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Programs Advice on majoring in physics and more

  1. Oct 11, 2016 #1
    Hello my names Ethan, Im a senior in high school and i plan on attending West Virginia University the coming fall of 2017. I want to acquire a PhD in nuclear physics and also I've been reading about, I believe the name is a complementary degree, other degrees to go along with nuclear physics. I'm looking at plasma physics, astrophysics or theoretical physics. Even though WVU doesn't have a nuclear physics major or a graduate program with a nuclear physics specialty. I'm looking at other out of state colleges, just to see what kind of options I have before making a decision.

    One concern that i do have is the math. I'm not terrible at math its not my best subject but i have some ideas as to way that is. One idea is it might be because of my learning disability however, I'm not sure what kind of learning disability is. Iv'e never received a clear answer on my learning disability but i will ask during my next IEP meeting. I know when in was in middle school i was in special ed math classes if i recall they were not really that difficult so when i was a sophomore in high school they took me out of those classes and put me in regular math classes with a collaborator. When im doing certain math problems ill think of different ways to solve it and get a possible answer. That doesn't mean im always right, its just one possible answer. It appears that im over thinking a bit which seems like a reasonable explanation but im still not sure. Maybe it is because my mind responds differently to how the teacher teaches so i look for another way. I don't know it's just a thought.

    Even though i appear to have some difficulty in math. Im more than willing to work hard because this is something i really want to do. I'm really interested in physics i think about how the universe works, i have an idea on what gravity is course it's just a guess. Im also interested in minoring in philosophy. I think that would be a good combination with a physics major. I did talk to a mathematics professor a few weeks ago, who is also a physicist though im not sure what kind. He suggested that i minor in mathematics which i am considering. Since it would be just an extra math class. However i still want to study philosophy as well.

    I have other questions as well but I think I'll save those for another time.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 11, 2016 #2


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    The good news is that you don't have to make these decisions all at once. For undergraduate studies, you would major in physics. The specific sub-field is chosen later on in graduate school. Some schools have programs that specialize, but in my experience these tend to close more doors than they open. As an undergraduate physics major your goal should be to develop a foundation in physics as well as mathematics and other sciences that will allow you to explore and then make a decision as to what subfield you want to go into later on.

    With respect to your difficulties with mathematics, if you believe you have a learning disability this is something that you need to get assessed by a professional and then with said professional develop a plan for compensating for it as well as have a serious discussion about the limitations that it may introduce for you. Casually throwing around the term isn't going to do you any favours.
  4. Oct 18, 2016 #3
    Thank you for responding to my question. I already plan on majoring in physics so like you said I could develop a foundation in physics. Then in graduate school choose a specific area in physics.
    In regarding to my learning disability I am aware that i have one. It's just the question of what learning disability do I have. I've been reading about the different kinds of learning disabilities. However like you said it would be best to see a professional. I do see a neurologist from time to time. I am scheduled to are him again sometime this year so I could probably find my answer that way. Im curious to find out what disability I have so I can learn different techniques to help me. Now I do recall being diagnosed with ADHD in 2nd grade. From the reading I've done, it is possible to have both ADHD and another disability as well. I'll find out in time I'm sure.
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