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How do I decide what path to take?

I am going into my junior year of high school and am starting to get a lot of (unsolicited) advice from my family and friends about what I should major in when I go to college. I really like math and science and I want to do something that has a positive impact. My dad wants me to study engineering, my mom wants me to be a doctor, my brother says I should go into computer science, my friend thinks biology would be a good path… it’s all a bit overwhelming and I don’t want to disappoint anyone. How did you decide what to major in or what career path to take? Am I supposed to know what I want to do already? Any advice for how I can decide?

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  • Sarah Fortuno asked Agatha Kim, TRC

    Added Tuesday, June 11, 2019 at 12:27 PM

    I'm looking to attend UT Austin, which is one of the best engineering schools, but it's not ABET accredited for environmental engineering, which is what I want to study. Although it's not accredited in my major, it's still a really good engineering school. Will it be enough that it's a highly rated school? Should I still attend or keep looking for other schools?

    Answers 1
    Agatha Kim, TRC
    Answered 8 days AGO
    Hi Sarah,
    I'm sorry that this response is coming so late.  But to answer your question...
    You're at a time of your life where the world is your oyster and you don't want to limit yourself by anything because you are capable and have the potential to ...
  • Mya Pagan asked Nancy Post, John Deere

    Added Saturday, June 1, 2019 at 3:02 PM

    Hi Nancy! I am very curious about how to become a successful engineer. Do you have any general advice for a student who is interested in becoming an engineer?

    Answers 1
    Nancy Post, John Deere
    Answered 12 days AGO
    Hi Mya,  My best advice is to immerse yourself in studies that support your goals.  Join clubs, take classes, look online, and talk to people in engineering positions that you feel your are interested in.   The basis that engineering gives a person ...
  • Added Wednesday, July 24, 2019 at 3:40 PM


    I am going into my junior year of high school and am starting to get a lot of (unsolicited) advice from my family and friends about what I should major in when I go to college. I really like math and science and I want to do something that has a positive impact. My dad wants me to study engineering, my mom wants me to be a doctor, my ...

    Answers 17
    Parika Petaipimol, Pandion Therapeutics
    Answered 13 days AGO
    Congratulations, Rising Junior! It's another step closer to finishing a huge life milestone of Graduating High School! But it is a stressful time and relatives (who have the BEST intentions) will always give you advice - whether or not it was solicited. ...
    Lauren Gordon, State of California
    Answered Wednesday, July 24, 2019 at 4:18 PM

    This is a great question! I too was very interested in math and science through school. I started paying attention to what really piqued my interest and found myself very interested in earthquakes and geology. As I got older, I found interest in ...

    Nancy Post, John Deere
    Answered Wednesday, July 24, 2019 at 4:16 PM

    My suggestion is to keep taking advanced classes in math and science because that appears to be of high interest to you and will support your future choices. You are considering several very fulfilling paths! So, please don’t worry about disappointing ...

  • Allie asked Parika Petaipimol, Pandion Therapeutics

    Added Sunday, June 2, 2019 at 8:38 PM

    I love IT and biomedical engineering. I am nervous about engineering since they require a lot of experience for a job, and it is not flexible like IT ( I can work from home).

    Answers 1
    Parika Petaipimol, Pandion Therapeutics
    Answered 13 days AGO
    Hi Allie, 
    The short answer to your question: No. It is not easy to find a job after college with no experience (even if you have a BS or MS or PhD). It's particularly challenging for biomedical engineers because there are different "flavors" of ...
  • Julia Flanders asked Vanessa Li, Novelis

    Added Saturday, May 18, 2019 at 1:22 PM

    So I am in a seventh grade math and I have a C-. What can I do to improve my grade?

