Deviating from the 4 year path.

<p>I'm an incoming Junior in Chemical Engineering. I've taken classes both summers I have been in college. It's pretty important to note that I came in somewhat behind and because of consistently taking 15-16 credit hours semesters in the Fall and Spring and doing 8 and 9 credit hour semesters respectively the past 2 summers, I've put myself into a position where I can get out with my BS in ChemE in 4 years provided I take 15-16 hours the remaining 2 years. However, I'm now wondering if it would be better to slow down. I have two reasons as to why I want to do this:</p>

<li><p>I'm about to take some very difficult courses. In order to stay on track for 4 years I'd need to take, for instance, Calc based physics 1 on top of organic chem 1 and two ChemE classes. In the spring I would take mass transfer, organic 2, and organic lab in the same semester. Then next fall I would need to take Biochem on top of 3 chemical engineering courses. </p></li>
<li><p>I've recently been offered a good undergraduate research opportunity. I'd like to be able to invest 10-15 hours a week into this during the Fall and Spring. I think it would be very beneficial to my resume.</p></li>

<p>And now two big reasons as to why I don't want to do this.</p>

<li><p>I have to take out loans every semester I am here. I will be 28,000 dollars in debt at the end of my 4th year (possibility it could be a little lower, but not by much). </p></li>
<li><p>I'm not yet sure what I want to do when I graduate. If I want to do industry, I must get a co-op, which won't be until next summer at the earliest. And would mean even longer until graduation. If I want to go to graduate school, I'd be graduating at an odd time and it could end up taking a total of 7 years or more to get both my BS and MS. </p></li>

<p>I realize only I can make this decision. But I thought I would get some input from people that have most certainly been where I'm at. This isn't the whole situation exactly, but I think it sums it up pretty nicely.</p>

<p>Don’t take this the wrong way, but given everything you’ve mentioned, I’m going to assume you’re not really a top student.</p>

<p>My recommendation would be to take a little bit longer to graduate, maybe only half a year if you can. Definitely do some useful research and internships until you establish a solid plan for your industrial work. Your debt is on the larger side, but as long as it doesn’t go over around $45k, it’s safe to say that you’ll be able to pay it off. </p>

<p>You sound like the type of student who, if you took multiple high level technical classes, would crumble under the pressure. This is an important reason not to do that. You should spread it out over 1-2 extra semesters but try to clear up your summer for internships (which, hopefully, will be paid). If possible, try to assure that you’ll be graduating into a job (by already having an agreement).</p>

<p>You say this isn’t the entire story. Is there anything else relevant that would matter in your decision?</p>

<p>I have a 3.62 right now. The only subject that’s really brought my GPA down is math, and even then I’ve yet to make less than a B in any of my math classes. I could potentially have a C in Calculus 3 at the end of this summer, but that’s still up in the air. This past year I made an A in thermodynamics and an A in fluid flow and heat transfer, which are often considered to be the more difficult sophomore level Chemical Engineering classes. </p>

<p>I’m actually the type of person that is happiest and works best under pressure. But I’m afraid some of the semesters I have laid out could go a little beyond that. I love Chemistry and it’s really one of my strong points, and I’d like to have the time to do extremely well in organic in order to prove a point. I do not feel i’m deficient in math, I just have a problem with pure math classes that often go beyond the math skills needed in my engineering courses. I realize the most difficult courses I still have to take is Organic 1 and 2, the two classes on mass transfer, and biochem.</p>

<p>I really haven’t put much thought into internships. I’ve been stuck on the thought of getting a co-op for so long, I forgot an internship is a possibility. I don’t know where the research opportunity is going to take me, but I want to make the most out of it. I feel if I can keep my GPA above a 3.2-3.3, have a strong research experience, and perhaps one or two internships, I can be a strong candidate for whatever I decide to do. </p>

<p>And by the entire story, I guess there’s really not too much more to it. Outside of the time requirement. The research opportunity has me working at a national laboratory about 30 miles away, I’ll likely need to go there 2-3 times a week this fall.</p>

<p>That’s certainly not bad, by all means. You should be fine if you get some experience and keep on it. Not being too interested/good in math is going to hurt more in the upper divisions. However, I’d say you have a good buffer unless you have some form of collapse.
Relative to your classmates, how much do you have to work to succeed? And why did you get behind in your classes?</p>

