What's the Right Fit?
As students are exploring college options, have them consider the following engineering education paths.
Two-Year Associate’s Degree
Many good technician and technologist jobs require just two years of school. This is a great way to save money on tuition and still get a solid education. Plus, many engineers start with this degree and then go on to do another two years at a four-year program to earn a bachelor’s degree in engineering.
These programs allow students to earn two degrees in just five years. Students spend the first three years pursuing a liberal arts major and degree. The student then transfers to the university's engineering school and earns a degree in engineering in two years. These programs are wonderful options for the student who wants to blend a liberal arts education and technical degree. A benefit of these programs are employers are eager to hire students with a well-rounded education.
Traditional Four-Year Degree Program
In a typical program, courses in the first two years are a mix of math and science, English, social sciences, the humanities, and introductory engineering classes. This is a wonderful time to explore engineering as a whole and discover one’s interest. In the last two years, students investigate the engineering specialty of their choice. (Some programs offer a more general engineering curriculum for all four years; after that a student can choose a specific field to pursue in grad school or through a job.) Practical work experience through internships and co-ops is also an integral part of many engineering programs.
Options include applying to a Service Academy (e.g., Westpoint). All Service Academies are free for accepted students. Students might also want to consider enlisting in the military to earn money for college. In addition, students who know they want to pursue engineering can get on-the-job training in a technical field.
Find a school that’s right for you.
A good starting point when researching schools is to ask: What is important to the student? Beyond strong academics, are they interested in playing sports? Do they want to go to an urban school? Stay close to home? Go far away? Make list of their interests and use this to compare various colleges.
Another important factor to consider is the engineering curriculum. When looking at schools, ask how they incorporate engineering projects into their classes. Do students get to work in teams? What clubs and competitions are they involved in? What support systems to they have in place for students?
To narrow the choices, use the database of ABET accredited schools. Students can search by state, degree level, and program area. When choosing a school make sure it is ABET accredited. This is important for licensure, graduate school, and to most employers.