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What colleges/universities should I apply to?

Hi, I'm a high school junior who's trying to figure out which colleges to apply to in August. I want to major in Mechanical Engineering. I want to go out of state for college and to one that's known for its engineering program. The problem is money. I'm interested in the University of Florida and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign but I don't know if they give good financial aid, especially to a student from out of state.

I have 4.0 gpa unweighted, have been taking concurrent enrollment since the ninth grade, will graduate with also graduate high school an associate's of science, and have some pretty alright extracurriculars. I just barely took the ACT, so I don't know my score yet but think it'll be around 29-32. I also qualify for maximum financial aid from the FAFSA.

What colleges would be a good fit for me, especially since my financial situation is very bad?

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Antigone’s Answer

Hello Charly,

First off, I would suggest knocking out as much as possible at your local community college to reduce the overall cost of education. Get in there under a scholars program and attend for free! While you are there, take courses in CAD (AutoCAD, Inventor and/or Solidworks) and start clocking hours as an intern working in engineering. Don't just stay in school. Start your career in engineering as soon as possible. The opportunities for you will be much greater than if you just stay in school.

You can still go on to schools like Purdue University, UIUC, and others. Just focus on the career and not the school. The school, in the end, won't matter. There is no value in acquiring debt at all. Your local community college can serve you better than you may think! Check them out.

Take care!
Thank you comment icon This was super helpful, thank you! I'm currently trying to find engineering internships that I could but it's been very hard especially since I'm still a high school student with zero experience. Do you have an advice or recommendations for that? Charly
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Patrick’s Answer

Charly, your strong academic record and passion for Mechanical Engineering are impressive. Pursuing your dream at a renowned out-of-state college known for its engineering program might seem intimidating, especially when considering financial limitations. But remember, with diligent research and strategic planning, you can find colleges that not only offer top-notch engineering programs but also substantial financial aid.

Your academic excellence and interest in Mechanical Engineering are your strengths. Use them to aim for colleges that are acclaimed for their engineering programs and align with your career aspirations. The University of Florida and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign are two such colleges, but don't stop there. Explore more options that could provide competitive financial aid packages for out-of-state students like you.

A smart strategy would be to look for public universities with robust engineering programs that participate in regional tuition exchange programs or offer merit-based scholarships for out-of-state students. Universities like the University of Alabama, Clemson University, and the University of South Carolina are recognized for their quality engineering programs and may offer scholarships or tuition discounts to high-achieving out-of-state students like you.

Also, Charly, consider private universities with distinguished engineering programs that may offer need-based financial aid packages to students from different socioeconomic backgrounds. Universities like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Stanford University, and Princeton University are renowned for their prestigious engineering programs and dedication to providing financial aid to students with demonstrated need.

When researching potential colleges, use resources like college search websites, guidebooks, and university websites to gather information about each institution's engineering program, financial aid offerings, and admission requirements. Pay special attention to factors such as average financial aid awards, percentage of need met, and availability of merit scholarships for out-of-state students.

Charly, don't hesitate to contact college admissions offices or financial aid advisors at prospective colleges to inquire about specific financial aid opportunities for out-of-state students. Some colleges may offer special scholarships or grants for students from underrepresented regions or socioeconomic backgrounds.

Remember, applying for financial aid through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial step in the financial aid process. Be meticulous when completing the FAFSA and explore additional sources of financial assistance, such as state-based aid programs, private scholarships, and work-study opportunities.

In conclusion, Charly, navigating the college application process as a high school junior with financial constraints might be challenging, but numerous colleges with excellent engineering programs offer financial aid options for out-of-state students. By conducting thorough research, exploring diverse college options, and leveraging available resources, you can find colleges that are a perfect fit for you academically, financially, and personally. Don't forget to seek guidance from high school counselors, college advisors, and financial aid experts to make informed decisions throughout the application process. You've got this, Charly!
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much! You are very helpful! Charly
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Marylou’s Answer

Hi Charlie,

When my son was researching colleges, he was excepted to university of Miami and UCLA, at the time both $40,000 a year.

