I think like many college-bound high school students the concept of any grade lower than a C is very foreign. In fact even a B was rather uncommon. However, as I began college, I realized that the ease of high school classes were a thing of the past. No longer could I breeze through it, or study for exams exclusively the night before; I had to work hard for my As and even my Bs.
Now I’m not saying this to scare anyone out of engineering degrees, in fact quite the opposite. The objective truth is that engineering is a hard major, and you’re not alone. No one is breezing through this degree. Even the people you view as the smartest in your classes still have to work hard to understand and do well.
From my personal experience, I did struggle at first. Classes were taught by incredibly intelligent professors, however they had difficulty dumbing the material down to a student level. The averages on the exams were no longer As and Bs, but instead Cs and Ds. (Looking back, it’s quite amusing how I breathe a sigh of relief to see a D, as long as I’m meeting the class average.) The workload for each class increased as well. Juggling history and writing with engineering and calculus required me to juggle the use of the left versus right side of my brain.
And the biggest change of all, you’re in college! You became independent: free of parents, making life-long friends, and enjoying the freedom to make your own decisions. And in this flurry of expanding your social sphere and capitalizing on the college experience, sometimes your classes can take a backseat. And I’ll be perfectly honest, this happened to me at the beginning of college. And as a result my grades did suffer. By the end of my freshman year, I had a 3.1 GPA. To my still high-school oriented brain, I thought this to be absolutely dismal.
But now I’m going to look back from the perspective as a Senior, as a more mature and optimistic person. I realized these classes were no joke, if I wanted to do well in my classes, I had to work for it. However as I started doing better, I realized that the GPA was not the satisfying part of doing well. Ultimately, it is the feeling of understanding your classes and knowing you are leaving college ready to take on an engineering career. Take this advice with a grain of salt, but your GPA does not define you as a person. These classes are tough, and frankly some will not click, as some didn’t for me. But understanding your classes, and finding passion within them will be a more enriching experience, and ultimately the GPA will follow. I can say that now as a Senior, I was able to pull my GPA from a 3.1 to a 3.56, and therefore will graduate with Cum Laude honors! And to everyone starting out as an engineering student I want to say, it is okay to struggle and know you are definitely not the first. Enjoy the experience college has to offer and simply try your best!