Preparing for College: Tips from a current student

Get insider tips on how best to prepare for college in this month’s blog post from a current engineering student!

Preparing for College graphic

College is a time you should be excited for. You’re finally on your own, studying what you want, and are actually a part of that student body you watched cheering in Tiger Stadium for so many years. It is a great time in your life, but if you have chosen to be an engineer you should know that going from high school to college is one of the largest (and most important) transitions you can make during your educational career. The saying, “freshman year is the most important year” is a slogan that will be pounded into your head. With the excitement of entering college it may get pushed aside, but the saying could not be more true, and hopefully this post will give some insight to how to best prepare yourself for the year ahead.

The awesome possibility of scheduling classes late in the day so you can sleep hours past that early time you were up every morning for high school is, indeed, awesome. Sleep is great, in fact I guarantee sleep will be more exciting than ever before after one semester, but what’s even better? Great grades and free time all at once…. You’ll learn rather quickly that 24 hours in a day is a lot shorter than you think. Learn NOW how to manage your time to get up early and get your day going soon. Eat a good breakfast, grab some coffee, and start knocking out your homework and studying early. Ideally make it so that you can go to class with your assignments for that day completed, as it is so much easier to focus and get a lot out of class. Plus you’ll have the rest of the day to study more for that upcoming test or get personal errands done.

Speaking of homework, and this may sound profound, but “learn” how to do homework. In engineering, working problems is the best way to learn your material. It is very tempting to google the answers to all your assignments, but learn how to sit down, use the text book, and get the most out of your homework. It will pay off come exam time. Your homework will be difficult at first because it is material you have likely not encountered before, but just take a deep breath and know it will take some time to master everything. So like I mentioned before, learn how to make a schedule throughout the day and make time for getting your homework done.

One habit that you should start doing before you even step foot on campus: to-do lists. It will make everything I’ve mentioned come a lot easier to you. Before you go to bed each night, or when you wake up, make a to-do list of everything you know needs to be completed that day. Prioritize your list, and check off each one as you get it done throughout the day. Not only is this a great way to see what you’re actually accomplishing, but it is a great feeling to check off items on your list.

As I mentioned before, and there is really no way to “prepare” for this, but recognizing that days are a lot shorter than they seem, and that you are busier than you may realize is perhaps the most important advice one can hear. You do not have the time you think you have. Procrastination is deadly and getting a head start on assignments makes life 20 times easier. Everything I have said in this post may come across as pretty obvious tips, but truly understanding that they matter and how to implement them is how one can best prepare for the life of being an engineer. Keeping things like this in mind will allow you to quickly adapt and form your own schedule and ways to be productive. College is a great time and is important to your future. Having great grades early on freshman year is crucial to that experience as class will only get harder with a busier schedule every semester. Hopefully keeping some of these things in mind will maximize your time and education at LSU!

Griffin Selby
Major: Petroleum Engineering
Hometown: Hoover, Alabama
Student Org: AADE

Why I Came to LSU

This blog post comes from one of our undergraduates majoring in petroleum engineering. He shares why he chose to attend LSU as an out-of-state student, what he finds unique about the college, and what his experience has been like so far.  

“If you want to be successful, you must decide exactly what you want, then be willing to pay the price to get it.” – Bunker Hunt

So why LSU? Is this school and Petroleum Engineering worth the 1,500 miles from my home and family? Can I actually do this? Am I good enough? These are just some of the questions I asked myself 10 months ago. Born and raised in Michigan, I didn’t have the luxury of studying Petroleum Engineering anywhere in-state or any nearby states. This was just another obstacle for me to overcome. So I began my search for a school by simply Google searching, “Top 10 Petroleum Engineering programs.” That was the first day I even heard Louisiana State University had a petroleum engineering program, let alone being in the top 10 in the country. So I made a list of five schools from that list that I would consider attending and began to research each school completely.

The last school I researched was LSU, but of course I already knew about the athletics. So I definitely liked the idea of getting to watch some of the best athletes in the country compete and get the opportunity to meet them around campus. Also, the campus was without a doubt the nicest of all the campuses I considered attending. Warm winters, as compared to a winter in Northern Michigan, was just another one of the great things about LSU. The most appealing thing about the LSU College of Engineering to me was having access to the Petroleum Engineering Research and Technology Transfer Laboratory (PERTT Lab) which is on LSU’s campus. The facility consists of six live wells used for research. Students have opportunities to work at the facility and gain experience, which I thought was extremely important.

Also, not only was the size of the College of Engineering impressive, but with a 90 percent placement rate into employment or graduate school after graduation was very appealing. Ultimately, I decided to go to LSU based off a phone conversation I had with Fredrick Thurber, the coordinator for the Petroleum Engineering department. He told me that if I wanted to graduate with a great education and world of opportunity in the oil industry in front of me, then LSU is the place to be.