    Answers 1
    Vanessa Li, Novelis
    Answered Tuesday, August 6, 2019 at 8:09 PM
    - Lots and lots of practice books. In addition from school's homework, you want to read and do practice exercise from library books. 
    - Avoid using calculator, this way you will be able to practice solving problems on your own. The more you practice ...
  • Phoebe Slater asked Danielle Schroeder, Pennoni

    Added Friday, May 24, 2019 at 3:21 AM

    I really want to do engineering, but I am having self doubt in thinking that I'm too stupid to do it. What should I do, go for it or don't even bother especially that I'm not great maths?

    Answers 1
    Answered Tuesday, August 6, 2019 at 4:07 PM
    Hi Phoebe, 
    It is a common misconception that you need to be amazing at math and science to become an engineer! If you really want to pursue engineering and enjoy solving problems, then engineering is a great fit for you! I personally had my fair share ...
  • Isaiah Sotelo asked Erin Cvrkel, L3Harris

    Added Tuesday, May 28, 2019 at 8:52 PM

    Out of math, physics, and computer science, which is more useful / fundamental to an aerospace engineer? I plan on getting my bachelors in aerospace engineering in college. But I am also interested in math, physics, and computer science. If i want to double major which would be more helpful in my career? I understand they are all important, but which would complement aerospace engineering the best? Or are there any other majors that might better help me in that career path? I appreciate any ...

    Answers 1
    Erin Cvrkel, L3Harris
    Answered Tuesday, August 6, 2019 at 3:57 PM
    Hi Isaiah,  and thank you for your question.  At the most basic level, I would say to follow your passion, should one of these choices call to you more strongly than the others, since all three are great complements.  I do believe that you absolutely ...
  • Mia Sacco asked Tiera Fletcher (Guinn), MIT/The Boeing Co

    Added Saturday, July 13, 2019 at 11:48 AM

    Hi Tiera! I am a rising senior in high school and have been juggling what kind of engineering to study in college. How did you determine the type of engineering you wanted to study in college?

    Answers 2
    Answered Sunday, August 4, 2019 at 6:17 PM
    Hi Mia! Tiera gave some great advice. 
    To figure out what type of engineering to study in college, the best advice I can give is look for opportunities beyond school about engineering. My junior year, I attended an engineering camp for girls at a local ...
    Tiera Fletcher (Guinn), MIT/The Boeing Co
    Answered Tuesday, July 16, 2019 at 11:41 PM
    Hi Mia!
    This is a great question. Although I decided on aerospace engineering at a young age, I wanted to make sure that it was what I wanted to do as a career. So, I took on various research opportunities, externships, seminars and internships to dig ...
  • Payton Henson

    Added Sunday, March 17, 2019 at 10:13 AM

    I'm Payton. I am just a normal person like everyone else. The other day in my science class, I was watching a movie about Engineering. It looks FUN, but I just don't know. How do I know if engineering is for me?

    Answers 2
    Answered Sunday, August 4, 2019 at 6:09 PM
    Hi Payton! I agree with, Ana - you do not need to be a genius to be an engineer! I really loved Math in high school, but struggled with a bit with some of my science classes. Engineering is FUN, but it can be hard work. I love my job because of the work ...
    Ana Luisa Mendoza, Northrop Grumman
    Answered Tuesday, May 14, 2019 at 9:53 AM

    Engineering is a fun job to do, I tell you that from experience. You don’t have to be a genius in math or science to become and engineer but like any other degree, it takes discipline and desire to want to do it. In my engineering career, I get to work ...

  • Added Wednesday, June 19, 2019 at 1:37 PM


    I love engineering and find it very interesting and fun. However, I’m still exploring and there are a lot of different careers that seem interesting. Is it possible to pursue other careers with an engineering degree? If I decide to go a different way after getting an engineering degree, how can I apply what I learn in engineering to other ...

    Answers 13
    Hope Bovenzi, Texas Instruments
    Answered Tuesday, June 25, 2019 at 9:29 AM

    Of course you can pursue something other than engineering after you achieve your degree – in fact, many people do! What's great about engineering is that it's a good "stepping stone" to many career options and opportunities. I know many people who have ...

