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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Understanding ETAM

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Photo by Photo by Robert O’Brien

Guest contributor, Barbara Gastel provides helpful tips to students looking to write a paper worthy of an “A” as the fall semester winds down. 

For many engineering freshmen, the Entry to a Major Process, or ETAM, is in full swing as they begin applying for their desired engineering specialization. 
With multiple changes over the past couple of years, the ETAM program has continued to evolve, confusing students on their specific requirements. For example, the Class of 2025 requirements include a cumulative university and term GPA of at least a 2.0 as well as taking a certain list of courses during the first two semesters before transferring from general engineering to a specialization. 
For automatic entry into a first choice major students must also hit a certain objective of requirements including a 3.75 cumulative GPA. Additionally, students who q-drop a math or science course to accept course credit can experience problems with the area of expertise they may wish to pursue. 
Before ETAM, students would apply for their specific major when applying to the university, associate Dean for undergraduate programs in the College of Engineering Angie Hill Price said.
“If applications opened up on Oct. 1, you would fill up really quickly in specific majors,” Price said.
The College of Engineering faculty also found many students had not considered what they wanted to do when they graduate when choosing a specific area of study, Price said.
“What we’re focusing on is getting them to think about, ‘What do you want to do when you graduate, what is your end goal,’ and then work with that goal in mind,” Price said.
Aerospace engineering sophomore Marshall Mann said he chose engineering over other majors because he wanted more than just working in an industry he was interested in.
“Coming into A&M, I knew I wanted to study aerospace,” Mann said. “I’ve always been passionate about airplanes and … I really like to figure out problems using the scientific method and [by building] things.”
Maintaining a 3.5 GPA was a goal of Mann’s during his freshman year, and said it made him nervous about ensuring automatic entry into his first choice of major.
“It actually influenced me to take classes I probably could’ve skipped, like Calc[ulus] I,” Mann said. “I chose to retake it because I said … ‘I can easily grind out an A in this class, so it will be a little easier.’”
Materials science engineering junior Byron Brock said he knew he wanted to study engineering A&M as he liked math and science in high school, although he wasn’t as set on his choice of major. 
“Initially, [when] I came to A&M, I really wanted to be a chemical engineer, and I’d never even heard of materials science,” Brock said. “But those first couple of semesters whenever they give a lot of opportunities to learn about different types of majors, and really see and feel out what you want to be, that’s how I found out about materials science, a major that I now love.”
Not having major-specific classes for the first few semesters isn’t as interesting, although it is nice to get general classes like physics and calculus out of the way, Brock said.
“You end up having some classes that end up not applying much,” Brock said. “In a lot of the entry level engineering classes, we did a lot of coding, [but] I haven’t really used much of that since.”
When going through ETAM, if a student doesn’t end up getting any of their three major choices, they can earn offers from other departments within engineering that may still align with their career path, Price said.
“What we’ve found is that our time to graduation has gone down,” Price said. “We have fewer students who are changing majors once they’ve gotten into their major because they know more about what they’re getting sold into.”
As a solution to the previous first-come-first-serve system, ETAM has significantly improved the process for engineers to get their preferred major, Price said.
“Most of the students seem to really love it, some get frustrated and I totally understand that, but they also don’t understand the history of it and how it was actually a lot worse for them,” Price said. “We’re trying to make it better, we really are.”

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