Question by ghschik04782: Rensselaer Polytech or Virginia Tech for engineering?
I was accepted to Virginia Tech engineering as well as their honors college, accepted to Penn State, and I was wait-listed at Rensselaer. I decided on VT and have submitted my deposit. I have since been accepted to Rensselaer, and I don’t know if I should continue with VT or switch to RPI. With scholarships and financial aid, my cost of attendance would be the same for both.
Which is a better engineering school? Which is a better overall university?
Answer by bbullough
This sort of question comes up at least weekly. I will give the same answer I always give. If you get an engineering degree from an accredited school (they are both accredited), it makes NO DIFFERENCE, regardless of what graduates of the school say or the departments themselves. It is more up to you. The only 2 possible benefits of one school over another (assuming cost is not an issue) are 1) because of proximity to a major metro area or ease of visiting (or size of the program), some schools get more or a wider variety of recruiters coming thru for seniors, and 2) some grad schools might have a preference for one school over another. Regarding the second point, unless you intend to get a PhD, I have rarely seen an advantage to a MS, other than to keep yourself occupied during a 1-2 year period when jobs are scarce.
Now, that being said, you need to know and understand that at least 80 to 90% of entering freshman (into an engineering program) wash out. Engineering is the hardest, most demanding program on most campuses (I say most without knowing of an exception), including, from what many friends and colleagues have told me, medical and law school. So, if you are serious, unless you are just one of those very rare freaks of nature (we had 2 in my class) who breeze thru engineering school because they wou;d breeze thru any program anywhere, you will only graduate if you are really determined, and won’t let a little thing like no time for a social life or even your very first C or D (or even F) deter you. If you’re not sure, pick the school that has the best business program or psych program, so that when you wash out, you have hope of a job or a spot in grad school.
You might not believe this, but it is true. Some of the worst engineers I have ever worked with graduated from Berkley, MIT, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and other “top rated” engineering schools. Some of the best I ever worked with came from those schools, too. Also among the best engineers I ever worked with are grads of Utah, Illinois-Chicago, North Dakota, and Cal-Davis. They all tend to make similar money, and get similar recognition. I’ve worked all over the country (plus some work in Europe), in at least 4 major industries, in research, operations, design, and management, and it’s always the same everywhere.
So, pick the one with the best football team or the best colors, or the best alumni association, or where your best friend is going. Or he one with the best business school.
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