    Stacy Clark, Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation
    Answered Wednesday, June 19, 2019 at 2:57 PM

    From my experience and others' experiences that I've seen, engineering degrees are highly respected even outside the field. I know people with engineering degrees who have gone into the finance sector, project management, and tech start-ups. I think ...

    Peggy Layne, Virginia Tech
    Answered Wednesday, June 19, 2019 at 2:56 PM

    I love this question! I think that an engineering degree is a great preparation for a variety of careers. Among my classmates at my undergraduate institution, many went on to law school, medical school, and business school in addition to those who like ...

  • Jessica Stephens asked Kim de Groh, NASA Glenn Research Center

    Added Friday, April 26, 2019 at 6:42 PM

    I'm 39 and pursing my dream since I was a little girl of becoming an AE. I'll finish the program in 2 yrs (i have previous BSN), and worried about getting hired as an older applicant out of school.

    Answers 1
    Kim de Groh, NASA Glenn Research Center
    Answered Friday, May 31, 2019 at 3:24 PM

    Hi, first congratulations on pursing your dream of becoming an engineer at this point in your life! As a NASA materials researcher, I am not knowledgeable about hiring. And, I assume the answer would vary depending on the organization (NASA vs. ...

  • Added Monday, May 20, 2019 at 8:24 AM


    I have a group of friends in a lot of the same classes I’m in now and I’ve found having that support and camaraderie really helpful. I'm concerned about moving on to college and a career where I may not have that kind of group. Do engineers usually work in teams or by themselves? Were you able to find a group to work with in college or at ...

    Answers 16
    Priscilla Bennett, Spire / Laclede Gas Company
    Answered Friday, May 31, 2019 at 12:00 PM

    First off, no worry about not having the camaraderie. I can guarantee you will find similar interests in the people you are in college with along with your work environment. Engineers (in college and in the workplace) are normally working on similar ...

    Kate Fay, Verizon Wireless
    Answered Wednesday, May 29, 2019 at 1:43 PM

    Having the right support network in engineering is very important. In college, I would recommend looking to see if there is a program that allows you to live on a floor with other engineering freshman. I was able to make a very strong group of friends ...

    Madeleine Hirsch, BIG RED DOG Engineering, a Division of WGI
    Answered Tuesday, May 28, 2019 at 1:48 PM

    From my experience, engineers work both in teams and by themselves. As a traffic engineer, I work on a team with many different people: other traffic engineers, planners, stakeholders, municipalities and many more. My college experiences definitely ...

  • Joanna

    Added Thursday, April 25, 2019 at 8:36 AM

    I am a 5th Grade student and making a project for school about petroleum engineers. I am doing GREAT, but the only problem is that we need to dress up as one. I did my research but still don't know what to wear. I will be so very grateful for even the little details. Thank you!

    Answers 1
    Answered Thursday, May 16, 2019 at 2:48 PM
    Hi Joanna,
    Petroleum engineers, like most engineers, dress differently based on what they will be doing for the day.  If they are in an office working on designs remotely, they will usually wear clothing that is appropriate for their office.  If they are ...
  • Petro Ngema asked Christina Castillo, Fox and Associates, Inc.

    Added Wednesday, April 3, 2019 at 3:06 AM

    Answers 1
    Christina Castillo, Fox and Associates, Inc.
    Answered Monday, May 13, 2019 at 7:12 AM
    Thank you for your question! I am glad that you want to be and engineer! I am not sure how old you are but I would recommend that through highschool you work to take as many engineering classes that you can to determine exactly the type of ...
  • Theresa Brunasso, D&S Microwave, Inc.
    Answered Tuesday, April 30, 2019 at 11:37 AM
    Hi Tessy. I don't have children, so I may not be the best person to answer this question. However, I do know many mothers who are working engineers, and their children seem to be doing great. There are many ways to handle parenthood and a career. Some ...
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