Yes.So you decided to change majors from the one that would prepare you for graduate studies in physics to one which will not?
Yes.So you decided to change majors from the one that would prepare you for graduate studies in physics to one which will not?
Once again, I never said I was scared off. I got A's both semesters, with exam averages in excess of 100%. I was top of the class.So, how do you think you are gong to handle graduate physics courses when the freshman sequence scared you off... you'll have close to zero of the prerequisites necessary to take the courses.
@dpatnd, I've been thinking some more about the things you've written on this thread, and I'm feeling more prescriptive today. I tend to agree with @vela's sentiment shared above, with a couple of caveats. First of all, there's no shame in changing majors, and I'm pretty sure it remains doable throughout your undergraduate time at ND, so if you don't "get it right" this time around, it's not the end of the world.Yes.So you decided to change majors from the one that would prepare you for graduate studies in physics to one which will not?
The switch was accidental but, in truth, I would have most likely made the same decision. I do not feel it was premature, as I would be significantly behind if I was to wait. The reverse will also be true to an extent if I decide to switch back to physics after a semester. Unfortunately, ease of switching majors at ND seems to be restricted to the liberal arts and business.@dpatnd, I've been thinking some more about the things you've written on this thread, and I'm feeling more prescriptive today. I tend to agree with @vela's sentiment shared above, with a couple of caveats. First of all, there's no shame in changing majors, and I'm pretty sure it remains doable throughout your undergraduate time at ND, so if you don't "get it right" this time around, it's not the end of the world.
Getting down to brass tacks, I can think of only one good reason to switch to EE at this point, and that is if it's a competitive track that's harder to get into later on. If that's the case, then switching now makes sense, at the very least to give it a good go. You mentioned being two classes behind the pack, and I'd make a point to take one, and only one, of those classes next term. See how it feels and do all you can to "own it" and break it in. If enrolling in that class requires being a EE major (because it's impacted or something like that), then there's instrumental purpose in having switched majors. If not, then I'd say it was premature of you to switch. Though if I understand correctly, that switch happened kind of by accident anyway, and it's not a big deal provided that switching back to Physics later remains an option.
Is this sentiment ringing true to you, or am I missing something?
The switch was accidental but, in truth, I would have most likely made the same decision. I do not feel it was premature, as I would be significantly behind if I was to wait. The reverse will also be true to an extent if I decide to switch back to physics after a semester. Unfortunately, ease of switching majors at ND seems to be restricted to the liberal arts and business.
As for those two classes, they were the Introduction to Engineering sequence first-year engineers take. Those who switch into engineering after the first year typically have to make up those credits with two more technical elective classes. In the case of EE, it turns out that I will only be one technical elective behind. As I am ahead of the other EEs in physics, I can make up that elective whenever I please (most likely my senior year). My major classes for next year will be those required to remain on-track. I believe they are Introduction to EE, Introduction to Circuit Analysis, and a coding class.
Your observation is correct -- I do feel a great amount of anxiety surrounding this question. Having a tendency towards anxiety-induced obsessive thinking does not aid things. That being said, I think you have done a good job of framing my situation in more positive terms.Thanks @dpatnd, I'm sensing a rather high amount of anxiety around this question for you, and I'd urge you to focus on the glass being half-full rather than half-empty. If you need to be an EE major to take the three classes you mentioned above, then by all means, the switch you've made is optimal for you at this point. If not, it might have been more conservative to take one or more of these classes before going all-in with the major switch, but I expect this actually wasn't an option for you.
Rather than viewing this as a full change of major, I'd frame it in your mind as an exploration to see if anything more is there for you in EE. You've mentioned how the software development aspect of Physics does not appeal to you, but after spending some time in EE, you may find it to be an effective compromise. You could finish a BA in Physics and then, rather than opting for grad school, get a non-Physics job based on those marketable skills, and you'd be no worse off than if you'd majored in EE. That way, you'll have given the economic concerns you raised at the beginning some serious consideration, and you'll be in a better position to know what to do next when that time comes.
The main reason an EE major would be better for you is if you really find a big difference between the software work you could do with a Physics degree and the EE circuit or systems work that is more specialized, in terms of liking the latter more than the former. In my own case, these both held about the same amount of appeal for me, so the EE degree added little to my marketability above and beyond what I already had with a physics background and software coding experience.
Also very good is what @vela shared above, about it depending on your personality. In the position you've described, having had similar feelings as yours myself, I couldn't stay in EE, and I would have been better off in Physics. But I'm really terrible when it comes to "means to an end" without deeper interest, and that's me.
Seems like the Physics PhD path has more options than you might realize. You've mentioned that you can't get tuition support unless you're in the PhD program, but there are ways to stay marketable even as you undertake those steps, and you wouldn't be the first person to leave the Physics PhD track for industry if you decided at any point along the way that completing the program wasn't for you. Seems like that would be all-around better for you than finishing a degree program with a major that doesn't interest you, unless you begin find that interest along the way in the year to come. You've embarked upon an exciting exploration.
First, I am not sure I want to be an engineer; their work often seems unappealing, in fact.
