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What college should I go to?

I want to be an engineer but, I am not sure what type of engineer...maybe aerospace engineering. The only college I have in mind is Cal-Poly but, I want back-up options in case Cal-Poly does not work out. college engineer

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Matt’s Answer

Consider schools with a bunch of different engineering programs. Case Western Reserve, for example, has programs in all sorts of engineering fields, as does Oregon State. And, it turns out that there's a lot of basic stuff you need for any engineering degree. Your first two years in most engineering majors will be more or less the same: a lot of courses in physics, chemistry, calculus, basic computer programming, plus some core requirements like English composition, and breadth requirements like handful of humanities classes.

You can fill your first year with common requirements, easily, and by then you'll have a better idea of what you want to pursue. Most people don't declare a major until after their first year anyway; many schools don't let you.

By the end of your second year, you'll probably have taken 3-5 courses specific to your major. If you change to a different major then, you'll be looking at maybe one extra semester (and possibly a minor in whatever your initial choice was), but more than likely you can just fit it in to the next couple years. Even those major-specific courses are probably not actually specific to your major, but apply to a family of related fields (aerospace, mechanical, civil, and chemical engineers probably all take a statics course, and a basic mechanics course that goes beyond intro to physics, and an intro fluid dynamics course). A lot of closely related majors (computer science vs. computer engineering, civil vs architectural engineering, mechanical vs aerospace) differ by just a few courses over the four years.
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Greg’s Answer

One question for you first: do you plan to go on for an advanced degree (master's or even doctorate) after college, or enter the workforce straight away? A fair number of positions require an MS or "N years of equivalent experience," and a smaller number actually require a Ph.D.


If grad school is in your future, your undergrad institution is not as critical; a decent state school such as Cal Poly or San Jose State is a fine stepping stone. Even a junior college like De Anza, followed by a transfer to a UC, for example, is a reasonable way to go. Of course, the more you can narrow down your interests, the better you can tune your choice of college/university; a school's reputation in one department need not carry over to a neighboring department. Schools that are strong in most or all science and engineering fields (e.g., UC Berkeley) also tend to be harder to get into.


I'm afraid I can't offer specific recommendations for the terminal-bachelor's case since my own background is in the sciences, and rankings have almost certainly changed since I went to school anyway.

Most likely I am going into the workforce and than a year later I going to go for my masters. Thank you for the advise that you were able to give. Daniel Z.
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Timothy’s Answer

If you don't quite know what major you're interested in specifically, I would highly recommend you look for a school that has a program similar to the one I went through at Purdue University which was called "First Year Engineering". The program was designed to give a year of solid foundational learning that would set us up for success in whatever discipline we chose, while also giving us a better understanding of the different disciplines in the process. It's very helpful allowing you to study while having actual professors available to ask questions about disciplines.

I'm unfamiliar with the universities in California, so I can't point you towards anything specific, but I would recommend you search for a school with a similar program.
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