[FoRK] Re: Confessions of an Engineering Washout

Ken Meltsner meltsner
Tue Oct 11 07:40:22 PDT 2005

On 10/11/05, Corinna <schultz at harlingen.isd.tenet.edu> wrote:
> P.S. I don't like the author's implication that you should do
> math/science/engineering if you're smart, and if you can't hack it, then you
> should do liberal arts.

Absolutely.  On any objective scale of effort, my wife worked much
harder in her major than I did in mine (Materials Science).  There was
a lot less math, of course, but that wasn't a problem for her since
she had gone to MIT to major in Physics.  After her freshman year, she
realized that she'd never be a great physicist and switched to
Political Science.

I knew way too many people that completed their degrees in an
engineering discipline, worked as an engineer for a few years, and
realized that engineering was not what they wanted.

At MIT if you couldn't handle serious math or the mind-bending details
of organic chemistry, Materials Science *was* the easy way out. 
Majoring in a "soft" discipline like Poli Sci or Economics was as hard
as any major* since you had to master both soft (people, reading,
analysis) and hard (statistics, quantitative techniques) skills.


*  Short of pre-meds in chemistry, physics majors in "junior lab", or
a sophomore taking aero/astro's "unified engineering" brain stomper --
twice the credit of a normal MIT course and at least four times the

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