The Story of Why I Quit Biomedical Engineering in College

This is the story of why I quit my major of biomedical engineering after only semester right after joining Boston University and immediately switched to Computer Engineering. In fact, what’s funny is that I the decision to switch out happened really quickly. I basically decided to switch out 4 months of starting college. Talk about giving a major a chance.

Originally, I wanted to be a biomedical engineer because I wanted to take some engineering that would take advantage of my generalist skills. I was good at math, computer science, and biology. Because of that, I felt like biomedical engineering would be cool, like hey, look at me, jack of all trades. However, I didn’t really have a real plan for what I would do with biomedical engineering. I just had the idea that if I went to college with a hard engineering degree then I could get any good paying job that I wanted.

I came in all excited for biology and took a molecular bio course for my first semester. Besides, this is the very first bio course of the whole major. How tough could it be?

Well, those were my famous last words. That course had weekly quizzes, and I literally could get like 40% on those quizzes. I had no idea how anyone was able to understand this material. The course ramped up from beginner level of learning what a gene was to really complicated proteins. I made friends with two buddies in the course, and they struggled just as much as we. We got together to study sometimes, and all we could talk about was how we had no clue what the heck was going on.

The worst was the bio labs. The lab would be like, go find this solution of liquid in the room, and then after that, mix it exactly in this amount with the pipette. Lord help you if you mix it improperly halfway through the lab, because once you improperly mix a compound, there’s no going back. You have to start all over. Anyways, my lab partner and I would frantically try to mix these solutions like a mad scientist, get weird data, and realized we mixed something wrong halfway through the experiment. Furthermore, the time you get in the lab is fixed, and you can’t reschedule labs. If you mess up halfway, there’s no redos. My lab partner and I managed to mess up our final product, so therefore it was a waste to start the next lab with our solution that didn’t make sense. I’m sure if we kept cooking more, we would have grown some otherworldly organism that is an abomination to humanity in our test tubes.

Anyways, that course gave me nightmares about biology, and it is what really made me realize that Bio was not right for me. I did not enjoy working in bio labs, and I realized that to enjoy biology, you have to really enjoy memorizing lots of biological facts. It’s not like math where you can derive from first principles. You have to actually memorize a lot of the work that people did before you.

During this time, I also was working on a research project with a professor working in machine learning and image recognition. He asked me what my major was, and he was shocked to find out that I was a biomedical engineer. He asked me why I was doing biomedical engineering, and that it didn’t align at all with my project. I just told him that that was what I picked. He told me that I should become a computer engineer.

I started looking at the job prospects for Biomedical engineering, what I would be working in when I graduate, and how much money I made. The data was not good. Basically, biomedical engineers were the lowest paying engineering to graduate from my university. Furthermore, upon further reading, it seemed like being a biomedical engineer pigeonholed you specifically into the biotech industry, whereas the other engineer’s covered a very big pie.

I had lunch with my parents one day and I told them all that i learned. I told them that my research professor told me that I should switch since it didn’t fit my goals. I told them about the salary and job prospects. My dad insisted that I was still just being lazy and giving up too early.

The thing that finally sealed the deal was when someone was overhearing our conversation from another table. This honestly must have been fate, and something that sounds made up, but it’s real. This girl was listening to our conversation and said, “Hey, I heard you were talking about biomedical engineering. Listen, I think you should drop out and switch majors. I graduated with a degree in biomedical engineering and literally couldn’t find any job in the field.

It’s rare that you have moments like this happen to you in life. But I felt like, everything lined up. The professor telling me to switch. This random girl telling me exactly what I was thinking. The data that I found online. Me hating the bio course. And in hindsight, I made exactly the right decision.