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Am I thinking too lofty?

  1. Jun 27, 2014 #1
    So I've finally graduated from high school, and am now going to U of T for mathematics in the fall. Once I'm finished my degree, I'll maybe get a masters. Once I'm done that, I want to do something that'll help people. And I want to do it on a global scale, like working with researchers to create new medical procedures, or helping to solve the economic problems of countries.

    Am I thinking too realistically? I'm afraid that I am. I bet that a lot of people once thought the same way in university, but didn't really have the time to achieve much. :(

    EDIT: whoops, I meant "unrealistically", haha. Thanks phion for the response! I will read it after I eat :)
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2014
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 27, 2014 #2


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    I'm not sure it's even possible to think "too realistically."

    You need to be honest with yourself and understand your limits, practically and academically. Helping on a global scale does not need to be done in the confines of a laboratory. By "thinking globally, and acting locally", collectively a lot can be achieved in a short amount of time. I guess it only depends on how hard your willing to work to get there!

    With math as your field of interest, it might be helpful to learn and understand what your role might be within those parameters in the context of helping others according to what your ambitions are saying. Programming medical equipment, maybe? Providing risk analysis? The possibilities are probably endless!
  4. Jun 27, 2014 #3


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    There's nothing wrong with such goals. Pursue them intelligently.

    By that I mean to simply make sure that you have a means to support yourself. Learn some marketable skills along the way. The opportunity to solve a small country's economic problem may present itself at some point in your life. The problem is that that time may not coincide with the month after you graduate.

    Another thought is not to wait either. You can do a lot while you're a student. Volunteer for organizations that do work that's important to you, for example.
  5. Jun 28, 2014 #4


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    I think it's fantastic to have noble goals to guide your life! You could narrow things down a bit by exploring different fields. Medical and teaching come to mind, just as two examples, but there are many ways to help people.

    Maybe find a problem that needs fixing first, then work to find a solution?
  6. Jun 28, 2014 #5


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    bold by me

    With this as a goal, that "something" will find you.
  7. Jul 2, 2014 #6
    Thanks for the replies everyone! I will take what you all said into consideration.
  8. Jul 2, 2014 #7


    Staff: Mentor

    Sometimes mathematicians think in the opposite way. They want to develop something pure that has no intrinsic value or connection to the world:

    GH Hardy wrote an essay on that very topic called The Mathematician's Apology. Unfortunately in his case, the world found a use for his advanced mathematics in cryptography.

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