Just finished visiting six colleges in the Midwest. Here is my “aha moment” from Kettering University.
Co-op isn’t optional! The university’s philosophy is centered on its co-op program, which means that all students alternate being on campus for a quarter and off-campus for a quarter working at any of 500 companies nation-wide (300 in Michigan and 200 elsewhere in the US). When on campus, classes are small and about 40% of time is spent in labs. Graduation requires 4½ years and includes seven co-op quarters.
Kettering is a school for engineers. There are no humanities, no foreign languages. Of the fourteen majors, nine are either a form of engineering or an applied science. With the exception of business administration, the rest are pure sciences, including computer science. There is a pre-med track as well. If you are into robotics, 40% of Kettering students were involved in FIRST Robotics while in high school. All students have the opportunity to mentor community teams at Kettering’s FIRST Robotics Community Center on campus.
The graduation rate is 63% primarily because students learn that they do not want to be an engineer – better to learn that earlier than later, so not necessarily a bad thing. If a student confirms his or her interest in engineering or one of the other STEM majors, the chance of being hired is 98-99% upon graduation and about 70% get offers from one of their co-op companies. Miranda, a female chemical engineer, recently received 11 job offers upon graduation. The average salary is $64,000 and Kettering was ranked 12th by Payscale.
Being at a co-op company location every other quarter compensates for what some may perceive as the “downside” of Kettering’s campus being in Flint, Michigan. However, while on campus the student community is highly collaborative both academically and socially. There are no varsity sports, but club and intermural sports abound along with a beautiful athletic facility. Kettering’s Ultimate Frisbee intercollegiate club team is both competitive and successful. Music too has its place through a partnership with Flint Institute of Music and Art. With 1700 students, and half off-campus for co-op, no one is a stranger. Campus housing includes dorms, which students design with options far beyond merely “bunking beds” - painting walls is totally permissible as well. Over 30% of students are in residential fraternities or sororities. Be aware of Kettering’s 80% male /20% female ratio. The campus claims to have an impeccable record of safety, confirmed by US New’s campus safety summary.
Consider Kettering if you are focused, somewhat mature, impatient to contribute to solving real-life challenges through engineering, and looking for a collaborative, small campus environment.