What am I going to do with my life?
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andrzejpw

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Guys, this isn't a simple question. And it doesn't have a simple answer, but here goes. Basically, I'm a junior in high school right now. For some reason, people keep on thinking I really know what I want to do with my life. To a recent point, I was pretty sure. I wanted to go into Electrical/Computer Engineering. But now, I'm not so sure. . .

I've been throwing around a lot of ideas. Heck, they range from EE, to Teaching high school chemistry, to being a doctor! Basically, I'm very afraid that I'll go to college, find out that I don't like my major, and want to switch 180 degrees(ex: I go for EE, and want to change to premed). How would something like that work? Would it work? Help.
 
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neil

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Not choosing a major immediately is not that big of a deal. You seem to be quite motivated and have a genuine concern about your occupational future -- so see a counselor during course selection, and explain that you wish to have your options open. So, that, even if you wish to go pre-med or engineering, that your course selection intersects. College is too expensive to waste credit hours.

Usually, regardless of major, there are some unavoidable requirements/pre-requisites that intersect all majors. I had a friend who was in the same situation -- and because he did not map out his courses correctly throughout his decisions to change his major, he ended up taking a load of classes he didn't need.

But worry not -- he decided that after graduation (with a criminal justice and psychology degree) that he wanted to teach. So he went back to college to get his teaching degree a semester later.
 
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kelly

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andrze
Lucky for you, college is made to extract eager dollars from you and your parents wallet and a major is not even needed in order to attend college.

In fact, the situation is much better than that. Whether you choose a major or not, you'll still be forced to attend BS classes "taught" by teachers assistants that teach you how to complete scantrons and memorize and regurgitate random trivia! Yes, you too will, like it or not, throw your time and money away on what can only be called "prerequisites" and "required courses." You have more than enough fo these to see you through your first year of college even if you have no idea what you want to learn.

It is, in fact, recommended that you get as many of these out of the way in your early years as possible. Later in college you will be far more annoyed with this ridiculous system than you will be in your young, eager and naive freshman year.

More than this, remember that college is not really about schoolwork. It's about discovering your sexuality and drinking limits. Any ability you gain to research and recover information is only a sideline to these more immediate tasks of social integration.

I understand that your father is the practical sort and he may require a major from you. In fact, a declaration of major may be required in order to get certain forms of financial aid as well. Not to worry, you can always change your mind. Most college students do at least five or six times. Eventually you may, while enjoying some new drug you've discovered at the local "spoken word" bar, find that if you change your major to Sociology that you only need 3 more hours to graduate. Suddenly, you'll find yourself trying to calculate how to make it through grad school on a McDonalds salary and listing off which universities won't mind your low GPA and incomplete horseriding classes.

It's all part of it, andrze. You're in good shape.
 
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DanG

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Near the beginning of this year, we had the bi-annual rugby alumni game. A lot of the seniors I got to know last year came back from their new jobs. Most of us were mainly interested in saying hi and drinking a few beers with them. Some of the freshmen were more interested in asking what classes they should take in their years of college for this or that career path. Most of the alums were laughing about it.

Take it easy. You don't know what you want to do, and you won't know what you can get paid for until you're probably a junior or a senior in college anyway. When I was a junior in high school, I was getting paid $10/hr as an intern doing absolutely nothing all day at one of the software companies where my dad was getting paid big bucks to do consulting work (coming in and fixing their problems). Now they don't have any interns, my boss got laid off (after working there for 30 years), and they couldn't afford to have consultants on the payroll anymore (including my dad).

You won't enjoy college if you fret about your future job every minute of your life there. Just be worried about getting into a good school right now (which means you need very good grades in your junior year and first semester senior year), and then once you get into a school, start getting good grades there. Meet new people and make friends and learn how many beers you can drink before you become a major embarrassment to yourself in front of women.
 
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ian

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DanG has some good advice...try to START with good grades, since they will probably only get worse...

I went through the same problems andrzejpw...
I was a junior in high school and figured I might as well go Computer and Systems Engineering. I had been a computer dork forever, but I was kind of outgrowing it. So I got here to RPI and took my general courses (They're really not that general, the humanities requirements are VERY short). General core engineering requirements go on for about the first 2 years. Here its more like a year and a half and you start branching out. Core requirements ARENT that bad, but I know it depends a lot on your school. If I went to Oregon State it would be awful and much like what kelly describes (I have plenty of friends there). A lot of them are very cool classes with some awesome labs - the only bad ones were the math requirements, but you can't do too much about that (DanG knows how much math sucks, he's a freakin math major). Anyhow, I'm basically done with those now. In those requirements I got a good taste of a lot of different kinds of engineering. A little materials science, some computer and systems, some electrical, some civil, some biomedical, etc etc. This was really helpful and led me on my interest in civil engineering (Specifically structural engineering). I start in on some major concentration classes in January, and I'm really looking forward to it.

