Please help us: are his really legitimate? is engeenering really that difficult?

  • #1
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Some years ago when my brother was in grade school he loved mathematics, physics, and chemistry. At school level teachers were really connected with their students and there was a regular and undisturbed flow in every subject taught. Now at university level those professors only care about giving so-called lectures. They aren't to be called teachers, they're traders. They choose random chapters out of maths and other books and most of the time one chapter isn't really related to the one previously lectured on. Now he is finding engineering too much dry and it doesn't really interest him. He is doing electrical engineering.

People have told me most of the engineering courses are by and large the same for the first two years. We are really worried. I know some of you would suggest that he should do whatever interest him but here for people like us only good fields are either medical or engineering. Moreover, he hasn't been exposed any other subjects like accounting, social sciences, or business studies.

I remember when he was in school he really approached everything from conceptual pint of view. But now he says at university level they simply want him to memorize stuff and regurgitate everything on test day. We are under extreme pressure, so help us. We have already deposited his non-refundable semester fee. He also lives in another town and located at 3 hours drive. Obviously, this factor also plays part that he is away from home - you know home sickness. He also fell sick after he was done with his high school. So there is already one gap year. He is really stressed. Some days ago I started a thread about someone emotionally and psychologically disturbed person who feels awkward especially when in public place such as lecture hall, actually that thread was about him. What measures could we take to help him and ourselves. We are trying to facilitate him with everything we could easily afford. We even bought him a tv so that he doesn't feel isolated from the world, he has his own room, has a computer, internet, comes home every weekend. He doesn't connect with his class fellows there. I have met many of them and he is quite right about them they are cheap from head to toe.

It's because of him that I started studying some of math and science related stuff so that I could help him to whatever extent possible. The so-called teacher who instructs them on autocad doesn't even know what really autocad stands for. He comes to the class, draw some diagram on the board and then asks them to make it in autocad. Once he has drawn the diagram, he starts smsing on his cell. His other teachers also have the same problems.

Other thing we are really worried about is even if he completes his first semester, then what about rest of seven semesters. The things he is studying in first semester has already been touched when he was in school. As he proceeds to higher semester he is going to face new topics which I assume would be as dry and uninteresting as anything. We are really doomed, I'm afraid!

Is engineering that much tough that all his love for maths and science is gone? What could be done? we belong to middle class family and many of our hopes are on him. Please advise us.

Best wishes
jack
 
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Answers and Replies

  • #2
jtbell
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In some countries the educational system tends to be oriented strongly towards learning by rote as you describe. In other countries this is not the case. Even within the same country there can be large variations in this respect, from one school to another.
 
  • #3
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electrical engineering was tough. and they wouldn't even give us the respect of adding in the math minor after two years of the stuff.

there can be a creative side to engineering, but there is a huge amount to learn. same would go for medicine, only you'd be memorizing anatomy, physiology, chemistry, etc. and doing a lot less math. main difference may be what part of the brain your exercising. medicine hits more on the verbal side and less so the mathematical, so may lend itself to better socialization skill.
 
  • #4
BobG
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That's tough to say with little familiarity about the entire engineering program.

There are the mandatory fundamentals, such as the math courses, physics courses, etc, and I imagine some schools require all of those to be completed before progressing on to the engineering courses. That happens at large US schools, as well.

But the entire program can't be rote memorization if you plan on taking that degree elsewhere. In the US, an engineering program is going to have some design requirements (the creative part Proton Soup mentioned) or it won't be accredited, meaning the degree you get won't be worth much.

Surely, he can look at the courses he needs to complete in order to get his degree and check out course descriptions and/or ask others about those courses.
 
  • #5
arildno
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I cannot see how your brother's incipient problems can be managed unless he finds a circle of friends that he finds meaningful to spend time with.
They need not be class fellows, perhaps it is better that they are not.

Does he have any hobbies, for example game playing, like chess or bridge?
I'm sure there are chess clubs where he lives, and from my own experience, these environments are socially inclusive with people of all ages&walks from life.

If he doesn't work out a functioning social circle around himself, this situation can, I fear, deteriorate far too much.

You need to watch him very closely, and "pull him out of there" before it goes too far.

Your family sounds strongly supportive of him, but that you feel you don't know how to help him on this.

Have you considered contacting a family therapeut or psychologist, who can advise you, for example, about what warning signs you should look for in him?

You are already doing all you can for him, perhaps an expert can give you much-needed advice for handling this difficult situation?

