I remember when I was applying to colleges as a senior in high school. I knew that I wanted to study engineering, but I had no idea what type and what the differences between majors were. I was overwhelmed by the various choices: mechanical, aerospace, civil, biomedical, chemical, and so many more! To make it more confusing, different schools had different options and different names for each major choice. Chemical engineering at one school seemed really similar to biochemical engineering at a different school. Some schools didn’t even have chemical engineering listed as an option. But wait, what even IS chemical engineering??!

My knowledge of engineering majors when I applied to college was minimal. I knew what the Google definition of chemical engineering was, “Chemical engineering is a branch of engineering that uses principles of chemistry, physics, mathematics, and economics to efficiently use, produce, transform, and transport chemicals, materials, and energy.” I knew I liked math and science. I knew I liked chemistry more than other science classes. So I picked chemical engineering. I thought that was it, I was ready to choose a major on all of my college applications.

I was wrong. Some applications I put a major that seemed similar to chemical engineering like biochemical engineering, on some applications I put biomedical engineering, and on other applications I just put engineering! On the Common Application for USC, I was overwhelmed by the areas of emphasis within chemical engineering. There’s chemical engineering with an emphasis in petroleum or materials or environmental science or even in sustainable energy. I applied with an emphasis in environmental science, but switched it to sustainable energy right when I got on campus.

What I’m saying is that it’s okay if you have no idea which area of engineering you’re interested in. Do your research into what each type is like, and pick the one you think you will like the best. Just know that you won’t really know what you like and don’t like until you start taking classes, and you can always change your major later. I was lucky to have picked a major I liked, but a lot of people I know didn’t have the same experience. It is okay to figure out what you like and don’t like once you get to college, that’s what you’re going to college for! Good luck making decisions, you got this.

Miranda Jernberg

Miranda Jernberg

MAJOR: Chemical Engineering YEAR: Class of 2021 HOMETOWN: Aurora, Colorado PRONOUNS: she/her/hers INSTA: @_mirandajay On campus, I am involved with Greek Life, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and USC's Latin fusion dance team called Break on 2.