The way I decided was a program here called Engineering Discovery Week. Basically, for a week each department ran a presentation about the major, outlined the classes, and had alums come and speak about what they do in the workforce. It was REALLY helpful for me. From there, I scheduled meetings with the chairs of the departments I was most interested in. They helped me with my final choice. Not to mention getting to know the chairs can help a lot (they have lots of connections!).

They really do expect you to change your major at least once...I only know a few of my friends doing the same thing as they started with.

Your best choice is to pick a school with very solid programs in all of the majors you're looking at - from there just enjoy the classes and see what is most interesting to you.

And don't forget, drink a lot. You don't have to do every drug under the sun, as long as you make up for it in drinking.
 
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andrzejpw

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A question: what exactly is premed? I mean, I know its not a major. . . so, say I go to MIT(god willing). Can I do premed there, then later apply to med school?

about the grades thing. . . god help me, I'm going to keep this 4.0 unweighted GPA. All honors, AP, etc. Doing my first college visit this weekend (U of Illinois, urbana Champaign)
 
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dvr

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At MIT, I knew many people who did EE as undergrads and went on to med school (although that might be because MIT doesn't have a pre-med program). Many EEs also went to law school.

By the way, am I the only one wondering where Kelly went to school?
 
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Matthew-Spaltro

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you all are assuming that everyone goes to college for four years. I am only going for two. So my choice of a major to take is that I only have two years to figure it all out. Did what i say make any sense at all
I didn't think so. Gotta get of that medication.
 
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andrzejpw

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Quote:

Originally posted by dvr
At MIT, I knew many people who did EE as undergrads and went on to med school (although that might be because MIT doesn't have a pre-med program). Many EEs also went to law school.

By the way, am I the only one wondering where Kelly went to school?


the thing is, I'm worried that if I get accepted to a college because its good for engineering, and I decide to switch my major, the college won't be as strong for other things.

You know what my dream job would be? Right now I'm in an engineering class at my high school, where we have to engineer a product. This year, its a suitcase that would pass through airport security easily. So, we sit around, we talk, we discuss ideas. When our brains lock up, we play with toys. We eat food. We have nerf wars. Best class ever.
What are companies that do this? The name "Design Firm" sort of stands out, but I'm not sure. . .
 
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joelongwood

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Quote:

So, we sit around, we talk, we discuss ideas. When our brains lock up, we play with toys. We eat food. We have nerf wars.


Sounds like Apple Computer in the late '70s.........you were born too late.

Back to your question, though, my son received a UMass scholarship for computer science and went. After a year he discovered he found it rather boring. So he switched his major to Communications (whatever the hell that is), and is now considering going to graduate school for film.
BTW, he's now working in a restaurant......a far cry from computers and film. What I'm trying to say is that you have plenty of time.......take it as it comes and, most of all, enjoy it while it's here. As John Mellencamp said:
"Hold on to 16 as long as you can, changes come around real fast, make us women and men."
 
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When and where I went to college, Not having a major meant being labeled unclassified. Unclassified students were pushed to the back of the line at registration which meant, for an underclassman, finding many of ones chosen classes (as well as alternatives) already filled. Not good.
 
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arnett

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Quote:

Originally posted by andrzejpw
about the grades thing. . . god help me, I'm going to keep this 4.0 unweighted GPA. All honors, AP, etc. Doing my first college visit this weekend (U of Illinois, urbana Champaign)


it really hurts to say this (being an IU grad), but if you're interested in EE be sure to visit Purdue University in West Lafayette. great school for engineering.

Quote:

Many EEs also went to law school.


get your EE degree and then go to law school. you'll rake in the bucks as a patent attorney. hard work though.
 
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andrzejpw, that sounds a little mechie-ish

No really, sounds like a fun class. Check out some of the other majors around - you don't have to go plain old engineering. There's lots of interesting combinations of majors...
One I kind of wish I tried was PDI (I think it might only be here though) - Product Design and Innovation. Combines a MechE degree with a Sceince and Technology Studies degree. STS is a cool area - a lot to deal with the ethical issues in Engineering, how science and technology go along with humanity using anthropology, history, philosophy, political science, social psychology...basically trying to make Engineers who can 'think'.
 
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Matthew-Spaltro

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I am in the same situation as you andrez. I can't decide between business, video multimedia, or law enforcement. Mass conmunaction sounds good Joe. I might try that.
 
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mlchang

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Don't go to medical school, it sucks.
Trust me I know.
Oh and pre-med just means that you need to take the required pre-requisite courses to get into medical school. Medical schools don't care what major you are when you apply, as long as you have taken the pre-reqs. There are a bunch of English/Humanities majors in my class. Hey you can be "pre-med" too when you go into college. You just tell everyone that you are. Then you need to go around and pester professors for 1 point on a test, etc and always whine and moan about your grades to truly be pre-med. At Rice, the engineering professors hated the students that were trying to go to medical school because they were so anal about stuff.
 
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