Engineering Frosh Advice
Information for Students Interested in Engineering
Selecting a school
Initially, this may seem like a very important decision, but it is probably less important than most people will lead you to believe. All of the engineering programs in Ontario are regulated by the same people. All of the programs must be accredited by the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board of the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers. So what makes them different?
The campuses and the cities in which they are located will obviously have an impact on your lifestyle at any given university. A second difference is the programs (ie: Mechanical, Civil, Electrical etc...) which are offered. There is also reputation, which may or may not have an influence on employers after graduation. And finally, there is the size of the student body.
A large school has large projects you will not see at smaller ones, such as solar race cars, SAE race cars etc... At a smaller school, you will have the opportunity to meet a greater number of people in senior years, and students tend to be more active.
Funding your degree
Work in high school. Save your money. You will not regret it.
Living in residence
Living in residence is fun. You meet a lot of interesting people and you will make a lot of friends. However, it's not for everyone. The most common complaints are the cafeteria food, noise, and lack of sleep. If you can eat cafeteria food every night, study in a chaotic environment, and sleep through a fire alarm, residence is probably your type of thing...
If you decide to study engineering, course selection isn't something you will have to face until second year. However, I would get hold of an undergraduate calendar and check out the courses you would be taking over the next four or five years.
You will notice a number of things. First, you will notice that most of the courses are math and science courses. Second, there is very little variety (probably just a handful of free electives). A glance at these courses should give you an idea of what students in engineering do.
Some people stress the importance of good grades. Others suggest that grades really aren't all that important, and believe that what one does outside of class is much more important. I believe that, ultimately, one must achieve a balance between work, play, and extra-curricular activities. The balance between work and play is obviously dependant on personal priorities.
A student who does nothing but work is obviously going to miss out on a lot that university life has to offer. Another student, who does nothing above and beyond attempting to stay in the program, is also going to miss out. Not only will this student not learn nearly as much, but will probably have pass up employers which request transcripts...
Not sure what you want to pursue at university? No worries! I've read somewhere that something like 50% of students switch majors after first year. Should you decide to switch majors (or schools for that matter), you can transfer most of your credits. The worst case scenario: you stay at school for an extra year.