Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Engineering Close to finishing my Bachelor's degree in electrical engineering and am lost

  1. Jul 15, 2011 #1
    Dear friends,

    I am here to give you a snapshot of my status, and ask for some guidance. I am about to finish my bachelors in EE from University of Toronto. I have a really bad university track record. I failed first year, then went on vacation for another year out of frustration, came back went all the way to 4th year with all bad grades, then messed up again in 4th year first semester(frat parties), had to withdraw my courses, now I have one more semester to complete. I have missed 99% of the lectures, most midterms and labs; most of my finals were worth over 70%. I taught my self all the time, I am the type of person that likes to do it and then learn it, but that's not how it works in uni. Most of the courses I did well in are Digital and Analog electronics, VLSI, etc. I love designing and building new things. Right now I am doing Co-Op, testing web applications, and I don't want to do this crap. I have started doing projects that interest me and teaching my self. After I graduate I don't know what to do I can't get into masters, and I have a $30k loan on top of my head. I know I am a loser and a failure, have been all my life :(, now I look back and it makes me more sad, I am 24 and a failure. Please give me some ideas on what to do.

    Thank you,
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 15, 2011 #2
    I don't know, hopefully someone else will be able to offer good advice that is applicable to your particular situation of an electrical engineer. All I can say is the first step is to stop looking at yourself as a failure. I do that often, as well, but such self-deprecating thoughts lead nowhere and are especially counter-productive. Failing to meet other people's, and what's most important, your own expectations is hard, but don't let it get to you. Easier said than done, no doubt, but try and convince yourself of it. If there's friends or parents or someone else you can talk to about this, do it, as it seems you need some introspection to discover what you really want in life. You do say, however, that there are projects that interest you, and I think that's a good sign, since you're not just apathetic to everything. Follow those interests and see where that leads you. You're in a tough spot with a low GPA and a loan hanging over your head, so you probably need to be creative in finding a solution to all of this. My guess is that your best bet of finding that solution is if you do in fact do something that interests you and not just something that is expected of you.
  4. Jul 16, 2011 #3
    At my first attempt at university (EE of all things) I dropped out (around your age too). Over the following 10 years I had a very successful career in IT (and am now back studying engineering but that's another story). As mentioned above, you will have to get creative, however bad marks are not the end of the world. What it does mean is that for the next few years you will have to work smarter and harder and plan better than your peers who did get good grades - and I really do mean work MUCH harder. My approach was to work on a 5 year plan and work top down. Where do you want to be in 5 years? What are the prerequisites to get there? Then you just work backwards from all those prerequisites - what do you need to get to those? Eventually you will have a nice clear roadmap taking you from where you are now to where you want to eventually be.
    First and foremost though, get serious with your life. There is no point being disappointed in your current position and then continuing with the partying. Everyone makes mistakes at some point in their life, the difference between people is how much they learn from their mistakes. You need to accept that as with everything in life there is a trade-off - if you want a good job you need to put in the time and effort. If you want to keep partying then don't expect a good job in the end.
    Most of all, 24 is still very early in life. I am 34 and have just gone back to get my degree. Not having good grades at 24 is far from the end of the world.
  5. Jul 17, 2011 #4
    Find out why you skipped your lectures. You have personal issues with this career choice and you need to get to the bottom of it. Yes, you are a huge failure. Find out why or it will not change.

    I'm a working EE. I don't respect what you've done and I wouldn't want to work with you.

    Earn my respect by learning your trade or bake pizzas for a living. We don't need incompetent engineers in this business.
  6. Jul 17, 2011 #5


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Hello Mastaan and welcome to the forums.

    The most important thing I think for you is to change your attitude. Take your failures and learn from them. Turn your experiences into a lesson learned, rather than a pure reflection of what you are. We all reinvent ourselves sometimes in our life, and you need to be aware that your past should give you ample motivation to do the same thing.

    Other people in your situation have turned themselves around. People that have screwed up on drugs and those who have gone to prison have turned themselves around.

    If you change your attitude from "I am defined by my failures" to "I will learn from my failures", I think you'll come a long way to someone who is secure in themselves and who can change their mental picture to something more affirmative.

    Also one last thing: you have to want to do it. If you are the type of person looking for sympathy from other people (including health professionals), then you need to reflect on yourself, what you stand for, and what you truthfully really want out of your life. Sometimes the truth hurts, but you have to face this before you can change. Be honest about yourself, your past and your choices and I say confidently that you will change if you really want to.
  7. Jul 19, 2011 #6
    @ Ryker, denks, Antiphon and Chiro, thank you all for the replies. I have read them carefully over and over again and took mental notes.

    I think the reason I turned out to be like this, is because I have had my parents to rely on all the time. Now as they grow old, I can see that having a meal everyday and a roof on your head is not that simple, I am starting to realize why I grew these bad habits and so little self respect and respect for all the hard work others have done for me. I know I am changing, and I have thought about my interests and working with new technologies (EE related) is what I want to do in my life. I have made a plan to what I will do for the next one year, and as you are all experienced would like to know if I am heading in the right direction.

    Right now, I am working 9 - 5 mon to fri, taking 2 summer courses, and spending the rest of the time that is available on TI, analog.com, and eetimes. Learning about and doing what I need to accomplish my projects. People at work love me; I finish what ever task they assign me, and impress them every time. I don't complain about how boring and stupid the job is, but I just do it. A thing that I still need to work on is my punctuality, because I am often late, but my workplace doesn’t mind. I have been to all the lectures for my summer courses (electives) even though they are not even close to my field and 2 hours in length, four days a week, I come home at 9 pm, leave at 8:30 am.

    The project I am working on is an EEG/ECG/EMG multipurpose wireless device that can communicate to pc or cell phone. This was partly a 4th year design project, but my wireless part didn’t work and it wasn’t a well worked out project. I know I could have done much better, so I want to do it all over again, and make a working unit.

    If I put these projects in my resume, do you think as a hirer, you will call me for an interview where you have a copy of my transcript beside you? Also during interviews would it be appropriate to come with some of my work to show you? I still don’t know what I will do from January, I am thinking of applying for a 4 month co-op, because my convocation is in June. I don’t know if will get lucky again to land a co-op in January.

    Thank you,
  8. Jul 19, 2011 #7
    Just a quick response in regards to your comment about punctuality. Put very simply, regardless of your grades or what you have done, if you turned up to an interview with me half an hour late without a VERY good reason you would not get the job. Period.

    Personally I never paid much attention to academic transcripts, I was far more interested in what a person was like - what they did outside study / work, what their interests were, how good their communication skills were, what motivated them and their general attitude. Other employers look at things differently and put great emphasis on academic transcripts. Once you have been employed for several years almost nobody will be looking at your transcripts and instead all the focus will be on your employment history anyway.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook