Aerospace Engineering: A 21-Year-Old's Guide to College

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In summary, Jose is thinking about going to college to study aerospace engineering, but is concerned about being able to keep up with people who have recently finished high school. He is currently 21 years old and has not attended school since high school. He recommends starting to take community college classes part-time to prepare for university and to help him feel out if he is prepared for a full-time technical job.
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Jose_Luis7846
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Hello my names Jose and was thinking going to college for areospace engineering. I always thought college wasnt for me, i have a decent paying job right now and am content with it. But recently i have really been enjoying doing research about rockets/plane/space companys and have been considering doing it as a career in the future and am extremely dedicated right now even with the 5+ years of college that comes with it. (And the $)

The only thing that's holding me back right now is if i can learn fast enough to keep up? I am 21 and haven't gone to school since high school, i got a 28 on the act for math but never took any ap calculus or anything along those lines from what i can remember. Thats my #1 question.
The other is what can i study/go to class for RIGHT NOW in order to keep up (or get ahead of) people who recently got out of high school. Thanks!
 
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Take an English class at your community college:
  1. You'll need it for your application essays
  2. Many people start college without calculus
  3. You will use English every hour of every day
 
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  • #3
Jose_Luis7846 said:
The only thing that's holding me back right now is if i can learn fast enough to keep up? I am 21 and haven't gone to school since high school, i got a 28 on the act for math but never took any ap calculus or anything along those lines from what i can remember.
Welcome to PF.

"from what I can remember"? No comment.

Anyway, a 28 on the ACT Math portion out of high school looks to be the 91'st %-tile, so that's a good start:

https://blog.prepscholar.com/act-percentiles-and-score-rankings

If you are in the US, I'd recommend starting to take some community college classes part-time to prepare you for university and to help you feel out how prepared you are for a full-time technical job. If you have several CCs close by, try to pick one with an aerodynamics lab or other resources that may help you to do some hands-on experimental work.

Also maybe look for Rocketry Clubs or RC Plane Clubs nearby to connect with like-minded folks. Best of luck. :smile:
 
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Jose_Luis7846 said:
But recently i have really been enjoying doing research about rockets/plane/space companys and have been considering doing it as a career in the future and am extremely dedicated right now even with the 5+ years of college that comes with it. (And the $)
<<Emphasis added>>

* What do you mean by "research"? Reading articles on the Internet? Or, ...?

* Before we go any further, you should confirm whether you are in the US or some other country.
 
  • #5
Vanadium 50 said:
Take an English class at your community college:
  1. You'll need it for your application essays
  2. Many people start college without calculus
  3. You will use English every hour of every day
@Vanadium 50 , what's wrong with the OP's English?

Yes, I do see some spelling errors here and there (which could be due to typing using a cell phone or tablet), but what he wrote is certainly comprehensible.
 
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I didn't say there was anything wrong with it. I did say it is a good place to start.
 
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I got back into it about 5 years after high school. I did the community college route. It was hard, but it worked out. I'll admit my grades were not competitive, but I've got a relevant full-time career and I'm in a MSc program.

I did the soft-start just taking 1 class at first and gradually growing into more classes. This helped with me to understand the workload too because 1 class in college felt like a lot more work than high school. I tested straight into calculus because I took it in high school, but I knew that I did not do well and there were some gaps in my knowledge... I decided to start with algebra, and I felt like it really gave me a strong foundation when I moved on to later classes. It was worth the 1-2 semester setback; otherwise I'd probably manage to squeeze through calculus with a passing grade if I'm lucky and the gaps would've destroyed me in calculus II, which used a lot of things I had forgotten like trig identities. Even if you can start further along the curriculum it might become a huge setback/discouraging if there are gaps in your knowledge.

I like those books by Schaum's Outline it's not perfect and I think there are some errors in it sometimes, but something I needed help with was lots of examples. Books have a lot of problems and 1-2 examples, but sometimes I'd be trying the problems and I wouldn't know if I got the right answer or not. How can I test if I understood the material right? You could do lots of things like office hours or see if the solution is online, but what was quick and practical for me was comparing my work to Schaum's outline. Another bonus was the books are pretty cheap compared to textbooks.

Physics is a really hard class. I'm taking a class right now (electromagnetism) and it's still really hard. Be prepared to be vulnerable and for that class to take a lot of time. If you have a physics book it probably couldn't hurt to skim through a few chapters and try to get stuck on some examples or problems. I like the book by Young and Freedman. My current graduate level class is using Jackson's book, which I think is a bit confusing to me but I'm getting the hang of it. Something that's very helpful is becoming familiar with units (grams, Newtons, Hz, Joules...). Even if you can't solve the problem I think it would be a good idea trying to apply the formulas and see how the units work out. What this will do is that when you finish problems in the future you can see if your units make sense.
 
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Vanadium 50 said:
I didn't say there was anything wrong with it. I did say it is a good place to start.
I see -- I misunderstood your reply. Thanks for the clarification.
 

Related to Aerospace Engineering: A 21-Year-Old's Guide to College

1. What is aerospace engineering?

Aerospace engineering is a branch of engineering that deals with the design, development, and construction of aircraft and spacecraft. It involves the application of principles from various fields such as physics, mathematics, and materials science to create and improve flight technologies.

2. What do aerospace engineers do?

Aerospace engineers are responsible for designing, testing, and maintaining aircraft and spacecraft. They work on various components such as engines, wings, and control systems to ensure safe and efficient flight. They also conduct research to develop new technologies and improve existing ones.

3. What skills are needed to become an aerospace engineer?

To become an aerospace engineer, one needs a strong foundation in math and physics, as well as critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Knowledge of computer-aided design (CAD) software and programming languages is also important. Good communication and teamwork skills are essential for working on complex projects with other engineers.

4. What are the educational requirements for studying aerospace engineering?

Most aerospace engineering positions require at least a bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering or a related field such as mechanical engineering. Some employers may prefer candidates with a master's or doctoral degree for more advanced roles. It is also important to have a strong background in math, physics, and computer science.

5. What are some potential career paths in aerospace engineering?

Aerospace engineering offers a wide range of career opportunities, including working in the aerospace industry, government agencies, and research institutions. Some possible job titles include aerospace engineer, flight test engineer, propulsion engineer, or systems engineer. With experience and further education, one can also advance to managerial or leadership roles.

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