This blog post provides an overview of 3-2 programs. These programs are most commonly found for engineering majors. Here are the key components:
- Students begin their college studies at a liberal arts college where they spend three years knocking out general education requirements and completing any prerequisite courses for their major.
- After three years, they transfer to another university where they spend two years taking their upper-division major courses and completing their degree. For example, I may start my studies at Middlebury College (a liberal arts college) and end at Caltech.
Here are a few advantages of 3-2 programs:
- You get to have it all: Liberal arts colleges offer one unique type of college experience. Big research universities offer another. Both have their pros and cons. With a 3-2 program, I get to reap the benefits of each.
- More time in college: There are many advantages of this: more time to explore and participate in clubs; more time to explore courses; more time for internships, relationship building, etc. Whatever your specific goals are in college, having an extra year in school can be a big asset.
Here are a few potential disadvantages of 3-2 programs:
- Cost: With 3-2 programs, you’re spending an extra year in college. And while that’s great in many ways, it also costs money.
- Transfers are not guaranteed: Even though, in theory, I can transfer to, say, Columbia University after I complete three years at my liberal arts college, there’s no guarantee that I will be able to. I still have to apply and be accepted. Acceptances are not guaranteed. With this in mind, it’s critical that I genuinely love my liberal arts college, just in case I can’t transfer after three years.
- The “I’m ready now” student: Perhaps, for me, I don’t want to wait until my fourth year of school to take all of the upper-division courses I’m so excited about. I’m ready now. If that’s the case, I may not enjoy the structure of 3-2 programs where it’s not until you transfer after year three that you really get to dive deep into your upper-division major courses.
Like anything, there are lots of nuances with 3-2 programs. Some students should definitely apply; other students should be more cautious. But no matter what, they’re 100% worth looking into, as they offer a unique college experience with many benefits.