Ms. Bain’s College Adventures – Michigan Tech

Like many wise high school students, I decided to spend my Spring Break touring a few MI colleges. I made the 4 hour trek up to MI Tech in Houghton for a 2:00 p.m. tour. Pulling in at 1:15, I felt happy I arrived early; until my cell phone flipped to EST zone. Then it was me that flipped as I realized I was actually late. Assistant Admissions Director, Angela, probably wasn’t planning on such a brisk cross-campus jog, but I sure was grateful when we found my tour group. I’m sure Angela was grateful, too, since I helped her out with her daily exercise. Don’t forget about the time-zone change if you’re touring MI Tech!

Where am I?? It’s like the land of the midnight sun up here in the Keweenaw Peninsula/Lake Superior area. Winter carnivals, human bowling, cardboard boats, cement canoes, broomball (aka poor man’s hockey), and hockey, hockey, hockey. There are other sports, but hockey is the big deal up here. It’s cold enough. As our fun and “crazy-smart” tour guide, Nicole, took us to a resident hall, she casually mentioned a sauna being in every dorm. I glanced at the prospective families I was touring with; no one, except me, seemed surprised. Being NOT from anywhere around here, I inquired. “What? Why? That’s so random!” Nicole explained that pretty much all the houses up here have saunas in them, too. As images of being thawed out each night ran through my mind, a father leaned over and whispered, “You’re in the U.P. now…” I fully expected him to call me Dorothy.

The feel of MI Tech, a premier research university, is very tech-y. Touring the library, I didn’t see a single book. Nicole said they do have some…down in the basement (which was not part of the tour). Remember, this is a technological research university and I am a literary buff who enjoys a traditional liberal arts campus feel (which means I had to get my book fix at the local Book World store).

MI Tech’s student population is about 7,200 (undergrad & graduate) with about 35% being out of state. The Admission Department likes to see an average GPA of 3.66 & a minimum ACT of about 26. There are 72 majors with engineering dominating at 4x the population as any other discipline. 10 of their engineering programs are ABET accredited (when researching engineering colleges, know that ABET is a must: abet.org). The labs look cool; multiple levels of hands-on equipment, tools, hoses, white & yellow instruction boards, and computers galore. Freshmen and sophomores may have to compete with upper classmates for research. Go out of your way to know your professors here. Get yourself noticed and doors will open for you. If you are tech talented and have leadership skills, like Nicole, professors will pay attention and then you’re on your way to being scholastically nurtured at MI Tech.

The vocational exposure and career placement is great and, to me, is the most impressive thing about MI Tech. Each student has an average of 9 interviews during their 4 year college career! Companies know MI Tech is where they can find sharp engineering talent, which is why more than 470 of them recruit on MI Tech’s campus each year. The annual in-field job placement rate is about 92% overall. Nicole is a senior majoring in Material Science Engineering; she has has had to fight off companies wanting her to be their intern. She already landed a job in Detroit for General Motors…a position she secured in the very beginning of her senior year. If you are good, companies will wait for you.

All said & done, 1 year at MI Tech will cost an out-of-state student about $45,000. If you want to attend, apply for scholarships….as many as you can! I chatted with a parent in a hotel lobby who spent time researching engineering colleges with his son. They toured MI Tech, were very impressed, but decided on University of MN-Duluth because of cost. His son, now a junior at UMD, pays about $24,000 and loves the ABET accredited education he is receiving there. Reciprocity helps. Weigh your options.

While we were touring MI Tech, a random student (I think) walked by and said, “You guys are gonna love it here!” Yes, Michigan Tech may be a great fit for you if you are into engineering, enjoy sports (hockey, hockey, hockey), like small “up-nort” towns, don’t mind cold & snow (average annual snowfall is 218”), and have the funds. Remember….it’s all about the best fit for YOU!