I really hope this will go well for him and the rest of you.
 
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  • #6
dlgoff
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Sometimes it take LOTS of seemingly unrelated topics before things begin to "click". Maybe more than one year. Then the joy may return.
 
  • #7
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Most people don't find engineering interesting until 3rd or 4th year.

Some people never know why they are in engineering but they continue to be in it or change to econ/business/science.. etc while others go into things like law/finance/mba after completing their degrees.

However, whether you like what you are doing is a second concern; getting through it and meeting with requirements (passing courses) is the main thing. As far he gets through his work you shouldn't be concerned. He will have many options beyond engineering.
 
  • #8
Astronuc
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I found engineering enjoyable and somewhat challenging. I enjoyed the math and physics courses as well.

I didn't care much for English (literature), economics or poly sci (required electives in humanities), but I did enjoy history, particularly Chinese history and culture.
 
  • #9
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Im assuming that he's only just gone away this semester. His main problem is:
comes home every weekend
Unless you throw yourself 100% into university life you will quickly get left behind as people make a group of friends. The best advice I got is no forget the word 'no' with regards to social engagements for the first few months of university.

This doesn't sound like an academic problem to me (it may be dry, but theres nothing that can be done about that) it sounds like he's having trouble getting used to university life. Forcing him to stay at weekends, thus forcing him to interact and make friends is what is needed.
 
  • #10
arildno
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Forced friendships never work , Chris.
 
  • #11
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Forced friendships never work , Chris.
Do people on here deliberately not get things? I'm not talking about sitting him with someone and saying YOU SHALL BE FRIENDS.

He clearly isn't interacting socially with people. By him coming home every single weekend, he is missing out on making friends at university. No friends -> feeling isolated -> hating university.

By forcing him to stay at university, he will be forced to start interacting with people. I was the same way, I still am to this day (although I now know that social interaction with new people is a problem of mine, so I have ways of dealing with it). I still need nudging to go to a party or to go on a night out.

Frankly the worst thing they they could have done for him was to buy him his own TV as it allows him to lock himself away. At Uni we all met up in the TV room, so even watching TV was a social event.

I think the phrase is 'tough love'.
 
  • #12
Evo
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From the first thread about his brother, I think there could be some mental issues that need to be addressed. It could be just a social phobia that can be treated. I suggest that his brother needs to see a doctor that can assess his condition.
 
  • #13
arildno
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He clearly isn't interacting socially with people. By him coming home every single weekend, he is missing out on making friends at university. No friends -> feeling isolated -> hating university.

By forcing him to stay at university, he will be "forced" to start interacting with people.
Not at all.
He can equally well be "forced" to perish in his own solitude and loneliness, depending on his personality.
And that personality is better known to his family than to you.

This second option can mean that he actually doesn't have the psychological toughness to complete a demanding education on his own, and his family should seriously think about whether his&and their dream that he completes an engineering degree is actually realizable, or if it is not.

After all, engineering isn't everything in life, and a loving family can readily come to terms with having a non-engineer in their midst, as long as he is safe and sound.

It is awful when dreams shatter, but even worse when people you love fall to pieces as well.
 
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  • #14
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forget relationships. coming home every weekend could interfere with studies.
 
  • #15
arildno
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forget relationships. coming home every weekend could interfere with studies.
Relationships are more important than studies.
 
  • #16
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Relationships are more important than studies.
proper relationships aren't so intrusive that they interfere with ones education. if he were in med school, he might have even less time to socialize.

but reading back over this, some of it is also a personality problem.

He doesn't connect with his class fellows there. I have met many of them and he is quite right about them they are cheap from head to toe.
he needs to change his antagonistic attitude towards other people.
 
  • #17
vela
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he needs to change his antagonistic attitude towards other people.
I agree. The OP also drips with condescension toward the instructors and peers. I suspect this is a symptom of the student struggling. It's natural to want to blame others for one's troubles. Unfortunately, little good comes of this and usually dooms one to failure.

Part of it may be that the student has unrealistic expectations about learning at a university. If you compare it to grade school, then yes, the instructors may seem relatively apathetic or disconnected from the students. But college isn't grade school. Students are expected to take a much more active role in their own education. If you're having problems, you need to go find help. The resources are out there, but they're not going to come looking for you.

It's also possible that engineering just isn't a good fit (though it's hard to determine that after just one semester). Engineering by its nature is rooted in practicality. If you don't like that sort of real world, applied science stuff, perhaps a major like physics or chemistry would be a better fit.
 

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