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Articles / Majors & Careers / Which Engineering Major is Right For Me?

Sept. 21, 2007

Which Engineering Major is Right For Me?

Ask the Dean: Engineering Options are Confusing! How Do I Sort Them Out?

I am in 10th grade and I think I want to go into engineering. But there are so many different areas of engineering, and some of their names seem similar yet different. How do I decide which is best for me? What if I pick a major and then don't like it?

Your question evokes one of education's "chicken and egg" conundrums. You don't want to commit to an academic field before you understand it, but--in order to understand it--you have to commit to it. Confusing, eh?

Luckily, many college engineering programs offer you the chance to take a broad range of courses before deciding where you want your focus to be. But, admittedly, the terminology can be confusing. You may find some help from the American Society for Engineering Education.

Also, if it's possible for you to do an engineering summer program next summer, this can give you a chance to test the waters and learn more about engineering specialties before you start applying to colleges. There are many summer engineering programs. Often they are held on college campuses, although you may find day programs in your own community or nearby, as well.

Once you have a chance to try out different engineering fields, you may get a better sense of which is the best fit for you.

Happy hunting!

(updated 11/4/2014)

More Questions About Majoring in Engineering?

See our picks for the top 10 engineering schools. Or, join the conversation to ask questions and share your knowledge in the CC Engineering forums.

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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