Study Notes from a Procrastinator

Everyone tells you that college is a lot of work, but if you’re anything like me, it’s tempting to think “maybe it was hard for that person, but it won’t be a problem for me.” (Conceited, I know, but I have to be honest with you if my experiences are going to help at all.) You may have excellent study habits in high school, and if you do, then congratulations, you’re on your way to success! Half the battle is building those habits.

I was the opposite of those incoming students with excellent study habits. I coasted through high school on minimal effort, not because I was genius level smart, but because I was lazy. My senior showcase essay for AP Composition was written about procrastination, since I didn’t start it until the night before it was due and I knew I could get away with it by crafting some clever sentences about how it was a fitting topic. I still remember the conclusion – a pretty lame Harry Potter joke, followed by the quip “I could think of a better analogy than Harry Potter, but it’s getting late and I have math homework to finish.”

As it turns out, engineering classes don’t accept jokes about popular culture in place of the correct answer, something I quickly learned upon arrival at Purdue. I’ll be honest – I was not a model student when it came to studying. Or finishing homework. Or going to class. As a matter of fact, I probably attended 50 percent of my Calc I classes. DO NOT DO THAT. I had taken calculus in high school and had gotten a good score on the AP test, but had decided to retake the class since I didn’t feel ready to move on to Calc II. “I can totally do this, Calc wasn’t even hard in high school” I rationalized every time I didn’t feel like waking up for class. The 37% I got on the second test of the year shocked me into studying, but by that point I had tanked my grade enough that I got a C in the class, which is not easy to admit.

I would argue that learning to study was my hardest assignment that first year. There was a lot of trial and error, and I learned that studying for hours if you’re distracted or if you’re studying things you don’t really need to review is not as effective as diligently focusing on the right things for a shorter amount of time. You have to find what works for you – I get by on my monstrous to-do lists, color coded calendars and by keeping myself busy, since I’m more likely to study if I know this is my only opportunity to do so.

I’m not going to pretend that I now have it all together, and frankly there are much better people to take study advice from. There are so many parts of my study habits that I am trying to improve upon, and I still fall into the trap of thinking I can handle more than I actually can. I also can’t pretend that the bad grade I received my first semester kicked me into gear and suddenly I studied diligently between classes from 8 AM to 6 PM (which is not a bad strategy, honestly); even my junior year of college, I stepped back and realized “yikes, I need to re-evaluate what I’m doing to study.” But the sooner you realize that you need to put consistent, dedicated time and effort into your classes, the better – your grades will improve, your stress levels will drop, and you can stop living entire days hopped up on deadline adrenaline. Procrastination feels good in the moment; a well-earned grade keeps you proud and confident for days.

Engineering Abroad

The cool thing about being an engineer is that you can see the impact of engineering everywhere you look. There are examples of bad engineering – like the kitchen in my apartment, which looks spacious but has extremely limited and inefficient storage; every time I go to grab something out of an inconveniently placed cabinet I think about how an engineer clearly had nothing to do with the design. But there are also examples of incredible engineering.

I’m sure most of you have heard of the London Eye: the giant Ferris Wheel in the middle of London, on the shore of the Thames, where tourists stand in glass carriages and look out over the whole of the city.Image

I’m Katie Phillips, a Junior in Chemical Engineering here at Purdue. For Spring Break 2013, I visited London with my mom and my sisters-in-law. I had heard of the London Eye, but I didn’t know anything about it – especially the amazing feat of engineering that it is.

The London eye has a diameter of nearly 400ft (which is nearly equivalent to a 40-story building) and stands about 450ft high. Each of the 32 glass capsules weigh over 22,000 lbs and can hold 25 people. All of this would be incredible in itself; but did you know that the London Eye is supported on only one side?Image

Hundreds of thousands of pounds, supported by two beams and several cables. That’s what the London Eye is. Being there in such a great city and seeing how cool engineering could be made me fall in love with my major all over again (although, as a Chemical Engineer my major had admittedly little to do with the London eye).

