Go East Young Person; Then Come West

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If you want to be an engineer, you’re going to have stiff competition.  This blog is to inform you and to advise you on how to beat your competition. 


First know that China graduates more engineers than we graduate college students.  Also in China, the children in public schools in what we would think of as College Prep take 4 years of Physics, 4 years of Calculus and 4 years of Chemistry.   They run rings around any but our brightest high school students at our elite private schools.


In Europe you have a similar situation.  Students who are at the vocational level are given a different education path.  And the bureaucrats decide early on who will go onto what path.  If a student passes aptitude tests for college, he and she is placed with other college bound students into a high school that is only for college bound students. 


In the United States, students in high school are given much more freedom.  Scarce resources are shared among all students to give late bloomers a chance.  This gives a decided disadvantage to our public school students on the college track compared against foreign public schooled high school students who are also on college track. 


Yet, you can make this work for you, and I will tell you how. 


First, you can take courses on-line now in Calculus; for instance, to supplement your education.  You may have to get a job after school to pay for it though.  It’s not free, but if you want to make it big, you’re going to have to get over the word free; like in the words free time.  


Because in a lot of countries, there are no summers off for students.  So you’re going to have to study in the summer too.  They get little vacation, and you’re going to be competing head to head with them when they go to college over here. (Use commonsense too.  I think there is an advantage to some time off so be a kid, but a serious kid).


Luckily, the best universities are still here, and they only take so many foreign students; therefore, you can get into college easier than an exchange student.  Remember, you are shooting for a top level American University.   And you want to be really an above-board student when you enter college because a lot of science and math courses grade on a curve where if 20 out of 30 students get 100’s out of 100 and you get a 95, you get a C. 


Another thing being an American helps you with is that you’re socially acclimated to your own culture.  You can interact with Americans better.   But remember, they will go with a moneymaker no matter if he or she is awkward if you can’t level the playing field with the grades.


Keep it in mind not to price yourself out of a job when you graduate from college.  Businesses have for years been hiring foreign workers who will work cheaper than Americans over here because businesses claim they can’t find qualified Americans. 


It’s not true which makes it illegal, but guess what??? Surprise, they do it.  This means you have to know what the prevalent wage is for a foreign worker here as an engineer so when a potential boss says to you, “So what do you think you’re worth,” you don’t out price yourself.  You take the job today, worry about a better wage when you have 5 years’ experience and you can set your own wage. 


Remember too that manufacturing’s still big here, but it’s done with robots so this may be a good engineering angle for you.  Another angle could be to email or write to companies explaining your situation and asking if they have mentor programs where you can make contacts before you even set foot in college. 


The future can belong to you or it can belong to your competition from another country.   What are you going to do?



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