Dear Dr. LaScala,
I am serious about studying engineering in college. How can I start to build a strong college application now, while I still have time to take the right steps. I am a sophomore at public high school in Danville.
Dear Future Engineer,
Building a strong engineering application takes preparation. Strong applicants should show they know what engineers actually do. Start by researching what engineering is all about. Here are some tips to help you learn more about the field of engineering and its subspecialties:
o Research colleges with strong engineering programs. Go through their engineering departments's website to learn as much as you can about the programs. Over the next year try to arrange visits to a few of colleges that appeal to you, an talk to engineering advisors; combine this with a regular college tour and information session; be sure to register for the tour and the make a definite appointment with the engineering advisor. Planning ahead will work to your benefit.
o Shadow engineers. Talk to them about their jobs and what they do each day. Get a feel for the differences between mechanical, electrical, chemical, civil and bioengineering. There are quite a few others to read about and begin to understand.
o Look into internships. Try to participate in one or more opportunities before your senior year. Research opportunities such as the UC Apprentice Researcher (6 weeks with local UC Grad Student) or COSMOS. Or Google Engineering Research Opportunities for High School Students and you will get plenty of leads to follow up on.
o Enroll in an academic enrichment course at a college. Engage in enrichment activities that demonstrate intellect, passion, curiosity, aptitude in engineering, computer science or science.
o Computer science is important since all engineering programs include programming languages as skillsets.
o Check out the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Handbook by visiting www.bls.gov/oco for hundreds of different types of jobs. The handbook is a wonderful resource and tells you about the training and education required for various careers, earnings, expected job prospects and much more.
In addition to exploring engineering as a career path, keep in mind that a strong engineering applicant will have:
o Completed a calculus series in high school
o Have a strong SAT and/or ACT math score
o Earned excellent grades in math throughout high school
o Scored well on the SAT Math Level II Subject Test as well as Physics or Chemistry SAT Subject Tests
o Completed a number of AP courses to show you can handle the rigor of college-level coursework; although most colleges will want to see that you took these exams, don't expect to place out of the courses offered at the college.
o Complete all standardized testing before December if possible. For example, most UC's have built their engineering classes by December.
If an engineering major is right for you, it is wise to start getting informed early. It is best to know exactly how to prepare when you choosing a degree path in college. Engineering is a major that requires good planning in order to submit the strongest possible application.
Elizabeth LaScala Ph.D. guides college, transfer and graduate school applicants through the complex world of admissions. She develops best match college lists, offers personalized interview and essay coaching, and tools and strategies to help students tackle each step of the admissions process with confidence and success. Elizabeth helps students from all backgrounds to maximize merit and financial aid awards. Visit www.doingcollege.com; Call (925) 891-4491 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org