Engineering is everywhere. It’s all around you. And it is awesome.

-Katie

On the road again – I’m back in Texas

I’m back in the great state of Texas this week talking to students and high school counselors about Purdue’s Engineering program and cheering on the Purdue Solar Team as they compete in the Shell Eco-marathon.

I’m staring off the trip in Fort Worth and staying at the Stockyards. What a great and historical place. Had dinner last night at H3 and wondered into the bar area to check out the horse saddle bar stools and the “surprise” behind the bar.

After dinner I stopped in at the White Elephant Saloon where, so I’ve been told, the TV show Walker Texas Ranger shot several. scenes. The owner collects white elephants and there is a huge wall displaying them. On the ceiling are cowboy hats with the names of their donors.

Having a bit of free tome, Yesterday I walked the yards and visited a few shops before heading to a reception with some wonderful HS counselors in the Dallas area.

Today I’m headed to some of the museums here in the Stockyards before hopping in the car for the 4.5 hr drive down to Houston.

Stay tuned…

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Back Home Again in Indiana – – – For now

After a whirlwind trip to Oak Brook IL, Minneapolis MN, and Miami FL, I’m back home in Indiana for a bit.  One the best parts about my job is that it allows me to meet some wonderful and exciting people from around the world both on and off campus.  To be honest, from a young age I wanted traveling to be a part of my job, that along with helping people.  Who knew that I would get to do both at the same time?

It’s a lot of fun to see the light-bulb of ideas switch on when talking to students and answering the sometimes unspoken question, “what do I need all this math and science for?”  For the students who understand a little about engineering, it’s fun to expand that knowledge by talking about the 15 different majors offered at Purdue.  This usually answers the unspoken question, “You mean there is more than mechanical, civil or electrical? What is Theater Engineering?”

While in Miami I had the opportunity to meet an Engineering Alum who became a corporate attorney for Southwestern Bell, which became SBC Global, which bought AT&T.  Wow, what a story he could tell being on the inside of such a trans-formative company.

As good as it was to travel it’s nice to be home.  We are now gearing up for families visiting campus and one of the biggest visit days of the year, February 18th, with Engineering Extravaganza kicking off the start of Engineers Week.   What an exciting time!

Spring Travel- Part 3

Day 2 in the Minneapolis area.

Just had the pleasure of speaking about college preparation, careers in Engineering and Purdue Engineering to 3 different Science classes at Hopkins High School in Minnetonka,MN. The students were great and I’m thankful to Ms. Purdy for this opportunity.

With a last name of Glenn and a wedding date of March 17 (St Patricks), I love trying an Irish Pub/Restaurant wherever I’m at. Today I’m at Kip’s Irish Pub and Restaurant for Lunch.

This afternoon, emails, nap as I’m running on 5 hours sleep, then maybe checking out the St. Paul Winter Festival.

Gotta go soup is getting cold.

Spring Travel- Part 2

The Dean’s Reception in Oak Brook, IL went well. We had about 150 guests which included Engineering Alumni from the class’ of 1941-2012, current students on Co-op in the area, Admitted students, and their guests.

Of the alums I met last night one graduated from Aero-Astro Engineering and is now a patent attorney and another one graduated Industrial Engineering is working in the Biomedical field.

Everyone seemed to enjoy the event.

This morning I was up at 4:30am to catch a flight to Minneapolis, MN where the Dean and I will visit a high school this morning followed by another reception tonight.

Stay tuned for more…

Spring Travel-Part 1

Spring is an exciting time in the Office of Future Engineers. Things are hopping with receptions and big visit days on campus. This year is even more exciting with the arrival of Purdue’s new president.

Today I am headed to Oak Brook, IL with the College of Engineering Dean, Leah Jamieson, and fellow colleagues for the first Dean’s Reception. The reception is a great way for Admitted Students and their families to meet the Dean and hear about her vision for the college. It’s also a great opportunity for them to meet Engineering Alumni and find out where their Purdue degree has taken them.

