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Anecdote: 34 out of 36 aspiring engineers, eventually dropped out

  1. Jan 1, 2014 #1
    Anecdote: 34 out of 36 aspiring engineers, eventually dropped out....

    I recently heard this. 34 out of 36 aspiring engineering students dropped out of the program.

    My questions is WHY?

    What do you think the common reasons are, that make people drop out? in your experiences. Of course the average dropout rate(So I've heard) is around 60-80%

    I'd like to know the pitfalls and situation better so that I can mentally prepare myself to a greater extent.

  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 1, 2014 #2


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    Where did you hear this? What is the exact source?

    https://www.physicsforums.com/blog.php?b=2703 [Broken]

    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  4. Jan 1, 2014 #3
    Maybe at one university they had an exceptionally poor intake one year, but I would bet that this is a myth.
  5. Jan 1, 2014 #4


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    I think it's valid to question why people drop out.

    An anecdote however is not data.
  6. Jan 1, 2014 #5


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    The attrition rate for certain programs can be high. Many students may enter under-prepared for the work and find themselves with failing or near-failing grades. Others may become dis-illusioned with the type of work that is required when you enter the actual engineering courses in the program. Some may not wish to put in the hours of study and home work required to pass the courses in the program. A few may not like the school and want to transfer to another.

    When I was an undergrad, I went to a small school which had one engineering degree program. The class sizes were small, about 25 per year, and everyone took the same curriculum. However, the actual engineering courses were offered mostly in the junior and senior years, with the undergrad engineering courses making up most of the first two years. The class which entered after mine shrank over the years from 25 to 8 going into its final year. The members who left did so for one or more of the reasons I stated above. My own class started with 25 and wound up graduating 19, which was about average for classes in that period.

    Most of the people who left did so before the end of the second year; once students got exposed to the actual engineering portion of the curriculum, they tended to stay and complete the program and receive a degree.

    Now, I'll admit my experience wasn't typical; at large schools, students can feel alienated because they don't know many people and they are surrounded by a large number of strangers; there may be financial reasons which can't be overcome; there may be changes in the family back home.
  7. Jan 1, 2014 #6
    Most people drop after calculus 1 or 2 or physics 1 or 2, so they never really made it to the "engineering" part.
  8. Jan 1, 2014 #7

    Vanadium 50

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    I think "what is the exact source?" is a very good question, and practically a precondition for discussing it.
  9. Jan 1, 2014 #8
    Thank you all for your intelligent posts.

    The source is a sibling of mine who knew a guy, who knew a girl, who... I'm kidding. It was my sister.

    The intention of the post was to understand the common difficulties that aspiring engineers face.

    I guess, I still would like more input about this, so in your experiences, what was the most common and observable reasons people dropped out? Did you ever have any temptations about dropping out? What were they?

    In writing the initial post, I was certainly under a frantic state of mind, forgive me for a less than ideal post.
  10. Jan 1, 2014 #9


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    My experience is that many people go to college because "it's the thing to do" and they know it's pretty much a necessity for a decent job. They DON'T go because it's where they really want to be and when they see how much work it is, they are outta there.
  11. Jan 1, 2014 #10


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    There are lots of reasons why people drop out of engineering, or university itself for that matter. Some of the more prominent ones in my opinion...

    1. It's easy to be overwhelmed by university life. Many students are on their own for the first time, have to cook and clean for themselves, get themselves to class, and even finish homework without someone nagging them to do it. Many will end up simply no taking care of themselves and that that certainly presents a hurdle in and of itself.

    2. Cost. University is expensive. If your heart isn't in whatever you're enrolled in, its hard to justify working that extra part-time job or all that debt you're accumulating.

    3. Academic challenges. Most students who go into STEM-type programs have done reasonably well in high school. They're used to being at or near the top of their class, and sometimes they've done that without much effort. All of a sudden they're competing against peers who were all in the same situation and the habits that worked in high school don't work so well in university - you can't cram the night before and be successful in other words.

    4. Sometimes you just find something else is a better fit, or you find that your chosen program isn't what you thought it was. Most people don't instinctively know what they want out of higher education - particularly before they've tried it. So, they do a year in a particular program and then move forward based on their experiences.

    5. Some people just plain fail out. Most engineering courses have a minimum standard and if you don't meet that, you're given the boot.
  12. Jan 2, 2014 #11
    I think in some cases students are just not prepared for the increase in intensity with college courses. They have poor study habits, subjects that are covered in one year in high school are covered in 16 weeks in college. I remember when I went to college after high school it was a huge culture shock and I ended up flunking out. I decided to go back two years ago and now I am a 4.0 student. Maturity plays significantly into it.
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