5 answers

The Competition in Computer Engineering

Updated Loma Linda, California

I have been looking to study computer engineering more specifically software engineering in college and I want to know how competitive this program generally is. #technology #computer-software #software-engineering #information-technology

5 answers

Dhairya’s Answer

Updated Boston, Massachusetts
Depends on the school. My alma mater didn't have a cap on computer science majors but you did have to 3 preqs completed to be able to enroll. Other schools like University of Washington will have students apply for a major. At UW it's extremely challenging to get into their computer science and engineering programs given its popularity and applicant pool. You should look at the admissions page of the computer engineering program at the schools you are interested to learn more. Also you can directly email the undergraduate directory or chair of the program directly. They can often give you the best information about the competitiveness of their program and what you need to do to prepare.

Joe’s Answer

Updated Nashville, Tennessee
As stated...it will vary based on the school, admission requirements, available programs, etc. Instead of concentrating on how competitive it might be...concentrate on making YOURSELF more competitive so that the colleges WANT you!

Renee’s Answer


Hi Victor!

I have just finished two years of my undergraduate studies in computer engineering, and am on my way to getting a Bachelor's degree in that field. At a typical university with at least a fairly strong engineering department, I would say that there are a lot of opportunities in computer engineering that students are competing for, and it can seem overwhelming at times for sure. Depending on the university you attend, there will also be more or less competition for the best possible grades in your classes. For me personally, the hardest part has been handling the high expectations that the engineering school faculty seem to place on the students, as well as trying my best to not let the stress of my classmates rub off on me and add to my own stress.

I will say that what has really, really helped me during my undergraduate career is having a good idea of the opportunities that I want and then being persistent about getting them. For instance, I have known since before I enrolled in college that I want to conduct research in the biomedical field. Because I've kept this in mind and have been searching for the right opportunities (reaching out to professors and shadowing labs, etc), I've had the honor of being a research assistant in two different labs that work at the intersection of computer engineering and biomedical research. Another example is that I've known for a while that community service means a lot to me, which pushed me to get involved with Engineers Going Global during my first year and also land a few summer internships with companies that put high emphasis on outreach to local communities. Now I'm an intern at Verizon, which has been a wonderful experience for me because I get to be an engineer in industry as well as volunteer where I can!

tl;dr: Yes, computer engineering is competitive (software engineering as well). I would highly recommend getting good time management and stress/anxiety management strategies before going to college. But if you take the time to think about the specific activities you want to gain experience in (doing research on school websites is always a good idea), then you will be competitive when it comes to job applications, and you will be a much stronger candidate in your interviews (not to mention being more passionate in and knowledgeable about your major).

Oh, and if you're doing software engineering, I HIGHLY recommend attending at least a couple of hackathons during your undergraduate career. They are free events (often with transportation funding!), look wonderful on a resume, and are always a fun time of learning a ton and getting project experience in your field. Here's the website for Major League Hacking: https://mlh.io/

Best of luck in your studies!!!

Kathleen’s Answer

Updated Chandler, Arizona

Hi Victor!

As others have mentioned, a lot of it all depends on your program and positions you apply for. I'm still a fairly recent graduate (2 years later), so I remember a lot of the struggle you are probably going through in choosing a major!

My program included both highly competitive and non-competitive classes. Some of my professors graded classes based on which percentage you fell in (meaning: the bottom X% failed, top X% got A's, etc.), whereas others curved the classes to benefit the students, and others still had rubrics that basically basically translated to, "if you put work in, you get an A".

Before even applying to schools, try to reach out to anyone you might know that attended the program. If that is not possible, and the school is local/accessible to you, try to attend a tech event at the school. For example, my school would have "open door nights" where middle and high school students could visit and talk to students about the university life. Ask about classes, study group opportunities, campus events, and try to get a feel for what life is like in the major. You can usually also gauge if students are willing to help their peers, or if the competitiveness of the environment leads to a more "every person for themselves" mindset.

Once you select a school, try to seek out reviews from peers or websites about the professor before selecting any classes. They will usually give you an idea of how competitive the class is. Choose classes that suit the level of competition you're looking for, and peers that help lift you up instead of try to bring you down to benefit themselves.

Ultimately, I think college is a lot of what you put into it. It is far better to compete against yourself than others; it's better for your personal growth and self-esteem. Try to always do better than you have done in the past, and keep working towards your goals.

Best of luck!

Kathleen recommends the following next steps:

  • Research individual professors at the college you're interested in (ex. ratemyprofessor.com)
  • Talk to current or former students of the college you're interested in (look people up on LinkedIn and shoot them a message!)
  • Attend tech/related events at the college you're interested in (most college websites will post these events, and students/faculty might post info on LinkedIn)

Therese’s Answer

Updated Charleston, South Carolina

Hi Victor. Perhaps the question is not about how competitive a certain program is, but how competitive YOU are with your application to a college progream. I've learned a lot about the competitiveness of students passionate about engineering from the series "Shark Tank" (really :-)) Three aspects stick out: 1) join (or create) a group to compete in engineer projects NOW to add to your college resume; 2) consider a college that has #entrepreneurship as a 2nd major or minor; 3) be CONFIDENT that you have chosen a great major: https://www.cnbc.com/2018/09/04/kevin-olearys-advice-for-picking-the-best-college-major.html