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Changing Major and Graduate Admission in Engineering

  1. Nov 30, 2014 #1
    Hello,

    I am currently a sophomore student double major in physics & math in a flagship state university. Last semester I took 28 credits with 4 math courses (Multivarible Calculus, Linear Algebra, Differential Equation, Elementary Analysis), 3 intro-level physics courses (E&M, Thermal, Wave&Quantum), an introductory statistics and an elementary music theory course. I did that just for fun but it dragged down my GPA from 3.9+ to 3.6+. This semester I have only 6 courses (Piano, General Chem II, Organic Chem I, Discrete Math, upper-level QM and upper-level Linear Algebra) but still feel stressed. I procrastinate with readings/homework. I think I'm burning out and not interested in theoretical physics or pure math any more. Thus I want to change my major to some more "applied" and interesting fields such as Computer Engineering/Electrical Engineering/Engineering Science(ESc).

    My ultimate goal is to go to a top graduate school, get a PhD and do research in academia or industry. I want to know your opinion and I'm not ask something "for sure".

    1. Do typical grad admission committees in engineering favor an extra science major (eg. double EE/PHYS or double CE/PHYS or triple ESc/PHYS/MATH) or an extra engineering major (eg. double EE/ESc or double CE/EE) or save time and take more higher level courses (eg. grad courses) in the engineering field? Do they really care about double/triple major? Do they care about advanced courses (A- avg grade) on transcript? (PS. ESc is a competitive honor major. PPS. We have Physics degree with EE concentration.)

    2. If they do care about the advanced courses, is it beneficial to take courses in other (but relative) fields? For example take some MEMS/MOEMS courses by ESc department when I am an EE student.

    3. Breadth or depth? If well planned, I can take ALL the undergrad EE courses and graduate in four years. Alternatively, I can take only one course from each branch of EE and focus on a specific field (most likely the field of my undergrad research) and take all the undergard and grad courses in that field.

    4. Is it better for graduate admission if I do intensive research and advanced courses in an extra year (i.e. graduate in five years)?

    5. If I won't keep my physics major, is it useful to get a physics minor? I can get a minor with only a couple of physics electives (eg. Solid State, E&M II, QM II, etc.) which might be useful in engineering.

    For all the questions above, assume I can keep a GPA around 3.8 and do research from the second semester of the sophomore year.

    Thanks.
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2014
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 30, 2014 #2

    462chevelle

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    I can't get passed the first paragraph without having to say. If your school system is equivalent to mine, and you took 28 credits in one semester (especially the listed ones), and you are still alive. I would be amazed if you weren't burnt out.
     
  4. Dec 1, 2014 #3

    SteamKing

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    If you keep taking 28 credits a semester without killing yourself, there won't be any courses left to take if you make it into grad school. :)

    The worst year I had in engineering school (also when I was a sophomore) was about 21 credits, and you couldn't procrastinate for very long without getting too far behind in doing homework or studying for exams. For this particular year, it was all coursework (reading texts and doing problems) with no project work, and thankfully only one lab course (metallurgy).
     
  5. Dec 1, 2014 #4
    Yes, the workload was ridiculous but still doable. In the middle of this semester I suddenly got a loss of interest and I realized I was burnt out.

    Well since I'm not a masochist, I won't do it again. I will take ~20 credits each semester and enjoy my life. ;- ) But still I have a chance to take all the EE courses in my school (with an extra semester/year).
     
  6. Dec 1, 2014 #5

    462chevelle

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    I guess I just don't know what it's like to be able to go to school without having a family to support at the same time. I won't go passed 14 credits a semester. If you ask me 20 is still to much even if you don't have a job and other things to do. You will have more fun if you take less credits and join Physics/Math/Chem clubs. You will also get better relationships with your professors that way.
     
  7. Dec 1, 2014 #6

    SteamKing

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    It depends how long you want to take to graduate. If an undergrad engineering degree requires 128 credits, for example, you will need an average of 16 credits a semester if you plan to graduate in 4 years. Of course, due to scheduling of when classes are offered, you may have to take more credits some semesters than this average.
     
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