chemical engineering: yay or nay?

Hey Aska!

First, I enjoy the Dan Howell gifs on the prospective students page and Jon Snow as well…I like you already. Anyways, I’m one of the many anxious high school students coming to you for advice! I’m currently in Gr. 11 and have been looking at universities for years (because I’m a massive nerd yup). I’m planning to go into Chemical Engineering and know that tons of schools offer great co-op programs so how does the PEY program do next to integrated co-op like other universities have? Also is the ChemEng course load as tough as everybody tells me? Sorry for dumb questions from a dumb nerd. Time to go back to being emotional over fictional characters.


– #1 Nerd


hey there,

well first, congrats on your a+ taste! dan and jon also happen to be two of my favourites, and they’re especially convenient because i get to watch them without having to waste time interacting with them as humans! that brings me on to chemical engineering.

i’m gonna answer your second question first because i think it kind of precedes the question about PEY. first, you have to be sure engineering is what you want to do. then, you can start working out the details. so. is it as hard as everyone says? well, yes and no.

i’d say that, out of any discipline in at uoft that’s a first-year entry program, engineering has the most intense workload. the general rule of thumb i learned is that arts programs are 10-15 hours of class time a week, science programs are 20-25, and engineering are 30-35. which is why i say that in an engineering program, you can often feel like you have no time to interact with other humans. also, engineering deals with higher level mathematics and physics than any life science program, so it’s just tougher academically. it’s a big step up from whatever it is you did in grade 12, i don’t care if that was ap or ib or whatever. it’s a different environment, and that at least is bound to throw you off.

however, it’s definitely not impossible. i think (and this is just my humble opinion yadda yadda) that you need two things to do well in engineering: 1) you need to be good at math. obviously.

2) (spoiler: this one’s more important than the first one) you actually need to LIKE math (and chemistry and physics) – not just what you think you’re going to get out of the degree. if you’re not super great at math but you REALLY LIKE doing it, then you can gain a lot of ground that other people who hate every second of it lose in first year.

ok, next up: the PEY Internship Program. alright, so the main difference between uoft and other universities is that – big shocker, clue’s in the name – uoft offers an internship program, while other universities offer co-op. that means that instead of doing certain semesters at a co-op job and then coming back to school for a couple of semesters on and off throughout your degree, you do one 12-16 month chunk of work after 2nd or 3rd year. this is good because you get to see what, essentially, working full-time as an engineer as like. it also means that you get paid a lot of money in one go.

however, you do have to wait longer in the uoft programs than in some co-op programs to actually get a job, and often, your marks etc. will get in the way of you actually qualifying for the internship (no one thinks it’ll happen to them until it does). i don’t say this to SCARE you, just to INFORM you. ultimately, you need to make a choice between an academic program that offers a year-long internship, and a program that incorporates multiple work terms into your studies. capice?

ok great, well, that’s your crash course on engineering. hope it gave you summat to think about.



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