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Lost and unsuccessful engineer

  1. Mar 14, 2015 #1
    Hello, I'm 21 years old and no where near completing college. I'm currently in an engineering science program at my community college. I was originally going to an average state school for computer science and I did terrible at it and failed, this could be attributed to transition to college but I'm doubt the field is for me. I transferred into engineering and did pretty mediocre in most my intro courses(generic engineering courses, chemistry, introductory physics, calc 1,2, diff eq).

    Last semester I decided to try biomedical engineering, to me it sounded like a exciting and interesting new field. This was a big mistake. I did terrible and I would even say the courses weren't well planed out, the major was a new one in the university and had just been apporved. I had to take orgo witch was a pain, but what bothered me the most was the intro to bio-medical course witch was an barely incoherent mess of physiology,microbiology,molecular genetics and some bio-medical engineering ideas like tissues engineering thrown in there, interesting topics but it was broad,vague and poorly taught in my opinion.

    So now I'm going to my local community college. I'm retaking some of the classes I didn't do well in like calc II, and intro to programming(required by engineering at cc anyways). I probably won't be down for another 2.5 half years at best. Thats almost 6 years in college! And thats assuming everything goes well when I can't even stick with a major.

    I honestly don't find much interest in the other engineering fields. Looking back on it the reason why I really got into comp sci and engineering was simply because thats where all the jobs and high paychecks where. When I really didn't have that much of an academic interest in them. So know I feel like I'm kind of stuck with it. The sub field I actually found interesting I did even worse in. So know I don't know what to do. My community college offers courses mostly centered around mechanical, electrical, computer and civil engineering but I find those to uninteresting.

    I'm not sure where to go. I would love to do something in physics, having this trouble has made me rethinking a lot of things and rekindled my interest in physics and astronomy. I'm even decide to self teach my self as about it about it. However that has even more obstacles it seems. More rigorous math, very little career prospects, and I doubt I could even get into a decent school even if I do good over the next few years with all the sub par grades I've accumulated.

    So now I feel lost and like a failure. I am no where close to finish college, even if I do it probably will be something I don't have much of an interest in. Still living at home, financial dependent on my parents, and not a very clear of an idea of what I would like to do with my life. I don't want to work in a field that I don't care about for 40 years, but thats assuming I can even get into that field in the first place.

    Maybe I should just give up on STEM?
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2015
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 14, 2015 #2
    You are very young still and its normal to have set backs and to fill overwhelmed at times. I would continue to work on doing well in your lower division classes since they are required for pretty much any STEM field. As you build up your confidence and talk to other students and get involved in some type of research you may find what interests you. Sometimes when things look bleak you have to continue to push forward through the fog and you may find something of value once it all clears. Don't give up, others have been in much worse situations then you and have turned it around. Good luck.
  4. Mar 14, 2015 #3
    I think your problem may be a lack of motivation and lack of confidence, not a lack of smarts. I got mediocre grades in college, got a job and after a few years of work experience I went back to graduate school and my motivation was much higher. I was now paying my own way and I could see how the effort put into my education would impact my career. I also knew more about what I wanted to study and I was able to focus better. I struggled financially because I was completely on my own and did not have my parents support. It taught me a lot of lessons in a very short time and I matured quite a bit. I don't know if working for a few years and becoming independent from your parents is an option for you, but it certainly helped me a great deal and put me on the right path.
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2015
  5. Mar 14, 2015 #4
    I think you should stop burning money in school and instead work a bit to figure things out. The debt you'll accrue going to school so long will offset any high salary you can hope to have. Be smart and take a step back. I was in a similar situation in grad school. I left very reluctantly after getting good grades in undergrad but poor grades in grad school. I guess I felt like the work I was doing was "pointless" and stopped putting in effort/got depressed.

    I'm glad I left because in the year I've been gone and working it has really helped me find what I want to do with my life, get more focused, better financial management, and more organized.
  6. Mar 15, 2015 #5

    I think your right that I am unmotivated but I can't find anything to motivate me, most of the courses/classes offered here don't interest me too much, there is always the chance of transferring but the classes we have here are kinda limited and I don't know If I'd be able to do say nuclear engineering or aerospace or some other field that isn't offered here. There is always the chance of going to a different field in grad school but I doubt I could get in with my large pool of poor and mediocre grades, although I don't know much on how grad school admissions works.

    I've been thinking of doing the same a bit, but I don't know what I would do in the meantime. I don't want to work minimum wage job living at home witch is probably the only realistic option I have. Most of my friends are moving on with their lives and I don't want to spend a time doing nothing.
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2015
  7. Mar 15, 2015 #6
    That's exactly what I did before I returned to graduate school -- took a minimum wage part-time job at a convenience store. That was about the only part-time job available to me at the time, in the small town where I lived. But I eventually moved on past that job and got a better paying part-time job. At the time, it felt somewhat degrading. However looking back, I have no regrets and would do it all over again.

    What you could do is to get a job, and start paying your own bills. Pay some rent to your parents. Pay for your own gas and vehicle expenses. You will probably have nothing left at the end of the month and little savings, but that will be the spark that motivates you to do better.
  8. Mar 19, 2015 #7


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    You may also BE in the wrong field. There are personality tests that help determine career choices. Not a foolproof tool, but may open your eyes to other areas that you haven't considered. These tests take 20 minute to a couple of hours and then determine which type of person you are and what that type of person usually selects for a rewarding career. May take an hour of your time, but could provide you with some guidance.

    And taking a semester to a year off or considering a vocational school could be options.
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