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Although lifelong learning is among the most critical skills required of today's engineering graduates, the complex processes through which individuals develop the attitudes, beliefs, and skills of lifelong learners remains unclear. Instructors have only begun to understand the impacts of academic background, institutional climate, and pedagogy on students' development of the motivations and learning strategies characteristic of lifelong learners. In this ongoing mixed-methods investigation, we draw on existing motivation and self-regulated learning theories to examine how undergraduate students at a small private college and a large public university become more self-directed as they progress through the first two years of their engineering programs. Preliminary findings indicate that first-year students at the two institutions report significant differences in their motivations and goal orientations. Students at the small private college express higher intrinsic motivation and learning orientation, and lower external regulation and grade orientation, compared to students at the large public university. The two groups also show differences in their beliefs about individual versus social learning. We briefly discuss how differences in motivations, goals, and beliefs may impact student responses to early program experiences, and require instructors to tailor their approaches to support the needs of emerging lifelong learners.