About to Graduate with a Double Major in Physics and Math

  • #1
65
1
Hey guys, so I am about to graduate in May with a double major in physics and mathematics and I don't really know what to do.

So my grades are not the best, but they improved as I've gotten further into my academic career, and this year I am hoping to make the dean's list. I want to get my PhD in theoretical physics and study black holes. There are no jobs in this, and that would be a bad investment of my time. Not only that, I don't think anyone would really accept me, I mean dang, my own school didn't want me for their graduate program. I have been active in clubs and outreach and jobs in the physics department.

All that being said, I am sort of burnt out, the entire process has been mentally exhausting. Should I try to get into a PhD program/masters program for theoretical or maybe for electrical engineering or some field in math relating to differential geometry. Or should I go get a job somewhere? and if I were to get a job somewhere, what would I even do? I feel very lost, I don't know what math or physics majors do, everyone just keeps telling me I have a lot of options, but I don't know what they are or where to look.

I appreciate any and all help,
Abscissa
 
  • Like
Likes K Murty

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Choppy
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
Insights Author
4,601
1,700
Sounds like a mean case of the senior year reality crash to me.

You need to start making some specific decisions at this point. In most cases the time for applying to PhD or MSc programs has passed for fall 2018 admissions (assuming you're somewhere in North America) so even if you do want to ultimately get into a PhD program, you'll need a plan for the coming year. If you really want to get into a graduate program, you'll have to take a hard and honest look at how you stack up as a candidate and figure out what areas you need to improve in and how to do that. If you can make the Dean's list while taking senior level classes, that would suggest that you're capable of getting into graduate school. But remember that admission is a competitive process and not everyone gets in. If you're borderline for getting in, upgrading or taking some more senior level classes after you graduate could tip the scale in your favour. But if your GPA really isn't anywhere near the minimum threshold, this might be a waste of time. *This is where a discussion with an academic advisor at your school would be really advisable.*

Exploring other educational options might be a good thing, but I would recommend that if you do this, try to make a decision based on developing a specific skill set or entering a specific career field. Simply getting into a master's program for the sake of furthering your education without a specific goal in mind is likely to end up just costing you money and time.

The "get a job" options can depend a lot on the skill set that you have, and how mobile you are. You can look up some basic statistics on where physics graduates tend to work on the AIP website. This is also something else that an academic advisor or your school's career services centre might be able to help with. They might be able to connect you with prior graduates who've been successful getting work who may be able to give you an inside scoop on how they got where they are.
 
  • Like
Likes StatGuy2000
  • #3
2,220
596
You say that your own school did not want you for their graduate program; that should tell you something. Are you sure that you ought to pursue a PhD? If so, why? You can study black holes (red, green, and yellow also) as an avocation, without the need to pursue a PhD and try to earn a living at this.

Your last paragraph indicates that you need to do some serious evaluation as to what your goals really should be on a realistic level. This is way overdue, but you cannot move forward until you do it. I suggest you give serious consideration to seeking employment with the degrees you will soon have in hand, rather than go on to graduate school. Contrary to what many seem to think, graduate school is not really a place to shelter "while you find yourself." It is only worthwhile when it serves a defined purpose.
 
  • #4
3,379
944
It depends on what you want to do with your life.
Probably is best to settle with like minded people.
Having kids is optional
 
  • #5
138
25
Sounds like you're going through the disillusionment process that many of us have when we realize that our childhood dreams of being like Einstein or Stephen Hawking were unrealistic.

My suggestion would be to crunch hard on either programming or statistics (self study) and get a job doing that. Or, take a break a from school to get some perspective, and just get a job *anywhere* for a little while, even if it's minimum wage. If you don't want to do that, you could delay graduation, take some prerequisite classes, and apply to a master's program next fall in something like Computer Science, Statistics, or Electrical Engineering.

Doing a PhD in theoretical physics or differential geometry when you're already feeling lost and burned out on school seems like a very bad idea.
 
  • Like
Likes Locrian
  • #6
65
1
Sounds like a mean case of the senior year reality crash to me.

You need to start making some specific decisions at this point. In most cases the time for applying to PhD or MSc programs has passed for fall 2018 admissions (assuming you're somewhere in North America) so even if you do want to ultimately get into a PhD program, you'll need a plan for the coming year. If you really want to get into a graduate program, you'll have to take a hard and honest look at how you stack up as a candidate and figure out what areas you need to improve in and how to do that. If you can make the Dean's list while taking senior level classes, that would suggest that you're capable of getting into graduate school. But remember that admission is a competitive process and not everyone gets in. If you're borderline for getting in, upgrading or taking some more senior level classes after you graduate could tip the scale in your favour. But if your GPA really isn't anywhere near the minimum threshold, this might be a waste of time. *This is where a discussion with an academic advisor at your school would be really advisable.*

Exploring other educational options might be a good thing, but I would recommend that if you do this, try to make a decision based on developing a specific skill set or entering a specific career field. Simply getting into a master's program for the sake of furthering your education without a specific goal in mind is likely to end up just costing you money and time.

