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A couple things that have me worried

ripemangoripemango 838 replies119 threads Member
Thank you sincerely for any advice

1. Grades: There was never any pressure in high school to get good grades so I had some B's of course. I'm an engineering major and my parents tell me it is absolutely vital to do well in school now, as in having over a 3.8 GPA. What if I can't pull this off? The Writing 140 everyone talks about has been on my mind a lot.

2. Social life: And if I am constantly studying hard I am not sure I will be able to balance work and friends. I know I am not good at time management, after I slacked in high school so I could chill with friends. If I'm working significantly more often will I still have free time?

3. Graduate school: At one point in my life I'm going to apply to graduate school, and what worries me is that I won't be doing things at USC that would make my grad school app stronger. For example in high school, it was only until junior year when I realized I needed to be a part of clubs along with many other things. It turned out fine in the end but I'm saying that this time around I want to know what I'm doing and be prepared.

Thanks for listening.
edited August 2011
12 replies
Post edited by ripemango on
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Replies to: A couple things that have me worried

  • NC MomNC Mom 790 replies23 threads Member
    It is good that you are thinking of these things ripemango. College will be an adjustment for all of you freshman. I would recommend that you continually check in with yourself. You will find times that you realize you need to put more effort in. Also, use your resources. I also have a freshman entering the Engineering School, so I don't have all the resources down yet, but I believe there is a writing center you can use and other resources to help you stay on track. I also encourage my kids to use the office hours that their professors hold. This is a great time to get individual attention!
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  • ViterbiStudentViterbiStudent 90 replies1 threads Junior Member
    Hi ripemango,

    I am a rising senior at USC majoring in Biomedical (Mechanical) Engineering, and remember being worried about many of the changes and challenges of engineering as an incoming college freshman. As far as advice, I’d say the first part would be to relax and remember that many of your peers will probably share in your concerns but that there are a lot of people and resources to help at USC and Viterbi.

    Grades: The college grading scale, especially in engineering is very different from the one you’re used to in high school. Having above a 3.8 in engineering is a very lofty goal—not that a 3.8 GPA isn’t attainable, but college engineering courses are much more rigorous than high school and so the expectations are different. Every professor grades differently, but between professor office hours and TAs with office hours as well, you’ll have the opportunity to learn course material thoroughly and get to know your professors. The Writing center is a great place to get help on your Writing 140 papers and I remember my Writing professor being very accessible and helpful giving me feedback on my essays. SI (Supplemental Instruction) leaders hold extra review sessions every week for some of the larger freshman classes, like Math and Physics, and Viterbi has a lot of peer tutor resources for engineering classes too. All the resources are here for you, but it’s up to you to make the best use of them!

    Social Life: One of my favorite things about my engineering friends is that they DO have a social life. Students know how to work very hard, but also make time for their friends and other activities. USC and LA have so many cool people and opportunities, and there’s so much more to college than just studying in the library every night of the week. As you pointed out though, time management is an important part to this, so you may have to put more effort into managing your classes, homework and other commitments—if you do this, I can assure you that you’ll have free time to hang out with your friends!

    Graduate School: My best advice would be to get involved with activities you’re interested in. Whether that be joining and holding leadership positions in student organizations or working in a research lab in a field that interests, there are tons of ways to get involved on campus! During Welcome Week (after you move in and before classes start) Viterbi hosts the Viterbi Freshmen Luau and many of the engineering student organizations are there and you can sign up and get more information about them!

    Hopefully this gives you some insight and helps answer some of your questions. I hope you’re getting excited for your first year at USC/Viterbi and if you have any other questions please feel free to send me a PM.

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  • Georgia GirlGeorgia Girl 3139 replies632 threads Senior Member
    Clair has some good advice. Viterbi has the Viterbi Academic Resource Center. Through the center you can take advantage of review sessions, study groups and free tutoring for undergraduate classes. For writing help the Engineering Writing Center provides support for engineering writing courses and advanced technical writing.

    Viterbi also offers career services. You can register as early as your first year at SC. In the school are company sponsored information sessions, industry luncheons and professional workshops. You may not need to participate your freshmen year, but these are available for you.

    If you are a female there is the "Women in Engineering" office (WIE). It offers professional, academic and social opportunities such as interacting with female faculty, alumnae and corporate representatives. There are industry receptions for undergraduates and industry tours. Viterbi has a chapter of Society of Women Engineers available.

    You are facing changes in your life. It is normal to be a bit nervous. Try to schedule your time and TAKE ADVANTAGE of all these resources to help you. Do not wait until a week before finals to ask for assistance. Claire has offered to answer your questions off the board. I am sure she has tips to make your adjustment to college academics a bit smoother.
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  • ripemangoripemango 838 replies119 threads Member
    Claire, thanks for that thorough and detailed response. What GPA would you say is a good goal? Is Writing 140 a one semester class by the way?
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  • Zelda FitzgeraldZelda Fitzgerald 1046 replies40 threads Senior Member
    WRIT 140 is only one semester -- and DON'T WORRY ABOUT IT! You obviously don't write like a caveman based on your posts here, so you should be OK. You're not writing literary essays like you did in your HS English classes, so there really isn't a "right" or "wrong" answer for WRIT 140. If you can string words together coherently, present interesting ideas in your papers and show up to class/do your work, you WILL get a good grade!

