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Feeling stuck in a major I don't care for

  1. Nov 3, 2013 #1

    So here we are, back to the same old problem that we had back in 2012. I am finding myself not enjoying chemical engineering or really any of my technical classes. The honest truth is that they are just straight up boring, and not to mention that I have to inch and claw my way through every problem and get a lot of assistance (you can see that I have a lot of problems asked on the homework forum). All of this studying to be below the average on the exams is just discouraging.

    However, now I am no longer in community college, where there was no stress or much of an investment, so I was free to move as I wished. Now I'm at a UC school as a junior transfer, and I am what I feel is ''stuck'' in this thing, and unmotivated to study hard. I've been at the library for the past 4 hours and I think all I've done is read 3 pages of history, and now just stuck on another problem for my civil engineering course.

    I have two exams this week and I am totally unmotivated to study for them, and now I feel like there is a lot of pressure now that the UC is not just a small pocket change, there are big bucks invested in my education. I know deep down that I am not passionate about chemical engineering or really technical, physical sciences. I guess since being dropped into UC Berkeley I am now not good, whereas at my CC I was one of the stronger students, even in math and physics and chemistry. I did very well in all classes, however I really didn't enjoy any of them, especially as time went on. I liked Calc II a lot, calc III way less, and didn't care at all about DiffEq/LA. I remember for calc II I studied everyday with a lot of enthusiasm, and by the time I reached Calc III I just found old exams and studied the weekend before the exam to make it through.

    I am totally at the wrong institute, Berkeley churns out some of the best engineers in the world, and you have to really like it to make it through, or else you will be crushed.

    I can say that although I have never taken a real Biology course, things like animals and zoology were always interesting to me, heck I study at the biology library so I can walk in to be greeted by triceratops skulls and a T-rex skeleton on the bottom floor.

    I am worried of course that there is no practicality to trying biology, one because I've never done it and may not enjoy it, and two I would have to take a lot of lower division and push myself back. Now though, it isn't just community college, and there is a real sense of urgency to graduate and get that job as a chemical engineer to make up for the debts created here.

    I have gotten depression as a result of this, and thankfully I started seeing a psychologist and am now on depression medication, hopefully things will be better.

    Anyways, now I am in a hole that I feel like I can't get out of and pretty unhappy with how things have turned out since coming here.

    Reference for last post
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2013
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 4, 2013 #2
    It sounds like you don't actually know what you want. I can sympathise somewhat with your position. Having gone through school being reasonably good at all my classes and enjoying most of them, when it came time to choose university courses (in the uk we choose the course we intend to graduate from before we get to uni) I was completely at a loss.

    I ended up studying architecture and not enjoying it. I realised at about christmas time but finished the year with good grades to avoid it looking like I was just dropping out. I knew I needed to study a math based subject to really engage my brain with and after lots of thought and hard work I got accepted onto a Physics degree, and I couldn't be more pleased with my decision!

    My advice to you would be to stop all this moving around. Perhaps even take a year out of education, get a job and do some serious thinking about what it is you want from your education. You need to find some perspective and discover what you truly find interesting.

    Speak to your academic advisor and your parents.
  4. Nov 7, 2013 #3
    Anyone else have an opinion or advice? I already went through half of the school work, organic chemistry physics differential equations and all of that, all I need to do is get through this last half, it's just tougher than I imagined it would be and discouraging to study a lot only to get less than stellar grades, or even up to par.
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2013
  5. Nov 7, 2013 #4
    Perhaps I am reading between the lines- but here are my 2 cents:

    1) Having struggled with depression myself : I believe Depression will cause the confusion about school(life), not the other way around - it is just that the Dep will have greatter effect on you when you are stressed or challenged.
    2) Completing a 4(+) Year degree is not forever, it will end and a Chem E degree is something that will always give you professional cred - professionals know it is a difficult program from any accredited Uni. This time in your life is work - that you are investing in yourself.
    2-a ) Many people in their careers "survive" 2 -3- 6 years in a situation that really sucks - knowing the end is there ( look at medical doctors).
    2-b) You are at UC Berkeley? It seems that you are down because you are not getting stellar grades, relative to the grades you may have ALWAYS received? Please - I am almost chucking, not at you but because of the lessons you will learn in life - a "passing" grade in Chem E from UC Berkeley is a major accomplishment - the real "being crushed" is just students that have trouble accepting that at this level they are average- may not really be the "A" student they think they are and see Bs and Cs as Failure - in Uni - a C in the USA is typically graded on a curve. A long way to say you are "average" among the top 5% of all college students in the US
    3) MANY people do not find their calling until later in life, if possible accept the next 2-3 years challenge of the education - it isn't a trade school - it is a foundation from which you will draw in for the rest of your life in surprising ways - trust me!
    4) While I do not totally disagree with BOAS advice to - get a job to take some time to figure things out, but IMO- you are there now, it may be harder to get back to academics later, I would advise to commit TO YOURSELF that you will finish the degree, and then - have a plan for the one year after, job, backpack, set a reward for yourself, you will have earned it!
    5) Biology - any other interest?, you can take these classes on audit(see what it is about - but not have the grades apply to your GPA - this also shows on your transcripts, showing you have diverse interests- etc, or just sit in, or talk to a professor - perhaps even work as a lab assistant, the hands on practical involvement was much more interesting to me (EE) and my bro - now a Prof in Molecular Bio.... we both had very average grades in undergrad.
    6) Chem E - heavily relates to Bio - if that becomes your true love, you will connect the dots from Chemistry to Biology in ways you can not see now - it takes time to digest what you learn - you will come to "think" in terms of chemistry, again you can not see it now, but you will. Same with the math - you will not have to be doing the actual math - but your brain will "see" the relationships in systems and processes in a different way.
    7) It is good that you are getting help, final thought "Things are never really as bad as they seem - haha - and things for others are not really as good as they seem ether!"
  6. Nov 8, 2013 #5
    I think you need to ask yourself; why don't you like the subject? And what is it that makes you like a particular subject, e.g. biology? Myself, i started out in philosophy but dropped out because I didn't find much use for it later, and because it wasn't too intellectually stimulating (not very difficult). Now I'm in physics and while I'm in love with the subject, things are not always easy and you have to start coping with not getting the grades you desire.

