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Old 03-14-2015
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accidentprone accidentprone is offline
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Advice on how to deal with test anxiety on the brutal engineering exams?

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Old 05-30-2015
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I have a BS in Electronics Engineering and I thought I would give you some pointers/hints. I am 50 years old and at the time in my life where i am looking back about things I would do differently. Do better in college was one of them. I graduated with a 2.6 GPA and it wasn't from a well known engineering school. A lot of that had to due with social anxiety. My advice would be to seek counseling or see a doctor before you start college. My parents grew up in the depression and think nobody should be anxious in this day and age. They don't understand because they have never suffered from it. You MUST make your parents understand that you are not comfortable in social situations and need medical help. Trust me as an engineering student you will be anxious, but you must overcome. Yes you will need to work with other people in college and real life. I am like you more of a loner, but being a loner will hurt your chances of success in college and real life. I don't have any magic elixirs or advice on anxiety because I still feel anxious in social situations, but I still go to work. You don't really have a choice.


So here are some of my observations about college and the field overall:

1.) You must love math. I like math but didn't particularly love it. Calculus kicked my ***, and most engineering courses are built off of Calculus. I had straight A's in Algebra and Trigonometry at a junior college, and a 3.6 overall GPA in engineering courses but when I transferred to a four year college I was in no way prepared for the level of difficulty. If you struggle with Calculus get a tutor and go see your professor. Even if it takes re-taking classes and throw off your graduation schedule get comfortable with Calculus. Chances are you will never use Calculus after college but you will use it a lot in college.

2.) Surround yourself with other engineering students, and if you have a roommate make sure he is going after a STEM degree. You do not want people who study Business or Liberal Arts (who never seemed to have Friday classes) talking you into going uptown to party on a Thursday night. Plus with an engineering roommate you can help each other.

3.) Develop a relationship with your professors. Not only will they help you but it will show them that you are truly interested in their class. In class, ask questions. This takes courage but the more you do it the more comfortable you will become. There are no dumb questions!

4.) Study first! If time allows go on a date or go have some drinks with friends. The more homework you do the more confident you'll be on exams.

5.) The first two years will be the hardest. Do not plan on side jobs for these two years as you will be struggling finding enough time to study. Colleges purposely make it this way to weed out the slackers. Think hard about what you want to specialize in (power, computer design, communications, etc..). Your junior and senior classes will focus on what path you choose. Make your goal a minimum of a 3.0 GPA so going to graduate school will still be on option. Going back to step 3 the better you know your professors the more likely they are to recommend you for graduate studies.

6.) This is probably the most important. Go to a school with a good coop program. My school had no coop program. The more experience you have before you graduate the more likely you are to get a full time job afterwards.
It also gives you a feel for what you'll be doing when you graduate. If you don't like it CHANGE YOUR MAJOR. Do what you love. If I could do it all over again I would have been an archaeologist. The only reason I got into engineering was because of parental pressure, and electricity/magnetism fascinated me.

Now for the real world advice. Engineering is a lot of work for the amount of money you get paid. You'll typically become a member of a team and that team will be assigned a project with a deadline. Managers do not want deadlines extended so it means long work days and weekends. In the US competition is fierce for jobs so be ready to give it your all.

Good luck!

Last edited by alwayswet; 05-30-2015 at 07:46 PM.
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Old 05-30-2015
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alwayswet View Post
I have a BS in Electronics Engineering and I thought I would give you some pointers/hints. I am 50 years old and at the time in my life where i am looking back about things I would do differently. Do better in college was one of them. I graduated with a 2.6 GPA and it wasn't from a well known engineering school. So here are some of my observations about college and the field overall:

1.) You must love math. I like math but didn't particularly love it. Calculus kicked my ***, and most engineering courses are built off of Calculus. I had straight A's in Algebra and Trigonometry at a junior college, and a 3.6 overall GPA in engineering courses but when I transferred to a four year college I was in no way prepared for the level of difficulty. If you struggle with Calculus get a tutor and go see your professor. Even if it takes re-taking classes and throw off your graduation schedule get comfortable with Calculus. Chances are you will never use Calculus after college but you will use it a lot in college.

