Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

How hard is it to get into an American university?

Rate this topic


Altan
 Share

Recommended Posts

First thing you should know is that I'm an Australian citizen. I'm an undergraduate studying Electrical Engineering.

I've thought about this for quite some time to be honest, to either live in the US or at least study at a university there. (I even applied for a Green Card (lottery) when I turned 18 but my parents kinda went over protective so I never completed the application).

This question/topic is really directed towards those of you who reside in the US, or who have had experience with American universities. I have some rather general questions:

1. For an international student, how difficult is it to be accepted into a private university as an undergraduate or graduate student? Do they focus more on whether you have the money, or your grades?

2. Same question as above, but for a public university.

3. Same questions as above, but assuming I'm a permanent resident.

I know that these questions really depend on the institution and other factors, but I'm just after some general responses that can put these things more into perspective. If you're wondering which universities I'm interested in, they are: U. of Illinois, Pennsylvania State, U. of Pennsylvania, MIT (even though I've heard it's extremely hard to get into), Cornell U. and a few others.

Edited by Altan
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey, I just graduated from Electrical Engineering last year from U of I. It wasn't difficult to get in the university, provided if you has a good record. But I do recommend an extra year of decent community college to prepare.

1: I never attend any private institution, but I assume the requirement depends on their own policy.

2: My university at Champaign IL has a lot student from China Korea and India, if you has good grade they would want you. As for money, some of them take student lone and work as Teaching Assistance etc. You can read more about my school: http://illinois.edu/

3: I am a citizen, I had good grade form high school, I can go straight into 4 year university but I choose to attend an community college for preparation. If you are a citizen, your fee will be cheaper than the intergenerational student, and if you attend institution in your own state, your fee will be cheaper than those ex-states. Other than money and admission issue, grade requirement are the same for all potential candidates.

I think you may already know all those things, any this response may be ridiculous.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

^^Just a few more questions.

So you were an American citizen during the time that you were at UI? Do you know how much it costs per semester for domestic and international students there? Did going to a community college improve your chances of being accepted into the university? Now that you've graduated, looking back, do you think you made the right decision in going there? Were you taught everything you need?

Edited by Altan
Link to comment
Share on other sites

^I became citizen during high school. I am not sure about the international cost but my was something like ~$6500 tuition for full time Engineering student, plus other fees and living cost you will need another $2000~$3000. Its hard to argue about the base rate tuition and material purchase, but one can save some on living, just don't rent ridiculous apartment, don't buy car, don't buy computer if you carry one, and don't buy school themed products for fun. If you are ambition enough, you can take as many core class as you can during each semester, doing so will reduce the time span of your graduation and result in big saving, but not everyone can bear it, especially for Science and Engineering.

During my year of application, community college does increase the change for acceptance, but you have to take classes with transferable credits for your future major. You will not need it if you had advanced education or professional working experience, community college was useful for students out of high school or otherwise less familiar with the professional field of study.

I think getting an EE degree form U of I was the best decision in my life to this day. I was not only taught the things I need, but also things I didn't know that I need. The fundmental goal of studaying Enginnering is how to go form equation to physical device. The four years streegale was to shape one's mind in order to think in term of essentials. After getting that piece of paper, I am now able to design and build simple circuit and develop it into a complete product that can be mass produced. I can also work on large projects with a team.

My friend Tenzing Shaw is currently working as research assistant in my school, we both study Electrical Engineering, you can find him on this forum. He know more about the up to date information of my school at least.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

^^Just a few more questions.

So you were an American citizen during the time that you were at UI? Do you know how much it costs per semester for domestic and international students there? Did going to a community college improve your chances of being accepted into the university? Now that you've graduated, looking back, do you think you made the right decision in going there? Were you taught everything you need?

As Yang said, I studied Electrical Engineering with him at UIUC. I actually came here after transferring from a liberal arts college where I studied physics for three years. My college had an agreement with UIUC to the effect that they will "usually" accept transfer students, and I had no trouble getting accepted given my academic record. Regarding costs, tuition was very expensive for me (more precisely, for my parents), since I was "out of state". After three semesters and summer school, I was able to enter graduate school here, and get a tuition waver/stipend (pretty much guaranteed for all graduate students in ECE), so costs are no longer a problem for me.

