1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

How do I handle engineering?

  1. Jan 3, 2016 #1
    I'm currently a freshman in British University of Egypt. I'm studying Engineering and this is my first semester. In the BUE you start with preparatory year which is basically the combination of math 1, algebra, physics, chemistry, and mechanics etc.. I have my physics final tomorrow and I've studied a lot, I've solved all the tutorial sheets all the lecture questions, everything. The professor uploaded the final exam for 13-14 for us to try and solve (he also uploaded the answers). I've tried solving it over and over and over but I can't, I just can't figure out how to solve it. Only after looking at the answer do I understand, when I try solving it again without looking I just can't. My problem isn't in physics only it's in all the courses I'm currently taking. (Math I'm kind of good at). Let me give you more information about myself, my whole family are engineers (My father and Brother Civil Engineers, Sister and Grandmother Architectural Engineers, Mother and Grandfather Electrical Engineers). I just don't know where I fit in all of this. I just can't handle it, everyday I go to the university I just want to drop out or just want it all to end. I'm always stressed out and I have no idea how to handle all of this. After thinking too much I end up just leaving everything and just watch youtube videos or do something meaningless. My family didn't force to me study engineering but they definitely wouldn't agree on me studying anything else. I want to tell them I'm not doing great in engineering and I'm barely handling it, but they'll be disappointed and probably will get angry.

    HOW DO I HANDLE THIS? I feel I'm going crazy and this isn't the right path for me. I like engineering a lot don't get me wrong, I love understanding it but when I start solving problems I just can't do it for some reason. Is it because I'm dumb? Help me, please.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 3, 2016 #2
    When your course of life takes you in the wrong direction, change it.
  4. Jan 3, 2016 #3


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    It sounds like you have a problem with handling stress. Maybe talk with your universitys student support services to learn strategies to cope better with stress.
  5. Jan 3, 2016 #4
    Is you problem really the physics, or is it the math? Usually, physics can be managed by focusing on the fundamentals and using good practices, such as using free body diagrams. But math requires more intuition and natural ability. Do you have difficulty:

    1. Articulating the physical mechanisms applicable to your problem
    2. Translating the physical mechanisms into the language of mathematics (i.e., formulating the equations to solve the problem)
    3. Solving the equations

    Everybody is different. Maybe science and engineering are just not for you. What else are you interested in (besides gaming)?
  6. Jan 5, 2016 #5
    I'm having problems with the 2 and 3 I guess.
  7. Jan 5, 2016 #6
    The key to being able to handle any major is to enjoy it. You don't seem to be enjoying any of it. Then you should probably think about not continuing on this path.
  8. Jan 5, 2016 #7
    # 3 is just math....solving the equations that you have formulated. This should be a gimme. The math just requires practice at solving equations.

    #2 is a little different. You can improve your success at #2 by doing two things: (1) focusing on and understanding the fundamentals, and not on specific problems or types of problems and (2) using good practices, like always using free body diagrams. It takes discipline to do these things. Look over the problems on your exam and see whether you have been doing these things.

  9. Jan 5, 2016 #8
    Enjoyment is key, as mentioned by Micromass. Is it the thought of not meeting your families expectations what is causing you not to enjoy it? Are you getting frustrated because the material is not being learned fast enough at a speed you deemed?

    Throughout the semester, did you try to solve most of the problems on your own and only asking for help after spending a lot of time on it? Do you use solutions manuals when studying? Do you read the textbook or any supplementary materials? Does your studying consist solely of youtube videos? Do you read the material before it is covered in class?

    I tutored a girl a few semesters ago for pre-calculus. Her parents work at JPL and comes from a background of engineers/phycist. She is studying economics. She lived all the way in
    Alta Dena. For some reason she was to embarrassed to inform her family members that she could not attend a four-year university and moved away to attend a community college far away from where everyone would know her. She is privileged and has that outlook on life.

    She always had a bad attitude/ complained about everything when i was helping her. Eventually I got tired and yelled some obscenities at her. Including the sexist, well if you crying about this then you can always stand on the corner/poll dance. Something that i am not proud of, which I should never tell anyone ever again.

