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Programs Can't make up my mind (switched my major 10+ times in 2 year

  1. Apr 2, 2016 #1
    So I am a 2nd year community college student (will have to stay here an extra year), and I can't make up my mind on what I want to major in.

    Here's a list of everything I've switched my major to

    (1) Started off college doing computer science
    (2) Switched to premed chemistry
    (3) Decided not to do premed, stuck with the chem degree though
    (4) Switched from Chemistry to Chemical Engineering
    (5) Switched from Chemical Engineering to Mechanical Engineering because I wanted to try physics out, not because I didn't like chemical engineering
    (6) MechE to Physics
    (7) Back to MechE
    (8) Aerospace Engineering
    (9) Mechanical Engineering
    (10) Physics
    (11) Now I'm stuck between Physics, Premed Physics and Chemical Engineering.

    Now just some background info on me:

    I didn't do anything in high school, I barely graduated with a 2.1 GPA and didn't show up to half of my classes most of the time. After graduation, I realized I was faced with two options: join the infantry, or get my **** together and start doing well in college; I chose the latter.

    Fast forward two years and I have a 3.922 GPA and have taken a ton of math, science, and engineering classes, but still can't figure out what I want to major in. Because I didn't take high school seriously, I missed out on the main purpose of high school: to be exposed to a bunch of different fields of study so you can somewhat have an idea on what subjects and classes interest you. I pretty much came to college with no experience/exposer to any specific field of study, and have had to just take random classes to try to figure out what I like. The only think I know is that I love math and science, so I've pretty much just been taking a bunch of math and science classes to try and figure out what I like the most.



    Now that you know my background info, let me talk about the classes I've taken, and why I've switched my major between certain majors:

    So I started out college taking Chemistry and LOVED it, I thought knew instantly that I wanted to be a chem major, and premed just sounded like a bonus. I stuck with that for a while, volunteered at a hospital, didn't really like it and I also decided I really liked math too so I switched to Chemical engineering and dropped the premed.

    After switching to chemical engineering, I was put in a weird situation: my CC doesn't offer a degree in chemical engineering, just electrical and mechanical. I thought It would have been a mistake to not get an associates degree before I transfered to a 4 year university, and I also thought maybe I would love physics, and that I should definitely try that out, so I took the safe route and switched my major to mechanical engineering. I didn't switch it because I didn't like chemistry, I pretty much switched so I could try more stuff out and it seemed safer.

    I stuck with mechanical engineering for a while, I really enjoyed all of my engineering classes like statics, physics and engineering graphics (CAD) and pretty much only switched my major up to things that are similar to mechE, like physics and aerospace engineering, but I always went back to mechanical. I was pretty set on mechanical engineering, until a month ago when I went to an "engineering open house" event at a top university in my state. I got to actually see people do mechanical engineering, like building robots and spacecraft and stuff like that. While I thought all of that was cool, I quickly realized that I didn't want to do that for the rest of my life, or even at all. So I left the mechanical engineering building and thought maybe I would check out some of the chemical engineering exhibits they had going on that same day. I went to a few chemical exhibits and they were awesome. It immediately had me rethinking my decision to switch from chemical engineering to mechanical engineering.

    Somehow after that day I decided I would major in physics (random right?). I really liked physics and had almost switched my major to it multiple times, and while chemical engineering was definitely my favorite, physics just felt safer because I wouldn't have to go back and try to learn a bunch of chemistry that I had forgotten over the past year. I was also completely done with Mechanical Engineering. About a month later and I've definitely had second thoughts, I'm really considering chemical engineering, and am so close to taking a chem class this summer.

    So yeah, now I'm in this dilemma where I'm a second year college student and I feel like I have no idea what I want to major in.



    If you actually read all of this I would like to thank you so much. I know it's a lot but I'm really stressed about what I should major in, and pretty much anything anyone says will help:)
     
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  3. Apr 2, 2016 #2

    micromass

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    It seems pretty obvious that your true love is chemistry. So do chemical engineering.
     
  4. Apr 2, 2016 #3

    billy_joule

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    Very few ME actually do those sorts of things, probably less than 1%.

    What research have you done on what different engineer actually do day to day? What engineering job advertisement entice you the most?
    What are some chemE jobs you think you'd like?
    I considered chemE but the jobs were of no interest to me. I'd either sit in an office all day designing plants at a consultant or be on site at a plant keeping it running day to day (or also sales engineers roles). These were the local graduate roles advertised at the time so maybe not a fair sample, but they largely aligned with other info I found online.
    It seemed chemE was about large companies, huge projects and many small cogs.
    I strongly recommend you get some experience via internships/coops to get some industry insight. I did ME and now do product development in a small team, designing, building and testing prototypes. It wasn't until my 4th year and after two internships that I knew I wanted to work in product development.
     