    Now, there are two things that comes to my mind when I read your text. First, you say that you have no motivation at all to study for your exams. I don't think this is only because of your subjects; most of us have had courses that we really hated but somehow managed to pass the exam, possibly after some retakes. Also, the more you "dive" in to a course, the more you understand and the more interested you will be, so even boring or difficult courses may turn out to be not so bad after all. In cases like this, the lack of motivation or inspiration often is because of can not gather enough "energy" to get through the whole course, with depression of course being a cause of this.

    However - my second point is that you should not be afraid of dropping it if you really don't like it. (You should watch Steve Job's commencement speech at Stanford if you haven't already: ). Maybe you just can't get through your courses because you really don't care - then definitely quit. I think motivation is one of the most important things in life, and it's a skill that you should preserve dearly and make bigger, because it is really the key to working better and enjoying life more. You should definitely NOT think that things are urgent, you literally have your whole life ahead of you (cliché I know), so you have a lot of time thinking about what you want to do later. You should never think that you have done wrong choices - rather, think about WHAT you can you can do with the skills you ALREADY have, and what other skills do you need to do what you enjoy? So "quitting" your current study program to change for something else does not mean that you are going back, it just means that you are building up with other skills!

    The trick, also a cliché, is to think positive. You realize that you have a problem, and that is an excellent starting position (maybe the only one) for change, but constantly thinking or worrying about does not help to solve the problem! Realizing where you are, what you've learned so far, where you want to go and what you need to get there is much more constructive.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  7. Nov 9, 2013 #6
    I'll add my two cents to this. First off, I plowed through and got my BS in physics without any idea what I wanted to do after graduation. It took me a few years after that to figure out that I wanted to teach high school physics. Even so, I may very well go to grad school eventually to get a PhD. It takes a lot of people a long time to figure out what they want to do these days, so don't think you have o have the answer right now.
    At the same time, having a degree in a subject you don't like would only help because having a degree in anything is worth something. I'd recommend talking to a career adviser on your campus and seeing if you can take an interest inventory if you haven't already. It could really help you figure out if you're on the right track or where to go if you're not.
  8. Nov 11, 2013 #7
    I'm not sure how relevant my situation is to yours, but I kinda understand what you're going through.

    I was at a community college for a few years and this is my first term as a transfer to the big state school for chemical engineering. I don't dislike my classes, and I like the technical subjects, but I consistently feel inferior for some reason to the other students, even though my grades aren't bad...not sure what that's about (well, my grade in physics right now isn't too great, so maybe that has something to do with it). That being said, I am not thrilled with my beginning chemical engineering classes. I think the major reason I'm continuing on with this major vs. switching to mathematics or chemistry is because I had an internship at a pharmaceutical firm this last summer, and the work I would be doing there is exactly the kind of work I want to do. The people and workplace were awesome, and I fit in well; I liked the job and they liked me. School isn't like the job, but I have to get through it to get the job, so I might as well continue and do the best I can do. It is quite an adjustment knowing that the best I can do may not provide the grades I want. I have to learn to let go of the idea of keeping my GPA at its current level and just do what I can do and learn what I can learn -- it's a difficult realization to make, and I'm still fighting it.

    Try to get an internship if you haven't had one yet. They can really help to keep things in perspective.
  9. Nov 12, 2013 #8
    you need to figure out what you want !!!
    you need to think about it ... a day, a week or more !!

    but after that u need to be determined. and u need to work hard. and if you do well in one subject and do less in another, it does not mean the end ...
    the thing is that u always need to work hard

    and u need to look at the profession u might be in after graduation. is it good for u ? does it meet ur dreams and requirements ? if so ,, then go for it
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