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I Need Some Help - Very Smart Kid Dropped Out Of College First Qtr. (Cal Poly Eng.)

JeremyyyJeremyyy 4 replies1 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 5 New Member
edited December 2010 in Parents Forum
I attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo first quarter this fall. I was an engineering student (im a bright kid, it's REALLY hard to get into engineering at slo).. but life didn't quite work out for me..

I decided I'm not quite cut out to be an engineer, and don't want to be an engineer. At first I wanted to be an engineer mainly because it would give me job security and I would make money. I won't get too into why I don't want to be an engineer, but the fact is that I've changed my mind and am no longer interested..

So first of all, I would like to change majors.. which I'm really disappointed about Cal Poly. Cal Poly makes it very hard to change majors, doesn't let you explore classes in other majors very well because they stick you in your major right away, and I'm not even sure what I want to major in. I want to experiment..

I'm pretty sure I want to just major in something in the liberal arts that I would enjoy. This will give me lots of options and I'll enjoy what I'm learning. I'm considering something like psychology / sociology. Perhaps becoming a psychologist / counsellor in the years to come- but that's thinking too far ahead. For now, I know I want to major in some sort of liberal arts.

But here are my concerns:

-I didn't really like Cal Poly, SLO. I realize I'm a city person & SLO is in the middle of no-where, I love diversity and SLO was too white for me, I want a more broad education, and SLO was too career-oriented. It's a beautiful place and great for certain people.. but SLO just isn't for me.

Also, while SLO is strong in engineering, they are rather weak in the liberal arts.

So, I decided to take a leave of absence for winter quarter and decide what to do and organize my life..

Unfortunately, another detail is that I did TERRIBLY GPA wise.. I got a 1.4 GPA. I just wasn't inspired to work, various factors: being on my own without my parents I let loose a bit, and got caught up in partying..etc..etc.. I messed up, there were lots of personal factors.. I won't go into it to much, but yeah I MESSED UP. I definitely know I have the potential to work hard, as I proved in highschool.. I can handle the work, I just knew engineering wasn't right for me and really felt no inspiration. I was dumb, and I admit it. I shouldn't of got so low of a GPA and failed some classes.. So now I'm admitted my fault, and trying to be mature about how I can fix my life now and appreciate all the advice people can give me.

So, my options seem:

-Stick it out at Cal Poly even thought I don't like it very much, try to figure out a liberal arts major that fits me and transfer into that. I know even liberal arts majors are very impacted, and I know psychology is a very popular major and you might need a high gpa to transfer in. Perhaps I can get into sociology? I'd just have to make the best of the situation and stick it out in san luis obispo..

-Try to transfer to another university. However, with Cal Poly's "Upside-down curriculum" (where you start taking major courses right away rather than all GEs like at other colleges) and my dismal 1.4 GPA.. I think it would be EXTREMELY hard to transfer. thoughts?

-Find a community college, I'm confident if motivated correctly I can get 3.6+ and transfer t a good UC or private school. However, I would HATE to live at home with my parents for 2 years, especially since all my friends are at other various colleges around the nation. I would miss the whole college experience, and have a boring life with no friends. 2 YEARS is an oftly long time, but is the sacrifice worth it if I can transfer to like UCLA / Berk / UCSD? Very minimum UCSB and get in as a psychology major? Are there any community colleges I can go that have some sort of campus life? (A residential community college with dorms?? - anything like that exist?)

What should I do? I need help. I was pretty certain I wanted to be an engineer, but now I realize it doesn't fit me personally and professionally and I made a mistake. Plus, I underestimated Cal Poly's seriousness about not changing majors and knowing for sure you know what you want to study (I thought I did at the time).. and then I got messed up.

So.. for a very smart, confident, social kid.. I messed up, chose a college and major probably not best for me, made some mistakes, over-partied, etc.. and want a change in my life. I admit my faults, have matured, and wanted some advice on what I should do and my options. I've been browsing this forum and everyone seems very well educated and knows their stuff. soo... help me please!! maybe one day ill go back on this forum and contribute all the information I've learned.. the whole college process and college everything is so complex to figure out what is best for each individual.

Thanks for any and all help!
edited December 2010
20 replies
Post edited by Jeremyyy on
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Replies to: I Need Some Help - Very Smart Kid Dropped Out Of College First Qtr. (Cal Poly Eng.)

  • ShrinkrapShrinkrap 11539 replies251 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 11,790 Senior Member
    I like the community college idea. You already DID the "whole college thing." Two years isn't really that long. Lot's of kids around here do it. BTW, I appreciate your warnings.
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  • Emaheevul07Emaheevul07 5890 replies76 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 5,966 Senior Member
    I think the CC option is your best bet, and Shrinkrap is right that two years isn't that long. I went to CC for two years, and while I did my share of whining and carrying on about it because it can be a challenge to ones maturity to gracefully handle CC while it seems like all your friends have moved on to bigger and better things, if it gets you where you want to go it's the right choice and it's worth it. CC is a stepping stone for you, not a destination. There's no shame in that.
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  • bluebayoubluebayou 26529 replies172 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 26,701 Senior Member
    First off, don't blame Cal Poly and its curriculum. Many engineering programs have similar restrictions about taking electives -- there is little room for elective for those that want to get an eng degree in four years. Second, Cal Poly is huge and has many liberal arts courses, but they ain't available in the Engineering college.

    But yes, SLO is a small town, and not LA/SF. If that is your goal, community college is the obvious solution, and transfer in two years .

    Good luck.
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  • JeremyyyJeremyyy 4 replies1 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 5 New Member
    Thanks for the replies.

    While it probably could get me to a better end point in 4 years, the concerns I have with CC-

    -I worked really hard in HS, and it would suck to go to CC for 2 years after all that hard work..
    -I truly think the college experience is worth almost more than what you learn in your classrooms (especially if I'm going to study liberal arts now). I almost might as well not go to college and just read lots of books and self-educate myself. Missing the main college experience, and then entering a new college scene after 2 years doesn't sound too appealing. I learned a ton just from- dealing with my roommate, the people I've met, living on my own, clubs, dorm-life, etc.. And yeah it would suck to think that all my friends are out having fun in college experiencing college life while I'm living at home for 2 years, with no friends around.. what am i going to do for fun??

    But, it might be the best for me thinking long term..
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  • JeremyyyJeremyyy 4 replies1 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 5 New Member
    And I'm not blaming Cal Poly. I completely blame myself. They advertised that it was very hard to change majors right away. I took it as a plus because I thought I could jump into engineering and take engineering courses right away which would interest me, rather than taking a bunch of GEs at a UC. That's why employers love Cal Poly grads.

    This is a good lesson to highschool kids though who are applying to Cal Poly / similar schools.
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  • ShrinkrapShrinkrap 11539 replies251 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 11,790 Senior Member
    IIRC, You already had "the college experience".
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  • Emaheevul07Emaheevul07 5890 replies76 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 5,966 Senior Member
    1. I hear you. You're not the only smart kid to end up at a CC. But nobody is entitled to go to dream school without doing the work. You worked hard in high school but you messed up and went to the wrong school and didn't withdraw before you let crap grades end up on your transcript. It could happen to anyone, there is no sense dwelling on it, but you need to own your circumstances. You are not rockstar high schooler anymore. You are 1.4 cal poly student now. Times have changed. Have a slice of humble pie and get to work, it's the only way to move forward.

    2. You had a year of the college experience and you will have at least two more when you transfer. I am a CC transfer student myself, I get it, the situation is not ideal, but you are not going to be isolated and friendless with no "college experience." If you truly feel that living in the dorms all four years with no detours, even when you have a 1.4 to show for yourself, you should consider plan C and forget school and get a job while you iron out your priorities. Your college experience will not be ruined by two years at a CC, altered to be sure, but not ruined, and you really need to have your eye on the prize here.
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  • JeremyyyJeremyyy 4 replies1 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 5 New Member
    What does IIRC mean?

    Also, another con of CC-

    I heard it's EXTREMELY hard to get classes. From talking to some friends at my local CC, they say its way over crowded. Plus I learned my 1.4 GPA would transfer, so I'd have to work extra hard to get my GPA up. I tried to sign up for my local community college for spring semester, but my enrolment date hasn't even passed and almost ALL classes are already full.

    It's taking a risk to go to CC, im positive i would get good grades. But I might get discouraged, especially if it takes me more than 2 years.
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  • polarscribepolarscribe 3200 replies32 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3,232 Senior Member
    It wouldn't "suck" to go to community college. Lots of smart people go to community college, particularly in California. :)

    I scored 1350 on my SATs (back when it was out of 1600) and went to community college. I first enrolled through a high school program, but then stayed with it, because I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with my life. So I went to work part-time and took classes part-time for a couple years... and in the process, discovered that I loved doing journalism. (It helped that my local CC has one of the nation's best two-year college journalism programs.)

    I got the "college experience" for my junior and senior years by transferring to a quality out-of-state public university to finish my degree. In the process, I discovered that "college life" is overrated, unless you find some strange joy in puking your guts out every early Saturday morning.

    By getting my lower division stuff done at CC, I saved thousands of dollars for both my parents and myself and have under $20,000 in student loan debt. I had ridiculously-small classes and an extremely personal freshman/sophomore education that was probably better than anything I'd have gotten in the 500-student lecture hall hells of a UC school.

    I'm not saying it's the right path for everyone. But it's certainly not a path you should be afraid of taking.

    Edit: Yes, your 1.4 GPA will transfer. It will transfer *everywhere.* You can't escape it by running somewhere else. You can rebuild it by forgetting about all the extraneous "college experience" stuff and focusing on what you're paying for: college classes. You're not the only one who's had to learn that the hard way :)
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  • ShrinkrapShrinkrap 11539 replies251 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 11,790 Senior Member
    IIRC= if I recall correctly...aren't you LSkaiWalk?
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  • madbeanmadbean 3156 replies85 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3,241 Senior Member
    Does SLO have some form of Freshman Forgiveness? That's a program some universities have to allow those who get into trouble with terrible freshman grades to get a second chance. Usually means you must re-take your flunked courses and the new grade will replace the F on your GPA. I believe the first grade also appears on your transcript, but the GPA can be saved. Check this out asap. While you may want to transfer out of engineering at some point, fixing this now may take priority.

    You are willing to admit you messed up, which is fine as far as it goes, but I don't detect any willingness to accept the consequences. You may feel entitled to attend a finer institution based on the student you once were, but it does seem to suit the college student you became. That may seem harsh, but you need to be honest.

    It's very possible to recover from this misstep, find a new major and direction in life, and become successful and happy (and more mature in the process). But it is not pain-free. I wish you good luck and courage.
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  • lilmomlilmom 3462 replies95 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3,557 Senior Member
    You are out of high school now and you don't have to worry about other people's opinions. I agree with the others that you should attend a cc. Find one that will prepare you for the 4 yr school of your choice. For example, the ones in our area prepare some students for UCLA. You say you want a more broad education rather than a specialized engineering major. Well, that may Include post graduate work and attending a cc would enable you to save money.
    Ccs are as challenging as you make it.
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  • JeremyyyJeremyyy 4 replies1 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 5 New Member
    I'm willing to accept the consequences. Thanks for being blunt, I do need a reality check. I probably will take the slice of "humble pie" and go to community college. I don't want to burn any bridges though and want to make the decision possible. And it doesn't sound too great socially, but it probably is the best option for me. Thanks for all the advice, I'll probably end up going to community college, just want to hear all of your ideas. I think Cal Poly allows you to re-take Fs, not sure exactly though. When I talked to a counselor about leaving she really didn't mention it.

    Thanks for the advice.
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  • lilmomlilmom 3462 replies95 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3,557 Senior Member
    You are out of high school now and you don't have to worry about other people's opinions. I agree with the others that you should attend a cc. Find one that will prepare you for the 4 yr school of your choice. For example, the ones in our area prepare some students for UCLA. You say you want a more broad education rather than a specialized engineering major. Well, that may Include post graduate work and attending a cc would enable you to save money.
    Ccs are as challenging as you make it.
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  • ucsd_ucla_daducsd_ucla_dad 8506 replies67 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 8,573 Senior Member
    I took it as a plus because I thought I could jump into engineering and take engineering courses right away which would interest me, rather than taking a bunch of GEs at a UC. That's why employers love Cal Poly grads.
    I'm just reinforcing what bluebayou said - if one goes into engineering at a UC they also start right in on engineering courses from day one - they don't take a couple of years of GEs and then start taking major courses - there's not enough time to do so since they have to take so many major courses (plus GEs). I'm just saying that if you'd have gone to UCLA's School of Engineering you would have encountered heavy major courses right away - courses with a harsh curve and a fairly high attrition rate.

    Don't get too down on yourself though - as I just said engineering/CS has a high attrition rate of people who start in it but then decide it's not for them and then switch to another major.

    Regarding SLO - when it comes down to it you'll spend most of your time with the people along with a few restaurants, movie theaters, shops regardless of whether you lived in SLO, Westwood, Berkeley. It's not like as a 18/19 y/o you'll be hitting the bars/clubs along Hollywood blvd. SLO has all of the above. I'm just saying this because it's easy to think the grass is greener on the other side or to view these other locations through rose colored glasses and your own location through clouded glasses but you should be realistic. There are thousands of fellow students at SLO from all walks of life and multiple ethnicities if that's important to you - it's just a matter of meeting them and becoming friends with them which is no different than if you happened to be at UCLA/UCB or anywhere else.

    With your GPA you have limited options. Have you discussed with the academic advisors about switching majors at SLO? It sounds as if you're making a lot of assumptions. I guarantee they deal regularly with students, a lot, who enter as engineering and then switch out within the first year. They can tell you what options are open to you and tell you the ramifications of the academic probation I assume you're on with such a low GPA. However, if you set your mind to it you can turn this GPA around so that by the time you graduate this first quarter won't be that big of a deal. Your other viable option is a CC whether living at home, sharing an apartment with another student, or finding one with a dorm.
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