Going to college is a rite of passage. It’s an indicator for newfound independence, discovering who you are, and going after your goals. It can also be an overwhelming period, too. But what if you had answers to some of the unknowns? Here are five things to know before you start your engineering education.

Socializing is important too.

Studying in an engineering program is rigorous and will demand a lot of your time, but it shouldn’t demand all your time. Join clubs on campus that interest you, play on sports teams, attend events, and make new friends and professional connections. College is about growing and experiencing new things while also learning and preparing for your future.

Work on finding a balance between academics and socializing that will benefit your mental and emotional health during college as well as your professional life after graduation.

Get comfortable with your curiosity.

Engineers are, by definition, curious. They love to figure out the how, what, and why of things, solve problems, and create new solutions. Therefore, there are never silly questions! If you have a question, ask it. If you need help, get it. Reach out to other students in your program even if they’re older than you. Chances are they’ve had similar questions! Also, take advantage of your professor’s office hours. They are open for you to ask questions, toss ideas around, or just talk through your coursework.

There’s no failing, only trying again. And again.

We can’t hide it—studying engineering will be challenging. The good news is that we know you can do it! If you have trouble with a test, a project, a course—anything at all—don’t give up. Engineers are persistent and resilient and they’re not afraid to be wrong. In fact, engineering is all about approaching things in new and different ways. Engineers don’t settle. They always keep going, keep trying, and keep innovating.

Take that studio art class.

Or, you know, whichever classes interest you! Along with your required courses, now is the time to discover new subjects. An art class can influence your creative mind or be a creative outlet. Learning a new language can help when traveling or working abroad. A business class can engage your entrepreneurial spirit. Writing courses will give you plenty of practice with your written communication skills (you’ll need those!). You also never know who you’ll meet in classes outside of your engineering program (see #1).

It’s not just about the textbooks.

Trust us, your coursework will prepare you for a future career in engineering. But an engineering degree is more than reading and working through problem sets. Gaining hands-on experience will connect the dots with what you’re learning in the classroom with real world scenarios. If you complete an internship or co-op, you’ll get professional experience, learn the ins and outs of the industry, collaborate and work as a team among actual engineers all while you’re still in college.


Reference these five points whenever you need to remind yourself that while college is about homework, tests, and your GPA, it’s also about personal growth, expanding your perspective and becoming who you’re meant to be. You got this.

If you have questions or want to talk things through, don’t be shy! Visit Carrie and Jen at the UMPPF office in Jenness Hall. They’re always available to visit with students, offer their wisdom and support, and share their enthusiasm for engineering.