The Popularity of Engineering Majors

With the economy flatlining, practical majors are starting to look awfully good.

Heck with linquistics and comparative literature. More students are declaring themselves engineering majors.

Undergraduate engineering programs, according to an article in The Christian Science Monitor, haven’t been this popular in three decades. Since 2007, the number of undergraduate engineering students has jumped 7.5%. During the same period, graduate engineering programs have enjoyed a 9% bump in admissions.

Apparently making money in an uncertain economy isn’t the only motivation for engineering geeks:

But some education officials detect a shift in opinion about the profession itself, as global warming and stem-cell research make fields like chemical and bioengineering more than just wise choices for job-seekers – but fashionable ones, too.

Many students are bringing to engineering a heightened sense of social responsibility and a desire “to go out and make a difference in the world,” says Joseph Helble, dean of the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., where enrollment in introductory undergraduate courses is 30 percent above the five-year average.

What worries me about engineering is the high crash-and-burn rate. About 30% of kids who choose a STEM major (science, technology, engineering and math) never make it.  This reality is something that I’ve though a lot about because my 16-year-old son has been interested in being an engineer for years. Because the math curriculum at his school is weak, he’s been taking extra math classes at our local community college to become better prepared for the rigorous classes that await him.

We are also looking at 3-2 engineering programs with liberal art colleges, which I think might be a better way to tackle the tough class load. If engineering interests you, I’d urge you to read about  3-2 engineering programs in one of my previous posts entitled, Engineering Majors:  A Road Less Traveled.

Learn how to evaluate the academic programs at colleges and universities by reading The College Solution.

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