Chris Adams in Tiger Stadium

Chris Adams in Tiger Stadium

Since coming to LSU, I have grown a lot as an individual. I had no idea how many great people I would meet. I’ve made life-long friends in the few months I have been here. I have had great instructors that have challenged me in the classroom, but allowed me to see just what I am capable of. Since coming to LSU I have gotten involved in student organizations that allowed me to make great friends, connections in the industry, and have some great experiences. As a petroleum engineering major, I am involved with the LSU Student Section of the American Association of Drilling Engineers and with the Society for Petroleum Engineers. Without both of these great organizations, my LSU experience would not be the same.

The American Association of Drilling Engineers - LSU Section

The American Association of Drilling Engineers – LSU Student Section

So if you are considering LSU and our College of Engineering, Geaux for the Gold! Come see what is offered here. A great education, beautiful campus, amazing programs, possibly the best few years of your life, and so much more is all waiting here for you in the LSU College of Engineering.

By Christopher Adams
American Association of Drilling Engineers, Executive Assistant
Major: Petroleum Engineering
Hometown: St. Louis, MI

Engineer Your Career…Today!

This blog post comes from one of our doctoral students who has some great career advice for all students. Whether you’re getting ready to start college or getting ready to graduate, these tips are for you! 

Jodi Boutte

Jodi Boutte

Throughout my graduate school career I noticed myself and other fellow college students suffering from the ‘shoulda-­‐coulda-­‐woulda’ syndrome. I should have done this, I could have participated in that, or if I had known, I would have done this instead of that. Sound familiar? I thought so. 🙂 As a 7th year graduate student (yes, I said 7th year), I find myself reflecting a lot on my previous years as a student, and everything just seems to be a blur or filled with overwhelming moments of rush, rush, rush. So how could I have provided myself with a better experience? Just as we apply engineering principles to a vehicle or process…Why not ‘Engineer Your Career.’ Designing your career path ahead of time can be very helpful and a huge weight off your shoulders as you work your way through undergrad and determine your next route…graduate school or industry. Here are a few ‘lessons-­‐learned’ throughout my graduate career that you may find helpful:

Lesson #1: Think with the End in Mind!
Put together Education and Career Plans as soon as possible. An education plan is a guide through your academic program. For example, you may want to get a minor in an area unrelated to your major; with an education plan, you can determine how to incorporate the additional courses into your current work load. A career plan is an action plan to follow to help you acquire knowledge and skills in addition to opportunities that will help to excel your chosen area of interest, such as internships, research experiences, or volunteer programs. Try using Microsoft Excel to list these milestones and be certain to include significant dates and deadlines.

Lesson #2: Show Your Work!
Make it a point to start a Portfolio. Portfolios are a purposeful collection of work that exhibits your efforts, progress, and achievements. Your portfolio should contain personal statements, cover letters, resumes, transcripts, diplomas, certificates, awards, presentations, projects, and letters of recommendation to name a few. It’s easy to get started, just grab a binder and begin organizing your materials. By the way, it’s always a great idea to have hard-copies of your work, so include anything you’ve worked on that provides substance.

Lesson #3: Build and Maintain Bridges!
Everyone needs a Mentor, especially students because we have a lot of uncertainties in various areas of life during our college years. A mentor can be a family member, fellow student, company employee, church member or someone you may happen to meet and look up to. Mentors are there to provide encouragement, guide you in your career choice, be resourceful, and offer opportunities and advice as you grow into a professional. Don’t know how to reach out to a potential mentor? First, make a list of potential mentors or reach out to a local organization with a mentoring program. Second, try reaching out to these specific individuals by email or phone and set up a time to meet over coffee or lunch. Third, be prepared with a list and be clear about your expectations of them as a mentor; it won’t hurt to be familiar with this individual’s background as well.

In addition, every design requires balance, so be sure to find balance in your everyday life – spiritual, social, physical well-being, emotional and intellectual. You are sure to reap the benefits of your college years when implementing these lessons into your daily life. Need further information on the tips mentioned, feel free to contact me at jboutte1982@gmail.com. And don’t forget; Start today….Engineer Your Career!

By Jodi Boutte’, M.S.
Industrial engineering doctoral candidate

Surviving Spring Invitational (SPIN)

This post is contributed by Natalie Burges, a chemical engineering major from Katy, Texas. She participated in Spring Invitational as an incoming student and will be serving as an orientation leader for the 2015 session. 

Thousands of high achieving students will flood to LSU for Spring Invitational (SPIN) in just a few weeks. We are so proud to host the top incoming students for this exceptional orientation opportunity. The College of Engineering consistently has the highest attendance at the annual event and the large mass of students can often be overwhelming. Luckily you are not alone, and despite the occasional herding, you will be treated as an individual preparing to take the next step in your education rather than a number in the crowd. Nevertheless, here are some helpful hints to help you survive.

