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So You Want to Major in Civil Engineering

Nicole is a sophomore in college majoring in Civil Engineering. She spends most of her time studying for her statics class.

Being in my sophomore year of college, I have learned a lot just from these two years. I major in civil engineering and am one of the few girls who hasn't changed majors. This article is meant for everyone who plans on majoring in civil engineering or engineering in general. There are few things to keep in mind if you're planning to go to college and study this.

What to Expect

A Lot of Math

This one is the most obvious of the list. If you plan to major in engineering, expect to do a lot of math. Most, if not all, your classes will include a heavy dose of math in your tests and homework. There are no classes in the engineering program that does not include math. The few classes that you don't have to worry about math is the core curriculum classes. These classes are the basics that every college student has to take to be considered for graduation. Examples include English, government, a basic science class, and a language class. To sum it up, each engineering class is just a different version of math class that will help to solve real-world problems.

Self-taught Learning

When you enter college, you will be on your own when it comes to prioritizing your time and maintaining good grades. However, this does not mean that professors aren't willing to help their students pass their courses, especially engineering ones. They have their office hours to help students with topics that weren't clear during lecture, so don't feel that you're alone. Unfortunately, there are times when the professor tries their best to help students grasp an understanding of a certain topic but fails to do so. Even if students went to their professors during their office hours, sometimes the best way to learn a topic is self-taught learning. It should not be common to have professors where students must rely on themselves to learn a topic, but it happens at times. When this occurs, it can become a frustrating experience and makes it difficult to continue when you feel that you are making no progress.

An Irregular Sleep Schedule

To those who already have a terrible sleep schedule in high school, it is not going to get better when you enter college. Especially when you major in engineering. With the amount of homework you have and the freedom of managing your time, sometimes you will not have enough hours in the day to finish all the work given to you and get a good night's sleep. Even if you plan everything to be done at a certain time, there is no guarantee that you will finish by the end of the day. You will probably have more than 2 classes a day, and each class will provide you with their own set of homework and labs to be done at home and turned in class or online. For those who have a strict sleeping schedule, expect to lose more and more of your sleep as you progress in college.


There are many more things to talk about when deciding to major in engineering, but these points are the most talked-about among students. Don't let this discourage you if you feel that you aren't capable of doing it. It is hard but it is not impossible. Before you make a decision based on what to expect, there are other things to consider if you're not sure if engineering is the right major for you.

Is it A Good Fit?

If you feel that you're not sure whether you should study engineering in college you should ask yourself two questions before making a decision.


Do you enjoy it?

Now this one is very important. I know many guys in my major who are just there because their parents want them to become an engineer. They are not passionate about what they are studying, and they hate every minute of class. I enjoy engineering, so although I find the classes challenging and a lot of work it's interesting to me and makes me continue going. So you need to evaluate yourself and see the true reason why you want to major in engineering. Is it for the pay and to please your family, or is it because you enjoy it and you see yourself working in this field?

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Can you keep up?

University is already tough, but you need to understand that engineering is a really work-induced major. Many of those who begin in engineering change majors because they find the work to be overwhelming. Those with the drive and determination are the ones that make it to graduation. Ask yourself if you can be organized and manage all the work that you will be given as well as maintaining good grades for all your classes. Does the idea of it overwhelm you or does it sound like a challenge that you can take on?

If you answer these questions honestly and find see that you do want to major engineering and that you can keep up then do it. The payoff will be great especially when it's something that you are passionate about.


Some Tips

Be organized

You won't get very far if you don't know where anything is. Become familiar with the classes and professors you're taking. Figure out if the classes have online assignments or if it is on paper. Learning which classes are based online or not will help you become more efficient. You can prioritize deadlines and not fall behind on your work. Have a planner app if you need to since almost everyone uses their phones more than they actually use a physical planner. Becoming organized also helps to save time because everything is in a place you know. Organization does not have to be picture perfect, it just has to be in order.

Have multiple learning resources outside of class

To help with self-taught learning, there are many resources that can help you out to understand topics better. Universities usually have tutoring services for almost all majors, but if there is no help for a specific topic in your college, go to the internet. There are many websites that provide help for many topics. Youtube has a lot of videos for every topic ranging from statics to differential equations. Chegg is also a very well known resource for students. However, I don't recommend it to students who use to just find the answer of questions. It's not going to help you in the long run, but if you make an effort to understand problems then Chegg is a great asset for studying.

Learn to not procrastinate

This tip will make or break you. If you are known to procrastinate heavily on your work, you need to break that habit ASAP. It's not going to help you now or in the future. It creates low-quality work and a nasty habit that will prevent you to have a good job in the engineering field. Even if you're not interested in engineering, procrastination is a habit that is not good for anyone trying to get a high-paying job. Make a calendar of when you should be able to start your work. Have a reward system to break the habit. For each task that you don't set aside for later, reward yourself for it. It will encourage you to not leave things last minute. It saves you from a lot of stress.

Although these are very few tips to give you in this article, they are very important to remember. Tips like these can make or break your experience while studying in college. It will also determine the type of grades you will be able to get in your classes.

Are You Up For It?

Engineering in general is a fast paced environment to work in, so you'll be taught to work like it. If you read this article and find yourself being excited by the thought of going to college to learn about engineering, that's great news! If not, then this is your chance to figure out what you really want to pursue as a career in the future. Everyone is different, so take the time to figure out what you want to study.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Nicole Val

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