Was the degree you chose right for you?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by amilton542, Feb 12, 2015.

  1. amilton542

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Nov 13, 2010
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    If you live in the UK, you've got one shot at what you want to do on the academic ladder unless you're fortunately rich. Do you ever contemplate if the degree you chose was right for you?

    I left school with nothing. Since I left and grew up a bit, all I've ever wanted to do was go to university and do a degree in electrical engineering and now I'm here I'm beginning to question if I even made the right choice of a degree. Don't get me wrong, I love EE!; but all we do 90% of the time is embedded programming.

    I look at what I enjoy the most about the course it's: electromagnetism, semiconductor physics, maths and feedback control systems primarily. However, the lab based programming aspects of the course consumes nearly all of my time! My motivation and passion has just plummeted. I'm left with hardly any significant hours to devote serious research into what interests me. I mentioned this to one of my professors and he goes, "It's more of a hand's on course", so I respond, "If what you say is true then why do the exams constitute nearly 85% of the degree and the practical lab based component 15%?"

    The lab component is tedious, time consuming, boring and for all that effort it only sums up to a total of 15% towards the whole degree when I could have been more focused on the theory aspects that are worth a lot more. Do you see my point? I hardly turn up to the labs anymore.

    The primary question I keep asking myself is why didn't I just choose physics instead?
     
  2. GopherT

    AAC Fanatic!

    Nov 23, 2012
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    To answer your question, no. I have a BS degree in biology. So I went back, went back and continued to learn other things on my own. Stop the pity party, put in the hours and get one degree done. If you don't like it, get a PhD in something else.
     
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  3. Brownout

    Well-Known Member

    Jan 10, 2012
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    Yes, it was correct. EE is my passion and my profession.
     
  4. #12

    Expert

    Nov 30, 2010
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    Which degree barely matters in some things. My wife was a computer programmer and her boss had a degree in English. Not a clue what the employees were doing, but she got paid more than they did.

    Your degree is your ticket to the dance. You might end up doing the Tango at a rock&roll concert.
     
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  5. WBahn

    Moderator

    Mar 31, 2012
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    Yes and no. I'm one of those people that is interested in pretty much everything (technical and non-technical alike) so I think I would have found a very fulfilling career in any one of a couple dozen fields. It's very likely that I might have found several of them more satisfying than what I have done over the years. But that's fine. I would certainly have found many of them less satisfying and what I have done has been more than satisfying enough. My big regret is that I don't have enough time on this rock to pursue even a fraction of the things I would love to. Second to that is perhaps that my broad interests have kept me from truly pursuing any one thing to its pinnacle. But on the flip side, one of my biggest joys is that I have become solidly grounding in many diverse fields. You can't have it all and the things that give you the greatest sorrow are often the exact same things that are your greatest source of joy. Kinda like kids, I guess (and will be finding out over the next decade or so).
     
  6. jamesd168

    New Member

    Nov 8, 2014
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    Uh, I have the same question. Actually since I came to USA, I began to ask myself should i change my major?
     
  7. sirch2

    Well-Known Member

    Jan 21, 2013
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    A lot (may be most, certainly upwards of 50%) of the graduates I know are not working in the field which they studied for their degree. I have a degree in Mining Engineering and a masters in Engineering Geology and I am a computer programmer by profession; like WBahn I am interested in many things, I built my first crystal radio when I was 10 years old.

    When it came to choosing a degree it was a bit of a toss-up between something earth sciences related and electrics/electronics. I went with mining because it looked interesting and was a very general course with a bit of everything, from electrics, mechanics and systems to geology, computer simulation and management. I have had several careers since but programming seems to be the one that has stick the longest.

    Upshot, work at it and get the degree, don't ignore the lab stuff because if that is what you want to do in future you need to convince an employer that that is where your interests lie and try to focus on the bits that interest you in whatever you have do. When you get a job 80 to 99% is going to be boring crap that you need to wade through to get to the fun bits so it's good training for life.
     
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  8. #12

    Expert

    Nov 30, 2010
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    Now I'm going to get metaphysical.
    There comes a time in your life when you have to admit that you got where you are, one decision at a time, for several thousand decisions.

    I used to think I went where the wind blew me, but I look back and see that my talents always guided my choices. Bit by bit, I chose interesting things to do and they all guided me toward electricity and electronics. I could have worked in any department at Sears, I chose TV repair. I could have taken biology in college, I chose physics. I could have stayed in Warsaw Indiana working for a guy that owned at least six businesses from a Car Wash to a TV Repair shop, I chose California. Now I'm an air conditioning contractor. They use electricity, they are easy to figure out, and everybody in Florida has one. What does that have to do with the school courses I took? Almost nothing.
     
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  9. sirch2

    Well-Known Member

    Jan 21, 2013
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    We are probably in danger of starting a "like" fest but I always saw it as being a tadpole in a mountain stream, sometimes I would get stuck in a eddy and sometimes I would rush down rapids, my ability to go exactly where I chose being limited by the overwhelming force of the water.

    However you are right, I have always swum around with a bit of a bias and though there was little deliberate direction other than "that sounds interesting" and "I am bored with this", I have naturally gravitated to the things that I find satisfying and like to do.
     
