Cooper Union is the Holy Grail for South Asian students looking to study engineering in America since it is the only college wealthy enough to waive tuition fees for all its students. This also means it is one of the most competitive schools to get into in the United States, says Barkha Kumar, senior year engineering student, at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art.
Barkha talks to Uttara Choudhury in New York about Cooper Union’s history with big recruiters in New York.
How are you paying for your education at Cooper Union?
The greatest thing about getting into Cooper Union is that anyone who gets accepted automatically receives a full tuition scholarship. This is a huge motivation since most colleges in the US charge anywhere from $25,000 to $40,000 in annual tuition fees for an undergrad degree.
What are some of the American companies that come on campus for recruiting events?
“The greatest thing about getting into Cooper Union is that anyone who gets accepted automatically receives a full tuition scholarship.”
All the major engineering and technology companies come for campus recruitment events. Typically, freshly minted engineers get starting salaries of $60,000 to 70,000 per annum. Cooper Union’s location in the heart of New York City also ensures that it gets attention from the big banks and Wall Street which recruit engineering graduates for quantitative roles. Now much of trading is hinged around complex mathematical models which engineers with quantitative skills are good at building.
You are a member of the Society of Women Engineers so can you talk about the benefits of being a member of the society?
The Society of Women Engineers meets twice a week and hosts various events for female engineering students. We get to hear and network with distinguished women engineers. It is great to hear their experiences and get insights into the industry. A lot of former Cooper Union graduates stop by at these events and pass out visiting cards. It is great for networking and getting clued into the job market.
What advice would you give today’s applicant? Should a student looking to study in the US apply to a lot of schools?
“Cooper Union’s location in the heart of New York City also ensures that it gets attention from the big banks and Wall Street which recruit engineering graduates for quantitative roles.”
Applying to engineering schools in the US requires focus and commitment. It is best to narrow down one’s choices to eight to ten schools. If you are an undergrad you don’t need to stress out about picking your major as most US schools are flexible about letting you switch in and out of majors depending on your interest.
Does Cooper Union have a lot of South Asian students?
We have a lot of South Asian students with a majority coming from India. We also have a lot of Chinese and Korean students too. I am a member of the South Asian Society which hosts cultural events. The annual Diwali party is a blast and has a lot of Bollywood music and dance.
Is it difficult to get a F1 student visa once you have admission into Cooper Union?
The visa process is standardized and straight forward but you need to start early and make sure you have all your documents.
Was Cooper Union your first choice among the eight colleges you applied to?
The break on the tuition fees coupled with the high reputation of the college made it a no-brainer for me. I also gravitated towards it because it was in New York, a city I was very keen to live and work in.