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Being a scientist -- I need to choose my university major now...

  1. May 30, 2017 #1
    Hello everyone!
    I am from Nepal. i am recent high school graduate and going to college in US (medium ranked)this fall. I am here little bit confused about choosing my major.
    I love science!! I love organic chemistry, physical chemistry, biology, genetics, and I get more fascinated learning about relativity, gravity, electromagnetism, quantum ( self study in high school).

    I want to be the scientist. I am clear on this matter. I don't want to be the engineer or doctor. I just want to engage in research. But I am totally confused which major to choose. I find myself more inclined towards physics. But I found from this forum that research opportunities are less available in physics. Moreover, I need to pay the loans of my education upon graduation. So, I think I need to take this factor into account while choosing major.

    Any seniors who can suggest me in this matter!!
  2. jcsd
  3. May 30, 2017 #2


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    Are you sure you need to declare your major now?

    At many US colleges and Universities you are allowed a few semesters before you must declare. I didn't declare until the end of my second year.
  4. May 30, 2017 #3


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    Why not aim for a general science first year? In most schools you can transfer majors pretty easily, and the first year of most science programs is going to be fairly consistent between programs. If you have to choose, go with physics as a major and then take first year physics, biology, chemistry, and the required mathematics courses and then round everything out with some electives. At the end of your first year, you can decide what you'd really want to pursue.

    With respect to "research opportunities" - I'm assuming you're referring to the discussions on the chances of becoming a professor and obtaining a career in academia. Physics is not alone in this matter. Academic positions are difficult to come by across the board in the sciences. So it's not like universities will be knocking down your door if you instead choose to study biochemistry.

    With respect to job opportunities, keep in mind that your major will not necessarily define your career. You'll have to be flexible when you get out of school to take advantage of the opportunities that are available at the time. To this end it's important to think about the skills that you're developing during school and how those will translate into the working world.
  5. May 31, 2017 #4
    Thank you Choppy!
    Your idea seems pretty good. I will try that.
    Regarding the job opportunities...How can I be different than others and be competitive. I mean if I did physics what should I do to acquire skills so that I can get good jobs!!
    And Thanks jason RF I have not asked university about that!! I will ask them.
  6. May 31, 2017 #5


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    A lot depends on the specifics of what kind of job you want to get and how far you go. A PhD will have different options than an BSc graduate.

    Some general things you can do:
    1. Get some work experience while you study. Work part time. Work during the summers. Not only will this help you to keep your student debt load down, but it will give you some experience to draw on when it's time to apply for career-type positions. It can also help to develop "soft" skills and let you identify your strengths in the working world.
    2. Common marketable skills that tend to be developed by physics students (although are not necessarily part of the core curriculum):
      - programming
      - data analysis or statistics
      - mathematical modeling
      - project management
      - electronics
      - teaching
      - engineering
      - machining
    3. Develop a professional network. Take the time to do job-shadows or any opportunity you can find to talk to people who are working in areas that you find interesting. Keep in contact with colleagues after you graduate. So many jobs result from "word of mouth" that are never advertised. As a general rule, the wider your network, the greater your opportunities.
    4. Go to employment fairs - even well before the time you're actually searching for a career-type job. Speak to potential employers and find out what kinds of traits they look for in new hires.
    5. Always be professional. Expect employers to Google you. Expect them to be able to see stuff that you do "anonymously" - not that they necessarily will, but the world is a small one.
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