We went to the state school. Had an interview there. And I asked the head of the division, if it were you, what would you do? And he said state school.
Thank you comment icon Thank you for replying! I definitely am considering one of my state schools, but my dream is to go out of state. I definitely won't though if state school is the best option. Charly
Thank you comment icon He did. And graduated at the top of his class. Even one and award as a scholar athlete. That would never have happened at the other elite schools. A baseball pitcher. Went on to play in the minors until his arm flew out. Sad. But still. No debt and a great career. Thank you for listening I appreciate. Carry-on!. Keep me posted! Rock on. Marylou DiFilippo
Thank you comment icon Voice to text. Not always the best. I think you can translate. Keep me posted! Marylou DiFilippo
Thank you comment icon Wow, that's really impressive. I am also a competitive swimmer, but not sadly not fast enough to swim university level haha. I'm just trying to broaden my horizons a little bit, but thank you. I'll keep you posted! Charly
Thank you comment icon Wow Charly. I was a 3 m springboard diver. A champion in my league. I went to the Olympic trials. I made it to the trials, but not to the show. And I will never forget the life I had as a diver. Keep on! Just keep on! You have drive. You have passion. As did I. That’s what comes from being a competitor. This drive will take you far, trust me. I am so glad that we have connected. Marylou DiFilippo
Thank you comment icon Wow, that's even more impressive! But you are right, competing teaches a lot of things, especially to me. I will keep on doing my best. Thank you so much for your comments! Charly
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Dan’s Answer

Charly,

You certainly seem to be a strong contender for an engineering program at a reputable university! As a rule of thumb, aim for the best college within your financial reach. Keep in mind, studying in a different state may be more costly than going to a local college.

Don't be scared off by the high tuition fees of top-tier colleges. More often than not, these institutions offer additional financial aid to balance out the steep tuition. Remember, your total investment includes tuition, room and board, minus student loans, government grants, and college scholarships, plus travel expenses.

After graduation, the student loans are what you'll need to pay off, so it's crucial to keep them in check.

If you're already taking college-level courses in high school, these could potentially be credited by the university, effectively lowering your overall expenses. Two years of college-level English and math at calculus level are great choices. You can also cut down your costs by finishing your degree in four years or less. This can be done through careful course planning, working closely with your university counselor, and taking more than the minimum required classes each semester.

There are numerous excellent universities all over the U.S., giving you a broad range of choices. For instance, Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA is renowned for its engineering program.

Lastly, strive to truly grasp the content of your university classes rather than just aiming to finish them. This approach will ensure your success in the industry, regardless of which college you attend.
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much for your reply. I thought about considereing top universities are known for demonstrating financial need but its hard enough to even into them in the first place. Also, people out there be making student loans sound extremely scary haha. I appreciate that last paragraph, however, and I'll keep that in mind. Charly
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Mary’s Answer

Consulting your guidance counselor would be the best bet, so that they can review your skill set and help you make the best college choice. The choice of college is very personal, and you would need someone to help you balance your personal choices along with the financial aspect. Especially considering your good grade average, you shouldn't have a problem finding a scholarship of some sort to help with paying for a good school that specializes in your field.
Thank you comment icon Thank you! My school counselor is lowkey kind of unhelpful so I don't really talk to her about this stuff. My mom and brother are for the most part my "guidance counselors" haha. Charly
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Joseph’s Answer

Well, the best decision would be an instate school or start with a Jr College, but the link below could also save you $$ by going on-Line. Many schools offer online programs which is same as being on campus, but some students are unable to do the on campus for financial reason.

https://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/engineering/online-mechanical-rankings
Thank you comment icon Thank you! That is an option I'll consider. Charly
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Joe’s Answer

Consider applying to a variety of schools that align with your academic passions. If you're unsure about your future interests, that's completely normal. Pursue what intellectually stimulates and interests you - it's a surefire way to make the right choice.
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