3-2 Programs: Liberal Arts Schools with Engineering
Do you have a student who’s interested in engineering?
If so, you may be worried about college costs.
Colleges with excellent engineering schools are often more expensive than liberal arts colleges, and you may wonder how you’ll afford four years of tuition.
You may also wonder how well your student will fare when thrown straight in to a major university.
Large class sizes and a huge student populations could mean your child will get lost in the crowd.
What you may not realize is that a 3-2 engineering program can save you money while allowing your student to get a well-rounded education at a smaller school.
Keep reading to find out all about these unique programs and how they can benefit your family.
What is a 3-2 Engineering Program?
The 3-2 program is a dual-degree program that’s completed in five years. The first three years are spent at a liberal arts college.
The last two are spent at a university with an engineering school.
In the end, your student graduates with two bachelor’s degrees.
When a student chooses a 3-2 program, it generally involves a liberal arts college that is affiliated with a selection of engineering schools that will automatically admit those who fulfill the prerequisites.
Benefits of a 3-2 Engineering Program
The biggest benefit to many students in a 3-2 program is that they can start their college career at a smaller liberal arts college, instead of jumping straight into a large, major university.
Many times, you can also save money by keeping tuition lower.
Liberal arts colleges also offer smaller class sizes, excellent internship opportunities, and strong relationships with professors.
Best of all, the strong start at a liberal arts college can make your child a better student when they do get into the engineering program.
Coordinators of 3-2 programs love to see these liberal arts students on campus and consider them some of the best students at the university.
The fact that a 3 2 student not only understands technical engineering but can also express themselves well, think creatively, and make excellent presentations means they have strong job opportunities after graduation as well.
If your child’s passion is engineering, getting started at a smaller school can save money and give them a solid educational foundation.
By the time they arrive at the university, they will know how to study and succeed.
Their liberal arts skills will allow them to be more well-rounded and a better job candidate than many of their peers.
Drawbacks of a 3-2 Program
As enticing as a 3-2 program might sound, it is not something that is for everyone.
The decision to enter into such a program is made very early on, so a student needs to be sure that engineering is the path they really want to choose.
Admission into the engineering school that is affiliated with the liberal arts school is not always guaranteed, so be sure to understand the full details.
Students must remember that they will be attending one school for five, and not four years.
You’ll need to maintain a certain GPA to still qualify for the transfer.
Where Can You Get Started?
You can either find a liberal arts college with 3-2 engineering affiliations, or you can target a specific engineering program and find out where they have 3-2 relationships with liberal arts schools.
For instance, both Columbia and Washington University have highly regarded engineering programs, and have dual degree agreements with liberal arts schools in a wide variety of areas.
Finishing an engineering degree on the 3-2 track does take discipline. It’s important to keep up with all requirements and focus on doing well.
However, any high-quality engineering degree is rigorous.
In fact, you could start at a major university and easily have a four-year engineering degree become five years anyway!
If you think your student would do well in a smaller school with better student-teacher ratios, but they want to pursue engineering, 3-2 engineering programs are worth considering.
Don’t feel like an engineering degree means being forced into a large school.
You can have the best of both worlds!
Parents Weigh in on 3-2 Engineering Programs
Here’s what members of our Paying For College 101 Facebook group had to say about 3-2 programs…
- “The second school is like applying all over again…nothing transfers..so see what your net price at the second school is now.”
- “My daughter is in the 4th year of her program. Did three years at a smaller school then transferred to a larger university. At the end of this year she will have a chemistry degree, then at the end of next year she’ll have her chemical engineering degree. It worked out well for her. She hadn’t considered engineering when she started college. She planned on chemistry. If you do it, I recommend talking to both schools involved. “
- “My son got a full ride to a 3-2 school and decided not to go. His biggest concern was maintaining a high enough GPA because technically, he would need to get into an engineering program. The other concern was, while engineering schools start teaching engineering in year one, he wouldn’t even start till year four. What if he hated it? There are also a lot of benefits to taking engineering classes from year one, such as co-op and internship opportunities. In the long run, he decided the benefits were much better in an engineering school”
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