  5. Apr 9, 2016 #4
    yeah this is true, I really don't have time to get more experience though. I'm passed the point of taking general engineering classes so if i decide to switch again from whatever I pick, i'm pretty much going to set myself back a semester or two.
     
  6. Apr 9, 2016 #5

    billy_joule

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    The major your choose now will likely define the next 40 years of your life, so what's an extra semester our two to make the right choice?
    It sounds like you're choosing your future career based on one university open day at one university and haven't done any further research. Can you answer my initial questions?
    Open days are great but they are selling degrees, not careers. They make everything interesting, and most of them are interesting but it doesn't mean a career in that field will be the right fit for you.
     
  7. Apr 10, 2016 #6
    I'm not a Chemical Engineer, but I'm also an enthusiast of Chemistry and my roommate is graduating in Chemical Engineering (ChemE) this coming quarter. I'm studying my senior year of Electrical Engineering (EE).

    From what I am reading, I feel like you are hinting a strong interest in ChemE. A lot of people confuse ChemE with Chemistry, and that is probably because of the name and a lot of overlapping concepts, but I feel like ChemE focuses more on processes and systems rather than Chemistry specifically. The coursework I have seen my roommate study are more like chambers and reactors, and creating environments for different processes (not always a chemical reaction, but it can be something like pressure and flow, or temperature and separation or mixing techniques). They also use computer aided software such as Aspen, which looks like the SPICE for EE majors or Autodesk CAD for mechanical, aerospace, and civil engineers. I think your combined interest in Chemistry, Mechanical Engineering, and Physics would be extremely supportive for a future in ChemE.

    I disagree about the high school exposure to different majors because it is way too basic and it's too broad in my personal opinion. I wouldn't feel too bad about it. I can also relate in a... not very promising start/foundation in high school... but I also advanced in my community college education and discovered my passion there too. The great thing about the community college and engineering is that most of your 1st and 2nd year courses will be very similar for almost all engineering majors, which is why you were able to switch around so much, and I would imagine it hasn't severely slowed your progress. A lot of the community colleges in my area don't even offer "different" engineering degrees... it's all just some kind Associates in Engineering, and students can choose to take 1 or 2 more classes to concentrate in an area (but it doesn't show up on their degree).

    Another great thing that I can tell you is that it seems like a lot of the undergraduate engineering coursework (in my experience so far) seem to overlap frequently. While exploring my interest in Chemistry, I've learned that I'm a very competitive student to Chemistry and ChemE majors too. Many of these courses fall right back to the fundamentals (normally Physics and Mathematics) and you can make sense of a lot of things no matter which major or concentration you choose to pursue. A lot of things and concepts end up being modeled in a very similar style or can be solved using the same strategies even if they are completely different things.

    I think you're going to do great no matter what you choose. If you really want to affirm more certainty in an area of study, then maybe you can look up some university's curriculum in each of the majors and see which classes you would need to take, and which one you think you would enjoy the most learning. You could also explore jobs that you believe you would like to do. I often look up internships and jobs that I would like to do by using Indeed, and I cater my coursework around these areas knowing that they will help me in the projects I want to be a part of. It keeps me very motivated in my coursework and I feel excited as soon as the professors mention any of the concepts I was looking for, and my motivation and interest has helped me do well. Even if the coursework is really challenging... it's not difficult for me to be willing to invest a lot of time into it because I love what I do.
     
  8. May 2, 2016 #7
    I can relate to switching a lot between disciplines. I went through 5 "declared" majors, graduated with a bachelor's in 2 of them, and got a job in a capacity that combined my two majors. Then I moved to a more science-based role within the same company because I was clearly good at it. This work exposure got me returning to school thinking that I either wanted to do medicine, or physics, or aerospace engineering. Now I'm certain about physics and am quickly narrowing down the branches of physics I want to work in. Here is what helped me find the thing I truly wanted to do:

    - Working a paid job with real responsibilities outside a university. This redirected me to the sciences, which I wasn't expecting at all.
    - Doing research with a few professors who were good at mentoring their students. This helped me identify physics out of the physics-medicine-engineering triad, and then also point me to where in physics I wanted to go.

    As someone mentioned above, I wouldn't be too anxious about the possibility of an extra semester or two. Very importantly, get work experience. Work experience is golden for this dilemma. It sounds like you've already started on this track by volunteering in a hospital.
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2016
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