The "get a job" options can depend a lot on the skill set that you have, and how mobile you are. You can look up some basic statistics on where physics graduates tend to work on the AIP website. This is also something else that an academic advisor or your school's career services centre might be able to help with. They might be able to connect you with prior graduates who've been successful getting work who may be able to give you an inside scoop on how they got where they are.
Hey, thanks for your reply, it really is a case of the senior year reality crash. I think I've made up my mind and I want to get my PhD in applied mathematics and study differential geometry/topology. I have been looking at the programs and I think I am pretty well qualified, and can do pretty decent in it, and all of the topics I saw I either knew exactly, knew of, or found pretty interesting. So, I am going to try my hand at that and start looking at schools.

I didn't know you could take classes after you graduate, can you please tell me more about this?
 
  • #7
65
1
You say that your own school did not want you for their graduate program; that should tell you something. Are you sure that you ought to pursue a PhD? If so, why? You can study black holes (red, green, and yellow also) as an avocation, without the need to pursue a PhD and try to earn a living at this.

Your last paragraph indicates that you need to do some serious evaluation as to what your goals really should be on a realistic level. This is way overdue, but you cannot move forward until you do it. I suggest you give serious consideration to seeking employment with the degrees you will soon have in hand, rather than go on to graduate school. Contrary to what many seem to think, graduate school is not really a place to shelter "while you find yourself." It is only worthwhile when it serves a defined purpose.
Thanks for your response. Yeah, I wasn't always the best student, not from lack of trying, but I just didn't know how to study and learn effectively and properly. I was still finding my way of learning. I am not sure if I should, but I am going to only because it sounds really interesting and that only things that really call me in life are to learn more and my family. I just wonder how much time I will have to myself to give to my dog and my family and myself.
 
  • #8
65
1
Sounds like you're going through the disillusionment process that many of us have when we realize that our childhood dreams of being like Einstein or Stephen Hawking were unrealistic.

My suggestion would be to crunch hard on either programming or statistics (self study) and get a job doing that. Or, take a break a from school to get some perspective, and just get a job *anywhere* for a little while, even if it's minimum wage. If you don't want to do that, you could delay graduation, take some prerequisite classes, and apply to a master's program next fall in something like Computer Science, Statistics, or Electrical Engineering.

Doing a PhD in theoretical physics or differential geometry when you're already feeling lost and burned out on school seems like a very bad idea.
I think this is sort of the case, but I am looking through the material for a PhD in applied mathematics and applied physics. I think between now and next applying season I am going to do self studies into topology, general functions, and partial differential equations in space.
 
  • #9
65
1
It depends on what you want to do with your life.
Probably is best to settle with like minded people.
Having kids is optional
Yeah that would probably be best, but like minded people for me is people with who I can talk about math with.
 
  • #10
Dr Transport
Science Advisor
Gold Member
2,418
550
You say that your own school did not want you for their graduate program; that should tell you something. .
Not atypical, many reputable schools will not take their own students for graduate work.

Thanks for your response. Yeah, I wasn't always the best student, not from lack of trying, but I just didn't know how to study and learn effectively and properly. I was still finding my way of learning. I am not sure if I should, but I am going to only because it sounds really interesting and that only things that really call me in life are to learn more and my family. I just wonder how much time I will have to myself to give to my dog and my family and myself.
More likely a case of you bit off way more than you could chew, double majoring in physics and or math and something else is hugely difficult to say the least. Pick one or the other, minor in the second and maybe you'd have done better. It seems to me to be a case of way too much work to get done every week and once you fall behind you don't get a chance to catch up.
 
  • #11
Choppy
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
Insights Author
4,601
1,700
I didn't know you could take classes after you graduate, can you please tell me more about this?
This depends on your school. It's not an option everywhere. What some students may do once they complete their required coursework is just not apply to graduate and take another semester or year to upgrade their courses. In some cases you can enroll through a faculty of extension. Your academic advisor should know how this works at your school.
 

Related Threads on About to Graduate with a Double Major in Physics and Math

Replies
8
Views
1K
Replies
1
Views
849
Replies
2
Views
4K
Replies
5
Views
3K
Replies
5
Views
4K
Replies
9
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
5
Views
4K
Top