Mastering your Craft
  • Read news that is directly related to the industry that you plan to work in.
    For example: If you are an electrical engineering student, read Electrical Engineering Times.
    If you are a chemical engineering student, read Chemical and Engineering news.
  • Read popular science magazines like, Discover, New Scientist, Popular Science, Scientific American, Wired and Popular Mechanics
  • Turn your major into a hobby. Be a bit of an inventor. Try to build things related to your major.
    Clubs like a student chapter of ACM may do exciting projects that you can get involved with.
  • Get summer internships or do research. Most students waste the summer after their freshman year. There are companies out there that will hire freshmen as interns. Get on the web and hunt them down! If you can't find a place to work in industry, try to work for a professor. There are lots of organized summer research programs for undergrads too.
  • Read Science News, skim Science or Nature for papers related to your field.
  • Attend your department's research seminar. Almost everyone there will be a graduate student or a professor, and what the presenter says will probably sound like Swahili to you for the first few months, but if you go home and look up the big words that they used, eventually you will understand everything and you will be light years ahead of your classmates.
  • Read fun books related to your major.
  • Learn how to operate machining tools. Develop a sense of how to build things through experience. Be an inventor.
  • Bite the bullet and get really good at math its one of the most important tools you have.
  • Learn how to use computers well. Experiment with them. Try writing some programs. Get a For Dummies book if you need to or look for web tutorials. Try installing linux on your computer and learning how to use it.
Getting Good Grades
  • Many science and engineering textbooks are poorly written and filled with an excess of hard to sort through equations.
    Don't hesitate to use books made by Barrons, Cliffs, Bar Charts, Schaums, etc...
  • If you have enough self-discipline to study or do homework instead of going to your lectures, consider doing that if your professor is a bad teacher.
  • Learn to guess what will be on exams and then get good at determining what things you still don't know or fully understand.Try to get copies of old exams that were written by the same teacher. Don't stop studying until you have answered all of your own questions.
  • Know how to use every feature of your graphing calculator. Some of them can deal with complex numbers, matrices, and lots of other tedious stuff.
  • Memorize equations that keep coming up. In Materials Science and Engineering clasess, Bragg's Law and Fick's Laws pop up over and over again.
Staying Happy
  • Don't trust everything that your counselor says. Ask several different upperclassmen for advice.
  • Don't bite off more than you can chew.
  • Don't major in something that you don't like.
  • Take proficiency exams. If your school will let you attempt to "test out" of a class. Do it! If you are thinking about repeating a class, don't take it for credit, sit in on it.The common counter-argument for this is, "If I re-take the class it will be an easy A." Having extra time to do well in your new, unfamiliar classes is probably more important.
Getting Into Grad School
  • Study HARD for the GRE. Your GRE score may have almost as much as a bearing on your admission to grad school as your GPA that it took you ~four years to accumulate. Its worth taking some time to prepare for it. Get some prep books and work through as many practice exams as possible. Memorize the meanings of words found on a GRE word list.
  • Do research. Try to get your name on at least one paper.
  • Keep your GPA at or above 3.2. The cutoff for most graduate programs is between 3.0 and 3.2. The really good ones may not touch you unless it is significantly higher. You may want to take some easy classes to pad your grades.