How to Prepare for an Engineering Major While Still in High School
Before you get the honor of saying “trust me, I’m an engineer,” you have a long road ahead of you.
Engineering majors are some of the hardest out there and require great dedication and skill. In fact, according to a study conducted by the UCLA, two-thirds of engineering students fail to get their intended degree within five years. Still, don’t take these statistics to heart. There’s a simple, yet effective, way of accomplishing your goal—prepare while you’re still at high school. If you want to learn how just keep on reading.
Pick the Appropriate Math and Science Courses
While a degree in engineering is not mandatory, per se, it is still highly valued. On the other hand, picking an engineering major without attending the appropriate math and science courses in high school is almost neigh impossible. The reason being, you want to build a strong foundation in the fields of science and math so you have an easier time in college; your courses will be packed with them. These include algebra, geometry, chemistry, physics, computer science, and so on.
Also, by taking these you’ll make sure that you’re indeed up to the challenge and that you have what it takes to become an engineer. Think of it as a sort of boot camp; only the most determined candidates make it past the initial rounds.
Take Advantage of STEM Extracurricular Workshops
Becoming an engineer takes initiative as well as knowledge. Show your enthusiasm by joining STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) extracurricular activities. Here, you’ll not only develop your enormous passion for engineering but also find like-minded people to socialize with. What’s more, you’ll actually get a chance to work within an organization, and contribute in some way (perhaps even climb the ladder), which will no doubt prepare you for a company setting. At the end of the day, colleges prefer candidates that have something to show for other than the basic courses. Now, if you were wondering, these extracurricular activities include:
- Engineering Club (obviously)
- Coding Club
- Robotics Team
- Math Team
- Science Olympiad
- STEM Summer Camps
Look For Online Resources for Prospective Engineering Students
Now, you can’t expect your high school to teach you everything you ought to know about engineering. If you really want to pursue an engineering career you need to be thirsty for knowledge, always. Luckily, thanks to the Internet, there’s a plethora of online courses and resources at your disposal. For instance, you can find a balancing chemical equations worksheet to practice with and hone your skills if you’re looking at a chemical engineering career.
Overall, these online resources will allow you to learn things at your own steady pace and prepare you for the ensuing storm—college. In addition, they are easily accessible from anywhere and everywhere, allowing you to organize yourself however you wish.
Work on Projects and Getting Real-World Experience
The theory will only get you so far. You need practical and applicable knowledge if you wish to study engineering. Search for internships, volunteering opportunities, or create projects of your own to build on that real-world experience. Yes, you may have some experience from your STEM workshops, but if you truly want to become an (awesome) engineer, you need to go the extra mile.
Work on developing a portfolio that you can then present your prospective employers with. If anything, the experiential knowledge you gain will prove invaluable for your college courses; this will also put you ahead of the curve and allow you to “digest” new things faster than others.
Don’t Neglect Your Soft Skills
If you only work on improving your hard skills, you’ll be like an empty shell. After all, even if you do possess the necessary engineering knowledge, you still have to communicate with others on your projects. Moreover, according to this recent survey, employers are now searching for college graduates that have soft skills, such as critical thinking, attention to detail, and problem-solving. In fact, the most in-demand skill was listening with a score of 74 percent (as ranked by employers). So, bring out your inner artist and work on your creativity; just don’t forget to work on your people skills as well.
All in all, as long as you put some genuine effort into it, you have a good chance of making it through. Work hard, study harder, and you’ll bridge that gap you need to pass in order to succeed. Good Luck.