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How to gain admission at a top engineering college in the U.S.?

As millions of students start working on their U.S. college applications for Fall 2018 admission season, getting into a top college or a good college is everyone’s desire and aspiration. The admission statistics at top colleges, and more so for many top engineering colleges, continue to show the highly competitive nature of the admissions.

If you are a student seeking admission into a top engineering school in the U.S. for your B.S, M.S or Ph.D admissions, here are a few things you need to remember to put into your application. If you are a student who is still in high-school, undergraduate early years or working and want to apply over next 2-4 years, keeping these tips at the top of your mind will help you prepare better for your admission application.

So what are some of the top engineering colleges students aspire to join. Some of them are global brands such as MIT, Stanford, Caltech, Princeton, Harvard and some of them are the large public universities such as Univ. of California (Berkeley, Los Angeles), Univ. of Michigan, Univ. of Texas at Austin, Georgia Tech, Case Western, Purdue, Univ. of Illinois (Urbana), Univ. of Maryland at College Park, Texas A&M, Univ. of Colorado etc.

So what do these programs and admission committees look for in the applicants to their engineering programs?

As we all know, engineers have been always associated with the “geeky folks” who love to play with technology, solve problems and bring new innovation out there…..they are expected to be comfortable with technology, science and have interest in solving problems. If you go to an engineer’s home, you will see number of fancy, hi-tech toys. If you go to their home for dinner or party, you may see many people engaging in technology discussions or having discussions on how to solve problems in society through technology.

Admission teams at these schools are just trying to identify applicants who can fit the above profile through the following criteria….

1) Super comfortable with Math and Science- Applicants interested in top engineering colleges better have strong grades in math and science (Physics) subjects. Not only you need to show strong grades and marks in these subjects but you are also expected to perform very well in standardized tests such as SAT, SAT Subject Tests and GRE.

If you are still in high school or undergraduate college, start preparing to do well in these courses and show them you can be an over achiever in science, techology and engineering related subjects.

2) Show your passion in the engineering, technology area – If you want to get into a top engineering college, you better be out there doing a lot of extra work in playing with technical toys, working on robots and doing coding, creating stuff on your own. And this stuff cannot be of just medicore quality i.e. created a website. This work of yours be better innovative and interesting. If you are a undergraduate student or working professional applying for graduate degree, the bar is even higher.

Top engineering colleegs are a dream for millions of students in the world, so you are competing with the best and brightest to get admitted….so better show you have the talent, interest, skills and passion to be one of the best out there.

3) Show interest in the area by interacting with the school and professors early on – Many students forget this important part of their application. If you are interested in one of the top engineering colleges, research the college, see what classes the university offers and the research areas of the professors. Doing an internship or taking a class from one of the professors, impressing them with your abilities always helps. If a professor of the university writes a recommendation letter for you, it goes a long way in the admission decision. In addition, you can engage with their online communities, webinars and events in your cities, schools or colleges. If you are interested in getting admitted to the college, show your interest early on.

4) Tell the school on why you want to be an engineer – Engineers, for hundreds of years, have kept the innovation going in our society for the benefit of billions of humans. They have put humans in space, brought basic innovation such as electricity, bikes, cars, clean waters etc. to all of us. If it was not for the creativity of engineers, not sure we will be even having this opportunity to blog and share our ideas with each others.

So don’t be shy on writing a strong essay, SOP etc. on why you want to be an engineer and how you plan to invent, innovate and do a great number of things to benefit millions if not billions of people.

In summary.

1) Over achieve in Math, Science and Technical Subjects

2) Show your passion, interest through extra-curricular achievements

3) Engage with the college and professors early on

4) Tell why you want to be an engineer

Good luck!

About Author Ajay Singh

I graduated from I.I.T India and came to U.S. for higher studies in Engineering 20 years back. After working for a few years in Austin, Texas as a design engineer, I went back for a M.B.A at Harvard Business School. I have worked for number of global companies in senior leadership and management positions. Over the years I have advised number of students on college admission.

Author: Ajay Singh

Ajay is the co-founder of Stoodnt and spent 20+ years in senior leadership roles with companies such as American Express, Cendant and Intel prior to starting Stoodnt. He has a M.B.A. from Harvard, M.S. in Computer Engineering from U.T. Austin and B.Tech from I.I.T Roorkee (India).


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