Tuesday, October 15, 2013

My Survival Plan for Engineering School

For my Foundations of Engineering Lab class we had an assignment about making our own survival plan for the next four years and I really liked mine so I thought about posting it. 

Survival Plan for Engineering School
When you announce to your parents that you want to become an engineer the first thing they say is “it’s going to be hard work”, but if both your parents or at least one of them is an engineer they are going to feel proud of you and expect you to do good no matter the struggles you are about to experience; since they already went through it they think it should be easy for you too.
To make a plan you first ought to know what you are getting into, if you had the engineer dad or mom you may think it’s going to be easy and not prepare a much, unluckily that was what happened to me. So I arrived at USF thinking about rainbows and unicorns and BAM the overwhelming demanding assignments hit me and I realized I needed a plan ASAP.
First things first, pin point the problems. As far as I know engineering school will not allow me to party, relax or have really long leisure time to myself so time management will be a problem; adding to the poor amount of time I’ll have, the demand of work for my homework assignments will be very high; plus, every year it will get tougher and tougher.
First step: KEEP MOTIVATED. If you never lose your goal you’ll never drift away. How can I keep motivated? Doing internships, reading about recent discoveries in my field, daydreaming about the future, or just going to a fun place, like Disney or Busch Gardens, and locate every single thing that may apply the concepts I’ll use one day, that way I can relate fun and study.
Second step: HAVE A SCHEDULE. Nothing works better than a pretty detailed schedule of your assignments, study time, and leisure time. Always leave a little gap in between tasks so you can take a breath.  I know for sure that for me, it works better to use my weekends to do all my homework for the upcoming week than doing it the day before. That way I can use my weeknights to relax after a very tiring day full of classes.
Third step: HAVE A GOOD DIET. This might sound irrelevant to all the engineering related topic, but having a good diet and being active gives you the strength and the feeling of being healthy. There’s nothing worse than having a low self-esteem about your body plus the heavy load of college. Having a high self-esteem will help you, believe it or not, to accomplish more tasks.
Fourth step: TAKE A DAY OFF. Take 1 to 2 days a week off, do nothing. Spend the day watching Netflix and sleeping. Some engineering projects demand a lot of creativity and cleverness, and when you are surrounded by so much stress and tasks it’s very hard for the brain to relax and come up with bright ideas. You know why you get so philosophical in the shower and come up with the greatest ideas? Because when you are feeling good and relax, your body secretes a hormone that helps you think beyond the fogginess produced by stress. One thing, don’t go over 2 days because that would be FATAL to your college career.
Fifth step: HAVE A STUDY GROUP. Yeah, professors always mention that to be an engineer you must learn how to work as a team, and they are not lying. Study groups can keep you motivated and help you understand something you didn’t without judging, because they are your friends.
Sixth step: DAYDREAM. I know I mentioned before that in order to keep motivated day dreaming could help, but I feel day dreaming could also really help me accomplish little tedious tasks like a hundred problem calculus homework. When day dreaming about how good it would feel to finish and be able to take that much desirable nap… Ohh I want to take a nap right now just thinking about it. Anyway, day dreaming not just helps you to keep motivated but also to accomplish tasks.
Seventh step: NEVER GIVE UP. No matter how hard it seems the journey will be or how much falls you’ll have along the way, if you keep a positive mind you’ll have a positive outcome. At the end I will be able to say “I went through 4 years of hell and every second of it was worth it because of who I am today”. The feeling of accomplishment you’ll feel at the end will be greater than everyone else’s because everybody told us we would have no life, but it was worth it because now we’ll have the better life.
Eight step: have an emergency box full of candies, chocolates, notes reminding you why you love engineering so much, photos of your family and friends, and any other thing that may help you if somehow you fail to follow all seven previous steps, because sometimes when there’s no inspiration, motivation and accomplishment can’t take place.
Eight simple things to keep in mind to successfully survive college: MOTIVATION. SCHEDULE. FRIENDS. HEALTH. DAY OFF. DAY DREAMING. POSITIVITY. INSPIRATION.
There can be a million more steps to being a great undergrad student of a college of engineering, and every step is valid. It just depends on the person and these are mine. No matter how lost you feel, just keep moving and you’ll get there.