What are the academics like at your school?
Notre Dame focus is on undergraduates. That means there is undergraduate research available everywhere for science majors. As a sophmore I didn't know what I wanted to do for the summer. I simply asked my favorite teacher if there was room for a chemical engineering undergrad in his research group. He simply said yes and that was it. It is so easy to get a research job here. All my friends who wanted to do research have a research position here. The rest of my engineering friends have internships as sophmores.
Professor's here are great and helpful. All of my professors know my name and I routinely talk to them outside of class. I have never had a class taught by a TA or someone that doesn't have a Ph.D.
In the college of engineering students are extremely intelligent. The nice thing is that we are not competitive with each other. We are encouraged by our teachers to do our homework in groups. I always do my homework sets in a group of at least 4 people. It typically takes 2 to 4 hours to solve 1 problem in chemical engineering and most problem sets have 4 to 5 problems. So doing the homework sets in groups to split of the workload is extremely helpful because it reduces the time taken on homework greatly.