How do I know if I made the right choice?

I am a Mechanical Engineering student, and I am currently struggling with my classes, I love engineering, but the fact that I'm not getting the material has caused my motivation to decrease. I don't want to quit, but I am in a place where I am doubting if I made the right choice. Like I said, I love engineering and I don't see myself doing anything else.
posted by Ignacia, Austin TX on June 28, 2014

Answer by Ms. Janet Y. Tsai

Hi Ignacia! 

The feeling of struggling with classes is familiar to most engineering students - you are not alone! Engineering courses are hard and they require a lot of time and other resources which are not the easiest to come by. I encourage you to stick with what you love because at the end of the day that's what will make/keep you happy. 

As you continue in your school career - consider asking yourself what you can do differently to ease your struggles with the material and the coursework. Maybe it's getting a tutor, or finding study buddies to do homework / prepare for exams with. Think about using alternate resources like YouTube tutorials or Chegg.com study manuals -- many students I know use these online resources and find them more accessible than in-person resources like office hours or TAs. That said - think about taking advantage of your course instructors and approaching them with questions when you need help. I am sure that many people at your institution want you to succeed and will help you along the way, but it may take some poking around to find them! 

An academic counselor may be able to help you with course selections as you navigate the undergraduate curriculum - another resource that can you can utilize to your advantage! Also, older students (upperclassmen) who have gone through the courses you are struggling with may also be able to tell you their perspectives, experiences, and how they survived. Talking with them and hearing their tips may make your experience smoother! 

The other thing that may help you feel more confident about your choice is an internship or some way of experiencing what mechanical engineers "actually" do. A shadowing day or tour of a local engineering company may help as well - any exposure you can find will make you more informed. Finally, some self-reflection at the end of the day is a powerful tool for seeing how you really feel. If it's just the grades standing in your way but you are interested in the material and the discipline, that seems to me that you made the "right decision" but need to adjust your approach to school somehow to make your path easier. You can do it! The passion and love you talk about in your question is what you need to survive - so hold on to it!