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Academic Dilemma, senior student seeking words of wisdom

  1. Oct 27, 2009 #1
    I am in my senior years.

    I am applying to the University of Toronto, St.George Campus as my first, the other campus ranking in 2nd and 3rd.

    I have applied to University of Waterloo in Canada as well.

    However, my real problem/question is "Do I have what it takes?"

    Last year in (I don't know the proper term for certain course in different countries, so I'll name it as "Grade 12/Year 13 Physics") Grade12/Year13 Physics, I got around 82%.

    I want to study Physical Science, mainly Physics.

    Most of my Asian male peers (some females too) all decided to go for Engineering; I have been told the reason is because of good $$$. I personally do not care about it, but is Engineering the most difficult science to get into since so many people want to get into it?

    I mean did all of your asian male peers in your old physics class all went to engineering? Did any of them considered going into Physical Science? Or did they go to Life science/Medical school?

    Engineering vs Physical Science (general science study like biology, chemistry, physics etc) vs Life science/medical school

    Which is harder to get into? I personally don't mind Engineering, but I really prefer to go into Physics. Please someone give me your words of wisdom. I will try to elucidate on things that are unclear.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 27, 2009 #2
    If you are interested in something go into that. Its stupid to do something for the money, especially if you have an interest in something else.

    You could consider looking into Engineering Physics programs.

    Also, why do you keep telling us that your Asian male peers are going into engineering? Plenty of people who are not Asian or male go into engineering.
  4. Oct 27, 2009 #3
    I think the best piece of advice we can give you is to do exactly what your asian male peers are doing regardless of what you enjoy doing. Blindly following your asian male peers would be the best bet... in fact I put forth the motion that we should all follow our asian male peers.
  5. Oct 27, 2009 #4
    Are you making fun of me..?
  6. Oct 27, 2009 #5


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    The first thing to keep in mind is that engineering and medicine are professional disciplines. What that means is that those programs train you for a specific career path and avail to the student all the advantages that come with that. Physics is generally an academic discipline only. While there are some efforts to recognise "professional physicists" the efforts are far behind other professional fields. [One exception might be medical physics.]

    Students often equate professional disciplines with earning potential. Certainly medical doctors aren't hurting in the pocket book these days. Hence there is a greater demand to get into these programs. It doesn't necessarily mean that they are more or less difficult than purely academic programs. It's also prudent to do some research for yourself and figure out the employment prospects for any education route you're seriously considering. You might find that the difference in earning potential between physics students and engineering students isn't all that big.

    I would also caution anyone in making decisions based on actions of peers. Research your options thoroughly and make educated decisions based on facts.
  7. Oct 27, 2009 #6
    What if you are fine with anything? I reallly want to know in GENERAL, which is most difficult to get into?
  8. Oct 27, 2009 #7
    If you don't know what to do, then spend the first year or two of you college experience sampling various options. There's no need to make any quick decisions, so just take a few courses in different subjects and see what appeals to you.
  9. Oct 27, 2009 #8
    One other thing. Take some courses in writing, history and philosophy. They probably are part of your core curriculum but take them really seriously. The purpose of these courses is to help you think through the "so what am I going to do with my life" question.
  10. Oct 28, 2009 #9
    I think what you are asking is which is harder to get a job in after school? Or is your question which subject is the hardest to be a part of? Or maybe your are worried about not being accepted to a department at the college?

    For the last question, I wouldn't be worried about that. I don't know how canada works, but in the US just about anyone can do anything they please seeing how they are paying for the education.

    For the first question, I think generally the more applicable a job is the more money it makes. So yes engineering is far more profitable/applicable to real life than physics. As are biology/chemistry.

    For the second question, I haven't done engineering so I don't know how hard it is. It seems kind of boring so that may make it difficult. I have done physics though and I can tell you that it is hard haha.
  11. Oct 28, 2009 #10
    Mainly the second and last question. Mostly the last question...I am not an "A" student....
  12. Oct 28, 2009 #11
    engineering isn't a science
  13. Oct 28, 2009 #12
    I think that the difficulty of a subject depends on how much you enjoy it. If you really enjoy learning about something you may struggle with it but you will not be miserable because you are doing something that interests you. Where on the other hand you could be doing something that you have the aptitude for but you struggle anyways and be miserable because you do no find it interesting.

    Not being an A student in high school is a poor excuse to not go into certain subjects. Obviously you could work harder and try to become an A student in college, but also know that you do not need all As to succeed. Practical skills and research experience are probably more valuable anyways.
  14. Oct 28, 2009 #13


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    I'm a physics grad student. I can tell you from personal experience, that I would be miserable in engineering. That is not saying that engineering is not a "noble" pursuit. Engineering is intelligent, applicable, and, many times, pays well. It is just not for me. Ask any engineer, if you go into engineering for only the money, you will most likely be miserable, or you won't end up being an engineer. In order to truly succeed in engineering, you need to have a passion for it.

    The same can be said about physics, medicine, and most disciplines. So, in this regard, choosing a field that interests you is a good decision on multiple levels. You will be happy with what you are studying (You will be doing a lot of it, remember. So, you better like studying it.) Also, you will be putting yourself in a field where you have the passion needed to be successful.
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