My ideal university scenario...

<p>Before people start slating me, I'm just putting down my ideal university scenario, understanding that large bits of it are probably unrealistic. I'd just like some help separating the fantasy from reality. </p>

<p>First off, I'm an international student with access to a scholarship so hopefully money will not be a problem. I'll be taking my GCE A Levels soon and I'm a fairly bright student. At the moment, I'm still a little shady with the whole 'pre requisites' thing you guys have got going on and don't know how my A Levels will affect that. </p>

<p>I want to go to a fairly reputable U.S uni and major in both Political Science and Civil Engineering. From what I've seen so far, both courses don't really overlap from what I've seen. I realise that I may have to spend 5 years in uni as opposed to 4 and I'm happy with that. </p>

<p>I would also, during my time in uni, experiment with my electives and perhaps take courses in English Literature, Media and film making amongst others. I also want some spare time to myself to be able to enjoy and appreciate university life, not just work the whole time - though I do realise hard work is a necessity. </p>

<p>How much of this is possible? Any help is appreciated.</p>

<p>That sounds like a heavy workload for 4 or 5 years of college.</p>

<p>Many engineering majors need 5 years just to finish their engineering requirements, let alone requirements for a second major or fun electives.</p>

<p>Let's look at a specific scenario. Suppose you were to attend UC Berkeley. Their civil engineering program leaves you a total of 2 electives after requirements for the major and gen ed courses. The political science major requires another 12 courses. Using your poli sci courses as free electives and towards your gen ed requirements, you might be able to finish the double major in 5 years with very careful planning. That's assuming that you would not run into scheduling conflicts (good luck!) and that you would take a full course load each semester (many engineering majors don't). </p>

<p>Also note that a double major in 5 years leaves you with exactly 0 free electives. If you want to take a few fun classes, you would need to stay for a 6th year.</p>

<p>Barium, very helpful even to a passer-by like me, but what do you mean when you say many engineering majors don't take a full course load each semester?</p>

<p>Sounds too good to be true :)</p>

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Barium, very helpful even to a passer-by like me, but what do you mean when you say many engineering majors don't take a full course load each semester?

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<p>Higher level engineering courses are harder (i.e. more workload) than the number of units indicate. They don't take a full workload (i.e. maxed out units) because they will not have enough time to complete everything.</p>

<p>Right, thanks a lot for that, gives me something to reflect on. </p>

<p>Do you think it would be more appropriate if I took Political Science as a minor?</p>

<p>And how would I apply for both courses? (If I was doing a double major) Would I have to apply and get accepted by both the different schools or are you just applying to the university?</p>

<p>And if I were to decide to do both courses, would you recommend staying 6 years?</p>

<p>if you really want an engineering + poli-science combo then why don't you go with a Bachelor in Engineering and a Master in Political Science (or something similar)? A master is always more valuable than a bachelor plus grad school is often cheaper.</p>

<p>Otherwise, you could of course take political science as a minor if your university allows that.</p>

<p>I need a MSc. for my eng. degree to be any good (I know that's not how it works in the states) </p>

<p>Most Pol. Science degrees are MA. </p>

<p>So if I were to double major, I would not be able to take electives in my first year? What would I be doing instead?</p>

<p>If financial aid is not an issue, why don't you look into 3+2 engineering programs as well.</p>

<p>I thought about 3-2 programs as well. The caveat is that admission to these program is not guaranteed. I think one would be better off going straight to a school with an engineering department if one plans to major in engineering.</p>

<p>Everyone who ever successfully applied to a 3-2 program from my own college was a math or physics major. Not sure if that's because prospective engineering majors are naturally drawn to technical majors, or if the engineering schools discriminate against liberal arts majors with minimum science background.</p>

<p>One more question you should ask yourself: how serious are you about majoring in Political Science? Because if it's just that you have a side-interest in Pol Science, you always have the option of doing a single major in Civil Engineering, and using your electives to do Pol Science courses. Staying an extra year or two just for the sake of a double major does not seem rational unless you want to pursue graduate studies or seek a job in the Pol Science field. </p>

<p>Having said that, Pol Science might not be a bad complement to engineering, strange as it may sound. I am double majoring in Economics and Pol Science, and my Pol Science modules always seem to provide a refreshing alternative to the math-heavy economics modules. Also, the Pol Science modules are essay-based and the Econs modules are exam-based, so I can focus more on Pol Science in the early part of the semester and more on Econs in the later part (not sure if it works that way in the US though).</p>

<p>While there are places like Caltech that do not guarantee admissions, there are also places like Columbia University where students are guaranteed admission if they come from one of its affiliated institutions and complete all the requirements set forth by the university.</p>

<p>I'm pretty serious about it. I want to contribute to the development of my country at a national and international level. </p>

<p>But I also want a more science-y, analytical subject to show employers that I am capable of it. It would also open up my options for masters degrees and besides, Civil Engineering is linked to public policy, which interests me. </p>

<p>What's a 3+2 major? </p>

<p>And what would I be doing in my first year of a double major degree if I don't have any electives? Surely I must get some....</p>

<p>In a 3+2 engineering program you would spend the first 3 years of your undergraduate career at one school (typically a small liberal arts college w/o an engineering department) and the last 2 years at an engineering school. In the first 3 years you would have to complete a major and all gen ed requirements at the first university, as well as a sequence of science courses. After completing all engineering courses at the second institution, you would graduate with two undergraduate degrees, one from your first undergraduate institution and another one in engineering. </p>

<p>This is only possible at schools with a designated 3+2 program. Your liberal arts and engineering schools would have to agree to accept each others courses for credit. And the engineering curriculum at the second institution needs to be structured so that it is possible to take all engineering courses in 2 years, provided that you are already done with all math and science prerequisites and gen ed requirements.</p>

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And what would I be doing in my first year of a double major degree if I don't have any electives? Surely I must get some....

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As a first-year engineering major you would be busy studying math, physics, computer science and maybe chemistry. Those are the basic prerequisites for almost any engineering class offered, so you should be taking them ASAP. The remaining courses in your schedule are filled with gen ed requirements and maybe a poli sci class. </p>

<p>Of course you <em>could</em> postpone the sciences or gen ed requirements in order to make room for electives, but I think that would be a really bad idea. Once you start postponing engineering courses, you are committing yourself to stay for an extra year or two in order to finish your degree. I personally would recommend that you stay on track for the engineering major for at least one year in case you change your mind about taking 6 years to graduate.</p>

<p>How about you check the course requirements for an actual college you are interested in and map out the courses you would need to take to fulfill the requirements of a double major? Because it is possible that the amount of extra coursework needed for a double major can vary from college to college. </p>

<p>For instance, at my school (not in the US though) you can typically finish a double major in four-and-a-half years, and if you take extra courses in some semesters (or during the summer) you can even finish in 4 years.</p>