As for the program here, I absolutely love the ECE department and every course I have taken in it, almost without exception. Classes are challenging (I think Yang can also attest to this!), but my technical skills are incomparably better than they were three years ago when I arrived. Also, if you do very well (3.90+) in the undergraduate program, you are "invited" to stay for graduate school (with only a formal application required), which is very convenient.

I am not too knowledgeable about financial issues, but if you want to know more about the ECE program itself, I would be glad to answer any questions (I have specialized in image processing, so I know the most about signal processing type courses).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just to let you guys know that I've been in contact with someone from the admissions part of UI, through email. She told me that I would be considered as a transfer student.

I think getting an EE degree form U of I was the best decision in my life to this day. I was not only taught the things I need, but also things I didn't know that I need. The fundmental goal of studaying Enginnering is how to go form equation to physical device. The four years streegale was to shape one's mind in order to think in term of essentials. After getting that piece of paper, I am now able to design and build simple circuit and develop it into a complete product that can be mass produced. I can also work on large projects with a team.

This is what I like to hear. Whilst I like the university I'm at, I think they focus far too much on theory and when they do incorporate the practical side, I sometimes fail to see the connection (as in I try to genuinely understand, not just mechanically).

After three semesters and summer school, I was able to enter graduate school here, and get a tuition waver/stipend (pretty much guaranteed for all graduate students in ECE), so costs are no longer a problem for me.

I know you said that you're not too knowledgeable about finanical aid but do you know how 'easy' it is to be granted financial aid/loans/wavers/scholarships?

I am not too knowledgeable about financial issues, but if you want to know more about the ECE program itself, I would be glad to answer any questions (I have specialized in image processing, so I know the most about signal processing type courses).

I was searching through the website and I was wondering whether these are all the courses the ECE program offers? http://www.ece.illinois.edu/courses/

Since you specialised in image processing, I have a few queries about that. I'm taking the path of specialising in signals and image processing (along with communications), so I was wondering if you could take a look at a third year course about signals and image processing offered by my university (the basics such as Fourier, Laplace, and Systems are covered in a second year course) and see whether it's comparable to what is offered at UI? www.itee.uq.edu.au/~elec3600 (it's a 3rd year course, I'm assuming it's the same at UI where the course number corressponds to year level)

Also, in your opinion, do you think that there is a decent amount of courses offered to cater to those who want to specialise in signals & image, telecommunications and electromagnetics (radar, antenna's etc) related?

Finally, do you have to do a course (or courses) where it is strictly practical based? As in, you have a project to do where you must design/create an electronic device?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is what I like to hear. Whilst I like the university I'm at, I think they focus far too much on theory and when they do incorporate the practical side, I sometimes fail to see the connection (as in I try to genuinely understand, not just mechanically).

This (the union of theory and practice) is certainly one of the most important aspects of an engineering curriculum. I have mostly been very impressed by the department here in this regard. Most of the core classes involve significant and challenging lab/design exercises. To give you an example, I took a robotics class in which we applied inverse kinematics and simple computer vision techniques to program manipulators to move blocks around on a table; I thought this produced a near perfect combination of theory and practice. There have been a few courses (maybe 1 in 5) which I felt could have used a stronger practical component, but this is the exception rather than the rule in my opinion.

I know you said that you're not too knowledgeable about finanical aid but do you know how 'easy' it is to be granted financial aid/loans/wavers/scholarships?

I have heard that it is difficult for international students to get much financial aid at public universities, but I have no direct experience with this, and I don't want to give you misinformation. I would suggest asking your contact here about this.

I was searching through the website and I was wondering whether these are all the courses the ECE program offers? http://www.ece.illinois.edu/courses/

That is the correct page, but make sure you click on "All" to see all course offerings (not just the ones for any given semester).

Since you specialised in image processing, I have a few queries about that. I'm taking the path of specialising in signals and image processing (along with communications), so I was wondering if you could take a look at a third year course about signals and image processing offered by my university (the basics such as Fourier, Laplace, and Systems are covered in a second year course) and see whether it's comparable to what is offered at UI? www.itee.uq.edu.au/~elec3600 (it's a 3rd year course, I'm assuming it's the same at UI where the course number corressponds to year level)

I took a quick look at the link you provided, and I would say that the coverage is comparable, but it seems somewhat broader than the courses here; we have separate courses in ASP, DSP, and image processing. What really matters, or course, are things like the quality/difficulty of the homework assignments, and I don't know how this compares (I tried to access your assignments, but they are password protected).

