A blog post at Wired claims to give the Top 5 Reasons It Sucks to be an Engineering Student. Discussion is in the comments there and at this lively thread at Slashdot. The reasons given at the Wired blog are (in reverse order):
- Awful textbooks
- Professors are rarely encouraging
- Dearth of quality counseling
- Other disciplines have inflated grades
- Every assignment feels the same
It sounds to me like the blogger at Wired is stereotyping, based on what goes on at large research universities. A student could avoid #2, #3, and maybe #5 just by doing a 3+2 program where the first three years are done at a liberal arts college (…shameless plug alert…).
As for the grade inflation, I admit there’s no solution to this short of doing the right thing and forcing real academic standards on some of the touchiest-feeliest portions of the liberal arts world. But I think that would lead to mass chaos, as the stability of many liberal arts college depends on having some department on campus to be the “good cop” which offers refuge to students who just aren’t that interested in getting good at something difficult. All I can offer is some sympathy, that math and science professors are often eviscerated on course evaluations by those very students, who are shocked — SHOCKED — that deadlines would be enforced, hard material would be on tests, and so forth.
So to all engineering students out there, keep on keepin’ on. It might suck a little in the short term, but when it’s over you get to run our entire society!