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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all,

So basically, my life is messed up. I started out studying mechanical engineering, but then switched to biology because I thought mechanical engineering was too hard, even though it was my dream to work as an engineer and nothing else. I ended up graduating with a B.S. in biology. That work has also hard, but I really didn't like the subject material and I wish I didn't switch.

Now I want to go to graduate school for aerospace engineering (you do not need the same bachelor's degree for what you plan to study as long has you take prerequisites. It's better to walk out with a masters than just another bachelor's degree) and I want to study propulsion or structural dynamics for rocket applications.

How on earth am I going to explain to faculty in the aerospace departments my reasoning for switching from one unrelated field to another? Do I make up a story that I was forced to study biology against my will? It's really frustrating trying to explain my predicament to others. I really don't want to continue studying the life sciences and I want to work for the aerospace industry and contribute to THOSE areas.

NOTE: Please do not convince me to go into biotechnology, I have made my decision already. I have a job and I want to study what I personally want to study, not what others think I should based on the job market.
 

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What makes you think that a graduate course in engineering is going to be less hard work than a bachelor's degree? This is a genuine question because it might well be easier in that some undergraduate degrees force you to study areas that you are not interested in.

What made you think it was "too hard"? Lack of confidence or a more tangible reason, such as difficulty understanding the topic or poor grades?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
What made you think it was "too hard"? Lack of confidence or a more tangible reason, such as difficulty understanding the topic or poor grades?
Definitely lack of confidence. The work was tough, but not impossible. For my prerequisites so far, I got an A- in my materials class last semester and recently, a B+ on my last thermodynamics exam when the average score was below 60. I've learned my lesson not to give up on something difficult.

Difficulty aside, the question remains, how do I explain a switch from biology to aerospace engineering to faculty at graduate schools I apply to?
 

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Definitely lack of confidence. The work was tough, but not impossible. For my prerequisites so far, I got an A- in my materials class last semester and recently, a B+ on my last thermodynamics exam when the average score was below 60. I've learned my lesson not to give up on something difficult.

Difficulty aside, the question remains, how do I explain a switch from biology to aerospace engineering to faculty at graduate schools I apply to?
Well, that's why I asked you. Because if they had reason to belief that you switched out of laziness or because of bad marks, they would probably not give you a chance. But if you had good marks but where not confident, it might be easier to appeal to their mercy.
How exactly to do this, I'm not sure, but if I can think of something, I'll let you know.
 

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Wait... I wrote a thing... but now I'm confused. Are you already in Bio grad school, and you want to switch into Aerospace Engineering?

Regardless, I would just tell the truth. You were concerned that your native skillset wasn't enough to get you through Engineering, but after facing many challenges in Bio, you feel far more confident in your ability to overcome difficulty with work ethic and dedication, and you have gotten to the point of realizing that you are far more passionate about Engineering. I would not look at it in terms of "Biology is easier than Engineering", but rather, Biology seemed more realistically acheivable to you given your personal talents and strengths.

Reality today is that people are likely to hold numerous jobs over their careers, and it's an asset to be flexible. If you can demonstrate that you can apply the skills and techniques that you've learned in Biology to the field of Engineering, your unusual background may become a boon, augmenting your toolbox of knowledge, resources, and perspectives, and thereby differentiating you from other applicants. Plus, so many intelligent students breeze through their favorite subjects in undergrad, get to graduate school, and crash and burn because they have no idea how to manage their time, how to study effectively, or how to approach challenging work. That's a hurdle you've already overcome.

Whatever you decide to do, please don't lie. And definitely don't lie that you were forced against your will to study something else! If someone said that to me in an interview, I would wonder if they were only applying because they were caving again and I would wonder why they weren't resourceful enough to look for other solutions. That is a story of failure, not one of success, and that's not fair to yourself after all the work you've done! Plus, if anyone ever found out that you lied during the application process, you could suffer awful consequences either during school or later in your career.

Be confident in yourself and your reasoning. If you have the grades, test scores, and drive, you will be a competitive applicant.
 

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I wouldn't justify.

In your statement of purpose, discuss your interest in the aerospace field (maybe even what brought you to the field), what experiences you have that will make you successful there, and what their program offers to you for achieving your goals. Do some research on their program and show commitment.
 
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