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Friday, 30 May 2014

Surviving Engineering Degree!

It is actually a long due post. When I first started Chemical Engineering, I was quite nervous like any other students. Then I started searching tips to pass this course on internet. That led me to this article, which actually motivated me a lot. At that time, I promised to write my own version of it once I graduate. Now, exactly a year after leaving University, I am fulfilling a promise I gave myself 5 years ago.

So many students ask me about Engineering life, mostly “How difficult it is?”, “Can you give me some hints how to pass it” and “What are the future prospects of this degree” are the very common questions students ask me. Here in this post, rather than saying do this and do that, I will mainly write about how I completed Engineering degree and what are the things I had to do to survive this course:

1. Managing time efficiently
University is not school anymore. You are responsible for managing your own time. At the start of the year, you will be given a yearly plan for all the courses. All you have to do is make your own plan one step ahead of a professor. Especially, in terms of coursework, do not procrastinate! You cannot leave anything for the last minute.

2. Team work
Since our first year, we were encouraged to work in a group. We had group in every lab session or problem based learning session because Engineering is all about group work. I actually found few people being uncomfortable working with opposite gender. In that case, I would worry.  There were so many times when I was the only girl in my group. Just be comfortable working in group. This is Engineering.

3. Increasing the network
When you are stuck, ask for help! More people you know, more help you get. Specially in my case, there were so many times when I was standing outside lecturer’s office just to clear some doubts. If you have a good friendship with your teacher and colleagues, they will happily explain you. Also, communicate well! You can’t stay in one corner and finish 4 years of Engineering degree. Communicate with others. Talk about academic or non-academic things. Get involved in societies. After all, its all about improving your interpersonal skills. 

4. Staying awake whole night 
There is always a room for improvement. There was not a single time in coursework when I was happy to submit or felt I had done everything. No deadline was enough for anything. So many times, me and my friends stayed up whole night to finish the coursework. Many times, I was still writing until final 10 minutes to submission deadline. At the end of the week, you are completely worn out but the important thing is, you should be able to say ‘I couldn’t have done anything better’. You shouldn’t regret. 

5.  Multitasking 
I don’t know about other countries but from where I graduated, students are piled up with coursework and exams all the time. Coursework from different subjects are due at the same time. You just have get used to it. It's hard to find happy Engineering students who has done everything on time. You are mostly running behind but work smart and remember, this is very common.

6. Making library my second home
I wrote library here because library was like my second home when I was at University. It totally depends on where you are more productive. The main thing about this point is, you have to have a strong work ethic. You have to read but not get bored. So, improve your reading habits. Most importantly, stay focused on your goal. 

7.  Teaching
Everyone knows teaching is the best way of learning. Whether it was me teaching my friends or my friends teaching me, we have found this method really effective way to improve our own knowledge. Mostly I found it an effective way of remembering in exams. So, when you are helping others, you are also helping yourself.

8. Attending every lecture
I never skipped any lecture until final year. Final year was filled with dissertation headache and there was a time when my dissertation appointment clashed with lectures and unfortunately, I had to skip some of them. Still, I suggest not to skip any of it. Even though you are yawning in the class, you are still picking up something and when you are revising it later, it is not totally stranger.

9. Attempt all past papers
There has been a time during my Engineering degree when I left out past papers due to shortage of time and exam was similar to past exams. Then I promised myself that I will never leave past paper out again but I think my teachers heard my promise and they never repeated that mistake.

10. Be independent 
I said earlier to be a team worker but now I am saying to be independent. What I mean here is, you cannot rely on others to do all your coursework. You can discuss in a group but at the end of the day, it’s your work and your degree. This point is especially applicable when you are doing dissertation. During this time, you are completely alone because everyone has different topic. If you are trained well to be independent, you will survive.