1. Come in with an open mind.

LSU is a very diverse campus. You will meet people that come from different backgrounds and have different opinions and thoughts than you. Embrace them. Whether you are from a small town and a graduating class of 25 or a big city with a graduating class of 800, there will be people you can relate to and others you can learn from. Take in the experience and learn to accept people’s differences. LSU is a very welcoming community and it has a lot to offer so do not be afraid to break out of your bubble and walk in someone else’s shoes.

2. Get to know the people around you as well as your orientation leaders.

A large amount of the SPIN students will reside in the College of Engineering. With that being said, the engineering orientation groups can be rather large. Do not let this intimidate you. You don’t have to be best friends with 30 new people when you leave, but open up and talk to the people around you. Get to know them, where they’re from, and why they chose to come to the greatest university in the nation. Campus overwhelms several students but this is your chance to make a connection with your peers that you will see in class and you will see walking through the quad. Believe me, campus is much more welcoming and feels more like home when you see familiar faces. Also, your orientation leaders are great tools to have. They are thrilled to have you there no matter how tired you might be throughout the days of SPIN and they are there solely to help you so take advantage of it. Your orientation leaders can serve as great mentors not only through SPIN but also throughout your college experience.

3. Be ready to take in a lot of very important information.

Oh boy, get ready. Your mind will be filled with crucial information about becoming an LSU Tiger. The sessions may seem long sometimes but I promise that you will want to know this information. It is your responsibility to take care of yourself once you get to college and all the information that your orientation leaders present will be great tools to stay on top of everything and confidently handle your freshman year. You are welcomed to bring a pen and/or highlighter to note information that you might find helpful. When I came through SPIN as an incoming student, I was constantly engaged in the information sessions for two reasons. One, I was terrified of not knowing what to do once I was away from home and responsible for my life, education, and success. Two, because my mom needed to know absolutely everything or I would never hear the end of it. So even if it is to please your parents, pay attention to the information provided at SPIN.

4. Wear comfortable attire.

I made this mistake on the first day of SPIN as a participating student. I tried to look cute, you know, make a good first impression on my peers. Wrong. Dress comfortably because the days are long and can become exhausting. Wear good walking shoes and something you’re comfortable walking, standing, and sitting in. Be ready for anything with this Louisiana weather. Check the weather in the morning and pack appropriately. I would also recommend bringing a jacket in your bag because some buildings on campus can be chilly.

Natalie Burges

Natalie Burges

5. Enjoy every second of becoming an LSU Tiger!

Lastly, have fun! You are going to be an LSU Tiger! The most amazing times of your life are ahead of you and this is just the beginning. Take in the beautiful oaks as you walk across campus, listen to the bell tower ring, visit Mike the Tiger, and embrace the passion that circulates around LSU. You are officially at the greatest place on earth, a place that you will soon call home.

Welcome to Tiger Nation and Geaux Tigers!

 – By Natalie Burges
Chemical Engineering
SPIN Orientation Leader


Are you a family member attending SPIN? Don’t think we forget about you! Here are a few tips from a former Parent Orientation Leader:

1. Be prepared to learn.

My favorite part of SPIN is that it is a collaborative effort across campus. Students and administrators from every department on campus will be there to welcome you to our tiger family. Be prepared to learn a lot of information about the resources that LSU has to make your student successful not only academically, but also professionally.

2. Be prepared to ask questions.

With all of the information that you will be receiving, comes plenty of questions. SPIN is a phenomenal time for you to ask any questions that you may already have, or think of during the program. One of the best resources for you will be your Parent/ Family Orientation Leader. These student leaders have been training for months to make sure that they are well equipped to answer your questions. I highly encourage you to not only ask them about the resources at LSU, but also what their experience is like as an LSU student. I guarantee you they will be more than happy to share their love and passion for LSU.

3. Be prepared to see what it means to be an LSU Tiger.

One of the unique things about SPIN is that this is a normal class week and work week for our students. Spring Invitational is our largest orientation program and it takes place during the school year. As a parent, you have the opportunity to see our campus and students in their natural environment. Our students are not only welcoming you to LSU, but they are going to class and participating in extra-curricular activities just as they would any other week.

4. Be prepared to watch your student transition to a young adult.

This is probably one of the most challenging parts of SPIN for parents. Just as you are learning a lot of information at SPIN, so is your student and it is now your student’s responsibility to implement what he/she is learning. As a parent/family member, it is important to remember this. As your student transitions to the University, it is crucial that you remain supportive of their independence and continue to provide them with the resources that they need to succeed. Visit LSU Parent & Family Programs for more information about the Family Association, Family Weekend, and other Family programs to help you become the best resource for your student.

