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Computer Engineering and a worried parent...

Eloise2018Eloise2018 18 replies2 threads Junior Member
FYI I looked in the Parent Forum and couldn't find anything that would help so i thought I would post here. My son is graduating in May. He wants to major in Computer Engineering. He applied to only one school, UTA, and was accepted and given a partial academic scholarship. He is set to go orientation in a couple of months. He has a 4.3 GPA but he went thru high school with hardly any serious studying. His first passion is video games and he has a tendency to put off his studies in order to play. He has 18 dual credit hours and 9 AP credits. He should be fine right? But I am so worried. I'm worried that he doesn't really know how to study. I'm worried that he won't figure it out until its too late. I'm worried that it will be so much harder than he thinks it will be. I've read the entire UTA website and the College of Engineering website and everything. It really seems hard and not just the classes, but the entire program. When we visited campus, we went to a meeting at the Engineering College and I saw all of these students looking so stressed out. I'm probably worrying for no reason but bottom line? How hard is it really?
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Replies to: Computer Engineering and a worried parent...

  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 78958 replies701 threads Senior Member
    Were the dual credit courses actual college courses taken at a college? If so, how well did he do in them?
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  • eyemgheyemgh 5600 replies122 threads Senior Member
    edited March 2018
    It will be far harder than he realizes, but he'll figure it out after he has it handed to him a time or two.

    If you want to make his life much easier, get him a copy of the book I linked below. It's written by a guy who was similarly high horsepower and then got his buns kicked first year in college. He figured out ways to study efficiently and thought he had the keys to the kingdom after getting accepted into PBK. Low and behold, most of the rest of the inductees were normal students too. He found that interesting so wrote a book summarizing the study habits of Ivy League PBK inductees. He went on to get his PhD at MIT and now teaches at Georgetown. He has subsequently written multiple NYT best sellers. What he says is not magic. It's just an easy to read summary of tools that work extremely well.

    Even though he is a Straight A student now, he will need the efficiency.

    Good luck.

    https://www.amazon.com/How-Become-Straight-Student-Unconventional/dp/0767922719

    edited March 2018
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  • azmomof3azmomof3 146 replies3 threads Junior Member
    This sounds like my son. Let me know how it goes, ha ha. He's a junior now. I do have a daughter studying CS as a freshman in college, however. She was a much better "student" in high school than her brother although I wouldn't say she put in a ton of time studying either. Their coursework and grades are fairly similar. Anyway, when we went to the parent portion of orientation this past summer, listened to the sessions at the engineering school, and saw her upcoming schedule for her fist semester, I honestly barely slept that night in the hotel. I was an engineering major in college and remember how much work it was and, frankly, I wasn't sure how she would do (and she has GPA requirements on her engineering school scholarships). I kept thinking, like you, that she didn't get how HARD it was going to be. But, here we are in her 2nd semester, and I am so proud of her results from first semester...she pulled off a 3.7 gpa and took 2 different classes in the engineering school that she had no previous experience in. She worked hard but still was actively involved in campus life and student organizations. I bet he'll be engaged by the coursework (rather than the classes he had in high school which may or may not have interested him very much). He'll realize pretty quickly that he'll have to step up his studying game and keep on top of the classes. I guess what I'm trying to say is that it is our nature to worry like this but I'm learning that our kids are pretty bright to get to this point and they'll get it done. We just need to step back and let them....bumps and all. Hang in there!
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  • NuScholarNuScholar 227 replies22 threads Junior Member
    edited March 2018
    College can be quite stressful, engineering makes it even more stressful. But there are many resources on campus to help your son manage the stress and thrive under pressure. He just needs to seek it and be ready for the challenge.

    There's a big pay off ... engineers have really good salaries
    edited March 2018
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  • Eloise2018Eloise2018 18 replies2 threads Junior Member
    They were college courses taken at the high school. He made A's in most of them. He has a 3.6 GPA in the college courses. He took English 1301 and 1302, US History 1311 & 1312, Economics 2305, pols 2311. I think the only B he made was in Economics.
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  • Eloise2018Eloise2018 18 replies2 threads Junior Member
    I'll do that. I think you are probably right. He is going to get his ass kicked the first year.
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  • Eloise2018Eloise2018 18 replies2 threads Junior Member
    My son has to maintain a 3.0 to keep his academic scholarship so that worries me too. It's hard not to worry isn't it? I keep telling him he'll figure it out. But I try to always put on a brave face and not let on that I worry about it.
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  • Eloise2018Eloise2018 18 replies2 threads Junior Member
    I think money is the one thing that might keep him focused! We aren't well off and its been a struggle since the divorce. Yes he has to learn to ask for help. He has never been good at that but there are a lot of resources at UTA.
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  • Eloise2018Eloise2018 18 replies2 threads Junior Member
    In my initial post, I forgot to mention one thing. Since 4th grade, he has wanted to be an architect. His Sophomore year he met a kid in a computer programming class and they became friends. That was when all of sudden he wanted to be a computer engineer. This kid had built his own computer. For Christmas that year my son wanted money to buy computer parts in order to build his own. He and this friend built it and I admit, it's pretty freaking awesome. Now he is taking a Networking class. He and another student and their teacher put in a network at a local doctors office a couple of weeks ago. But last night he was talking about fearing that it would all be boring. He said what if I get to college and I hate Computer Engineering? Honestly, I didn't know what to say so I made up some stuff about how he can take the first year to figure it out.
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  • Eloise2018Eloise2018 18 replies2 threads Junior Member
    I just ordered that book. Thanks for the tip.
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  • Eloise2018Eloise2018 18 replies2 threads Junior Member
    edited March 2018
    One of his biggest problems is test taking. He has always been horrible at it. He will have a perfect score in daily work and assignments but then make an 80 on a test or even lower. He makes careless mistakes, going too fast. UTA Engineering requires a minimum SAT of 1200 to get in. He made exactly a 1200. In by the skin of his teeth.
    edited March 2018
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  • InigoMontoyaInigoMontoya 1699 replies7 threads Senior Member
    He said what if I get to college and I hate Computer Engineering?
    Then he can find a different major. I started out as an Engineering major and switched to Math/Computer Science my first semester. My D didn't decide her major until the end of Freshman year.

