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Trying to Get a Second Bachelor's Degree in California

DerCamperDerCamper 6 replies1 threads New Member
I have recently graduated from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo in December 2019 with a BS in Economics with a concentration in Finance. I was originally admitted in 2015 for Aerospace Engineering. However, due to initial academic struggles and the threat of academic disqualification, I decided to change my major to Econ in 2016 as I had moderate interest in the subject. From there on out, my grades weren't great (plenty of C's in major courses, even a D) but at least I was able to avoid academic probation. By my Junior year, I realized I didn't like my major at all and had no actual interest in pursuing an Econ/Finance related career when I graduated. I tried to switch my major to Aerospace Engineering (a subject I had genuine interest in), however my request was denied because it would take "too long" for me to graduate and I would graduate significantly sooner with an Econ degree. I graduated college about a year and a half later, hating both my major and job prospects. My cumulative GPA was a 2.82, far from competitive. Without any work-related internship experiences during college, I knew it'd be hard to even get my foot in the door at a reputable firm. So, I decided to start taking classes at a community college this semester.

Although I haven't received my grades just yet, I believe I got a 3.0 this semester. So, significantly better than when I took the same Physics and Calculus courses the first time around. However, it had only recently come to my attention that most CSUs and UCs don't even consider second bachelor's degree applicants. I was originally planning to transfer to San Jose State University for Aerospace Engineering but they aren't even considering second bachelor's applicants for Engineering. Most CSUs and UCs won't consider me, and of those that have Aerospace Engineering and will allow me to apply (I believe only UC Irvine and CSU Long Beach) their programs are very limited. I'm not sure what to do at this point. I don't want to rely on my Econ degree for employment as I know I'd be deeply unhappy with that career path. But realistically I'm not sure if I should dedicate the next few years of my life to Calculus, Physics, and other Engineering-related courses if I am unlikely to find a college who will accept me. My GPA is also likely not to approach anywhere near 4.0 with the hard Math and Physics courses I'll be taking, so I expect by the time I finish with all the courses needed to transfer my cumulative GPA will likely be around 3.0. I'm not sure if that's a competitive enough GPA to be considered. Please let me know your thoughts and perhaps any CA college you know of that accepts second bachelor's applicants. Thanks.
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Replies to: Trying to Get a Second Bachelor's Degree in California

  • mikemacmikemac 10582 replies154 threads Senior Member
    edited May 28
    there may be a plan B. Instead of a 2nd bachelors, get a MS. At many CSU schools the requirements for admission as a grad student are relatively low and you seem to meet them. At CSUN they are at https://catalog.csun.edu/policies/admission-to-the-university-for-graduate-programs/

    Now you might be thinking "how can I do a grad program when I'm missing the lower division classes?" Not a problem. What happens is you are admitted as what is called a "conditionally classified student" (see https://catalog.csun.edu/policies/conditionally-classified-status/) and you then proceed to start taking all the undergrad classes you need for your major.

    I know someone who did this path for an engineering major a few years ago. I suggest you call the grad advisor in Aerospace Engineering at some CSU campuses to see if this is possible for you and to get further details.