Second, I do not want to leave my physics peers. There are fewer than 40 of us, and everyone knows everyone. I feel a sense of belonging among them, and I relate to them. I love how there is not a single person in physics who is in it “for the money“ — a very refreshing attitude.
But also, don't stay in physics just because it's comfortable and you like the culture of your undergrad class, because all of that is so fleeting. Even at the same department of the same university, the graduate student culture is often totally different than undergrad. Understand that if you stay in physics you may end up in engineering anyway, but potentially with fewer options than someone who has actual engineering credentials. And you know, maybe that's fine.
You should choose something other than Physics or Engineering, since you have no strong attraction to either of them.Neither path is "right" for me. The way I see it, there is no clear solution. I am picking between two forms of emotional struggle: the constant anxiety of physics or the indifference and lack of motivation of engineering. In the end, I concluded that the latter was less harmful.
I beg to differ. I do have an attraction to physics, just not one at the level of being certain that I want nothing other than a career in academia. Physics has been the only subject that has intellectually satisfied me in a way that allows me to devote hours to working on a single problem or trying to understand a specific concept. No other subject has summoned that kind of voluntary effort from me.You should choose something other than Physics or Engineering, since you have no strong attraction to either of them.
It seems I may be able to distract myself from this feeling of purposelessness by engaging with my studies, just as I have in the past. Today, I read about and watched videos on transistors from about 8 PM to 2 AM with an hour or so break in between. While it was overwhelming at first (I have next to no background in circuit analysis), I managed to gain a basic understanding of how to work through simple transistor circuit problems, as well as general principles of common base/collector/emitter topologies.
There is no physics minor. I am, in theory, able to take physics courses as electives, but that may prove difficult due to class conflicts. Physics would count as a "technical elective" and not as an "EE elective," the latter having comparatively large credit requirements. I hope to be able to at least take the physics version of quantum mechanics, even if I will not be able to do so with my old physics class.@dpatnd , I have a question for you. The University of Notre Dame does not offer an Engineering Physics major (which may be something you may be more ideally suited for). However, do you have the option of taking extra physics courses while pursuing EE, perhaps to the point of earning a minor?
In this way, this would allow you to explore physics at a more in-depth level, while still allowing you to pursue a more "practical" major.
In college, about 20 years ago, I majored in computer science. You speak of apathy; I didn't even have a theoretical subject I was 'passionate' about. I spent a lot of my undergraduate playing counter-strike, starcraft, and wrestling with depression. I went in and out of academic probation. I hated EE and wrangled with the department to let me graduate without taking the one required EE course.
20 years later, my current great wish is to land a job in BCIs, for which EE knowledge would be very helpful.*
I'd say you will not regret whatever EE you can force yourself to choke down. This is predicated on EE still being a useful branch of knowledge 20 years from now. It stands a good chance of being so because it is essentially the study of transmuting electric forces into computation. Electrons are small which makes them efficient computators. Of course, if quantum computing takes over it will all be wasted effort. Or maybe connecting computers to our brains will enable new styles of learning such that learning EE the old fashioned way will have been too shallow.
*not as helpful as work experience and networking though
I suppose regret does not come into the equation. Regret implies that there was a choice that can be regretted, but I see no such choice to begin with. My actions were obligatory.
It simply pains me that my mental health went down the drain as a consequence, and my high-achieving record with it.
It is truly down the drain only if you do not learn from the experience. The issues of mental health are painful but not usually dispositive. My 150 IQ came with plenty of depressive chemicals lurking in my brain. You learn to play the hand you are dealt, just like everyone else on the planet!
So figure out a good next step. The fat lady has not sung.
As you say. If I learned anything this semester, it's that I taking away my free choice when it comes to something as important to me as my major has disastrous consequences. As such, I've spoken to my former professor about declaring the double major and am working out the scheduling details as we speak. I do not know if I will actually be able to complete the second major, but all that matters to me right now is being able to say I am a physics major in the present.
A pleasant bonus is that it seems I will be able to take a class with my former fellow physics majors next semester. In hindsight, I have also realized that they were what kept me afloat last year.
That's great to hear! You are displaying resilience.A's in all but one
You are learning about yourself.seems that the prospect of being a physics major again was what it took for me to claw my way back up
Do you have any actual data to support that claim? If so then please post it. Otherwise please express this claim as a personal opinion. Anecdotes are not data.I'm going to be frank. Engineering is easy compared to physics.
If you have actual evidence to support the claim then you are on solid ground, but if you are just expressing a personal opinion as though it were fact then you deserve to have your opinion challenged.I know people are going to get up in arms about me saying that.
Engineering is easy compared to physics.
I made this thread at the end of my freshman year, and am now able as a junior (who is once again a physics major) to articulate why that line of reasoning is wrong.I strongly recommend ditching physics and studying engineering/CS. To study physics these days is almost certainly a vow of poverty. Ditto for math.
Better options include electrical or chemical engineering, mechanical/aeronautical engineering, computer engineering, computer science, or statistics.
Another option if you already have a good physics background is to transition that to medical physics. That is an extremely lucrative area.