Exchange and extending your degree

So. I’m planning on taking a 6 year undergrad. That’s a lot. Basically, with this post, I’m going to talk about why I’m extending my degree, a bit about my exchange, and… yeah. Maybe you’ll find some of this useful and relevant to you, or maybe not.

Essentially, I’m planning my degree outline to look like this:

Term 1 Term 2 Summer
Year 1 Study Study Off
Year 2 Study Study Co-op
Year 3 Co-op Study Work Learn
Year 4 Exchange Exchange Co-op
Year 5 Study Study Co-op
Year 6 Study Study Graduate!

which you can compare to what your MECH degree is supposed to look like here.

The main reason for changing my degree to six years, is because of my exchange. I’ll be going on exchange in Germany, where their term is October-March. Because of the timing, I have to take both winter terms off to do the exchange. At least I can knock off some upper year courses though, right? Hahaha… since I don’t speak German (at least very well), I have to take Masters courses, as most of their undergraduate courses are in German. I couldn’t find any Masters courses that fulfilled my UBC course requirements, so I will be counting all of my exchange courses as technical electives. In Mechatronics, we get something like one technical elective. So essentially, I’m taking an entire year of my degree to get a single elective course.

Why am I doing this then? Mainly, to explore my interests. I’m currently interested in medical applications of robotics, which as you can imagine, you don’t get much exposure to in an undergraduate Mechatronics degree. Through my exchange, I’ll get to take specialized Masters courses in that field. The hope is that when I return to UBC, I’ll have a better idea of exactly what I want to do with my degree (unless of course, I end up hating medical robotics), and can potentially get involved with research, and find co-ops in that field.

In addition, I’m planning to drop a Jan-Apr co-op term, and replace it with a study term. This will allow me to take a reduced course load, which I want to do for multiple reasons. Mainly, I want more free time. MECH is a demanding program, and it can be difficult to pursue hobbies and passions while taking a full course load. In addition, you are able to focus on the courses you have a lot more. Even taking one less course this previous term, I found that I understood the content in my other courses much more, and my grades improved. If you’re thinking about pursuing grad school, it can be beneficial to take time to focus on classes, in addition to extra curriculars.

So, there you have it. A little bit about my degree outline, and my reasons for changing it up. Many people come into MECH with the idea that they’ll have a straight forward degree that they can plan from day 1. However, there are a large amount of people who diverge from the standard time table, for many different reasons. Whether it’s for personal or academic reasons, extending your degree says nothing about your abilities. Don’t be discouraged if you find that your degree is progressing differently than planned, you’re not alone!

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