Should I drop out of engineering?
October 19, 2011 8:45 AM   Subscribe

Should I drop out of Engineering and change my major? I have Really bad transcript.

Im currently a sophomore studying Mechanical Engineering and I just transferred from CC to a large research university and have been struggling in all my classes. I really feel Engineering is not for me since I though it would me more hands on career rather then studying theories and theorems behind it. But that's not how I expected. But the problem is, my transcript is really bad since I changed my major few times before at the CC and there for my GPA is only 2.6 and have many "W" and "F". My parents are pushing me into completing my education ASAP because this is my 5th year in college. Im really confused and stressed out because all the things going on right now. I feel like if I drop out of my classes right now, it'll look alot worse. I have wasted lot of money and time in the last 4 years since I realized mechanical engineering is not what I want to do. I want career that's more hands on and its not as tough as engineering. Another thing is, I don't feel mature to be in college because I don't value money and don't take education seriously. Please give me an advice on what I should do.
posted by Parh6512 to Education (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It sounds like you've already realised what you want to do but you are just looking for permission/approval to do it.
posted by gwenlister at 8:57 AM on October 19, 2011

I really feel Engineering is not for me

I realized mechanical engineering is not what I want to do.

Seems pretty clear cut to me. Why make yourself miserable?
posted by desjardins at 8:58 AM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you feel like engineering is not for you, then exploring your other options might be a good idea. Worry less about your GPA, though. You still have two years to improve it, and believe me that it matters a whole lot less once your leave university (as in, I haven't been asked for my GPA once).
posted by Nightman at 9:00 AM on October 19, 2011

How many credits/semesters do you have left to finish college? If it's not more than a year, I'd say stick it out just to get it done, regardless of grades. It would be an even bigger waste of money if you didn't get a degree after being in school for 5 years (i.e., if you dropped out now.)
posted by Flamingo at 9:01 AM on October 19, 2011

It's very sad to read this, and you seem sad writing it. Have you looked into therapy options through your school?

How much do you have left to go? Personally, me, I would power through the semester, then drop at the end of the term. You always have the option of coming back later.

Also, you will probably be able to find some good hands-on options with ME, but you have to learn the theory first. If you try to learn the theory as you go, or not at all, it will be detrimental to you.

Have you tried to use your current knowledge and apply it to something? Maybe pick up some Arduino and build a robot or something cool? Seeing the end result of your work, even on a small project, may help you realize if it actually is (or is not) what you want to do.

Good luck.
posted by I am the Walrus at 9:02 AM on October 19, 2011

Another thing is, I don't feel mature to be in college because I don't value money and don't take education seriously.

It's the rare person who does, honestly. I went back to school after dropping out for five years, so I've had the, uh, privilege of seeing a classroom from both the side of the C-average slacker and the guy who got straight As. You're not alone, and many people who graduate will have never bothered to take their education seriously or learn to value money. At least you know what's up.

I went to an engineering school (albeit for computer science) right out of high school. I studied with a lot of Mech E people and my best friend's brother is also a graduate of that same school and has a Master's in it. It's hard fucking core, at least at the school I went to. If you don't want to do it, don't do it, because I can't see that stress and effort being worthwhile if you don't have it in your heart (whether for purpose or profit.)

Completing a diploma full of Ws and Fs with a 2.6 GPA is going to get you as far as companies who only care that you have a diploma. On the other hand -- and considering you have to make up for those Ws and Fs -- coming back later on, with a more mature, clean head on your shoulders and a reason to study hard and get good grades at whatever subject you'd like looks a whole hell of a lot better.

Get out of school, wrangle as much financial (or otherwise) support out of your parents as possible, land a low-paying entry-level job, get a shitty apartment with five roommates, make friends, get laid (which, as you well know, isn't something that's particularly easy at an engineering school) and grow up some. Eventually, if you realize you need to be back in school, you'll go back to school.
posted by griphus at 9:02 AM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Have you spoken to an academic adviser at your university? Is there some other major at the university that appeals to you more?

Where are you?

If you are in the US you (and your parents) need to understand that dropping out of college for a year or a few years will not ruin your chances of eventually earning a good degree. And colleges understand that some people are just not ready at 18 or even at 22.

Go out into the world, get a job.
posted by mareli at 9:04 AM on October 19, 2011

It sounds like a traditional college might not be right for you. Perhaps you can go to a technical training school since the classes there will be more hands-on and specific to whatever career you're interested in.

However, some things to consider about engineering school:
- Mechanical Engineering isn't what most people expect. As a sophomore I switched out of it because it was too theoretical for me. Before that I switched out of Civil Engineering. It's perfectly fine to switch until you find the right major for you.
- I enjoyed my last year of engineering school much more than the earlier years. The classes became more focused, and we worked on a lot of team projects. You do get to do a lot of hands-on stuff, but the first few years are there to teach you the basics needed so you aren't totally clueless.
- 2.6 GPA isn't that bad for engineering school. Where I went 2.9 was the average for engineering majors, and anything above 3.0 was respectable. As a sophomore, you have plenty more classes to pull up your average.
posted by yodangson at 9:05 AM on October 19, 2011

Don't fall for the sunk cost fallacy. The fact that you've already spent a lot of money isn't a reason to keep spending money.
posted by mr_roboto at 9:10 AM on October 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

-I still have 5 more semester to go in Mechanical Engineering.

