Hi, Katie. It is great to hear you are interested in becoming and aerospace engineer. My daughter is studying to become one as well at Embry-Riddle University in Florida. She hopes to become an astronaut and is currently pursuing a Bachelor's degree. The engineering field requires a minimum of four years of college to earn your degree. If you decide to attain a Master's degree, it is an additional 2 years of study. Some students also go on to earn a PhD by completing an additional 2-4 years of college.
You can get ahead by looking into AP classes in high school. The degree field leans heavily on skills in math and science, so advanced placement in these areas can speed up your progress once you start college. Being curious and having good analytical skills are a plus. Aerospace engineers get to explore ideas that no-one thought possible before and create new ways of solving complex problems. Also, be sure to practice reading and writing skills. Aerospace engineers review a lot of information, take detailed notes and write papers to share their knowledge.
There are a lot of great engineering schools out there that offer degrees in aerospace. When you are ready to apply, a search on the internet can point you in the right direction. MIT, Stanford, University of Michigan, Georgia Tech and Purdue University are all recognized as top schools for this field of study. There are many other great schools to consider as well and you can find more with a quick internet search.
While in college, look for opportunities to complete internships with companies like SpaceX, Boeing and Lockheed or with organizations like NASA. In addition to internships, seek out a mentor in the field to help provide you with guidance on your journey.
I forwarded your question to my daughter so that she can share more around her experience in college. I am excited for you to explore the engineering field and wish you good luck!