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General College Advice

Starting up advice for engineering majors:

1. Your portfolio is everything. A Bachelors in Science isn't enough to get a job in engineering anymore. Research, internships, or completed projects with clubs/classes, all need to be creating things for you to place within a portfolio to help sell yourself to future employers. So get involved, and make sure you do more than just get over a 3.0 on your GPA in college.

2. Considering grad school? Be friendly with professors. If you establish a good relationship with your professors now, getting letters of recommendation from them later will be much easier. Attending their office hours and showing interest in their research or teaching can be very beneficial as well.

3. Learn from your classes, don't just ace them. Have a class that needs you to learn Matlab? Don't learn it for the class, learn it for life. Friends of mine from Raytheon have repeatedly informed me that job skills like coding/using Matlab are invaluable in getting hired at their company. Learning how to use Mathematica/Excel/Maple/Matlab to a point where class assignments using them are easy will also give you these skills as assets for employment.

4. Learn to manage time effectively! While I'm not the best example of this, the better you manage/schedule time for each class/assignment/event, the better your life will be, and the easier it will be for you to stay on top of your workload, and recognize when you have bitten off more than you can handle. Google Calendar is a great tool for this if you don't want to spend money on planners/software, but remember that privacy isn't guaranteed when using such free online software.

5. Find some hobbies/extracurricular activities to help you have some free time with others that isn't necessarily engineering related. Why? Because employers prefer students with a 3.2 GPA and extracurricular activities (even if it's not math/sci related) over a 4.0 GPA student who did nothing but work.

6. Stay healthy! Eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and getting regular exercise all will help you perform better in college, too! Studies have shown that sleep is very important in learning, and that 7.5-9 hours average (plus ~14 min to fall asleep) are most effective for productivity and critical thinking and learning skills. Eating healthy and getting regular exercise also go a long way towards improving mental capacity and energy to tackle the challenges each day in college present.

7. Don't cram! Most of us need at least 24 hours and a full night of rest to learn new material effectively. Many need two days or more! Try to give yourself at least three days before an exam to study. It doesn't have to be perfect, or full, just start a few days before the exam. You will thank yourself later.

8. Recognize the resources available to you at ASU. We have downloadable software, health services, the SRC, and many other things to help you if you struggle. Have difficulty with tests? Maybe you have text anxiety, something you can be tested for at ASU to allow you more time for taking tests. Struggling in class? We have many free tutoring services on campus, and you can talk to most TAs/professors/instructors about what you can change in your study habits to improve your grades. Many of us (TAs/profs/instructors) are happy to ramble wisdom at you if you drop by during our office hours. I personally have tutored math and science for over a decade and have many study habits to tell you about to help you improve your educational experience.

9. Try to have fun! Letting school beat you down and give you a negative outlook on life can damage more than just your feelings. It can hurt your grades, learning ability, and recent studies even suggest that your immune system is weakened by negativity. College will be hard, but do your best to enjoy the last few years you have without full life responsibilities! Your older classmates will tell you that I'm not joking that this is your last time to have a lot of fun before the rest of 'life' sets in.

I will try to update this advice from time to time. As always, please email me at adcopple@asu.edu for questions/comments on this page. You can also tweet at me at Deadrewski on twitter.