Engineering Majors: How Do They Work
Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering functions differently than many other college’s programs, and it can be a little confusing. Hopefully, this can clear up some questions.
The college has all engineering students start in the “General Engineering” major, regardless of what major the students want to eventually end up in. In the General Engineering major, students take calculus, chemistry, physics, English, and other first year classes. This includes the Foundations of Engineering courses, which promote working on teams to complete projects, as well as teaching basic coding and Autodesk Inventor.
Following the completion of all first year coursework and during a change-of-major period, students can apply to their desired discipline of engineering. The change-of-major works by having the student rank their top 3 choices for major, along with any choices for minors. If the student’s GPA is above a 3.0, they are guaranteed to be placed in to their first choice. However, if the GPA is below a 3.0, there is no guarantee they will make it in. These students are ranked, with the highest GPA getting first chance, second highest getting second chance, and so on. If their top choice cannot accept any more students, then they are attempted to be placed in their second choice. The second and third choices work in the same way. Very rarely will a student not be accepted into any major and have to remain in General Engineering.
Staying in General Engineering is not necessarily a hindrance. The majority of second year classes are major-restricted so that only those in the major, as well as General Engineering students, may get in. This gives the opportunity to raise the GPA and hopefully make it into major during the next change period.
Don’t be worried! I personally did not make it into my first choice, but I absolutely adore the major I was placed into. If you find you don’t like a major, switching into another is relatively easy and followed the same procedure.