2.) Surround yourself with other engineering students, and if you have a roommate make sure he is going after a STEM degree. You do not want people who study Business or Liberal Arts (who never seemed to have Friday classes) talking you into going uptown to party on a Thursday night. Plus with an engineering roommate you can help each other.

3.) Develop a relationship with your professors. Not only will they help you but it will show them that you are truly interested in their class. In class, ask questions. This takes courage but the more you do it the more comfortable you will become. There are no dumb questions!

4.) Study first! If time allows go on a date or go have some drinks with friends. The more homework you do the more confident you'll be on exams.

5.) The first two years will be the hardest. Do not plan on side jobs for these two years as you will be struggling. Colleges purposely make it this way to weed out the slackers. Think hard about what you want to specialize in (power, computer design, communications, etc..). Your junior and senior classes will focus on what path you choose. Make your goal a minimum of a 3.0 GPA so going to graduate school will still be on option. Going back to step 3 the better you know your professors the more likely they are to recommend you for graduate studies.

6.) This is probably the most important. Go to a school with a good coop program. My school had no coop program. The more experience you have before you graduate the more likely you are to get a full time job afterwards.
It also gives you a feel for what you'll be doing when you graduate. If you don't like it CHANGE YOUR MAJOR. Do what you love. If I could do it all over again I would have been an archaeologist. The only reason I got into engineering was because of parental pressure, and electricity/magnetism fascinated me.

Now for the real world advice. Engineering is a lot of work for the amount of money you get paid. You'll typically become a member of a team and that team will be assigned a project with a deadline. Managers do not want deadlines extended so it means long work days and weekends. In the US competition is fierce for jobs so be ready to give it your all.
Thanks for the advice. I've always wondered how and what graduates would've done while they were still in college. I'm currently in college myself and found this advice useful. Thanks again.
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I'm going through it now, I'll be a Junior this year and am seeking a Mechanical Engineering Degree at UCF. Yes you will have to work with other students and do projects together. I think you are just nervous and will get through it, I never thought I would make it through speech class and I was actually good at it. I agree with what other people said you have to love math and be really good at it. Getting good grades is important if you want to get an internship and a great job. I wish that I worked a little harder last year because my grades weren't so great, but Cal 2, 3, and Differential Equations were hard classes for me, as well as most people. You must realize that getting an Engineering degree is VERY hard to do. You have to really study ALL the time and dedicate your life to this for a couple of years. Good luck to you, just a little insight from somebody going through it.

Last edited by Rob8375; 06-07-2015 at 05:34 PM.
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The discussion of higher-level math on this forum should be prohibited. Some of us have an unpleasant involuntary reaction to such topics.

I think I'm going to be sick.
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Old 06-17-2015
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Alwayswet pretty much covered it all here. I just would like to add some tips that has helped me so far - I think these might also help you with your test anxiety.

1. You should put as much effort into your homework as possible. The best thing about homework is that it allows you to work alone, in the privacy of your home, or anywhere you're most comfortable. I think it helps because it gives you a chance to practice the coursework and that good feeling you get when you solve the tough questions will carry over to the exams. If you're "in the zone", you can do some extra problems to build that confidence and familiarity with the material.

2. Don't try to understand everything all at once. I learned this the hard way in Physics I when I tried to understand FBDs as a whole, instead of understanding just the basic Newtonian laws first. Till this day I can't draw one correctly without some step by step guide (thankfully I'm in electrical and don't need this anymore). Take your time, take a break if you're under stress or are uncomfortable. You can learn more in 10 minutes with a clear head than you will ever do in 2hrs of forced concentration.

3. Khan Academy is AWESOME!! If you have trouble with anything, give their videos a try - it's helped me so much in my earlier coursework. And I'm sure you're already aware of all the other helpful videos that youtube has to offer. Sometimes the instructor just doesn't make sense and these guys are all here to make up for that.

4. Most engineering courses include Labs. Unfortunately, most of them will require you to work with a partner or a group. It can be a scary situation at first, but as the semester rolls on, there is a good chance you can become friends with these people and sometimes end up taking other labs with the same group, which is a much better option than having to find a new group or partner each semester. IMO the good thing about STEM programs is that many of the students in it are also shy and socially awkward so it makes it a bit easier to fit in.


Engineering programs can be tough, but if you have a genuine interest in it you'll be surprised at how much effort you would willingly put into it. Good luck!!
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