  10. DumboFixer

    Active Member

    Feb 10, 2009
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    erm ... yes and no. I got myself sorted out on a career path (trained and qualified in the Air force as a fast jet avionics engineer before getting into writing the software for said fast jets) before I studied for my 1st degree - Computing & Mathematical Science so the 2 are kinda linked. Since then I've gone on to get a Planetary Science degree (because I wanted to) and am now studying Physics at Masters level (because I enjoy Physics and not because it's needed for my career)
     
  11. tindel

    Active Member

    Sep 16, 2012
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    Yes! I took many twists and turns before landing in electrical engineering. I always say that EE chose me. I love it, but I went on many somewhat related paths before EE found me. I can't think of anything else I'd like to do.
     
  12. alfacliff

    Well-Known Member

    Dec 13, 2013
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    I have an associates degree, I am a technician, and its fine with me. I make around 70k per year fixing industrial equipment, and electronics has always been my main hobby. here in wichita, ks. there are a lot of out of work engineers, the companies dont treat them very well, when a project is done, they are gone. I have never been laid off, and have never stoppped learning more about electronics, mechanics , hydraulics, and such. at the moment, I am the facilities electronic repair shop for a large aircraft company.
     
  13. WBahn

    Moderator

    Mar 31, 2012
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    One fairly common thread you might be noticing is that most of the people here have pursued various interests at various times and also that their professions have taken various turns, sometimes dramatic, over their careers. The common thread is variety. Learn everything you can about everything you can. That puts you in a position to exploit that variety, either by enabling you to be flexible and adjust as the situation (family, economy, whatever) changes or to be able to able to move as you see opportunities that you would like to explore. If you couple with that a commitment to living debt free, then you can be prepared for almost anything and live a remarkably stress-free (or at least stress-reduced) life.
     
  14. jamesd168

    New Member

    Nov 8, 2014
    21
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    one common theme we find in today's fast changing world is: CHANGE.

    you can't really count on one skill or one line of job that you can hold on to for the whole career. whether you like it or not, we will have to continue to learn as we go along, or risk being left behind.
     
  15. Glenn Holland

    Member

    Dec 26, 2014
    353
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    In my case, pursuing a college degree in engineering was a complete mistake and near disaster.

    My decision to go to college was based on advice (more like pious prodding) from my family who viewed a college education as a status symbol and a pursuit of vanity rather than a practical endeavor. They also had a rather "Eugenic" idea that their child was the best the world could get and they severely overestimated my electrical/mechanical aptitude as an indicator of engineering talent and thought I should pursue a degree in the field.

    However, interestingly while in college, I met with the elevator service company and went on a tour of all the equipment rooms of the buildings on the campus. Then the proverbial "Light Bulb" went on and I decided it would be a lot more profitable for me to become an elevator technician.

    So dropped out of school and pursued a rather lucrative career in elevator maintenance, then another working on mass transit vehicles. About 35 years later, today I own my home and a some rental property -all accomplished because I opted out of getting a college diploma.
     
  16. WBahn

    Moderator

    Mar 31, 2012
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    In my opinion it is definitely the case that people should not pursue a career/education that is not a good fit for them. People that choose a path because of their parents or their friends or some survey heard on the news are usually deluding themselves and seldom end up satisfied or successful.

    That's one of the things that I am going to try to be very careful about with my daughter. While I hope that she chooses a path that involves a solid education and I would love to see her fall in love with a "STEM" career, I'm going to make sure that she understands that she is free to decide what interests her and that, within some limits, that her mother and I will support her pursuing whatever she decides and that all we expect is that she make a conscious decision with her eyes wide open about what path she wants to follow.
     
  17. darrough

    Member

    Jan 18, 2015
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    While I was working on my BA in Math I was a very hard working student. I got a rude surprise when I graduated. 8 years of minimum wage jobs. If I had it to do over, I would have spent less time working on academic stuff and used that time to learn sales, marketing and customer service, through some kind of self employment.
     
  18. Glenn Holland

    Member

    Dec 26, 2014
    353
    110
    Sorry to hear your endeavor in math was not productive in terms of providing an employment opportunity. By the way, this expels the myth that Americans aren't skilled in STEM and there's a shortage of qualified graduates.

    If you can't find gainful employment, I might suggest you go into teaching math. I believe a teacher's credential for K through 12 (and possibly a community college) just requires a masters degree.
     
  19. MrChips

    Moderator

    Oct 2, 2009
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  20. Sparky49

    Active Member

    Jul 16, 2011
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    I think one thing that confuses matters is that, certainly in the UK at least, the content of different uni's courses can vary a lot.

    During my first year at my first uni, there was a lot of emphasis on embedded programming. However, when I switched the uni I am currently in, I noticed a big shift towards more control and signal processing (even though the department is probably best known for power stuff). I have a friend at a uni about an hour up the road who seems to focus on semiconductor stuff.

    All these were the 'same' 3/4 year BEng/MEng course - all named the 'same' "Electrical and Electronic Engineering", and all accredited by the IET. On paper, you would think you'd be signing up for the same course, but it wasn't until one actually got started that it became apparent that differences exist. Such an observation may even go unnoticed by a large majority of students, especially those who did not change university.
     
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