SAT and the math and science components of the ACT. Students can also take specific subject matter exams to prove their knowledge of certain engineering-related topics. If you decide to pursue an advanced degree you will have to complete additional standardized tests such as the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).

Choosing a college to attend can be an exciting experience.
Choosing a college to attend can be an exciting experience.

You can also expect the engineering college admissions department to review your high school diploma. Engineering programs are math and science-heavy and expect students to have some foundational understanding of calculus and physics. Many engineering programs require students to complete three to four sequential semesters of calculus and physics. These courses serve as prerequisites for upper-level engineering courses in which students study advanced topics such as statics, strengths of materials, and energy transfer.

Many students also complete college-level courses or advanced placement exams to prove their knowledge of basic-level engineering topics and to complete college-level courses prior to gaining admittance to a specific university. Each university has a minimum grade point average or test score that the student must achieve to receive credit toward the university's degree program.

Although most engineering college admissions departments look closely at prospective students' grades and exam scores, they are also interested in recruiting students who are well-balanced. Most schools want students who are involved in extra-curricular activities, which can include engineering-related activities such as science clubs or competitions but may also include non-academic activities such as sports, hobbies, or community involvement. These types of extracurricular activities help the admissions department determine if the student will be able to develop a balanced college lifestyle.

Some engineering college admissions departments ask students to complete an essay describing why they are interested in engineering and what they would do with the degree. Many students are unsure of their future. The essay provides the admissions team with another tool to compare the student to other applicants.

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