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Academics at European Universities and Career Tracks

  1. Oct 8, 2011 #1
    I'm looking for some advice. I'm currently taking a fair amount of mathematics and physics courses in my second year of college. I'm not really sure what I want to do yet. If I end up majoring in mathematics, I may just find a field where I can apply what I've learned. The same goes for physics, though it would most likely be in engineering.

    Anyways, my question pertains to what I should do during my junior year, when a good percentage of the class studies abroad/away. My current options are simply to study abroad for a year (most likely in an English speaking institution/area), study abroad for spring semester, stay here, or leave for a 2-1-1-1 engineering program (Dartmouth).

    Some background: I'm not superb at maths or physics, which is why I'm shying away from a research track. I'm attending Williams College, a liberal arts college which does not have an engineering program. Our physics program is spectacular and maths is well known, though not rigorous.

    Has anyone here had experience with education in the U.K.? My grades aren't stellar, but I'm considering applying to Cambridge for maths or physics. I'm kind of nervous about jumping into a program where maths will be my only concentration. I'm also nervous about the rigor of the math department; my college does graduate a lot of math majors, but as I said before the courses are not at the level of math programs at major universities; the profs are just good at attracting students to the material.

    Since our physics program is so good already, I'm hesitant to attend a different institution for a full year. Also, studying abroad is generally discouraged for physics majors because of that fact. Even so, living in Europe for a year would be an amazing experience and physics should still be rigorous at Cambridge.

    I'm very torn about this. The desire to go into engineering mostly stems from a lack of confidence in my math/physics researching abilities, which I hope most people will understand. However, the main issue with this is the question of how much a BS in engineering compares to a MS in engineering. The 2-1-1-1 is attractive because I get to graduate with my class at my college, but spend the junior year at Dartmouth when most juniors are abroad anyways. Also, the fifth year is optional. At the same time, it is an extra year of schooling and a Masters would only be another year (6 total). How competitive would I be applying to masters programs in engineering with a physics or math degree and no engineering background? Would I be at an disadvantage throughout the entirety of the program? Would I even have a chance of getting into top engineering programs (somewhere like MIT, but that's obviously at the top of the list)?

    Any insight or suggestions would be appreciated. The question of career tracks affects my decision to study abroad and vice versa.

  2. jcsd
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