Picking a Major

Hello, my name is Clay, I am in the class of 2019 and have been thinking about my future career. I would like to become an engineer but I’m not sure what to major in. I want something that will make me decent money right out of college. Petroleum engineering sounds like something I would love and enjoy. But not sure about this because of the slumps hitting the oil industry. Another one that sounds very cool is Mechanical Engineering. I know that this is broader and will offer more jobs. Will this be better for me? Is it possible to easily become a petroleum engineer with a mechanical engineering major? What other majors do you recommend for me? Preferably nothing in the medical field.
Thanks- Clay

There’s actually a forum for this, and the people there will be able to help you better.

Where! Give me a link plz.

Anyone else have opinions?


Thank you

When you say you are the class of 2019, is that your high school class or college class? If it’s your high school class, you don’t need to decide what type of engineering you want to take right now. Considering going into engineering is plenty at that age, and there are far more important things you can be spending your time doing. Deciding your major is way down on the list. You can still apply as an engineering major (some let you go in as undecided engineering, some have you pick a major but it’s usually easy to switch within the engineering department).

If you’re in college, then there may be introductory engineering courses that can give you a better idea about the different engineering fields and which one you want to pursue. Looking at courses that are required by each major can be helpful to see which major you’re likely to do better in. You can also look at job postings to get an idea of who’s hiring for what jobs and what types of degrees they want. You can also speak to professors or people in those chosen professions to see what they would recommend. Different engineering classes may take similar classes in the beginning so there’s not a lot of time lost if you haven’t decided quite which engineering major you want to pursue.

Good for you for planning out what you want to do!


Be open to change. I was a freshmen last year and planned out my whole high school career and what I wanted to major in. However, an event impacted me and I met some people I totally changed my potential major (Music Education with Concentration to Wind Conducting to Speech Language Pathology).
Take an engineering course if your HS offers one, or an intro one in college. See if you really like. If you need any help, feel free the ask through the forum or a private message! =)

Thanks to the both of you! I am a freshman in high school. Our high school currently doesn’t offer any engineering this semister due to our teacher retiring. (Basically the school was in no hurry to get another one) They say we will have those types of classes back next year. I first actually wanted to be a sports medicine physician and recently thought about engineering as well. I will imply what you said and keep looking and be open to change. But I currently have my heart set on engineering. Or maybe not depending on what will happen within the next 4 years. Thanks sincerely, Clay

Engineering is a COLLEGE major. You shouldn’t specialize right in HS and in fact top colleges don’t want you to.
If you want to prepare for engineering in college, you need to have the following classes, over the course of 4 years:
English: 4 years, preferably Honors and including AP English Language
Math up to Calculus (AB is fine, BC is stronger but not required since you’ll just start in Calc1 like everyone else, unless you’re a masochist and skip Calc1).
Foreign Language: 3 years of one, or 2+2; 4 years of one, or 3+3, if you’re aiming for HarveyMudd or MIT or such.
Science: Honors Bio, Honor Chem, Honors Physics OR AP Physics1 OR AP Physics 2, one more AP (AP Bio, AP Chem, AP Physics C); if you double up, think of AP CS.
Social Science: 4 years, including US history.
If you live in CA or plan to go to college there, 1 art class (band, choir, etc, “counts” as long as you get a grade)
If your HS offers it, Robotics (and/or FIRST Robotics) and/or Project Lead The Way are both strong electives to have for a future engineer.
During your first year in college, you’ll take engineering classes that will help you decide what specific major is right for you.
For example:

Thanks MYOS1634, I see you have a lot of information about life as a high school student. Would all these classes be required? They look really hard but I’m .up for it. I am just wondering if i miss some would a school not accept me in the future? I’m currently taking Spanish because our teachers here said that anyone thinking about college should do it because it is easier in high school. I’m also currently taking biology and earth science. I’m taking geometry as a freshman this year because they said I was smart enough to do algebra 1 as an 8th grader. Does this give me a leg up on the math side of things? Thank You

Yes, the classes above are pretty much required if you want to attend a good college that will give you sufficient financial aid to attend.
If your parents are wealthy or you don’t care where you go as long as it’s ABET-accredited, you’ll have a bit of leeway, but it’s taking a gamble. If you’re up for it, take the program outlined since it’ll give you the most options.

If you’re in geometry now, try to get an A. Then algebra2 H as a sophomore, Precalculus H as a junior, and Calculus (H, AB, or BC) as a senior. It’s better for an engineer to have calculus in HS so that they can “pre-learn” calculus for college, when it’ll be super fast and difficult (a whole year of calculus packed into the first 4 months of your college career: if you haven’t taken calculus before, it’s possible but very hard, whereas if you’ve taken calculus before, you’ve got an edge.)

What level of Spanish are you in?
If you’re in Spanish 1, you will need to take Spanish up to Level 4 senior year.
Regardless of what your HS requires, good colleges want to see 3 or 4 years of a foreign language (can be Spanish, German, French, it doesn’t matter). Many colleges also require foreign language classes for college graduation, but if you had 4 years in HS and prepare an engineering degree, you are typically exempt, which is really cool. :slight_smile:

If you’re taking Bio and Earth Science this year, next year should be chemistry and junior year Physics (Honors Physics OR AP Physics 1 OR AP Physics 2), with AP Chem or AP Physics C senior year (if you got an A in AP Physics 1 or 2).

No my parents are not wealthy at all. My grandparents own a trucking business that is doing very well. I know for sure they will give me some help if I really need it. But they will not do it all lol. I am going to get an A in geometry seeing as I am pretty good and every test we take we have the option to turn it into an A+ no matter what our first grade was.

As for Spanish I am planning on taking it all four years.

I appreciate all your help seeing that I will be the only engineer in my family so they cannot help me pick classes very well at all. I am still thinking about Petro but this may be a very stupid thing to do. But like you said the first year of college will help me pick a specific engineering study. I guess it will help if I wait and study oil prices and always monitor the oil industry.

Like my biology teacher said. “We will not simply run out of oil, the fact is oil will eventually get so expensive to get to it that it is not worth drilling for it”.

I plan on doing pretty much what you said about the science side of things. Thanks again-Clay

Click on the two links I provided, they’ll help you understand a bit about engineering education in college.

Will do