    But since this is an advice forum, here is advice. You need to think long and hard about why this won't just be a repeat of what already happened. Why are you going to succeed this time around if you didn't taking the same math & science classes back in 2015? It's discouraging to see that the best you see yourself doing in these lower-division classes is around a B average instead of expecting almost all A's with your determination and maturity. There are numerous resources online about studying effectively (the book "Make it Stick", TED talks, Coursera course "How to Learn", etc) but if you don't see yourself mastering the lower-division math/science then you're really going to hate the classes in the major where all that math is just a given and it keeps coming.
    edited May 28
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  • DerCamperDerCamper 6 replies1 threads New Member
    Thanks for your advice. I definitely think I'll consider applying as conditionally classified to certain CSU campuses, although even then I think my options are still very limited. I mentioned that I believe a 3.0-ish GPA is realistic from here on out based on what I believe my performance was Spring 2020. I took Chem 1A, Physics 1A, and Calculus I. I put forth my best effort and I am almost certain I received a C, B, and A respectively, giving me a 3.0 for the semester. I am aware that classes are only going to get harder from here, so it is kind of disheartening to only get a 3.0 at the very beginning again. It's still a major improvement from the C-'s and the D's I was getting in my Calculus and Physics courses 4 years ago, but I fear that even so I may not be competitive. Many Community College students probably do get straight A's but I doubt I can pull of all A's. I haven't been able to do so since high school spare for one Quarter at Cal Poly when I had just changed my major to Econ and took the easy intro courses. I made Dean's List then. Haven't come close since.
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  • mikemacmikemac 10582 replies154 threads Senior Member
    edited May 29
    I put forth my best effort and I am almost certain I received a C, B, and A respectively, giving me a 3.0 for the semester.
    It's worth asking a bit more about how you study
    • How many hours on average each week did you study for each class?
    • Was the time about equal each week or enough to get the homework done and the chapters read most weeks, with extra time before tests?
    • How was the weekly time split? Roughly equal almost daily, a burst of time to get the homework done and another to read chapters, or something else?
    • What were you doing? Was reading the chapter and doing the homework enough to use up all this time, or did you do other things to study for each class?
    edited May 29
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  • DerCamperDerCamper 6 replies1 threads New Member
    My schedule was kinda crazy this semester. Because both my Physics and Chemistry classes had lab sections, I spent about 21 hours/week actually in class. In addition to that, most weeks I spent around 20-25 hours/week on school, outside of class. Of this time, I spent about 50% of it on Chemistry, with the remaining time split about evenly between Calculus and Physics. The reason I spent so much time on Chemistry was because we had lengthy lab report assignments in addition to very lengthy homework assignments. While I do think the homework did help prepare me for exams, the lab reports largely didn't so a lot of time was washed down the drain for little benefit other than getting credit for the report. I also had lab reports for Physics in addition to daily online homework assignments. The majority of the time spent for both Chemistry and Physics was spent on the lab reports and homework, although I tried to accommodate extra study time before a test. Calculus this semester was largely just a review of what I had already learned in high school, so an A was expected. In Calculus II, I am likely to get a B because I got a C in it my first time around 4 years ago.
    As for the weekly time split, I tried breaking up my work daily and doing a bit each day to stay on track. I never procrastinated and was able to turn in all my work on time. Realistically, I don't think there's more I could've done. Part of my lower grade in Chemistry I think I can attribute to my professor's monotone, boring teaching style. He wasn't an effective teacher and many other students in the class agree with that. He also had a tendency to make very wordy powerpoint presentation slides, throwing many paragraphs worth of ideas at you in only a single slide. This was not an effective way to deliver the material, yet he did this all semester. To top it off, the textbook for the class appears to be written more for a high school audience than college students, so I don't think I learned as much as I needed to from the more rudimentary textbook because of its inherent simplicity. As such, I rarely found reading the textbook chapters to be beneficial beyond what I already knew from high school so I tried to rely mainly on my professor's sometimes confusing, boring lectures for the important information. I often scored in the mid-60s on in-person exams, scoring a low of a 43 on a much harder than normal online exam after the pandemic hit.

    In Physics I was on track for a B+/A- early in the semester, but when in-person classes became suspended my professor decided to make the exam MUCH harder due to at-home exams essentially being "open book". My exam performance went from 89 on exam 1 to 65, 70, and 79 on the next exams. The questions asked on the exams were very different from the homework questions we have been assigned. They often asked for additional steps or to incorporate concepts I hadn't seen before in either lecture or homework. As such I did poorly on those kinds of problems.

    Calculus went smoothly, but I feel the only reason that happened was because I had done all that work before in high school and the class was essentially review.

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  • mikemacmikemac 10582 replies154 threads Senior Member
    edited May 31
    you're doing some things right. Studying some every day is "distributed practice" and its a more effective learning technique than what many kids do, getting the homework done in a single seating once a week and then cramming for the test. And doing the homework is "self testing", although that's kinda forced on you. Answering questions instead of rereading the chapters and notes promotes deeper learning.

    One thing you can improve on is the time you spend outside of class. A rule of thumb for science/engineering classes is 3 hours outside of class for every class hour. Since these are 3 classes meeting 3x a week for an hour, that would be around 27 hours studying. And the labs don't count for this. Friends in engineering considered the labs as part of the hazing to get the degree; they took lots of time and they learned little from them. So they did them late in evenings when they were tired anyway.

    If you're spending 20-25 hours outside of class and we assume 8 hours of that was writing up labs, that means 12-17 hours of class studying instead of 27. And I think this shows in your description of how you spent your time. You don't talk about doing extra problems on your own (eg. more self-testing) but that's a key to doing well. There are unassigned problems in the book, and for many classes such as the ones you're taking now there are problem-solver books you can buy that are thousands of worked problems for practice. Kinda like a subject-focused SAT prep book.

