Just got into Cal Poly for Mechanical Engineering! Anything I should know for next year?

Some random things:

  • You don't need an expensive laptop for engineering software. Heck, you don't even need a computer. My roomate just had an iPad. I don't use my personal computer for engineering programs. Cal Poly has great labs with all the software you need. The library has tons of computers available 24/7, and you can borrow laptops for up to 3 hours.

  • Learn it the first time. Go for mastery when you're studying. Everything you learn your first year will continue to be used extensively for the rest of your time here. Learn it right the first time and your investment will pay off.

  • You can switch Physics 2 and Physics 3. They're not related, so you can take 3 first. I did this and got better professors for both because I went opposite of most of the students. Just a thought.

  • Treat every day as a workday. Start working at 8 or 9 and keep working till you finish your work for the day. When you're not in class, go to the library and do any homework. Every hour or two hour trip up the hill to the dorms is a waste of time. Finish your work during the day, and you can have guilt-free fun at night and not work on the weekends. This is how you'll work in your later years, why not start now? Besides, you're not going to work efficiently in the dorms anyways. Freshman year is all about learning time-management. Start early.

  • Do your homework. If you follow this rule, you can almost guaranteed get a C or better in all your freshman classes.

  • Never skip class. Unless it's Macroeconomics. Then just read the textbook.

  • If your professor is a fair grader but just sucks at teaching, try reading the textbook. It'll give you an edge over your classmates, and you usually just have to beat the curve. It's almost cheating.

  • Use myedu.com and Polyratings to choose professors. Myedu.com shows grade distributions from every previous class, so you can tell which professors give everyone A's/never fail anyone. Polyratings will tell you their teaching style and if they're fair. In the end though, your grades are pretty much up to you, don't worry that much about which professor you get.

  • Join every waiting list, and crash classes you'd like to take. Waitlisting doesn't cost you anything, and you can get a lot of classes by crashing. I usually am waitlisted for twenty classes, and crash the first week hard. It takes time, sure, but I always get better professors and/or more units than I should have gotten with the rotation I had. You don't have to decide until day 8, and you can always drop classes if you ended up with too many. If in doubt, register/add it, and decide later.

  • Buy engineering paper at Campus Market. This may have changed since Iwas a freshman. Even then, it wasn't technically allowed, so you may have to flirt with the cashier a little. I still have three pads though, and never have had to buy it.

  • Think twice about buying textbooks. This one varies for everyone, but this is how I do it. I never buy textbooks.

    1. The library has almost every textbook you'll need until you're an upperclassman. You can borrow them for one or two hours. If you're doing the everyday-a-workday strategy, you'll be here anyways.
    2. You can get almost any textsbook for free as a pdf. Use [gen.lib.rus.ec](gen.lib.rus.ec). This is the best part of this entire comment. If it exists online anywhere, it will be here. iPads and Kindles kick butt for using pdfs. If you're going this strategy, get one. It's the price of one textbook.
    3. Use [camscanner](camscanner.com) to take pictures of problem sets in the library textbooks to take home. Just makes it easier.
  • Don't use solutions manuals or Chegg.

/r/CalPoly Thread