Having the opportunity to meet our alums and hearing their stories is amazing. Meeting future students is exhilarating. Spending time with a visionary leader like Dean Jamieson is an honor.

I am so thankful to be a part of the College of Engineering and in a small way contributing to the future of our world.

More to come…

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We hope you visit!!

Perhaps I will be the last to say Happy 2013!! One of my resolutions for the year is to blog more. Now I have all my cyber friends(you)out there to keep me honest.  Pressure can sometimes be a good thing.  

Spring semester is on us and that means the students are back in full force  and we are looking forward to tons of admits and prospective students visiting campus. We would love to have you be Boilermakers so come get a feel for campus and see if we are a good fit. Best way to arrange a visit is online via are website.  On the “visit us” page you can sign up for an engineering information session as well as Link to admissions. If you have an engineering specific major in my mind we have contacts for each listed.

 Visit tips – here come the bullets!!  Given my job and Purdue pride these are focused on Purdue although I think it is decent advice( I hope) for most any college visit.  

  •   Attend an Engineering Information Session or one of Admissions Programs if you have not visited (or attend one of these) before. These are great overviews of all the opportunities here and will answer most of the questions that you have.
  • pre-shedule sessions and meetings. Given the large number of visitors in the spring We may not be able to accommodate folks on the spot. This is especially true if you would like to talk with advisors or faculty in a specific engineering major. You will need an appointment.
  • Sign up for sessions and programs as early as possible.  When you are off a school (Presidents Day , spring break) there is a good chance thousands of others are as well and everybody wants to visit on those days. We do fill up quickly during these times.
  • Come on a weekday when school is in session. This will give you a better feel of the excitement and energy we have on our campus. We do not offer Saturday or Sunday visits in the College of Engineering.
  • Double check time zones. We are on Eastern Standard Time and this can sometime surprise those traveling from Illinois.
  • Arrive a bit early. Give yourself plenty of time to figure out parking and one-way streets.
  • Think prior to your visit what are the most important things for me in making your  College choice. Then make sure to ask tons of questions about things that are important to you. Don’t be afraid to ask question of student who may be waiting to get into class or studying in the hallway/ common area.
  • Pick up the school newspaper. Here it is the Exponent.  This gives you a good sense of what are “hot” topics on campus.
  • Eat at the dining courts. The food is fantastic. No joke at all.  It is not inexpensive but it is all you care to eat.  A few admit  programs include this as part of the day.
  • Keep an open mind. Not every day here is sunny, raining, warm or cold. We have all the seasons which makes it fun for all sorts of activities.  Yes the look of a campus may be important to you but realize not anywhere is there a perfect day every day( folks in Cali may disagree).
  • Make some notes. For those of you visiting 5 -10 school, regardless of how unique we all  claim to be:)visits will start running together.
  • Have fun!! Hey you’re not at school and you are exploring what many rank (college) as the best time of your life.  I now you are super busy and bombarded with deadlines, tests and information. While you are on campus try to relax and get excited about your future possibilities.

We hope to see you on campus soon!!!

 David Bowker

 

Balance

Being a college student in engineering and maintaining outside interests can appear to be downright impossible sometimes. I have found in my time here at Purdue that finding balance is the key to keeping my sanity, and actually getting tasks accomplished. I am not going to lie, I would go insane if all I did was homework 24/7. I need to take breaks to do the other things that I enjoy. Whether that be running, playing soccer on an intramural team, reading a good book or just sitting and vegging out in front of the tv.  I am not some robot that can maintain focus for hours on end. I need balance in my life. That is possibly the most difficult thing to learn in college. Not differential equations or heat and mass transfer, but how to find that perfect equilibrium in your life between coursework, socializing, extra-curricular activities, and part-time jobs. There is not magic solution for everyone either, no one size fits all, making this a daunting task. Some people plan everything out, down to the minute whereas others just go with the flow. It comes down to what works for you. It doesn’t matter which type of person you are. Just take the time to figure it out; it will be worth it in the long run.

Office of Future Engineers Blog