    Engineering education is hard and time-consuming. Many find it isn't worth it, that's probably why the 1st-year dropout rate is 40% nationally. Maybe the 3 hours per class hour rule isn't enscribed in stone, but if you're not getting the grades you want it is a sign that more practice is needed.
    the textbook for the class appears to be written more for a high school audience than college students
    Especially as someone who already has a college degree, you need to own your learning. There is no rule saying you can't use other books. Back when colleges were open you could have looked at the bookstore to see what other sections of the class were using. And intro college chem is pretty standard, you could have looked online at a college bookstore to see what other colleges used.
    The questions asked on the exams were very different from the homework questions we have been assigned.
    That's fair too. Tests are supposed to measure if you've mastered the physics concepts, not if you've memorized the steps from the homework. This is why so many students hate word problems because they're not the "solve for X given ..." questions from the homework. If it required *concepts* not yet presented that would be something different.
    edited May 31
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  • blossomblossom 10389 replies9 threads Senior Member
    Op- if you were my child (and I know you are not) I would be encouraging you to find something else to love besides engineering.

    The world is FILLED with cool careers which are neither finance/econ related or engineering. In the time it takes you to figure out how to apply for a second BS or a Master's degree you could be identifying careers where you are "almost" there, vs. starting at the bottom of a steep hill, AND things that you are naturally good at.

    It concerns me that your better grades are essentially in classes which are "do-overs" so at least you have some familiarity with the material. What happens in the classes which are brand new-- or something like advanced materials science which needs to build on a very strong background in introductory chemistry?

    I bet there are at least a dozen things you are great at. Things that come easily to you. Things you could love which already love you back. Do you want to struggle-- again- to get the second Bachelors, OR a Masters, and then struggle to find a job, and then struggle to KEEP the job, because you are surrounded by the kind of people who just pick up engineering concepts readily and quickly??? Which is not to say they didn't have to work hard to keep up in college-- but at least the concepts came easily to them?

    I'd hate to see another semester of you being frustrated, complaining about a too-easy textbook, or a professor who can't communicate (these are in EVERY college, at every level) when you could be launched into a career you really love.

    What's so special about aerospace that you can't get excited about something else with a significantly easier on-ramp?

    And- during a week where Boeing laid of thousands of employees- including highly qualified aerospace engineers from some of the top programs in the country (I know a few- A students from highly competitive programs) do you want to put all your eggs in that basket????
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  • DerCamperDerCamper 6 replies1 threads New Member
    At Cal Poly, the rule of thumb was 25-35 hours per week of study outside of class time for a full-time student. At Cal Poly, almost none of my classes had labs, so I would only attend class for 12-16 hours a week, significantly less than what I had spent in class last semester. Given that fact, and that I now had an hour commute to contend with because I no longer lived on campus like I did at Poly, this limited my time available to study. Even with 20-25 hours of outside study, I found myself studying much of the day. When I would come home at night after several hours of class, I found myself too tired to focus and would often go to bed. As such I usually sought to complete my assignments in the mornings and early afternoons. With so much of my time already accounted for with class, commuting, and doing normal homework and labs, as well as just normal life obligations, there wasn't much time left over for a massive increase in studying. It would've been very hard to find room for an additional ten hours of studying. Even if somehow I found the time by cutting my sleep schedule or something, I would burn out quickly and would be miserable because of it. The required work is already so much. My only hope is to make my learning of the material doing the required assignments more efficient.
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  • DerCamperDerCamper 6 replies1 threads New Member
    Thanks for your reply. This was exactly the same question I asked myself when I was considering a change of major back in 2016. Unfortunately, nothing else other than Aerospace Engineering really piqued my interest, certainly nothing I would want to get a degree in. Engineering as a whole was something I have been set on at least since middle school. As such, I sought to take the hardest math classes I could (as well as AP classes) to prepare for such a path in college. I actually did well in all those classes with little struggle and got 4.0 throughout middle school and 4.1 in high school. At the time, it seemed obvious I was destined to become an Engineer. I specifically chose Aerospace Engineering because I had always been fascinated by flight and the intricate design of airplanes. It seemed to be the perfect fit for me.

    As for alternatives for an Engineering career are concerned, there's nothing that I both am good at and enjoy doing that would make a viable career option. For example, I am good at writing and even at one point considered freelance writing. However, I would never be happy with that lifestyle, even if I could become very successful with it. I'm really not a writer. That's not who I am and I would not be fulfilling my aspirations by trying to become one.

    Another problem is that even if I did find another major I could be happy with, my grades are so volatile that even in "easy" subjects I am likely to struggle with. For example in Philosophy back at Cal Poly, most of the quarter I had an F/D and it was only because of somewhat miraculous performance on the final that I was able to bring it up to a C. The only safe "easy" subject for me where I can be sure of an A are English courses. And even then, I would be very unhappy as an English major. It's not so easy for me to completely change paths to something else when I have been dead-set on Engineering for over a decade now.
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  • blossomblossom 10389 replies9 threads Senior Member
    There are millions of people who earn their living as writers- and they are not freelance. You could get a job in corporate communications at an aerospace company, writing speeches for the CEO and senior leaders. You could get a job as a technical writer for a company which designs components for jet engines. You could get a job working for a strategic communications firm which helps lawmakers understand the complexity of a bill they are about to vote on which impacts the aerospace industry. You could get a job at a media relations company which designs public interest campaigns to help voters understand the impact of different proposals on their communities (i.e. what happens if a big corporation closes down a plant which makes turbines-- how many jobs lost, how much empty square footage, how many houses which need to be sold quickly which drags down the tax base and property values).