    She cried, went home, and looked for me at school. She was thankful that I yelled at her and said such things, because up to that point she was living for others and not herself. She mentioned that her struggling with material compared to her family made her feel inferior.

    She never once complained about the material or anything else. SHe understood that many people have it worse than her. She focused all her negativity into positive studying time. Eventually she passed her courses and is now at USC.

    Sorry for the long post. Some parts may or not apply to you, but here is what you can get from this:

    If you are living your life for the sake of others, stop it. You are you and they are they.
    If you like the material but struggle in solving problems then there are two choices.
    (a) Keep going at it until you understand or (b) Change major and attempt something else.

    Science and Math is hard, that is why not many people major in these fields compared to others. There will be moments you feel like an idiot ( I have these every semester). But giving an honest shot is all you can do.

    Maybe your preparation is lacking. You may have problems with basic arithmetic, algebra, etc etc etc.

    Practice practice. If you get upset because you don't understand something, then STEM IS NOT FOR YOU!
  10. Jan 5, 2016 #9
    I wont lie, but I'm a lazy person. Everyone around me knows this, and I've tried to stop being lazy but for some reason I seriously can't. I'll also say that I haven't been studying too hard, I just study enough to get me to pass. I also have some what of commitment issues. I never finish anything till the end. I always half ass it, I used to get away with it in high school.

    I study from youtube videos because in my country the professor always talks in another language and I have some difficulties in understanding since I attended in an english school. I study from the answers right away because I can't answer it on my own.

    I feel bad for my family who are paying loads of money to get me into private university and I end up whining about how I can't handle it. I really don't know anymore. I have no talents that I know off and I don't know what I might be good at. All my friends have achievements except me, I'm just there with nothing.
  11. Jan 5, 2016 #10
    Who says you can't handle it? You didn't even try seriously.

    A person is very rarely good at something naturally. I'm surely not good at anything naturally. One becomes "good" at something by a whole lot of practice and hard work. If you're not willing to put in that, then yeah, you won't be good at anything.

    You're there with nothing because you choose this.
  12. Jan 5, 2016 #11


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    What do you mean by "lazy?"

    If you're feeling tired in class all the time and having trouble focusing, it could be because you're lethargic. This is something that can often be improved by eating healthy, getting exercise and adequate sleep.

    If you often procrastinate on assignments or studying, there are ways to address that as well. Can you eliminate or restrict temptations (gaming, internet surfing, etc.)? Do you need to work on time-management skills? Your school may offer workshops in that area.

    If it's more of a general lack of motivation, then you might want to look for sources of inspiration. How much independent (non-assigned, non-credit) reading do you do for example?

    Lots of people are able to get away with last minute efforts in high school. This is because in high school the group of students includes those who don't do any work, those who have no interest in the material (or where it's optional those who thought they might find it interesting and found out they did not), those with a lot of other obstacles in life that make concentrating on an academic subject difficult, etc.

    Once you get to university you've gone through an academic bottleneck. You're now among students, most of whom did fairly well in high school, and most of whom are very keen on learning advanced material. Applying the same study strategies will at best make you average.

    So maybe you need to learn some new study strategies or just figure out how to get into some better habits.

    If the language is a significant obstacle for you, maybe you should consider attending a school with a language of instruction you're more comfortable in. For young children there's a philosophy that by going to school and learning things in a different language they're getting "double" the education in that they are both learning the new language and learning all the other stuff that a person needs out of a general education. But as you get more advanced and start taking courses where the material is demanding enough on your brain, the additional obstacle of an unfamiliar language may just block you from learning important concepts altogether.

    I feel bad for my family who are paying loads of money to get me into private university and I end up whining about how I can't handle it. I really don't know anymore. I have no talents that I know off and I don't know what I might be good at. All my friends have achievements except me, I'm just there with nothing.
    It could be that you're just not on the right path for you right now. Why not take a year or so off to figure things out? That way you're not wasting anyone's money and if and when you return to school, you'll be sure about what you want to do.

    And don't worry about comparing yourself with others. That's a dangerous habit, because no matter how good you are, there is always someone who will look like he or she is doing better.

    "The race is long and in the end, it's only with yourself."
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook