Notre Dame’s 3-2 engineering program raises its standards

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Starting with next year’s freshman class, Bethel’s 3-2 Engineering program partnership with Notre Dame University will see admission standards increase, with the GPA requirement raising to 3.6 and an increase in competition for certain spots. The competitive areas will be in mechanical engineering and computer science, which are currently the most popular sectors of engineering at Notre Dame.

Along with the GPA and competition increase, Notre Dame will no longer accept applicants who have received lower than a C- in a class. Bethel students in the engineering program must receive a C- or higher on their first attempt in a class to be considered for the program.

When Sheri Campeau took over as head of the engineering program at Bethel College in 2012, the program sent three or four students to the University of Notre Dame. After being at Bethel for two or three years, the program also started sending two students to Trine University in addition to the students sent to Notre Dame. Bethel College is one of sixteen schools who partner with Notre Dame for the 3-2 Engineering program. Instead of having 15 total students in the program, they now have 75 students in the program. With the changes taking place, Notre Dame has rephrased the amount of admitted students into the program from 75 to “at least 20.” “What is that really going to mean?” Campeau said. “We’ll see. In a couple years, we’ll see what that is.” Campeau said current engineering students will not be affected by the change in standards. The changes will only affect next year’s freshman class and beyond. According to the University of Notre Dame website, the institution only accepts 150 transfers from any major each fall, with a minimum 3.7 GPA average. An engineering student coming from the 3-2 program currently only needs a 3.3 GPA to enter the program. According to Campeau, the Notre Dame Admissions Department took notice and decided to raise the standards. “They are literally dragging chairs into classrooms because they are too full,” Campeau said. “It’s a necessity on Notre Dame’s part to try to make sure that if they are going to bring students in, they’re bringing in the right [students] or the [students] that are most likely to succeed.” Campeau said that Notre Dame will be enforcing the new rules with expectations to weed out the best students for the 3-2 program. Campeau also mentioned that requirements for Bethel students in the 3-2 program at Notre Dame 20 years ago were at a 3.6 to 3.8 GPA. Later, the GPA requirement was changed to a minimum 3.3 GPA. “Yes, the program has changed,” Campeau said. “But it’s back to the way it was before.” Students who don’t get into the Notre Dame program still have the option to apply to Trine University. The GPA requirement to get into Trine’s engineering program is still at a minimum of 2.5. Some students currently in the engineering program are relieved because they don’t have to abide by the same standards. However, they realize the higher expectations that are being placed on the shoulders of future students. Josiah Viitala, sophomore engineering student, said he is not happy with the new changes, even though they will not affect him. He also said he wouldn’t need the GPA standards to be lower in his situation, but having the safety net would be helpful. His advice to incoming students is to learn the material while getting the work done. “I was just focused on getting the worksheets done, homework turned in [and] finishing the labs,” he said, “And I regret it because I would have done better in my classes if I had taken the time.” (Photo by Chester Alvarez on Unsplash)
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