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The only major i've ever really considered is something I'll probably suck at. What do I do?


Replies to: The only major i've ever really considered is something I'll probably suck at. What do I do?

  • millie210millie210 Registered User Posts: 383 Member
    I like the advice in both of lindagaf's posts. There are a million ways to have a lasting impact on society and all sorts of problems that need solving, involving all different kinds of problem solving skills. Find a good liberal arts school and explore like crazy. Chances are that you will find something you love studying and that's what you major in. That might be, but doesn't have to be, your career. You'll figure out that, too.

  • eyemgheyemgh Registered User Posts: 3,939 Senior Member
    The problem is, if the OP harbors any continued interest in engineering, and in reading their response ("I want to help send the first person to Mars, or build machinery that utilizes alternative energy affordably and efficiently, or design something as revolutionary as the iPhone. Something like that I guess."), they do, they'll close that door if they take the LAC route.

    As for the iPhone example, this comes up over and over and illustrates a common misconception in engineering. No one designed the iPhone. Thousands of people did. They have roughly 500 engineers working just on the camera. The tech is so complicated and intricate these days that most projects of that scope are massive e collaborations. That's why I asked what got you thinking about engineering in the first place and what being an engineer means to you. It's very common to confuse it with industrial design, or even invention through tinkering.
  • LindagafLindagaf Registered User Posts: 7,106 Senior Member
    If the OP "sucks" at math and science, she isn't going to get far in an engineering course. Just saying.
  • lookingforwardlookingforward Registered User Posts: 25,365 Senior Member
    Enjoying tinkering is often part of the engineering mindset. That curiosity and willingness. OP hasn't mentioned any participation in engineering sorts of activities or math/sci team project experiences.

    Yes, very common for kids to misunderstand what engineering is and does. They hear about an invention or one person and don't know what the real work is.

    She has lots to do, before getting there, more than she realizes. Doesn't yet have (AP) physics or chem, is struggling with AP AB.

    But I just feel it's still early to tell her to entirely drop the idea of working in a tech field, *among* engineers and the principles. It's much more than just tech writing, bench tech work, coding, etc . There are many roles.

  • kriscentalkriscental Registered User Posts: 14 New Member
    Wow, I really was not expecting many replies. For those interested in my 'stats', I'm now positive my AB grade will stay a B. I'm going to take Calculus I again this summer as an online course at the college my mother teaches at. I'm involved in Iowa Girls Code, and have been taking coding classes all three years (just finished AP comp sci with an easy A, but i'm not really passionate about it). I took 4 AP classes this year (not uncommon, I know), all A's except for stupid Calc haha. But I feel to put it in perspective, i'm also involved in many clubs, including Editor-in-Chief of the school Newspaper, which cut a lot of time from my studying.

    @MYOS1634 Thanks for the links, I'll be sure to sit down and check them out! As for my ACT score i'm at a 31, but i'm taking it again in June and my goal is a 33. (math and science, of course, are dragging me down).
  • kriscentalkriscental Registered User Posts: 14 New Member
    @eyemgh I realize that inventing the IPhone was not a one man job, but I thought being versed in engineering is somewhat necessary to succeed in making such an invention. My passion is closer to the first two things I mentioned. My understanding of Engineering is using math/science principles and applying them to build/design machines/buildings/etc. that will further efficiency or achievement in a certain field. I've always thought to find something i'm passionate about, in this case the environment, and transferring it to engineering in some way.

    I'd also like to state that I don't hate math. I hadn't really struggled with it at all until this year, but when I do understand Calc, I think it's pretty fun. Partial Fraction Decomp in regards to integration, optimization, related rates. I enjoyed all of those units because they felt more like puzzles to me than anything else. It seems like when it comes to test time, I'm unsure how to apply those things. When I get Calc, I enjoy it. Unfortunately, I don't get it that often.
  • eyemgheyemgh Registered User Posts: 3,939 Senior Member
    I didn't think so, but I never make assumptions here. It's cool to be involved in something meaningful. If you do well in engineering, lots of doors along those paths will open.

    It certainly doesn't sound to me like you're asking for permission to give up on engineering. The fact that you find it like a puzzle and like the challenge is very encouraging. Keep plugging away and you'll be fine. Work ethic and curiosity will carry you a long way.
  • kriscentalkriscental Registered User Posts: 14 New Member
    @Lindagaf Yes, i've also tried taking those 'career interest surveys', and I always get STEM related jobs. Maybe it's because becoming an engineer is so stuck in my head that i'm not able to see myself doing anything else. Even if i'm good at the other non-STEM classes, though, I don't find any appeal in doing them for the rest of my life. I'm also not sure how far I can go with a liberal arts degree...

