Road Trip: "Aha" Moments at Georgia Tech

I had reservations about the Georgia Institute of Technology that stemmed from a sense of bureaucracy and a friend’s freshman year experience there. Then I visited campus.  My opinion has changed. 

One statistic is a shocker: GT’s 4-year graduation rate is 40%. Not expected of a premier academic institution. I imagined capped classes, difficulty registering for prerequisites, and a rigid administration.  Others speculate that, with two thirds of the student body being engineering majors, academic rigor makes dropping out or needed extra time unsurprising. 

But, these students are bright—95% of them have taken “at least” AP Calculus and an average of seven to thirteen AP, IB, or DE (dual enrollment) classes while in high school. Aha! the opportunities for engineers to study abroad, join co-ops, do internships and become entrepreneurs are exceptional at GT. 48% of students study or intern abroad.  For an engineering school this is a remarkable number…but the 4-year graduation rate takes a hit. 35% of students participate in “the largest voluntary co-op program in the country”… another hit.  Co-ops are paid, internships and entrepreneur involvement as well.  The start-up environment is strong in Atlanta and specifically at GT.  There are numerous entrepreneur competitions plus Invention Studio and Start-up Summer where $420,000 is given to about 30 students to pursue their ideas.  GT’s retention rate from freshmen to sophomore year is 96%...students are not failing or dropping out.  The six-year graduation rate is 85% – not stellar, but strong.

GT’s admit rate is 26% overall, 16% out-of-state, 9% for international students, and 3% for Chinese students.  3000 of the 7000 international applications (~43%) are from China pushing up selectivity among those students.   Early Admissions has a higher admit rate attributed to the higher admit rate of GA state residents, the majority of EA applications.

GT does not apologize for not having "something for everyone".  They have 35 majors and are not looking to expand their numbers or types—each is recognized, most as top ten, many in the top four.

My friend, an engineering major from a small private high school, got caught up in the fraternity scene. He kept his grades up but did not enjoy the scene and left after a semester. GT simply was not a good fit; he transferred to Rice, which was perfect.  There is a robust Greek life at GT. 25% of men and 30% of women take part. Those numbers include social as well as professional and service Greek societies. My sense of GA Tech is that the social scene is not that different from other public universities and football is definitely the focal point in the fall.

The application process has a few unique aspects worth mentioning.  GPAs are taken directly from transcripts (weighted or unweighted).  They are not recalculated.  They want to see courses taken outside of your high school and have no preference between AP or DE. You can take the SAT or ACT as many times as you want, they will superscore sections, even on the ACT. And, for international applicants the value of a 3rd party unscripted interview was stressed. 

Consider Georgia Tech if you are an engineering student looking to study abroad, do internships or co-op, or dive into a start-up…and not in a hurry to graduate.