Reasons why it stinks to be an engineering student at BYU

Posted in Educationon Mar 24, 2008

A WIRED.com post (also posted to Slashdot.org) gave 5 reasons why it stinks to be an engineering student. I’ve decided to list each reason and give a letter grade to BYU on how they appeared to do while I was in the program. If you want to rant about your education, here is your chance. Higher grades indicate a better student experience.

5. Textbooks Quality: B-. I’ve had some great textbooks which the professors used well and still are used by me today. I also had some classes where I was provided only with an electronic copy of a manuscript that the professor was putting together.

4. Encouraging Professors: C+. The WIRED post presented the problem as, “A professor that would rather be tending to his research will walz up to a blackboard or overhead projector and scribble out equations for an hour.” About half of my professors seemed to do this to some degree, and several of which had severe problems with this. There were a few professors who seemed burdened to be having to teach an undergraduate class, they would rather be working on research, and you would never see them attempt to interact with students outside of the three lecture hours a week. However, there were some professors who made every effort to get to know their students by name and do whatever it took to help them succeed.

3. Quality Counseling: B+. I found that there were many great counselors who were very skilled, approachable, and available. I only gave a B+ grade because in my experiences, I found that these counselors did better with course work academic counseling and were not so pro-active at personalized career counseling. I also didn’t give an A grade because those seem to impossible to earn at BYU.

2. Reasonable grades: C-. Engineering classes are just plain harder than classes in other majors. I always found it amusing when taking a class from a different department (not math) and was able to put in less work for a better grade when compared with an engineering class. Anti-grade-inflation tactics are well employed in engineering classes, where students compete harder for lower grades than students in other disciplines.

1. Interesting assignments: C. The complaint being, “Every assignment feels the same.” Homework assignments were often many page, green engineering paper, math problems. Varied labs and coding assignments made things interesting sometimes, but it seemed like the hard work-out problems from the text book were never-ending and downright miserable compared to the homework I saw my non-engineering friends do.

Bonus reason, girls: D. I’ve been in classes where there were no girls at all, and I’ve been in classes where the only girl was my sister. On average, there might be one girl to twenty guys. Without even touching on the limits this puts on dating, having fewer girls around just adds less excitement and variety.

Overall GPA: 2.17. If these grades get any lower, engineering classes would have to be put on academic warning status. These grades aren’t to say that engineering is bad, or to discourage people from entering an engineering field. Its just illustrating that engineering is hard. BYU’s use of student teaching assistants could especially be a source of many problems, especially as these TAs create an inappropriate buffer between the students from the professors.

One Comment

Lillian

March 24th, 2008 at 5:58 pm

Hmmm, I think you picked the wrong major, Jacob. If I were to grade my German lit major on the same criteria, I’d definitely give it a solid A. I love my department, I love my teachers, and I love the material I’m study. It’s so awesome! And challenging. I wouldn’t be happy without working hard. I wish everyone were as happy with what they’re doing/studying as I am. Oh dear, is that too self-congratulating?

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