Also, in your opinion, do you think that there is a decent amount of courses offered to cater to those who want to specialise in signals & image, telecommunications and electromagnetics (radar, antenna's etc) related?

I know very little about telecommunications/electromagnetics, but I would say yes, there are many courses in all the areas you mentioned. You might look at the descriptions (from the page you linked to) of ECE410, ECE420, and ECE418 among others.

Finally, do you have to do a course (or courses) where it is strictly practical based? As in, you have a project to do where you must design/create an electronic device?

Yes, ECE445, our senior project lab (in which Yang and I were lab partners, incidentally) is like this. We also have a core digital systems lab which is strictly design/experiment based, and one is required to take at least two additional classes with large lab components (most people would take more).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm going to assume you're trying to get into a top 10 school for graduate level study. I've learned quite a bit about applying to graduate school, as I'm currently in the process of applying to physics graduate programs.

Foreign born students in Science/Technology/Engineering/Math (STEM) generally need to be 80th or 90th percentile on a subject based test and also have an in major GPA of 3.8 or higher. Generally STEM graduate students in the United States have their schooling fully funded, however you might have some trouble getting funding as an Australian. You'll also need research experience if you're planning on getting into MIT or Cornell. Keep in mind, MIT isn't an average American school, and it isn't necessarily the best in your field. MIT is simply one of the most competitive schools in the US.

I guarantee there's a program in the United States which will take you and will suite your research interests, but odds are its not one of the 'prestigious' schools that you've mentioned. Keep in mind that it can cost _$160_ to apply to a single graduate school (perhaps more). You pay that just so that they'll look at your application.

Good luck

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Foreign born students in Science/Technology/Engineering/Math (STEM) generally need to be 80th or 90th percentile on a subject based test and also have an in major GPA of 3.8 or higher.

I would just like to point out that most engineering graduate programs do not require subject based tests (typically only the general GRE), so GPA will be particularly important in the case of the OP.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I took a quick look at the link you provided, and I would say that the coverage is comparable, but it seems somewhat broader than the courses here; we have separate courses in ASP, DSP, and image processing. What really matters, or course, are things like the quality/difficulty of the homework assignments, and I don't know how this compares (I tried to access your assignments, but they are password protected).

There's really only one assignment in that subject, and it's all Matlab based. The tutorials are not graded however the practicals are, which I've found to be pretty cool. I noticed on the course list that you guys have separate courses for A/D and image. We've got other courses which specialise in digital and image, but i think this one tries to bring it all together. Thanks for your input so far.

I'm going to assume you're trying to get into a top 10 school for graduate level study. I've learned quite a bit about applying to graduate school, as I'm currently in the process of applying to physics graduate programs.

Foreign born students in Science/Technology/Engineering/Math (STEM) generally need to be 80th or 90th percentile on a subject based test and also have an in major GPA of 3.8 or higher. Generally STEM graduate students in the United States have their schooling fully funded, however you might have some trouble getting funding as an Australian. You'll also need research experience if you're planning on getting into MIT or Cornell. Keep in mind, MIT isn't an average American school, and it isn't necessarily the best in your field. MIT is simply one of the most competitive schools in the US.

I guarantee there's a program in the United States which will take you and will suite your research interests, but odds are its not one of the 'prestigious' schools that you've mentioned. Keep in mind that it can cost _$160_ to apply to a single graduate school (perhaps more). You pay that just so that they'll look at your application.

Good luck

I was being kinda unrealistic with my choices, even if I did have the grades, I don't think I'd have the money (at least for now). Ideally though I would have preferred to go to one of those universities that I listed. Thanks.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

By the way, if you are looking for engineering schools with very practical curricula, there are a few I have heard of which strive for this explicitly. One I visited (when deciding where to transfer to for engineering) is Rensselaer in New York (I was impressed with what I saw there, but ultimately chose UIUC).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...