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Is it worth it switching into engineering?

  1. Jan 3, 2012 #1
    This question has been bothering me for quite some time so I thought I'd ask it here.

    I'm currently in third year at McGill and was studying physiology, but just got accepted to switch into electrical engineering for next semester. If I switch, it would only take me one extra year to finish my degree (first year for science and engineering is the same at McGill, and I've taken a few math and compsci electives that count towards engineering). In grade 12 I wanted to be an engineer, and usually had one of the highest marks in my calculus and physics classes, but I also liked biology and really thought I wanted to go to medical school so I ended up choosing life science with the intention of doing a joint major in physiology and physics. After seeing an advisor in first year, he told me it was really difficult to get a competitive GPA in the joint major so I ended up just doing physiology. After a year of taking courses like molecular biology and genetics I realized I hated it (all the memorizing) and liked my math and comp courses a lot better.

    So my question is, do you think it's worth it to switch at this point? I only have to take 5 more physiology/biology courses, and could take 10 courses of math/physics electives, but I would end up with a kind of useless degree in my opinion. I think at the end of the road I want to do biomedical engineering/medical physics...mostly medical imaging stuff, and all my physiology profs whose research interests me all did their undergrads in electrical engineering or computer science. I like math and physics a lot..but it's a lot of extra time and money to switch at this point.
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  3. Jan 3, 2012 #2


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    1. It seems like you've arrived at the conclusion that you'll much happier doing physics or engineering than physiology. This is one of those very important life lessons. Not everyone knows what they're going to like from day one. Not everyone figures it out by the end either. Having figured it out and being in a position to do something about it, is a tremendous opportunity.

    2. Look up the statistics on employment for physiology or other life science majors compared to engineers or physicists.

    3. An extra year is not all that long compared to the rest of your life.

    4. You can still get into medical school with an engineering degree.
  4. Jan 3, 2012 #3
    Whether it is worth it to switch degrees at this point really depends on your goals. Put simply, why do you want to get a college degree, and what do you want to do with it? As an example, say you want to go to law school. In the U.S., you can go to law school with a Bachelor's degree in any field. So if your goal is go to law school, it probably wouldn't be worth it to switch.

    In your case you say you are interested in working in medical imaging. I don't have first-hand knowledge with this field, so I suggest the first step to take is figure out which degree would better prepare you for work in this field. Right now you say the Physiology degree would be useless, so I am tempted to suggest you switch to EE. However, the best people to help you decide if it truly is "useless" would be people working in your field of interest.
    I would talk to professors whose research interests you and ask their opinion about whether you should switch or not, given your professional/research interests. They could guide you on whether it is best to switch, or maybe just take elective courses in math, physics, and comp sci in addition to your physiology major. IMO if you could switch to a Biomedical Engineering major, that would probably be ideal, however, that may not be an option at your school.

    EDIT: Do you still want to go to med school? If you do you remember you can go to med school with either degree.
  5. Jan 4, 2012 #4
    thanks for the replies! and yeah it sucks that my school doesn't have a biomedical engineering major (just a minor or grad school) otherwise I would definitely switch. I don't want to go into med school anymore, otherwise I would stay in physiology because it's pretty close to what you learn in med school I've heard.

    I've looked at the job prospects for both EE and physiology...and well there's not much out there for someone with a physiology degree...so much more with electrical engineering. I think I will end up switching, I guess it's pretty scary switching this far in, but I know so many people that have done life science degrees and gone back to do an engineering degree...so it's probably worth it for me in the long run.
  6. Jan 4, 2012 #5
    Imagine that you end up doing something that uses your degree. (The point another poster made about law school is valid... if you just need *a* degree, that's very different.) Would you enjoy doing things related to molecular biology and genetics for the next 40 years?

    (Seems quick and cheap when you think about it that way, doesn't it? :smile:)
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