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Academic Guidence- Considering Gradschool

  1. Sep 11, 2015 #1

    I am new to the forum. Actually, I enrolled in the forum because of this question... It's been eating me for a while now.

    So I'll give you some background on my (convoluted) educational path. I started college undecided, then switch to a preprofessional chemistry path with hopes of becoming a pharmacist. I ended up falling in love with chemistry and switched my universities ACS certified chemistry track. Please keep in mind that these changes all happened within 3/2's a year. My most recent switch (1 year after being a declared chemistry major) was from chemistry to chemical engineering. The reasons for this were: I was advised by a coworker at my internship that "Engineering degrees can get you chemist positions, but chemistry degrees don't qualify you for engineering jobs," and because I felt like nothing I was learning in chemistry courses would prepare me for the real world.

    Ok... I know I'm coming off as an indecisive guy, but it is my future I'm dealing with! Also, as a result of careless advising from my adviser I am stuck in undergrad for an extra year. Couple that with the fact of my multiple major changes and I'm looking at a total of 6 years in undergrad. I needed to find some way to make full time status and ended up adding a mathematics major. So I am officially double majoring the math (I'm following an applied math track) and chemical engineering.

    I've been thinking a lot about grad school and if i were to go, it'd be for an applied mathematics Ph. D. I like the idea of pursuing mathematics because the research can put you at the forefront of engineering problems (among other things). The only reason why I am hesitant to fully adopt mathematics is out of fear of getting stuck on the financial/actuarial side of things, I really have an interest in the "technical world." Let me also say that I could have a masters in math in the same time it would take me to receive my engineering degree (darn gen ed courses/1 time per year course offerings for prereqs). Can anyone offer advise into whether or not the "technical security" of the engineering degree is worth the extra time at my current university?

    Also, can someone provide insight into what it typically takes to get into an applied math Ph. D program? I've done a decent amount of self research, but all the information I've stumbled across is case-dependant.

    Finally, I want to note that I have a near flawless gpa and have been through almost all the "weed-out" classes for both programs so GPA isn't my concern. My concern is extracurricular activities/research experience/ all other things considered by admission committees. I am also currently holding a grad student teaching assistant position in my universities organic chemistry department, which is supposedly something admissions committees will look kindly towards?

    Thank you all... I am at a formidable mental block and any input will be appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 11, 2015 #2
    It looks like you have some time left, why not start doing research?
  4. Sep 11, 2015 #3
    That's a good question. Like I've said, I'm working as a teaching assistant this semester and next semester (presumably). When the spring semester begins I'll start applying for summer research opportunities. However, I have to go with the highest paying opportunity at the moment and an internship at a major corporation is what I've got my eye set on for summer 2016. I finally feel "qualified" enough to submit a resume to the few connections I have at these Cleveland based companies.
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