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Thinking of switching graduate programs.

by chill_factor
Tags: graduate, programs, switching, thinking
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Nov29-12, 12:23 PM
P: 900
I'm a graduate student in experimental condensed matter physics. Over the last few months, I've found my motivation for physics decreasing substantially going from "I'm definitely doing my PhD in this" to "grabbing my MS and change fields"; now I'm not even sure I can withstand the MS.

As I was sitting in class yesterday it dawned on me: I didn't understand the point of this class. I could not see application of any of the stuff that they've taught me to my research, because there was no new science; it was old science packaged in harder math. Maybe I'm wrong and there IS new science, but it just isn't for me to see it. My mathematical skills are OK but I neither have the interest nor the ability to pursue theoretical research.

My grades aren't too bad. However, each and every physics assignment has been an uphill struggle taking hours for a single problem. I wouldn't mind if this was on something interesting but doing it for the Nth rigid body problem or Nth hydrogen atom is not the greatest motivation. This sort of frustration, coupled with the realization that what I'm learning is not going to directly apply to what I'm doing, saps me of energy. My health and my research plans have taken a decline due to spending far too much time doing homework.

I'm thinking about reapplying to a materials science and engineering program at the local state school since it would align more closely with my career goals, and the research in materials there is more applicable to my scientific interest and ability than similar research in the physics department. In addition they require less classes and of those classes I've taken numerous before. I'm willing to call this year a learning experience and start over from scratch.

However I feel sort of guilty about this, and also don't want to burn bridges. I'll also need 1-2 letters of recommendation from my current school. How should I handle this?
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Nov29-12, 12:37 PM
micromass's Avatar
P: 18,345
If you feel bored by your research and your classes, then you should get out as soon as you can. Things are not likely to get much better. If you want to do research, then you should be really passionate about it. You should absolutely love it. If you don't, then you should find something else.

But what you might want to do first is talk to a professor about how you feel. Maybe he can suggest you another direction in research and something you would like more.
Nov29-12, 02:48 PM
P: 900
Thank you for the advice. I like the research but I just haven't been able to do much of it since I spend 30 hours on just homework. I also think that for my area, I don't necessarily have to do it in the physics department.

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