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Is it okay to pursue a major in an area that I'm naturally weaker in?

I love #engineering but my high school failed to adequately prepare me for most of the engineering courses I have had to take in college. Instead, I'm good at reading books and writing essays that analyze them, but I hate doing that. So, I am struggling through engineering in order to round out my skills.

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Marissa’s Answer

Hi Emily - it sounds like you are passionate about engineering, but it doesn't come naturally to you, which is no problem so long as it's something you want, and you're willing to work hard at it. You may have to work harder than your peers to make up for what was missed in high school, but as you continue to do that and build a foundation, the work will hopefully become easier for you. And even if it's difficult, if it's something you enjoy, then you should continue to work for it to accomplish your goals. When you achieve something that is difficult, it is that much more rewarding! You might consider reaching out to your Professor and asking for additional help to build up your foundation in the subject as well as some mentorship, or connect with fellow classmates when studying so you're not going at it alone, or seek out a tutor for some 1:1 assistance to continue to get you up to speed. So long as you are willing to do the work and ask for help when needed, there's nothing wrong with pursuing a challenge that interests you. Good luck!

Marissa recommends the following next steps:

Connect with your professor for additional help
Connect with your professor or someone in the engineering field that you would like to engage with as a mentor
Make a study group - meet with your classmates and study together so you're not in it alone
Seek out a tutor - some 1:1 training may be very useful to make up for what you feel you lacked in High School

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Michael’s Answer

Hi Emily,

Great question. The short if it is, this happens sometimes. It's unfortunate that you were inadequately prepared, but there are things you can do to get yourself on track. Most colleges and universities provide opportunities to meet and spend time with tutors. They should be able to help you get up to speed and will address you areas of weakness. I would also approach your Engineering professors, tell them about your concerns and struggles, and they should be able to work with you as well. Overall, if Engineering is something you are passionate about, you will make it work for you. Just remember to study hard, be humble about your areas of weakness, and do what you need to do to strengthen your knowledge.

Good luck!


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Nicole’s Answer

Hi Emily I. I see that you posted this question a little while ago so I hope my answer to you (or others who may read this response) is still helpful.

On your comment about loving engineering...I mean, what's not to love ?:)..On a more serious note though, I don' think it is a good idea to pursue a major where you know, going in, you will struggle. That type of set up could serve to discourage you in many ways...but, as has been shared in other comments, if you know where your challenges lie, then you can work to turn those challenges into opportunities to grow in the area of technology, even if that isn't a specific engineering program. Roles, such as program managers, utilize individuals with very disciplined and detailed approaches to completing very important projects even if they don't hold an engineering degree.

An individual who is willing to identify areas where they can strengthen their knowledge is an individual who as lots of potential to grow and be successful. Best of luck to you!

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Andrea’s Answer

I agree with the advice already given, I want to add that you may want to shift your thinking. Consider thinking of reading/writing as things that come easily to you, engineering as something you have to work harder at. As careers go, you may become bored by a job that doesn’t challenge you. You’ll have a lot more satisfaction with a job you enjoy working hard at, something you’re genuinely curious about. Working hard and staying curious are the qualities that will make you successful in *any* career.

Andrea recommends the following next steps:

Keep being true to who you are.
Shadow practicing professionals to see what engineers actually do in a day’s work.
Even Engineers need to be good writers! Sell this as a “value added” talent you bring to an employer.