    It's much harder to transfer IN to an engineering major than out, because of the number of courses needed and all the prerequisites and sequencing. Lots of people find courses of study once they're in college that they either never knew about or didn't think were right for them. Engineering has a very high rate of students transferring out, since it's the new "plastics" - everyone wants to major in engineering because of the job prospects, but many find it's just not the right discipline for them. Better to transfer early than sink too much investment into something that's totally wrong for you.

    As for study habits, I had the same problem. Coasted through high school, then realized in college I needed to actually do the homework and study! What saved me was getting a peer study group together. Also, many schools offer courses in time management and study skills - look into what services are available. Asking for help, whether it's going to the writing center, getting a tutor - whatever - is critical.
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  • Eloise2018Eloise2018 18 replies2 threads Junior Member
    I just realized I haven't been including the post to which I am replying. Sorry about that. First timer and I thought when i hit reply to a certain post, it would be obvious. :(
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 78958 replies701 threads Senior Member
    Eloise2018 wrote:
    They were college courses taken at the high school. He made A's in most of them.

    Normally, college courses require more self motivation and time management skills, since there is much less supervision. They also tend to put more of the grade on tests and larger projects, rather than small daily or weekly assignments like in high school courses. But college courses taught at the high school may or may not resemble normal college courses in these format aspects (even if they cover the same material), depending on the specific program.

    So if these courses are run more like normal college courses than high school courses, then it may be a positive indication that he is able to handle the self motivation and time management aspect that he will need more of in college than in high school.
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  • HPuck35HPuck35 2018 replies15 threads Senior Member
    Just realizing that there could be a problem is a big first step toward addressing it.

    Study groups go a long way toward helping with study skills. I had the same study skill issues and the study groups I was in helped a big deal.

    Doing well on tests can sometimes be attributed to knowing and understanding the material COLD. Know it well and you can relax. It is when there is panic from not knowing the material well where of some of the stupid mistakes come into play.
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  • 10s4life10s4life 2221 replies47 threadsForum Champion UCLA Forum Champion
    CS is very time intensive for most CS projects which he will eventually face as a CE. He will learn fairly quickly that he can’t slack off.
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  • colorado_momcolorado_mom 9030 replies79 threads Senior Member
    edited March 2018
    " His first passion is video games and he has a tendency to put off his studies in order to play. " - Warning bells are going off for me.

    I've heard of a few engineering students (kids of friends/coworkers) that were doomed by their video game distractions. One of my kids was very bright but did not survive engineering - in that case video games were not involved, but similar idea of challenges getting traction on problem sets w/o good study skills / discipline.

    Perhaps it's a good time to discuss whether he'd be willing to leave the gaming system home? (Yea, I know that might be a hard sell. But it's worth a discussion.)
    edited March 2018
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  • boneh3adboneh3ad 7476 replies132 threadsForum Champion Engineering Forum Champion
    On the other hand, I played a ton of video games during college and grad school and turned out just fine. As long as you know (or learn) time management, you can excel both in school and in video games.
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  • HPuck35HPuck35 2018 replies15 threads Senior Member
    Time management and good study skills are key. I am too old to have had video games in college. Playing sports was my vice. I actually got better grades when I was in season for my varsity sport as I was more serious about time management.
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  • SchliekoSchlieko 10 replies0 threads New Member
    I think you are describing the perfect qualifications for being a computer engineer -- both the good and bad. I would rest easy. He is going to kill it. Like buy you a retirement home, kill it. Within the first week of his career, he will get 5 calls from recruiters asking if he is ready to switch companies yet.

    Video games are awesome. Shows a super logical mind. Watch him play. Will give you an instant headache. Perfect precursor for debugging code and problem solving. When he builds his first video game in a class, it will all be over. He'll sit there with tears in his eyes. He was wired for this. It's in his DNA. Books bore him. Sitting in class bores him. Lectures bore him. Dumb people bore him. Tests bore him. Computer code will be thrilling. He will love the professors and the people around him. He will keep these friends for life. He will have found his calling.

    Architecture is even perfect. Like spot-on perfect. Building a computer. Brilliant. Your son is about to start an adventure that will end with Artificial Intelligence. Gives me chills!

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