PREP at Illinois
The struggle is real! Many current and former students have grappled with being admitted into an alternative program at Illinois and later unsuccessfully attempting to transfer between programs (called intercollegiate transfer, or ICT) to some of our most competitive majors in the College of Engineering.
Beginning in Fall 2017, we hope to add to the clarity of the ICT process with the creation of a new Pre-Engineering Program (PREP for short). PREP provides a guaranteed path into the College of Engineering if a student follows a prescribed curriculum and achieves at least a 3.0 overall and technical GPA.
I’ve talked to several incoming students who were admitted into PREP. They have numerous questions about the purpose of the program, their chances of successfully transferring into a specific major, and what exactly all of this means. I’ve also heard from students who were not admitted into the College of Engineering or PREP but still want to get an engineering degree from Illinois. I hope to address several of these questions in this post.
PREP was created to address the frustration several students expressed with being admitted into the Division of General Studies or other colleges when they really wanted to be in the College of Engineering. Too many students were retaking introductory courses multiple times well into sophomore year in the hopes of improving on C grades. Many of these students were never successful in their applications to transfer to the College of Engineering, so we wanted to provide a clearer cutoff for who will get in and who won’t.
Who was considered for PREP?
Students were only considered for PREP if they applied directly to the College of Engineering as freshmen and had the academic performance in high school and competitive test scores to suggest placement into Calculus I or higher. Priority consideration for the program was given to Illinois residents.
How does PREP work?
PREP students will have access to specialized pre-engineering academic advising as well as introductory engineering courses their freshman year. They will be required to pay the engineering tuition differential.
Only PREP students will be eligible for ICT into the College of Engineering. Students who were admitted into non-PREP majors such as the Undecided major in the Division of General Studies will not be eligible for ICT into the College of Engineering and will be restricted from introductory engineering courses.
It is important to note that successful performance in PREP only guarantees admission into the College of Engineering, not necessarily into specific programs. The better a student does in PREP, the more programs become available to the student. Here are the specific program requirements:
Restricted Capacity Majors (minimum 3.75 overall and technical GPAs with competitive review based on space available)
- Computer Science
- Mechanical Engineering
Limited Capacity Majors (3.5 overall and technical GPAs)
- Aerospace Engineering
- Civil Engineering
- Computer Engineering
Moderate Capacity Majors (3.25 overall and technical GPAs)
- Electrical Engineering
- Industrial Engineering
Open Capacity Majors (3.0 overall and technical GPAs)
- Agricultural & Biological Engineering
- Engineering Mechanics
- Engineering Physics
- Materials Science & Engineering
- Nuclear, Plasma & Radiological Engineering
- Systems Engineering & Design (formerly General Engineering)
A student should only choose to enroll in PREP at Illinois if he or she is open to exploring all of the majors offered by the College of Engineering. As much as I hate to write this, if a student admitted to PREP only wants to pursue a degree in Bioengineering, Computer Science, or Mechanical Engineering without considering any of our other highly regarded programs, I would strongly encourage that student to enroll at another university.
Given the high demand, competitive applicant pool, and space limitations of these three programs, we cannot guarantee ICT for them. Even if a student meets the minimum 3.75 overall and technical GPA requirement, we estimate that the chances of successfully transferring into one of these three majors is less than 20 percent. In contrast, if a student has a minimum 3.5 overall and technical GPA and has followed the prescribed curriculum (which is not easy, by the way!), the chances of that student being admitted to a non-restricted major is 100 percent.
Can you apply to PREP later on?
Illinois students wishing to ICT into PREP from another non-engineering major will need to meet the following requirements:
- Completion of MATH 220/221 with a grade of B or higher
- Completion of CHEM 102/103 with a grade of B or higher
- Completion of PHYS 100 or higher with a grade of B or higher
- Overall GPA of 3.0 or higher
- Technical GPA of 3.0 or higher
They must submit an online application in late April and will be notified in early June after spring semester grades are reviewed. Students who fail to apply at the end of their freshman year or who are denied admission to PREP may not apply after the completion of their first year on campus.
As a new program at Illinois, PREP still has several unknowns that we won’t be able to address until at least one cohort goes through it. For more information about PREP, I would encourage you to visit our PREP webpage.
Best of luck!