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Should I spend less time and money in college but graduate with a less desirable degree for my intended career?

Hi! My name's Keegan and I'm currently an undergraduate student in the honors program at Tulane University. After seeing and realizing the financial burden of my first semester here on both my family and my future self, I started thinking about changing my previous plan of a 3+2 year dual degree physics and engineering program at Tulane and then Vanderbilt or Johns Hopkins to simply triple majoring in 4 years here in mathematics, physics, and economics. Upon paring down even further, I figured out that I can graduate in 3 doing a double major in mathematics and physics, or in 2 with a mathematics major + physics minor. My cost of college would potentially halve, and I would be able to pursue a graduate degree on a shorter timescale. However, what I want to do as a career is automotive engineering, and I'm not sure what path I would be able to take from an undergraduate degree in mathematics to get to that point. Is it a better idea to spend less money and accrue less debt but have a less desirable degree for my intended career, or is it better to stick it out for a longer period of time and graduate with a more diverse range of degrees? #mechanical-engineering #graduate-school #mathematics #physics #automotive #graduate-recruitment #mathematics-education

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Nick’s Answer

Hi Keegan,

I agree with sam, if you're interested in the automotive industry, an automotive engineering program would be ideal since its customized for what you want to do.

However, it is possible to get into automotive going another path. My first job after college was in the auto industry and I graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering technology.

I came out of college with substantial debt so I can say that it's very smart of you to start thinking about this now. I suggest you use a loan calculator to estimate what your student loan payments would be each month, compare that to the average starting salary, and speak with financial advisors at your school.

Best of luck,


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Sam’s Answer

Hello Keegan,

If what you want to do is automotive engineering, I would attend a university that offers automotive engineering as a major. Otherwise, I would major in either mechanical engineering or electrical engineering. While attending college, you would want to participate in the university's coop/internship program for an automobile company like Toyota or Ford or Tesla. (I personally think an internship at Tesla, if they are offered, would be cool!!). I think this would minimize your school related debt and put you in a good position to obtain a job upon graduation with an auto company.


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