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Am I setting myself up for failure?

  • #1

Main Question or Discussion Point

One of the things I greatly dislike about myself is that before I do something, I always need to research the hell out of it. So, after I finally decided to go ge a BSEE, I searched for any and all online information on what to expect. That search led me to this http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/03/top-5-reasons-i/#", particularly the comments.

Queue "Defeat Mode." After reading all of those comments, I feel I am bottom of the barrel and not fit to complete a rigorous engineering program. My algebra skills are nothing to write home about and I will have to work full-time, reducing my study time significantly. I think I am not going to make it.

I know the advise I will likely get is "put in hard work and you'll make it", but, frankly, what are the chances for a 26 years of age, married father, working a full-time job, with garbage algebra skills to complete a BSEE degree? Man, I need a blue pill.
 
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Answers and Replies

  • #2
fss
1,179
0
You miss 100% of the shots you don't take. I won't bother trying to encourage you, since it seems you've already made up your mind as to how it's going to turn out.
 
  • #3
If I were you, I would take math classes part time at your local community college. Yes, engineering is very math-heavy, but let me tell you a true story. Imagine a kid who quit school at 6th grade. He's a slacker, he never really studies anything mathematical, and when he turns 18, he tests into remedial algebra. The first few weeks are hectic. The instructor is talking about things he has never seen before. But then something 'clicks'. He begins to understand and even enjoy mathematics. He realizes that his garbage mathematics skills can be rectified. A year and a half later, he's starting calculus III, with 4 A's and a B in various math classes, and considering a double major in engineering and mathematics. That kid is me. Mathematics can be learned by anyone, in my opinion. Maybe not topology, but for an EE, the most difficult math you'll have to do is differential equations and linear algebra.

There is a lot of financial aid available for people wanting to go back to school. At the very least, give my suggestion a try. If you make A's and B's in math up to, say, calculus II, then you're good to go. But I'll say this: If you don't at least try, you'll regret it until your death bed.
 
  • #4
699
6
You need talent, resources and 100% commitment from both you and your family, but it can be done.

However, based on what you say, it's not clear that you have any of these things. You can take aptitude tests to reveal if you have the natural ability; resources can be obtained; commitment from yourself is up to you, but you've already committed to a family, so you need to know how they feel too.

By the way, the thing you dislike about yourself (the need to research the hell out of something) is a good characteristic of an engineer. :smile: But, optimism is also a good characteristic for an engineer. - Otherwise, difficult things would never be accomplished.
 
  • #5
1,679
3
If you like puzzles you'll probably make it. If the thought of solving a rubik's cube gets your juices flowing you could have what it takes. If it makes you roll your eyes and think "omg, that's torture. I'd rather do X" then maybe it's not for you.

Some people are born engineers and they go to school to learn the formal techniques. Other people learn the formal techniques and can have sucesdful career but it's what they do, not who they are.

Find out who you are first. If you are an engineer by birth you must find a way to do the schooling even of the math is a burden at first. If you are not a natural engineer you must decide whether to do it based on the needs of you and your family. It will still be a rewarding career but let me tell you; if you are a natural engineer and you land the right job you will find yourself whistling on your way to work and saying "I really can't believe they're paying me to do this. I'd do it for free if I didn't need the money."

That's career nirvana.
 
  • #6
35
1
I'm a firm believer for aiming for the stars and landing on the moon, rather than aiming for the moon and landing back on Earth.

If you are passionate and committed you will succeed. Sure, certain people have an affinity for math, but its not something that will time, effort and work you will not be able to accomplish.

Best of luck.
 
  • #7
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Rule #1 when reading news sites or magazine (e-zine or whatever) sites:

DO NOT read the comments!! Seriously, if you value your sanity and your IQ points, steer clear of the comments!

edit: Oh and that first article you linked? Every student in every discipline will probably say the same things.
 
  • #8
mathwonk
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
10,780
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"A journey of 100 miles begins with the first step." Looking at the whole journey is what is discouraging you. Do the first thing, get the algebra skills. That will help you even if your journey ends there. If you succeed, you may be encouraged to take the second step, as then the journey will be shorter.
 
