21st Century Scholar Started Small, Finishing Big (And Debt Free)

When Henry Steckler graduated from Southridge High School in Huntingburg, Indiana, he was unsure about his next move.

He had spent four years of high school preparing to go to Purdue and study engineering, participating in Project Lead the Way’s Gateway to Engineering, and Rube Goldberg competitions. “I really liked the design side of things, being the person behind the scenes who makes everything go,” Steckler said.

When he was accepted to Purdue, but not to his first choice of the College of Engineering, his career goals seemed in jeopardy. Ultimately, Steckler followed the advice of his counselor, who suggested he look at Vincennes University.

VU has an articulation agreement with Purdue. If Steckler was successful in two years of engineering at VU, he could transfer into the Purdue program and graduate in four years.

It worked. Steckler will graduate from Purdue with a degree in mechanical engineering in 2019. “All my credits transferred. At Vincennes, my classes were super small, just 10 students in my core classes. I was probably able to get a better understanding of the material in those small classes than I would have in bigger classes at Purdue.”

And saved money. “At Vincennes, there were actually more opportunities for scholarships, and the cost per credit hour was a lot cheaper. I am a 21st Century Scholar, so that helps, too. At this point, I will graduate from college debt free, which is nice.”

But nothing is perfect. “If there was a drawback to going to a smaller school first, it was that at bigger universities like Purdue, there is a lot more to do on weekends.”

Future plans: Steckler did internships after his freshman, sophomore and junior years in furniture manufacturing, which is an important industry for the southern Indiana region around DuBois County, where Steckler grew up. “We’re a furniture hub, and it’s a great field to be in, so I would consider that.”

Advice: If planning to transfer credits from a two-year college to a four-year college, “be prepared to work hard,” Steckler says. “The articulation agreements are set up to help you transfer, but you have to get a certain GPA to get into Purdue. And if you want to get into a good four-year program like engineering, you should know that they don’t accept just anyone. They want to see good grades.”