Getting To Know: Georgia Tech–Again
Georgia Institute of Technology, aka Georgia Tech, is one of America’s best public universities. It got on my Public Ivy list last year for costs and student success. Georgia Tech is also on my Public Ivy list for this cycle. It’s been about a decade since I was on campus. So I attended a virtual counselors briefing, watched several YouTubes and read student reviews. I also tried to “tour” buildings that I didn’t see when I was on campus, including the College of Engineering and the College of Design. There’s a few photos to my Georgia Tech Pinterest page. You can go to the Georgia Tech Web site to check out the school’s numerous accolades.
I found a lot to like about Georgia Tech when I visited and when I “re-educated” myself about the school.
- Georgia Tech has one of the largest voluntary cooperative education, aka “co-op” programs in the country. Co-op extends your education for an additional year. Students who opt to co-op alternate between classes and full-time employment during the middle three years, and they get a co-op designation on their diploma, among other benefits. Over 700 employers hire co-op students each year.
- There is more for students to do in Atlanta than they could ever find time to do over four–or five–years. However, you need to time the trolley with the MARTA to get around the city.
- Check out the alumni base on LinkedIn.com. There are plenty of alumni in any major US business center.
- The student tables that I saw in person still exist today, after COVID. There are many community projects where students can use their skills towards achievable outcomes as well as living-learning communities.
- Georgia Tech lets first-year and transfer students change their major during their first semester, though there will be additional requirements to meet for high-demand majors such as Computer Science or Mechanical Engineering.
- Georgia Tech can house half of their undergraduate students on campus. Most public universities do not come close. Greek social life attracts just over a fifth of the men and nearly 30 percent of the women, and several of these organizations have houses on campus.
- Freshman retention rates are as good as it can get for a school this size. Ninety-seven percent of every freshman class that has arrived since 2014 returned for their sophomore year.
- Nearly half of the incoming engineering students are women. Georgia Tech is striving to get to 50-50. Women represent close to 40 percent of the undergraduates across all majors.
- Georgia Tech encourages entrepreneurship. It is actually the first school that I have covered that has entrepreneurship certificates for business and non-business majors.
- This school has more athletic tradition than some might think. The Yellow Jackets have had in several sports, most recently golf, women’s tennis, baseball and volleyball. They have also enjoyed past successes in men’s basketball (two Final Four appearances in 1990 and 2004) and football.
But there are significant differences between Georgia Tech and other public universities.
- Georgia Tech has only 36 undergraduate majors, though there are over 40 minors as well as over 50 certificates. Most of the majors are STEM related. If you come here to major in Public Policy or International Affairs, and find that it’s not “your thing,” there are fewer social science or humanities options to choose from.
- While Georgia residents benefit from generous state supported scholarships, there’s limited merit-based aid for non-residents. Georgia Tech estimates the non-resident cost of attendance to be just over $49,000 for the 2022-23 academic year. That’s less than the University of Michigan or the University of Virginia charge for tuition and fees alone. But a Georgia Tech admit who can also get into a school like Lehigh or MIT might get enough aid to make the private school a better buy.
- Most people are here for five years, whether they do co-op, accumulate credits towards a masters degree or try to make up coursework to remain in a major or to change majors. It’s gotten a lot better in recent years, as I saw in the Georgia Tech 2021 Fact Book. Only 24 percent of the freshmen who entered in 1997 graduated in four years, but 57 percent of those who entered two decades later finished on time. The five-year graduation rate went to 90 percent for the class that entered in 2016.
- That extra year may cost extra money. Most recently, 2021 graduates who took out loans owed less than $28,000. However, graduates owed over $30,000 in prior years. But co-op and internship wages may help students manage costs.
- Off-campus housing can get pricy, even though Atlanta rents are nothing like rents in cities such as Boston or New York.
- While the Georgia Tech campus is not large for a state school, and has many nice buildings, it is not as connected as urban schools such as Boston University, Pitt, or the University of Southern California. Because of the layout of the campus, the city and the mass transit system you will likely rely on buses to get around.
Georgia Tech is quite transparent when it comes to admissions and enrollment data.
I rarely see a school that reveals as much as Georgia Tech for someone who might take the time to look!
There’s a few interesting tidbits when you take a data dive from Georgia Tech’s Institutional Research page such as:
- The undergraduate population actually grew by 1,300 students (16,200 to 17,500) from 2019 to 2021
- Computer Science is immensely popular with undergraduates. There were just over 1,100 in the College of Computing in 2012. In 2021 there were nearly 3,700.
- Undergraduate enrollment in Engineering dropped from a high of 9,400 in 2015 to fewer than 8,100 students today. This might be more a function of other schools adding majors vs. a diminished interest in engineering.
- The Scheller College of Business has had a fairly steady enrollment between 1,200 and 1,350 students since 2011.
- Undergraduate enrollments in the College of Design (595), Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts (875) and the College of Sciences (2,100) hit their highest numbers in 2021.
When it comes to admissions one might say that Georgia Tech is Getting Tougher to get in, according to the most recent Fact Book.
For Fall 2021, freshman acceptance rates for the six undergraduate colleges varied from 14 (College of Computing) to 21 (College of Sciences) percent. The acceptance rate for the College of Computing has never gone above 17 percent since 2017. Back then, the College of Design and the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts accepted about a third of all applicants, Four years later, they accepted 16 and 19 percent respectively. The average SAT scores of the freshman classes have stayed about the same–around 1430 with a 700 on the Reading Section–for the classes that entered each year from 2018 to 2021. The average ACT Composite has been a 32 since 2016. Test scores are considered Important in evaluating candidates for admissions.
Prospective freshmen, aka ‘Jackets’ must have more than numbers
I realize that it’s been a long time since I visited Georgia Tech in person. But even now, I don’t believe that test scores that are far above average combined with extreme academic rigor will be enough for anyone to call Georgia Tech their target or safety school, especially if they do not come from Georgia.
While a third of all in-state applicants got in for this incoming freshman class, the acceptance rate for non-residents was only 13 percent. Georgia Tech also offers several transfer pathways that you won’t find at similarly selective public or private universities.
The phrase that I heard in the counselors briefing was Involvement, Impact and Influence, aka “The Three I’s.”
It is quite necessary for prospective students to show how their extracurricular activities align with their academic interests. Georgia Tech allows prospective students to apply Undeclared for a school as well as a major. However, this is one school where having a first and a second choice might actually help, because that shows direction and motivation.
It’s also important to check out the Contribution to Community and Personal Essays pages from Georgia Tech Admissions before you begin your application. This school truly has a holistic review. The written word will separate the very bright from the truly committed.
There is a lot to like about Georgia Tech, presuming you can get in as a first-year or transfer student. It’s an academically and intellectually demanding place. But the rewards are there for this who successfully finish.
Report Card: Georgia Institute of Technology
- Four-Year/Six Year Graduation Rates: B/A
- Freshman Retention: A
- Costs: A (Georgia residents)/B+ (elsewhere)
- Curriculum: A
- Community: A
- Comforts: B+
- Connections: A
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