Astrophysics vs Condensed Matter

Hello everyone, I'm a Physics student on a gap year, doing a bit of work ATM.

I'm going to come back in October this year to do a one-year Masters' at Cambridge, and I'm faced with a tough choice:

A) Specialize in Astrophysics/cosmology, which is something that I'm not as good at, but really feel comfortable doing.
B) Don't specialize, see how it goes, and leave as many doors open for a PhD.
C) Specialize in Condensed Matter Physics, which is something that I'm really good at, but which is also highly competitive, and not something that I could really say I love.

The main problem is that I know for sure that Astro has a set of well-defined, difficult, and somewhat popular problems. Condensed matter is on the other hand a complete mystery. `There are other areas of Physics that I neither like nor do well in, so Particle Physics et al, I won't do more than I have to.
 

CrysPhys

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Grad school is significantly different from undergrad. It's OK to enter undergrad not entirely sure of what you want to do, explore some options, and then decide. But by the time you complete your undergrad degree, you should have a clear rationale for pursuing grad school ... or not.
 
Can you be a bit more specific about
"is significantly different"
beyond the few I know of:
  1. It's more independent.
  2. It's a lot harder.
  3. Motivation is scarce.
I know I'm asking for another snarky comment of the sort "you should have already figured it out by now", and I know that this question is getting asked a lot, but I do genuinely need some advice from people with more experience/academia smarts.

I have done a significant part of figuring out: I've narrowed things down from 10 potential majors to just two. I'm currently asking "is it possible to avoid specialisation at this point or not" and (maybe should have made a different question: "If it isn't, should I go with the one I'm good at, or the one I like?"

Don't mean to sound rude, and definitely don't mean to offend. I am simply asking questions.
 

symbolipoint

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I know I'm asking for another snarky comment of the sort "you should have already figured it out by now", and I know that this question is getting asked a lot, but I do genuinely need some advice from people with more experience/academia smarts.
This will not be the best kind of advice - but Make an Arbitrary Decision, and fake-it. Be careful about this. You do not want to fake yourself into something that you will dislike, because then you may be not so good at what you pick.
 

CrysPhys

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Can you be a bit more specific about "is significantly different" beyond the few I know of:
  1. It's more independent.
  2. It's a lot harder.
  3. Motivation is scarce.
<<Emphasis added>> This item indicates to me that you should re-evaluate your plans. My view is that you should be strongly self-motivated to enter grad school in the first place. Grad school is more focussed: undergrad is the time to explore your options and find yourself.

I'm currently asking "is it possible to avoid specialisation at this point or not" ...
I'll leave it for forum members familiar with the UK university system to answer this; I have direct experience only with the US.

... and (maybe should have made a different question: "If it isn't, should I go with the one I'm good at, or the one I like?"
This question also indicates to me that you should re-evaluate your plans.
 

symbolipoint

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You say, gap year right now, and then you start Masters' degree program? And are you certain that you are or will be accepted into it? (I am not ready to give any advice; I am just interested in understanding your situation.)
 
You say, gap year right now,
It's complicated... When I finished my undergrad, I was supposed to do national service back in my home country. I was accepted into a Masters' degree programme automatically, due to exam results, so I asked for if it were possible to take two years out.

I didn't get drafted, but it was too late to start the year, so I asked if I could come back a year eariler and was told - yes.

and then you start Masters' degree program? And are you certain that you are or will be accepted into it? (I am not ready to give any advice; I am just interested in understanding your situation.)
They can revoke my entry, but I don't think that it's likely, nor that planning for failure is useful.
 

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