How I Graduated With A 3.93 GPA In Engineering
Engineering is considered one of the hardest majors you can go for. Many students are excited to start engineering but some may be extremely nervous.
- Am I smart enough for engineering?
- Will it be too difficult for me?
- Am I going to struggle?
These are questions that I once had when I was starting engineering school. But I was able to overcome these metal limitations and graduate with two engineering degrees, with pretty impressive GPAs.
In this post I want to explain how I was able to pass all my classes in engineering and more importantly explain how you can too if you are an engineering student.
1. Goals — Where Are You Going?
The very first key to success in all areas is to have a clear end goal.
What is it that you want to do? What do you want to achieve? Why are you in engineering school at all?
These are important questions that you want to answer.
So many students find themselves in engineering without really knowing why they are there in the first place.
When I was starting engineering school I had two goals.
- I wanted to learn how to build things.
- I wanted to learn all of the information so well that I could teach the class by the end of the semester.
These goals helped me to identify what I would spend time on and what I wouldn’t spend time on.
What you should do.
Here are a couple of steps you can take to define your goals for engineering school.
Step 1: Ask yourself why do you want to be in engineering school? — For me I really wanted to learn how to build things. This meant that going to engineering school made sense for what I wanted to learn how to do.
Step 2: Define an engineering goal that you would like to achieve while in school. — I mentioned above what my two goals were. You can define as many as you would like.
Without a clear idea of where you are going (your goal) it is pretty much impossible to define success. Plus, your engineering experience would mean much more if you had a goal and you achieved it.
2. Studying — Are You A Crammer?
After you know what you would like to achieve in engineering school the next thing is to study.
There is tons of research out there that shows that cramming and pulling all-nighters does not work.
I did not know about any of the research at the time, I just knew that I always did horrible when I would try to cram or sacrifice sleep just to get things done.
The way I studied was different.
My study sessions would be anywhere from 5 minutes to 15 minutes max.
I would also study frequently throughout the day.
Randomly while I was walking down the steps I would recall what I had learned from class. This was my studying.
It would be something like… “What is Newton’s 2nd law?” Then I would answer “Force equals mass times acceleration”. Obviously I was saying this in my head and not out loud.
I would recall everything that I learned in that 5 minute to 15 minute window.
Anything that I could not recall, I knew I needed to go and review. Everything that I could recall, I would still go and review it.
I would do these short recalls about 10 times a day, spaced out throughout the day. I was practically always thinking about engineering.
The other thing that I would do is that I would study all the material we would cover in class, a week before we actually covered it.
This put me ahead of everyone else and gave me an advantage.
While most people wait for their first encounter with the material to be when they get to lecture, my first encounter with the material was a week ago.
When I got to lecture it would be my second time seeing the material. Not to mention that I was doing the spaced recall every day as well.
I took this practice of studying a week ahead of the class even further.
Eventually when summer vacation came along, I would get the syllabus and textbooks for the classes I would be taking in the fall semester and study all the classes I would be taking in the summer.
That way, when I would show up on the first day of class in the fall, I had already went through all the course material.
Now I am not a week ahead of everybody else, I was a whole semester ahead.
As a consequence of doing the spaced recall studying, I was less stressed and more confident on exams. I was not spending all my time studying. I would study for 10 minutes then go watch some videos on YouTube and then go study some more.
I was more confident on exams because I knew the information so well from so much spaced recall.
Because I wanted to know the information so well… I just happened to get A’s on practically everything. That is the funny thing. I never really cared about getting all A’s, I just wanted to know the information really well. And because that was my focus, I naturally just ended up getting A’s.
I also would never ever, ever, ever do work past 12AM midnight. This was my golden rule.
If homework, essays, assignments, quizzes or anything else for that matter was not done by 12AM midnight…it was not going to get done. I would rather take a lower grade on an assignment then stay up all night to get the assignment done.
If I don’t get my full hours of sleep, I am extremely unproductive the next day, don’t learn anything and can’t even get the next day’s assignments done.
The cons of sacrificing sleep to finish an assignment outweighed the benefits of getting the assignment done (unless the assignment was a huge chunk of my final grade, then I would make an exception. Only had to do that once in college).
Here are some tips
- Don’t stay up past midnight. You need enough sleep to operate.
- Don’t do study cramming sessions. Study for 5 minutes to 15 minutes multiple times a day.
- Try to learn the material before you get to lecture. It’s okay if you don’t understand everything the first time around.
- Teach what you have learned back to your engineering friends. This is another form of recall. If you can explain it well to another person you probably have a good grasp of the material.
- Focus on knowing the material well. Do not focus on getting an A. If you know the material well the A will follow.
3. Mindset — If You Believe You Can Achieve
Here is the most important piece of the puzzle. Without this… you will not succeed. You need to have the right mindset to succeed in engineering.
Don’t say negative things about being in engineering school. Saying negative things will create a negative mindset and close your mind off to new ideas and finding new ways to get things done.
The biggest mindset shift I made from high school to college was in how I reacted to word problems. I always hated word problems in high school. They were difficult for me and I never knew where to begin. I would get frustrated.
But in college. I never got frustrated with a word problem. If I was not able to solve the problem in the first 10 minutes I wouldn’t get stressed or frustrated. I would simply say to myself “Okay I just need some more time to figure this out”. And eventually I would figure out the word problem.
It amazed me how clear my thinking got when I was not stressed over the problem.
I also never said that engineering was hard while I was in school. Those words were forbidden to ever come out of my mouth. Why? Because if I believed engineering school was hard…then it would be.
Anything that the general public would perceive as difficult or hard (like physics and math) I would just say to myself “I just need to spend some more time to understand it.”
Not once did I say it was hard.
I really think I would have given up on engineering if my mindset was not right. I saw it in others while I was going through engineering school.
Here is what you should do.
- To control your mindset you need to control the words you say to yourself.
- Identify negative language that you will vow to never let come out of your mouth. Things like hard, difficult, this is stupid, I'm stupid, I can’t do this etc.
These 3 areas lead me to getting a 3.93 GPA in community college and a 3.6 GPA in my four year school.
I made some goals, studied frequently and most importantly controlled my mindset.
This was a short glimpse into what I did. I could go into more detail about each of these areas.
Let me know if you would like me to talk more about those topics.
Check out some of my other articles on medium.