    Funnily enough, I went through an almost similar experience as your daughter! I've been taking computer science classes for 3 years now, and although I somewhat enjoy it and do well in the class, I'm not as crazy about it as I thought I would be. I feel like it's a bit too early for me to make the same evaluation when it comes to engineering, as I haven't taken any classes that deal directly with it.

    I'm going to retake Calculus I online over the summer and see how it goes. After some thinking, I don't think i'm ready to give up on engineering yet. If it wasn't obvious, I was really stressed when I posted this lol. I spoke to my calc teacher, and she said much of BC is review, so i'm hoping that may also help. If i'm still not feeling great after the summer class, I'll really think hard about changing my major.

    I will, however, do a lot of studying up on other majors over the summer like you suggested. Thank you for the advice!
  • kriscentalkriscental Registered User Posts: 14 New Member
    @eyemgh thank you for all the advice and your kind words!
  • Snowball CitySnowball City Registered User Posts: 1,490 Senior Member
    Smith College is one of the few women's colleges that has engineering. Take a look at their department and see if it interests you.

    I don't know if their summer high school program is filled
  • eyemgheyemgh Registered User Posts: 3,939 Senior Member
    edited May 2017
    Smith's only program is "Engineering Science." The lack of breadth would concern me. They only offer 34 engineering courses. That's tiny, one of, if not the smallest programs in the nation. The college of engineering at Penn State has over 1000 classes and they aren't unique.

    That will certainly mean they are also lacking in facilities, which are very important for engineering education. My son's school, Cal Poly, has 82 dedicated undergraduate engineering labs in the College of Engineering alone.

    As you'll see once visits start, and they should start soon based on where you're at in school, not all programs are created equally. The goldilocks school has great facilities, accessible to undergrads, but also small classes, mostly, if not all taught by professors.
  • rocket88rocket88 Registered User Posts: 180 Junior Member
    Editor of HS paper, interested in having an impact, interested in the environment...you could major in Environmental Science or a related field. If you choose a BA path there doesn't have to be a lot of math, and you could focus on policy/regulatory issues, for example. You could end up writing about science and policy, or working for a firm that does environmental consulting or law, or compliance. All of these things have an impact on society.

    I'm tempted to say "stick it out" and apply to engineering programs. That way, if you are admitted to college as an engineer, it's easy to transfer out, but a lot harder to transfer in. The problem with this is that you might end up getting rejected by your "dream college" because the engineering admissions is typically more competitive than for other majors. So you might want to apply to a few lower/mid-tier colleges as an engineering major, but then apply to the more competitive colleges as a non-engineering major. This postpones your decision to May 1 2018.

    What kind of engineering are you really considering? Do some specific research on what people do in the different engineering fields.

    As for sending people to Mars: this is probably technically possible, but it would take incredible resources to do it.
    Should we spend those resources to send a few people on a desperate mission to a distant, hostile colony, or should we invest in more mundane projects here on earth? You can probably guess my view, but my point is that the motivations behind the technology or the project are as important as the technology itself. So you can truly have an impact no matter which particular part of the problem you work to solve: the technical problem (engineering), or the social/political/administrative/organzational problems. So you might find that you have greater passion or aptitude for the non-engineering side of problem-solving.
  • PengsPhilsPengsPhils Registered User Posts: 3,145 Senior Member
    I haven't read this thread with a fine-tooth comb, but it sounds like the one thing you do still know is that you enjoy problem-solving, and want to work near tech/STEM related things.

    I had two thoughts reading through the thread:

    1. Product Design - This is a career more than a major, and not exactly a common one, but the high-level designing of something would be closest found here. A few schools do offer it (mostly art schools, interestingly enough), and I'm not an expert on it, but I would explore that a bit.

    2. Computer Science - While it will require some math courses in college, it's not science and math heavy as a profession, and is about daily problem solving and design of code. Your daily work won't be picking up calculus, but it will be applying a lot of "mathematical thinking". Despite how it's often grouped, it's not engineering, but I think it may scratch that itch for working with technology and making cool things.
  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 Registered User Posts: 32,548 Senior Member
    edited May 2017
    Op, have you looked at all the majors I researched and posted above ? Which ones are you interested in?
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