-I have talked all this to my Engineering adviser and she told to transfer out into a Mechanical Engineering Technology Program.

-Im at University at Buffalo which is ranked in the top 60 in Engineering curriculum.

-I live in US but my parents as Indian.

- I have hardly worked for my money. My parents have provided me with everything(car, rent, gas)
posted by Parh6512 at 9:13 AM on October 19, 2011

It's not that grades don't matter - but after your first job, nobody is going to care much.

The second year engineering curriculum is by far the hardest part about studying engineering. All the stuff is boring, and useless, and hard. But it is the foundation for what comes later.

Go talk to some of your professors and your dean. There are resources that can help you decide what to do.

You can do it, if you want to. You're easily smart enough, and it's all a matter of want.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:13 AM on October 19, 2011

Have you thought about MET (Mechanical Engineering Technology)? Lots of engineering hopefuls here at Purdue transfer into MET after they get their first or second spanking by engineering classes. Lots of hands on, some theory but not nearly as much. It's possible that a lot of the credits you have would apply.

Or, what do you really want to do?
posted by bolognius maximus at 9:16 AM on October 19, 2011

I tend to agree with your advisor, but it depends on what job you want to get/be able to get. There are a HUGE spectrum of jobs that MEs end up in. My recommendation would be to try to find some people with jobs that are similar to what you want to have and talk to them. As a starter maybe something like a test engineer? I think the big thing to focus on right now is finding out what you really want to do (sounds like you are on the right track with that) and either go out and experience it (internship, co-op), or talk to people that have that job and find out what qualifications are needed. If you don't feel like you have a place to start with that go talk to your on campus career services people, they can help you with more than just the senior year job search.

Re: classes, sophomore year tends to be the core of fundamentals. It can be hard, but it is also an important basis for many of the later courses. Don't be afraid to seek help because the concepts you see this year are going to keep coming up in one form or another. Getting them under your belt will make future classes much more enjoyable.
posted by Feantari at 9:35 AM on October 19, 2011

Other people are giving good advice. I'll just share that I was in a very similar situation as you, and things worked out pretty well for me eventually.

I started as a mechanical engineering major at a school in the Midwest that mostly does STEM degrees. I quickly figured out it wasn't for me, switched to geology for a semester, then ended up with a history degree (unfortunately from that same STEM university, I wish I had transferred). My overall GPA wasn't great, but my major GPA was. I kicked around in retail job purgatory for five years, then went back to school and got my masters degree in public administration, a field I am really interested in. Pairing my sub-par GPA with good GRE scores helped me get into grad school, though I wasn't accepted everywhere I applied. My graduate GPA was very good, and I feel like I am no longer limited in whatever I want to do next (grad school trumps undergrad). My first job out of grad school was with one of the top organizations in my field.

To be clear, I'm not saying you're screwed until you go to grad school, or that you need to switch majors (or which majors to switch to). Mostly I just wanted to let you know that it will work out, whatever happens.

Good luck!
posted by postel's law at 10:48 AM on October 19, 2011

What major would you switch to, or would you stop university entirely? Most, if not all, traditional undergraduate programs will not be hands-on or practical. On the other hand, an undergraduate degree, particularly in a rigorous subject, could help you a lot later on. So I don't think you should quit engineering until you can say specifically what you're going to do instead and have talked to a lot of people about your new field so that you can say with some certainty that you will like it better than what you have now. Essentially, you have no reason to let go of what you've got until you have hold of something else.
posted by anaelith at 11:09 AM on October 19, 2011

Quit school. Take 2 years off. Work for those years (and for god's sake, don't live with your parents).

After the first year, figure out where you want to continue school (because you will want to) and spend the second year applying and learning a little groundwork in your chosen major.
posted by coolguymichael at 11:58 AM on October 19, 2011

I really feel Engineering is not for me since I though it would me more hands on career rather then studying theories and theorems behind it.

I won't comment on what you should do, but I will say that working as an Engineer is vastly different to studying to be one, and will generally be far, far more hands on.
posted by markr at 4:11 PM on October 19, 2011

a few things people usually don't tell you while you're in college:

1) after you graduate, NO ONE in your life will EVER care about your g.p.a., other than if you apply to grad school or for a job at google. stop worrying about it, other than what you need to stay in school or the program of your choice.

2) this is less true of some fields than others but in general, working is nothing like being in school. just because your sophomore year sucks doesn't mean you won't enjoy being an engineer. for what it's worth, the first two years of college generally suck for everyone because you're taking required courses.

3) the degree you finish with doesn't determine your professional path for the rest of your life, unless you want it to. flickr was founded by an english major and a philosophy major, and metafilter's very own mathowie has a master's in geology. i know a lot of people that went to law school, passed the bar exam, and then decided after a few years of practice that being a lawyer was not what they wanted to do in life. if you want to stay in engineering, stay in engineering. maybe you'll enjoy being an engineer, but if you don't, you can always try something else, either now or later on. it's totally okay to change your mind!

4) if you have any electives, take them in fields you're interested in, even if they seem frivolous or aren't related to what you think you want to be later in life. you will be pleasantly surprised down the road at how a few classes in art history, life drawing, french, etc can end up making your life better.

also note that the economy REALLY sucks right now, so if your parents are paying the bills, you're probably better off staying and finishing college on their dime than dropping out of school because you might not be able to find even a crappy mcjob for the next few years.
posted by lia at 4:51 PM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

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