<p>I also feel I’ve got a good buffer. I fully suspect my GPA to drop some with the courses I’m about to take, but that’s part of the reason I built the buffer in the first place. It doesn’t mean I won’t aim to maintain if not improve it. I would need to start doing very, very poorly to bring my GPA into bad waters, I have excel documents where I play around with this just to find out. </p>

<p>I don’t hate math, but I don’t do extremely well in a pure math setting. I don’t know if this is because my mind needs to see how the math is being applied or the math in math courses is just much more difficult than anything in my engineering courses. I think it’s a combination of both. I suspect it’s going to weaken me somewhat in a few of my remaining ChemE courses, but not to the extent where I’ll consistently make Cs or fail. As I was able to find out in thermodynamics and heat transfer, I’m good at knowing how to apply equations to solve problems, and fast at it too. </p>

<p>I would say I have to work less. I’m pretty positive over half the class puts more work into it than me. Some of those end up doing poorer and some better. I’m pretty certain with a few exceptions most of the people that have a higher GPA than me simply spend more hours studying and study more efficiently. But then again, some are just more intelligent. I could deffinitely have better study habits and learn how to study more effectively, my study habits have already improved with a year of engineering course work under my belt. I tend to focus too much on getting all the details to assigned materials which often causes me to end up burning out with still 20-30% of the remaining material for an exam needed to be studied for. There’s always that problem on the exam that I didn’t spend enough time on because I focused too much on other material. But it’s something I’m getting better at. </p>

<p>I didn’t really get behind at all. Coming into college my school based math placement off ACT Math subscore. Mine was relatively low. They originally placed me in college algebra which I had to test out of. This allowed me to take Pre-Calculus fall of my freshmen year. Because of all this I was not admitted into the College of Engineering until late last summer. I wasn’t able to start my freshmen physics sequence and Calc 1 until the spring of my freshmen year. Last summer was spent taking engineering physics 2 and calculus 2.</p>

<p>Well if you going to grad school you should either graduate in 4 or stretch things to 5 years. Personally I think pushing for 4 is the better case there. Less loans and you finish schooling in 6 or less years.</p>

<p>If you strongly considering industry. An extra semester or two would be helpful. You would have either co-op or research experience and your GPA should remain steady. Two things that would help in your job hunt and getting a better paying job.</p>

<p>Yeah, definitely stay an extra semester or year. You don’t want to get hit by multiple classes that require heavy use of Calc 2/3/DiffEqs and be damaged because you just don’t get it as well as you’d like.
Also, you didn’t start getting any real experience yet, and you need some of that. Starting only in the junior year is not an ideal position to be in.</p>

<p>And it’s really something I haven’t decided yet. I want to get a good taste of both research and industry to find out which I’m going to prefer. If I were to pursue a graduate degree, I’m not sure if I’d do it in Chemical Engineering. I may actually choose to do it in Materials Science and Engineering, but that’s a very bold statement to be making for something that’s still a few years down the road. An extra year may be beneficial in taking extra classes to prepare me for grad school, and to acquire more research experience. </p>

<p>As far as industry is concerned, would one or two good internships suffice for getting a good job post-graduation vs. a full co-op with one company. A year ago I was fully set on doing a co-op. I interviewed with 4 companies last fall, got no offers, and did not try again this past spring. I think the biggest factor was that the only thing I really had is my GPA. That’s different now. I’ve worked in one lab and I’m now starting work in another which should provide even more opportunity. Does industry consider research experience at all? I realize research does not help you with industry, however I feel it would make a big statement as to your dedication and willingness to pursue things outside of just academics. I guess what I’m asking is, would I be as strong as a candidate for a job after graduate with a strong research experience and one or two internships vs someone with no research experience but a full co-op with one company?</p>

<p>Neo, what do you mean about not getting any real experience yet, and only starting in my Junior year? Just a bit confused on what you’re referring to. Although I think it is the research.</p>

<p>I meant you’re only starting to do research/internships in your Junior year.
Starting Soph would’ve been better, and Freshman would be ideal. Your circumstances are reasonable for not doing so, but take a bit more time in school if you’re going right into industry.
If you want to study MatSE in grad school, it won’t be a bad idea to crunch it into four. Take a few electives, see how it goes. You very well may like it more.</p>