– By Andrew Hall
Recruiting Associate
LSU College of Engineering

Summer Camps for High School Students

XCITE lab group

XCITE lab group

Dozens of high-achieving high school students converge on LSU’s campus each summer to learn about the various disciplines available at the College of Engineering. The Recruiting into Engineering High Ability Multicultural Students (REHAMS) and Xploration Camp Inspiring Tomorrow’s Engineers (XCITE) LSU Residential Summer Camps introduce students to construction management, computer science, and engineering through workshops designed to teach through hands-on, problem-solving exercises. The camps staff partners with LSU faculty and industry professionals to create novel programming that connects what are often abstract scientific and mathematical concepts to students’ everyday experiences.

This year, the College’s Assistant Manager for Recruiting, Terrica Jamison, begins her tenure as the administrator of the camps. She is bursting with ideas to enhance campers’ weeklong stay on campus, and she eagerly shared them with The Engineered Tiger.

What are you most excited about as you prepare for 2015 REHAMS and XCITE?

I meet with thousands of students across Louisiana and beyond in my role as the College’s assistant manager for recruiting, and I often encounter talented high schoolers who either don’t know much about engineering or don’t think they would fit in at the College. REHAMS and XCITE give me additional avenues to introduce students from all walks of life to engineering and show them at it is a viable option for them.

Students at the PERTT Lab

Students at the PERTT Lab

What will be different about REHAMS and XCITE this year?

My staff and I are focused on building lasting connections between engineering and the students’ everyday lives. The challenge my staff, and both our LSU and industry partners face, then, is to show the students that they already engage in the type of problem solving that successful engineers, construction managers, and computer scientists use in the professional world. That’s a tall order in just one week! My approach this year is to teach by doing, so participants should expect innovative programming that presents them with real world problems they can solve to improve the lives of others. Students might be building a robot one day and creating an app the next. I haven’t finalized the schedule yet, but nothing is off the table.

I have also prioritized student-to-student interaction. It can be difficult (and a bit intimidating!) for students to situate themselves within the engineering discipline exclusively through their interactions with tenured faculty and established professionals. I want the students to visualize themselves here as successful LSU engineers, so I’m working with faculty to incorporate some of their top graduate students into the camp curricula. Additionally, I am also asking our industry partners to make junior members of their staff who are LSU alumni available to meet with the campers whenever possible. Our students and graduates are what make the LSU College of Engineering such a powerful force, and we want to capitalize on those resources by showing the campers the elite corps of aspiring and working engineers they can join if they work hard.

In the past, REHAMS and XCITE included general sessions about college life. Will you continue that tradition?

Absolutely! For some of our students those sessions are their first exposure to college prep, and helping to bring college within reach for all of our campers is one of my top priorities. Both REHAMS and XCITE will include a visit to LSU’s new Olinde Career Center, where they will learn about proper interview dress and techniques. They will also attend sessions with Enrollment Management and Student Aid & Scholarships, where LSU staff will go through the college, scholarship, and financial aid application processes in detail.

Speaking of application process, have the REHAMS or XCITE applications changed?

The selection process will be more competitive moving forward, so yes, I have made a few changes. The selection committees will place greater weight on the students’ motivations for attending the camps, so we increased the space allotted to student essays. We will evaluate the essays for both purpose and clarity and give preference to those who can best articulate how they will use what they learn at the camps to forge a pathway to a career in engineering, construction management, or computer science.

We are also asking parents and students to return all application materials, including transcripts, letters of recommendation, and the non-refundable $25 application fee, together in one packet. Applications are available on the Summer Camps page on the College’s website, and all materials are due by close of business on April 24th.

REHAMS lab group

REHAMS group and their student leader

Do you have any final thoughts for aspiring engineers who want to attend REHAMS or XCITE?

The College established REHAMS and XCITE to provide students from diverse communities an opportunity to create and experiment in a collaborative yet competitive environment that exposes them to life as a college student. I have one piece of advice for students out there reading this who are excited about the prospect of participating in one of the camps but unsure of whether or not they have what it takes to be engineers: Apply! You have potential; let us show you how far it can take you if you’re willing to work hard and invest in your own success.

REHAMS LSU Residential Engineering Camp

Dates: June 14-20, 2015
Location: LSU Campus
Application deadline: April 24, 2015
The cost of the camp is $400, inclusive of room and board, and there is a non-refundable $25 application fee.

XCITE LSU Residential Engineering Camp

Dates: July 12-18, 2015
Location: LSU Campus
Application deadline: April 24, 2015
The cost of the camp is $400, inclusive of room and board, and there is a non-refundable $25 application fee.

A limited number of need-based scholarships are available to qualified students. Check the REHAMS 2015 Application and XCITE 2015 Application on the Summer Camps website (www.eng.lsu.edu/prospective/camps) for eligibility requirements and guidelines.