As the oldest child in my family, I had no idea what to expect out of college workloads. The reputation around engineering (as the internet told me at least) was not so ideal. There were a lot of things that really worried me that are pretty unfounded now, and while they felt very terrifying at the time, I am making it through!
(Memes were big my senior year of high school)
1. Engineering is BORING – sometimes true, mostly not true. Engineering is difficult, but that keeps my mind occupied, inquisitive and stimulated; not bored. I get bored when things go over my head, but that’s what friends, office hours and professors are there for.
2. Professors lecture and don’t engage – very not true. Professors are always open for questions, they pose questions to the class and are super happy to help in office hours. It takes personal initiative to engage with the professors, but they are teachers and not just lecturers. Thank goodness this is the case because one of my fears going into college was that I would have to teach myself everything from a textbook. Luckily, I’ve been very impressed by the involvement of the engineering professors inside and outside the MechE department. We stop and chat in the hallways, in campus coffee shops, and at engineering faculty dinners. They are devoted to their students.
3. Real engineering doesn’t happen until senior year – I thought this was true until I was sitting at my desk at work this week, and I realized that my work is exactly what mechanical engineers do. Since I haven’t hit senior year yet, I must have been doing this all along! “Real” engineering is just an organized, quantifiable and systematic approach to solving a problem. That problem could be small enough for a 5th grader to solve (yay snap circuits!) or large enough (think the Big Dig in Boston) that it takes decades. More of the fun electives happen in senior year, but I still maintain that my favorite engineering class happened in my freshman fall semester. Also, clubs like Engineers without Borders, the Hybrid Racecar team, the Maker network, Robotics club, and Center for Engineering Education and Outreach allow low pressure, exciting engineering opportunities.
4. I wouldn't be able to keep up with my classmates – definitely not true. Tufts wouldn't have accepted me if I wasn't a good fit academically. I am still constantly impressed by my friends and their accomplishments, but not in an intimidating way. This myth came from my high school experience, where I spent late nights overthinking concepts and trying to be involved in everything. College is certainly harder but it's because I chose to stay very busy and I have so much more responsibility and independence. Now, I still have to work really hard but I’m much more efficient at time management, I’m better at studying, and I don’t procrastinate nearly as much as I did in high school.
pt. 2 soon to come!