Senior with bad GPA

Hi all,

Excellent Freshman and Sophomore grades. Junior year bad because of Covid. Senior year I got one C. Did I kill all my chances this year of getting into a good Uni? I want to study Aerospace engineering.

I am the software lead for a team. I am pretty good coder - I can get into a lot of CS programs maybe, but I want to try my luck with AE. AE is much harder to get into. So far, I have applied to Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Purdue and CU Boulder.

Do I have a chance with any of them? Thinking of applying to WPI for robotics. What other schools can forgive bad GPA but admit because of the excellent ECs?

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Your school’s guidance counselors are likely able to give you much more specific advise for your situation. I would encourage you to reach out to them and set up a meeting to discuss your options and paths forward.

Even if we knew the specifics of your grades and schooling, it can be difficult to know the exact criteria that admissions officers are looking for. There are a multitude of factors that come into play, and they often have a number of variables to balance. Try your best to boost your applications with as many other criteria as possible. Get good recommendation letters, write an essay that stands out, and have strong test scores.

It may also be possible to gain admission to a University under one major, and then change your major during the course of your studies. Especially if the two majors have similar classwork in your first year or two in college.


Decouple your destination of “I will work in AE” from the deadline of “I will get into a top tier school right now”. The second does not gate the first. Taking the scenic route is fine.

Admissions have a ~30%+ luck factor, especially with everyone coming off their covid year. Work with your guidance counselors to look at options.

What about AE attracts you? There may be similar elements in a ME or EE undergrad that would give you the background to get into Masters to PhD AE program if you find that’s still what you want in four years.

Same concept with a community college transfer to BS AE. The biggest risk of cc transfer is falling in with a friend group that doesn’t have the same goals you do, but there are lots of really smart and talented people in those schools.

Also AE may not be what you want in four years, and that’s okay too :slight_smile:


Hi I’m a freshman at Colorado state university majoring in mechanical engineering my gpa wasn’t that great and I got accepted at RIT, and university of Cincinnati also Colorado state has a program where you can major in mech E with a concentration in aerospace


Speaking of the scenic route: If you want to go into the aerospace engineering field, you don’t have to have an aerospace engineering degree.

Let’s start with some practicals: You may want to go the community college route. Doing this gets a lot of general education courses out of the way, and some math courses most likely, and allows you to boost your GPA a bit (OK, so I really mean create your college GPA). It can also be cheaper.

Also, you don’t necessarily want to go to the top schools. Another way to think about it is: What schools are the aerospace companies hiring from? Go there. Get hired. Worry about the “top” schools when you go for higher-level degrees.

OK, now, on to the next step. You don’t need an Aerospace (or Aeronautical) Engineering degree to get into aerospace. What you need is a related degree… and Mechanical Engineering can land you there. (Or possibly electrical or computer science.). The key is, if you’re in the ME courses, you want to make sure that your electives line up with aerospace goals, and ideally you go somewhere that lets you minor or focus in aerospace. Even if you can’t do that, you can get onto some of the design teams that happen to do stuff that relates to the branch of aerospace you want to get into.

Oh. And one other thing. Network. When you’re in college, make sure to stop by the career fairs every year, and talk to the aerospace companies there. Maybe go to a trade show or two.


All i will say is this. When I wanted to do aerospace, a college professor sat me down and made it very clear. A mechanical engineer can become an aerospace engineer. But the opposite can become more difficult as you are narrowed into an area of specific nature.
In the end this statement made me refocus into mechanical engineering with the support of my counselors. In the end, the best future is one decided by yourself with the support of those around you.
Heck, as a grad I barely know what I want to even do now. I believe you’ll figure it out, and good luck! You got this!


I also feel it is important to state: Top tier universities may not be top tier for you. Just because the school is known for something doesn’t mean that it works for you. If you choose the college route being successful at a less prestigious school can often be more useful than struggling at the top tier school.

Anecdotal data - I went to a school not known for CS, I’m currently a software engineer at Google. In fact, of the 2 other students I graduated with another one is at Google and the third is at Microsoft…


I can’t agree with this more!
Yes there is a culture that views certain schools better than others, and maybe that is what you want to focus on? But your future matters more than just a school name IMO. Don’t spend your college years stressed and worried just for the college name. (Because engineering can be stressful enough at any uni)

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Can confirm, I got a BS in mech E. I now build spacecraft for a living, doing mainly electrical and software stuff. Your undergrad degree has surprisingly little effect on your career trajectory.


College is not a 4 year endeavor. Go to a local community College for the first year or two. Get. Great. Grades. Any college will be happy to take you after that. Many states have transfer portals so you know exactly what classes will transfer. And good luck with Purdue, it’s my school.

Also, I’m going to tell you right now that the college you go to doesn’t really matter much for any company worth a damn. Cultivate relationships with the professors through extra projects. Ask them how you can help. And work directly with them. Their personal recommendations will go nearly as far as saying “I went to Harvard”. You’d be shocked how many people go to those big name schools who I wouldn’t want within 100 miles of a project I’m working on.


In many cases, it is more important that you finish your degree than getting a degree from a particular school or a “top tier school”. Where the school is located and how much you will have to spend to live there should be a significant consideration. I lived at home and rode the bus every day even though my home life was not ideal but school would have been a lot harder if I had to work to pay for living somewhere else.