  • #9
I think it is mostly the thought of starting something challenging and new, with a lot of uncertainty thrown in, and high probability of failure. Similar to being a father but with less horrible outcomes. I am still not comfortable with failure.
 
  • #10
699
6
I am still not comfortable with failure.
I think you will not fail. But, it's quite possible that, once you begin, you might have to put your plans on hold because of family commitments. If that happens, it's not failure, but an issue of priorities.

Here is an example. I have an uncle that went to an Ivy league college for mechanical engineering, back in the 1950s. While there, his Dad died and he had to drop out to take care of his mother for a while. He then finished his undergrad degree at a local state university. He wanted to get a Ph.D., but marriage and family was the priority, so he couldn't do it. He did study part time and eventually had a Masters degree, course work for Ph. D. and partial research done for a Dissertation. Still, marriage and family won the day, and he didn't finish. However, after retirement, at age 70, he finally finished his Ph. D. ... Oh, and this is after he had a major stroke that paralyzed him partially.

Delays only equal failure if you give up.
 
  • #11
658
2
You miss 100% of the shots you don't take. I won't bother trying to encourage you, since it seems you've already made up your mind as to how it's going to turn out.
Exactly. Thank you for posting this.

I know the advise I will likely get is "put in hard work and you'll make it", but, frankly, what are the chances for a 26 years of age, married father, working a full-time job, with garbage algebra skills to complete a BSEE degree? Man, I need a blue pill.

Why does this question asked so incredibly much on this site? "Chances" over and over. I don't understand what exactly is the point of this type of question. Isn't it always 50%? Either you make or you don't.

Mathnomalous, I'm in a very similar situation as you. I made a lot of sacrifices to get where I am now and nothing is gonna stop me to *try* to succeed. If I don't try I'll never know if I could or couldn't do it. Me being a close age to yours, I've had some life experiences that have taught me some serious lessons about goals and dreams. There are some things in life I wanted to pursue but I held myself back because I was afraid of failing (or in some cases afraid to succeed).

If you feel unprepared in Algebra then go buy a book and practice it until you feel comfortable. You know your weakness before it becomes a problem. How is this a bad thing!?
 
  • #12
symbolipoint
Homework Helper
Education Advisor
Gold Member
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Mathnomalous,
Find a cheap used Algebra 1 or Introductory Algebra book, and study on your own. Enroll in a community college Elementary or Introductory Algebra course at your soonest opportunity. Study hard, thoroughly, carefully, everyday. ALWAYS be willing to restudy topics a second or sometimes even a third time.
... Hey! Maybe by this time next year, you will be in a higher course on Algebra at a c.c. ?
 
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  • #13
chiro
Science Advisor
4,790
131
I think it is mostly the thought of starting something challenging and new, with a lot of uncertainty thrown in, and high probability of failure. Similar to being a father but with less horrible outcomes. I am still not comfortable with failure.
The more you get used to uncertainty the better you will be able to handle it. Same with failure. Lots of people see failure as a negative thing, but for 99.9999999% of us, failure is a necessary thing for getting anywhere.

There's nothing wrong with failure: you ask anyone that is successful at anything how many times did they fail, and why they kept going despite the failure and I think you'll get an idea of where I'm coming from.

Sometimes if you want something bad enough, and everyone else is telling you that its "impossible" or "suicide" or something along those lines, you have to take a stand and say "I don't give a **** this is something I want to do".

Now you have the advantage of wanting to do something that many before you have done which means that you have people with real knowledge and experiences and more importantly with positive attitudes that would be beneficial to you.

I'll leave you with this: imagine you live in a world where every single day is chaos. Do you think you would somehow adjust to it over time? Would the uncertainty affect you years after your first encounter as much as it did when you had your first encounter?

I wish you all the best
 
  • #14
I think I reached that point where one becomes a real adult, with real responsibilities, and I am having a difficult time adjusting to my new reality. This academic "issue" I brought up is irrelevant; either I put in the sacrifice or I do not, I can eventually learn what I need to learn. I mean, people who want to become engineers search for viable solutions when they encounter a problem; waiting for some idealized parameters is a waste of time, no? The solution might not be pretty, enjoyable, or what have you, but if it has to be done, it has to be done.

Alright, sorry for being a drama queen and thank you for taking the time to answer. I am very grateful!
 

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