100% of 1 Students
As a general tip (and this is something I think you're already doing), I'd encourage you and others in a similar situation to keep an open mind. I ended up selecting a discipline that was low on my initial ranking, and it was a great decision in hindsight!
In general, I think there are 3 core considerations for this type of decision between engineering majors:
1) Are you interested in discipline X?
2) Do you feel good / competent at discipline X?
3) Does discipline X lead to the types of careers that you want?
I think it's important to find a major that - as much as possible - is at the intersection of these 3. For #1, interest and passion in the material is important, as it will keep you driven over the course of an engineering degree (which is tough!).
However, you may say that you're interested in many things, which is where perhaps #2 steps in. You also want something that you at the very least aren't anxious about. It's hard to know this in advance, but an adequate proxy can be your performance in first year courses if your university offers discipline-specific courses right away. For example, if you have a first year circuits course and you really struggle with the material, it may be unwise to do electrical engineering, even if it's something you're interested in. Passion can motivate you to compensate for this, but only to a certain extent.
That leaves #3, which is more forward thinking. Remember that university is just 4 years of your life, but your career is 40+. Additionally, most of what you learn won't actually be applied on the job. Now, your major won't completely dictate your career, but it offers a critical launch pad. For instance, think about the type of environment in which you want to work. For example, are you not interested in working in the field in the oil sands? Then perhaps something like chemical engineering would not be a great fit, even if the course content seems interesting to you. On a similar vein, you'll want to select something that has enough job opportunities in a region you're interested in being in. For example, do you really want to live and work in a big city downtown? Then certain engineering fields will almost surely not let you do this.
In some sense, it can help to start in the future and work backwards. What industry and type of position do you see yourself in? Then, what major is the most direct path to that end? For example, some are excited about aerospace. However, there are many different types of engineers that contribute to aerospace, including computer engineering (ex. embedded systems), so your specific major choice in that instant is not as simple as "wanting to be in the aerospace industry means I should study aerospace engineering".
How can you go about uncovering some of this information? For one, try to talk to upper year students in different majors you're interested in. They will give you more honest feedback and reviews about their major and the career opportunities. In comparison, the department representatives are biased - they have a vested interest in convincing you to sign up for their major! Moreover, reaching out to recent alumni in different fields you're interested in can also be a good way to assess the different majors.
Finally, when in doubt, if you really can't decide between specific majors, try to go for the one that is broadest. That way, you'll be closing as few doors as possible. As an example, if I wasn't completely sure about it, I wouldn't go into a more niche field like biomedical or aerospace engineering, since something more general like mechanical or electrical engineering can be viable for those paths (particularly with specialization in a masters degree).
Good luck, Rachel! I'm confident you'll make the right decision for you :)
Herman recommends the following next steps:
- Think about what you're interested in
- Think about what you feel good / most confident in
- Think about what your ideal careers are, and which majors can create a straightforward path to get there
- Talk to upper year students and recent alumni of the different majors to get unbiased perspectives
- When in doubt, stay as general as possible and specialize later
100% of 1 Students