I can echo what others have said here. I went to a pretty highly regarded school at first for undergrad and ended up dropping out after 2 years, took a year off, and transferred to a much lesser regarded state school. Now I’m projected to graduate 1 semester from now and I’ve been able to get ample internship and co-op experience that I feel confident that I’ll be able to get a solid job after graduating. I also have friends in my department that have great job offers for after graduation.

It’s all about the networking you do in college and the opportunities you take advantage of.


Seriously though, we have a decent AeroE dept and your chances of being accepted are excellent.


This is so true. It’s more important to focus on what you enjoy doing, rather than a specific industry! I majored in Computer Engineering, and over the past 15 years have worked in biomedical, aerospace, and finance. Plusses and minuses in all three industries, but one thing is true - the people i’ve worked with in all three industries were, first and foremost, experts in programming, not in the specific industry. If you think about building planes, for example… how much of what goes into it really requires an aerospace degree? Do you need to understand aerospace in order to build an engine, or is that more mechanical? Do you need aerospace to program an autopilot, or is that more programming? Many, many industries look for those core competencies, knowing that they can teach you the industry-specifics you need to know for your job a whole lot easier than those core competencies!

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Chiming in with my two cents about college/university and that experience.

The name of the school doesn’t really matter, it’s what it has to offer. When it comes to post-undergrad life, experience trumps everything. If you can find a school with a coop or internship program, that’s great and is definitely not limited to top tier schools.

FIRST is also an extremely valuable asset you have in your back pocket - connections wise, experience wise, etc. There are places that look to hire FIRST alum for summer positions, and even if that’s not in AeroE, getting some engineering experience makes the next position a lot easier.

Also, universities will recognize the significant impact COVID has had on students in the last several years. If the schools you’re applying to have an optional personal statement, definitely do that to boost your chances of getting in.

Good luck!

ps: if you’re at all interested in coming to Canada, Carleton University has an Aero program with coop placements, I’ve heard good things about it

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I am about to start my 10th full time job in about 40 years. It will be the 3rd in one industry. All the others were in totally unrelated industries. Many of them, I didn’t know anyone made such products until I researched the employer to apply for the job. In most of them, I have been doing pretty much the same type of work, designing circuit boards with microprocessors on them, signal conditioning circuits, control circuits and power supplies.

All industries have their ups and downs but they don’t all have them at the same time. Before finishing high-school, my prime objective was going into aerospace but I read about all the ups and downs associated with the product development cycles and government contracts being won and lost.

I have known and met quite a few people working in different industries and professions where in the last week of their last internship before graduation, they are called into their boss’ office and asked “would you like to come back after you graduate?” After that, they just had to get sufficiently good marks in school to graduate and didn’t have to divide their time between their studies and job hunting.

I have talked to other mentors who have managerial positions where they have put applicants in the “preferred” pile because they saw FIRST mentioned. Be sure to be able to back it up though because they will ask questions about it as rigorously as any previous job experience.

The good news is no one cares about your High School GPA. Apart from some Universities. Most employers care about a Degree, Certifications, work history, and yes FIRST (or other activities you may have done). Get a degree in something related to Aerospace and start working. You will build contacts, people that will gladly recommend you and find out the path that leads you where you want to go.

I never used my Major or Minor in a hired role, they have helped me indirectly to navigate my career. Get used to change, versatility and personality are some of your biggest assets. Good Luck, you are young so go for it.

Many things in life are, in large part, what you make of them.

Seeing advice is a great way to maximize your decisions, but it can also help to have a conversation where you are thinking about these things and having to articulate your thoughts and feelings. Much can depend on the specifics, so it’s a good idea to find a few folks with backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives that relate to your situation and discuss things with them. Realize that this is an ongoing process, internally and in seeking advice.

It can also be important to manage your motivations and to try to learn from times when things have not gone as you’d hoped or expected. Are there things that you’ve learned about yourself that contributed to the grades? Covid has been tough for sure, so you are not alone. But try to think about how you can set yourself up to play to your strengths, or how you can apply lessons learned as you go forward through life.

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I’m a WPI student, and one thing I will note from applying to colleges during the middle of the pandemic was that there were often spots to discuss things that impacted you academically and the pandemic 100% falls into that category.

I also know at my high school guidance counselors wrote all their students a reccomendation, and that if there were barriers you faced (and I’d argue the pandemic is a pretty big barrier) that’s definitely something they’d be willing to talk about in their reccomendations.

Finally, you can also ask the colleges themselves. Email admissions and ask what measures they’re taking to ensure equity in admissions following the widely different impacts the pandemic has had on everyone’s education. It shows you’re interested in their school, and making thought provoking recognitions and self reflections about the nature of trying to obtain an education during a global pandemic. The worst they can say is nothing, (and I doubt they will because that looks bad) and it could direct you to policies or other things to take advantage of. I know WPI does optional interviews as another way to pitch yourself but a lot of people dont know about them. Speaking of WPI, it is now 100% test optional and as of last year free to apply, so if you’re considering it I’d definitely suggest it.

Quite good advice above.
Just remember, the school only matters for your first job. After that, nobody cares much.
So pick a place you can afford and take this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to excel beyond all expectations. Don’t dog it, learn. But do the cost-benefit analysis!

Caveat: The top 10 engineering schools do matter, but you’ll have to kill yourself to both get in and graduate from any of them. If you’re that good, great, but if not, university of Podunk is just as good as SUNY.