    I can't speak to Engineering specifically, but do know that getting a "high" GPA in the demanding programs at USC is difficult. I had a hard enough time at SCA getting straight As -- and it's not "academically" difficult, but rather "creatively" difficult! I initially really was down on myself from being a "nearly 4.0" student in HS to getting As, Bs and even a few Cs in my college career. It came with the competitive territory of my program, and I assume that logic holds true at Viterbi, too. (SCA, Viterbi and Marshall are, I think, the hardest schools to get straight As in.)

    A 3.0 is really nothing to scoff at in USC's more academically/creatively demanding programs. Don't kill yourself over a low grade, especially in your first semester. If you graduate with anything over a 3.0 that is an amazing accomplishment! BE POSITIVE!

    And as far as grad school goes...from my experience, it tends to be based more upon your abilities in your intended grad school program. GPA is important -- but I think strong rec letters and demonstrated success in a specific academic concentration is the most important factor. Being part of some engineering societies and clubs can't hurt your resume, and I recommend you become a part of any engineering org that interests you! (PS: There's an engineering frat, if you're a guy. I think there's a female sorority as well?)
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  • Georgia GirlGeorgia Girl 3139 replies632 threads Senior Member
    For women there are:

    Society of Women Engineers (SWE)
    Alpha Omega Epsilon is the Greek group
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  • BowTieFrattyBowTieFratty 453 replies3 threads Member
    No one in engineering has a good GPA.... this is one of the reasons that people who are going on to professional schools (like law) avoid the hard sciences like the plague.

    Just graduate D = Diploma for non major classes, get a C in your major and you will be fine.

    BTW do not listen to your parents...... just nod your head and say "OK".... they have no idea how rigorous and competitive the grading is in engi today.
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  • HawkwingsHawkwings 1202 replies5 threads Senior Member
    Wow, that's some terrible advice. Nobody in engineering has good grades? How about the University Valedictorian two years ago who was a civil engineering major, with a 3.99 GPA? Or how about me? I've got a 3.7 and I'm going into senior year of an engineering degree.

    As an engineer you will work harder than other majors in the school. You probably won't work as hard as architecture majors though.
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  • ripemangoripemango 838 replies119 threads Member
    Well then what would be some good advice? How can I adjust my study skills to transition to college?
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  • vincehvinceh 2280 replies11 threads Senior Member
    A big part of success in college as well as working in the "real world" is about time management and organization. I have two tips that have worked for my sons as well as various nephews and nieces.

    1) Get a calendar. It can be on your phone, computer or you can go old school and use a paper version. Enter in every assignment's due date as soon as you know it. This includes papers, exams, quizzes and presentations. For mid-terms and papers put a reminder into the calendar one and two weeks before the due date. For finals put in weekly reminders for each of the three weeks prior. If you want to be really anal-retentive, and as an engineer you might, you can even color code the events and reminders by class - that way when you're half asleep in the library you can look at your calender and know that any time you see a pretty rainbow that it's going to be a bad day/week.

    2. Plan for at least two hours of out of class study for every one hour of in-class time per week. So if you have 5 classes with 3 hours of meeting time per week (3X5=15 hours), then you'd expect to study at least 30 hours outside of class (2X15=30). Total time commitment for the week: 45 hours. THIS IS ONLY A RULE OF THUMB. Some classes will require a lot more effort and others with require less. But I strongly urge you to view college as a job! You or your parents are paying an awful lot of money for this opportunity so take advantage of it. You can find a lot of cheaper ways to be "slack" and "chill" with your friends than the $58K that USC charges.

    After a few semesters you'll find your stride but start hard from Day 1. Some classes will have only three marking points - mid-term, paper & final. The students who really struggle are those who think college is just hard high school. That works fine until you barely pass the first exam and find yourself looking up from inside a very deep hole.

    At times it will feel like the information is coming at you like water from a fire hose and engineering is certainly one of the tougher tracks at any college. But you were admitted into Viterbi, obviously the admissions office thinks you can handle the work. Hit the ground running and you should be fine.
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  • Zelda FitzgeraldZelda Fitzgerald 1046 replies40 threads Senior Member
    Hawk, no need to get offended! Congrats on doing well in engineering. But, you must admit, not every engineering major has an impressive GPA like that. The program can be difficult for those who struggle with time management, etc.
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  • HawkwingsHawkwings 1202 replies5 threads Senior Member
    I would say that time management is definitely the key to success. Viterbi gives all undergrads a planner. One of those old fashioned non-digital ones. USE IT. I was much happier, healthier, and more successful after I started using mine. Write down everything in it, and check it often. Once you know exactly what is coming up, make a plan. Sometimes it can be loose, sometimes it can be tight. Some days I plan out my day to the half hour, running around to do errands and finish homework and go to class.

    A lot of engineering classes aren't actually just three marking points. Most of them have homework and quizzes, in addition to one or more "midterms". Every class is different of course - there is no standard method of grading that the university enforces. Each professor gets to control their own classroom.
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