    You can either spend the next 5 years of your life closing doors- or spend them opening. Your choice. There are millions of people happily employed with degrees in English. You might be dead-set on engineering, but there is nothing you've posted which suggests that engineering is a good fit for you professionally.

    Did you have an academic advisor? Is there anyone who has told you that you are better suited for a different career? You don't need to decide "writer/Aerospace engineer". There are zillions of other things you could do with your life besides pine away for a degree in engineering.

    Reality check time. You aren't an 8 year old who wants to be a cowboy. You are an adult, and you are likely good at many things. If you pivot- you could actually be in a career you enjoy long before you'd be struggling to complete that engineering degree.

    A second bachelor's degree seems like a long way 'round the mountain.....
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  • HPuck35HPuck35 2141 replies17 threads Senior Member
    You can go into engineering and succeed after all this; but will it really happen???

    Taking classes at a CC that you are already familair with and not getting a A is a big red flag. Engineering, as you found out the first time thru, is tough. It does require that you put the hours in and use those hours efficiently. It doesn't matter what else is going on in your life, you must put the hours in. Just wait to you see the required amount of studying needed for upper level engineering classes when you are seeing the material for the first time!!!

    The goal at the end of all this would be a job in engineering. Many companies (and pretty much all of the larger ones) will have minimum GPA's of 3.0 to even get your resume looked at and not just round filed. Even then, the typical minimum GPA for an actual job is more like 3.4 or 3.5. From what you have stated you have done in the past, an engineering job doesn't look like it would be in the cards for you.

    Are you a "hands on" person? Would an engineering tech job work? Or, as suggested previously, an economic type position in an aerospace company. Aerospace companies need and hire all kinds of specialties.
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  • DerCamperDerCamper 6 replies1 threads New Member
    I've never truly had an academic advisor, nor anyone who's told me I should take a different career path. The people in my life have largely just been supportive of whatever career path I choose, but haven't really given me any suggestions of their own. And even after years of seriously considering a possible career change, I still can't seem to think of one that I would actually enjoy. I guess I shouldn't slam the door shut on other possibilities, but anything other than Aerospace Engineering kind of feels like a failure, like I have abandoned essentially my lifelong aspirations.
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  • DerCamperDerCamper 6 replies1 threads New Member
    My ideal position in an Aerospace company would be designing next-generation aircraft. I understand that 3.0 is not exactly a competitive GPA, but that is likely what my cumulative GPA will be close to. Maybe 3.1 or 3.2, but I'm not expecting anywhere near 4.0. I know I need a really good GPA to remain competitive, especially the second time around. It's kind of disheartening to know that even if I do fairly well and get a 3.0-3.2, it might be all for nothing because of how limited my transfer options are. But given that I don't know what else I would actually want to do with my life, I feel like I have to fight against overwhelming odds to fulfill essentially a lifelong dream.
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  • blossomblossom 10389 replies9 threads Senior Member
    Aerospace companies need lots of different skills besides the (relatively few) employees who design next generation aircraft....There are finance people who work on teams to price out costs and figure out the impact on profitability if the price of raw materials increases. There are HR people who figure out how to address the gender imbalances in the workplace or how to deal with a flood of retirees driving up the cost of health insurance. There are communications people who write speeches, write annual reports, develop the employee intranet site, create marketing materials. There are facilities managers who have to figure out the best way to open a new plant in the most cost effective way. There are folks on the sustainability team identifying lower polluting manufacturing techniques and people in supply chain management creating strategies for getting components during a shutdown from China (just happened) or when tariffs increase or when the EU shifts its export policies on critical components. There are accountants who figure out if last quarter was profitable or not, or who identify ways to cut costs without impacting quality. There are production managers who are skilled at scheduling, and compliance managers who make sure that the funds from a government contract are being spent in accordance with the contract. There are HUGE teams in Washington who work on policy and legislation, and teams around the world working to sell complex aircraft to foreign airlines and governments and militaries. And there are engineers who don't even design next gen aircraft- you can get hired by an aerospace company and end up spending 20 years supervising delivery of rotables or doing quality control on turbine production.....


    Your odds aren't overwhelming- the only thing standing in your way is YOU. You aren't abandoning your aspirations- you are building on them by figuring out a really cool and interesting career in the field you love.... but which likely is a better fit for your skills.
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