What's engineering like?

I’m super interested in engineering (biomed/chem), and I was wondering if any current engineering majors or past engineering majors can touch on their college experience. What was your college admissions process like? How difficult was school for you? Are you happy with your major choice? What was getting a job after graduation like?

I’m just curious as to how everyone views the engineering experience. I know I’m in for a lot of work ahead, but it just seems so rewarding. If you have any information, please share!

** What was your college admissions process like? ** I would make sure you have taken math at least until Calc 1 level in HS. It doesn’t matter if you need to take it again in College. Your ECs don’t all have to be engineering oriented. Do a variety of things that appeal to you. When you make a list of colleges, think about things like “What area of the country would I like a job in” and “What do I like besides engineering” and “Do I like a balance of genders at the school”.

**How difficult was school for you? ** I think those who have the aptitude for engineering find it challenging but not overwhelming.

**Are you happy with your major choice? ** Yes. In your classes you will find what you like…hands on or theoretical? Working in a team or by yourself?

What was getting a job after graduation like? Sometimes it depends on the economy at the time…go to the career office in the Fall of your senior year and find out what the interviewing schedule is. Don’t decide that the career office is “lame”…use all the resources they have. Feel free to use other resources as well,
Talk to professors about career ideas as well.

Minimum preparation for studying engineering in college:

  • Math through precalculus; if you complete precalculus in 11th grade or earlier, take calculus if available.
  • High school physics and chemistry (or more advanced versions (e.g. AP) if available).
  • High school biology (or more advanced version) if your major requires biology in college.
  • The rest of the well rounded high school base curriculum (English, history and social studies, foreign language, visual or performing art).

Obviously, for more competitive admissions colleges, you need to take more rigorous or advanced versions of the various courses and earn higher grades to be competitive.

@ucbalumnus I was worried because I’ve only taken honors chemistry my sophomore year of high school (AP Bio and AP Physics C, though). I decided to apply for a program to take an undergraduate summer Chem course at Northwestern, and I got accepted for the scholarship program. I ended up getting a B, however. Will this reflect poorly on my college apps? It was a 3-week Chem 110 course, so it was pretty intensive, but I’m scared about sending in that transcript. I think the rest of my high school coursework is acceptable based on what you’ve listed.

Thanks for the insight!

@riverandsasha3 I’m also a high school senior. I would think showing the course on your transcript would definitely be beneficial. Despite the low grade, you went out of your way to take a rigorous summer course. That’s the type of motivation colleges like to see.

Also, this really shows your improvement as a student, since you decided to take more chemistry after deciding honors chemistry was not sufficient.

The only reason I think you should not include it would be if all of your other classes are the highest level and you only have high A’s.

My D is a junior chemical engineering major. I can speak a bit to her process.

In HS she took 4 years of math, science, history, english, and up to level III in Spanish (couldn’t fit the 4th year into her schedule). Her academic electives were pre-eng I, II, III, stats, and organic chemistry. She had a well rounded listing of AP course and DE courses. Her school only offered Calc AB so that was her highest math. She did take AP chem and AP physics C (both mechanics and E&M). ECs were what she enjoyed - music, theater, sci oly, volunteering/mission work, and lots of leadership stuff. She also did summer programs in robotics and SWE, and had a regular teenager type job.

D was really focused on engineering and clear about what she wanted in a college - direct admit to a CoE, first year engineering courses, collaborative students, and a career readiness focus. (Her favorite schools were all the big state flagships). She got into her first choice, Purdue, and into their honors college. She had a balanced list of schools - 2 reaches, 4 matches, 2 safeties. One of her safeties was rolling admission so she had her first acceptance (with full tuition scholarship and honors college invite) by early October. That made a world of difference psychologically while waiting on the others.

D has always been a very hard worker. She took the most rigorously course load she could in HS and I think her work ethic prepared her well for her college courses. She spends a ton of time studying, and goes to all the office hours, and review sessions that are offered. She says all her engineering courses are challenging but thinks they are fun and enjoyable. She loves her major and has no regrets. She still has plenty of time for fun in college.

In terms of jobs, she secured a summer job in engineering her freshman year and nailed down her co-op. I would expect her co-op company to offer her a job upon graduation. They invest a lot of time and money into their co-op students and everyone she talked to had an offer upon graduation. I’d highly recommend looking at schools with well developed career services centers, and that support not only internships but co-ops.

Send in your summer course grade. I agree that it shows initiative!

@momofsenior1 That’s great for your daughter! Do you mind telling me what safety school offered the full tuition scholarship and had rolling admissions? I have very similar stats and EC to your daughter, and I could use the psychological boost! :smiley:

We were living in OH at the time so her rolling admission safety was U. of Akron. Her other safety, not rolling admission, was Clarkson (that also gave her a ton of merit).

U of Cincinnati was also on her initial safety list but at the time she was unsure if was 100% sold on co-oping so struct them from the list. In retrospect they would have been a stronger safety but I believe they just have early action.

Look at your non flagship options in your home state.