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It Took Me 7 Years to Finally Finish Engineering School

I Felt Lost and Confused in Engineering School

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Engineering School



I Felt Lost and Confused in Engineering School

For the first 4 years of my college life, I was in a program I wasn’t happy to be in.

I constantly found myself crying in the middle of the night, questioning if this was what I really wanted.

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I was furious at myself for constantly feeling I wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t good enough for my professors, my classmates, my family and for myself.

The first 4 years were miserable. I even broke five scientific calculators out of frustration.

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I was struggling to pass exams others found so easy to take.

I felt ashamed for being at the bottom of the class.

Going to class full of smart, competitive classmates was tough for me. Going home was my only relief to a terrible day – wait, make that years.

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I knew the first course I took wasn’t for me. Even my professors knew it.

It was embarrassing to hear them say discouraging things to me.

They often said it in passing: “If you can’t do it, shift to a different course. We don’t need you here.”

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Yes, being part of a competitive engineering department made my college experience truly challenging. I was failing in a major subject I took.

I remember crying to my mom, asking her to please allow me to take a break from all of the stressful events in my life.

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All she could do was let out her frustration on me. I knew she was disappointed. I was feeling hopeless.

Eventually, I stopped going to classes. I stopped making an effort to pass.

I allowed myself to hit rock bottom to figure out if the path I chose was the right one for me.


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And then one October morning, I just decided I had to leave the program. I had to shift to another course.

As soon as I chose to follow what I felt was right for me, I was lucky enough to be accepted in a different engineering program (despite my failing grades).

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I realized that while most of my batchmates were graduating, I was starting over again.

In those moments, I just didn’t care. If I didn’t leave back then, I would have been mentally unstable. I needed to save myself…and I did.

So, there I was.

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I became a stranger to a new engineering department again. I was scared to start again but I also felt excited.

I always believed that for every ending, a new adventure awaits. I knew I was going to survive what’s ahead of me.

Luckily, I ended up having the most amazing set of friends in my new course.

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Lessons were difficult but I was happy to be learning them.

Professors still gave challenging exams but they guided us and made sure that we understood the lessons well.

The struggle to survive engineering school was still present yet I went home at night knowing that I made the right choice of shifting.

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While some people thought I lost the battle, I thought it was the opposite.

It really wasn’t a competition between me and my previous course.

It was a battle between what society expected me to do and what I thought I should do for myself.

I wasn’t mentally healthy during my first four years in college so I made the choice to transfer to where I could be happy. I guess I won.

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I knew it when I often found myself always looking forward to attending classes. I knew it when I met the people who showed me how possible it was to succeed without putting other people down.

I knew it when I left my previous degree program because I chose to find my happiness somewhere.

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After 7 years, I finally graduated. I’m an engineer now. 

If you’re feeling lost and confused as of the moment, please know you’ll be fine. I know how you feel.

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Things will get worse before they get better.

So until you find the silver lining to all the things that happened to you, please choose whatever makes you happy.

Follow your dreams.

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If you’re  wondering if you truly belong in engineering, take a time to reflect and ask, “Will I truly be happy here?” If no, then pursue different studies that will make you complete.

If yes, then by all means, go for it! As you stay longer in engineering, things will get harder. Just persevere and never ever give up.

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Trust me, as long as you follow your passion (may it be in engineering or somewhere else), all the hard work, the tears and the sleepless nights will be worth it.

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Engr. Cody Catarina
Currently working as talent acquisition manager at Carillion Construction, Glasgow,UK. A badass mechanical engineer from University of Leeds. Editor and writer at GineersNow. Follow my travel and auto blogs


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