Can't decide if I should major in physics?

In summary, the physics class was hard for me because I am not particularly good at math. I think I could improve if I had more practice. And I am shy, so maybe doing something like Toastmasters would help me.
  • #1
I have been undecided for about 2 years now, and even took a year off from school because I didn't know what I wanted to do. I still can't decide. One thing that I am quite interested in is Astronomy, and even if I do not try to go to grad school for astronomy, I still feel like a physics major would be nice to have.

My problem is this: physics seems to be something I am not particularly good at. Every other course I have taken, I have done so with relative success since my high school days (3.9 in high school/4.0 in college so far without physics grade). However I took my first physics course last semester in college, and I barely squeaked by with a B. I like the challenge/satisfaction of physics, but I feel kind of silly majoring in something I know I'm not particularly good at. My astronomy professor urged me to major in physics 2 years ago, but I still feel like I suck at it.

I have thought about something business related, but I am awfully shy. I have considered art, but I'm not sure how practical that would be based on what I've read.

Thanks for any help. Sorry it's a long post.
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  • #2
What about the physics class gave you the most trouble? Would you say it was mostly the math involved, or the concepts? Either way, you'd be able to work on what is causing the trouble for you. Solving physics problems just takes practice. In my opinion, if you haven't taken a physics class in high school, a B isn't such a bad grade. If you decided to major in physics, I'm sure you could get that grade up more (with practice).

And to give you an idea of how my physics class's grades are going currently, the last test I took had a class average of about 58%. I got an A, but I've taken physics before in high school so I have had the 'practice'. It's all about getting in the right frame of mind to critically analyze the problems.
  • #3
I think it was maybe a little bit of both. I had never taken calculus or physics in high school. I was really surprised at first at how to analyze problems. A little before mid semester I'm pretty sure I had a D.
  • #4
09jml90 said:
I think it was maybe a little bit of both. I had never taken calculus or physics in high school. I was really surprised at first at how to analyze problems. A little before mid semester I'm pretty sure I had a D.

Math is pretty important in physics. Not having a good math background will no doubt make it harder than it could be (you end up focusing on the math rather than the physics).

In terms of being shy, maybe you might like doing something like Toastmasters. A lot of people don't realize what its like to be in front of people after you have done it a few times. Lots of people open up in ways that they never would have thought.

I say if you want to do it, you should. You got a B not a D and that is an indicator to me at least that if you saught help when you needed it, you should be fine.
  • #5
If conditions are normal and healthy, then skill is really just a direct function of time and curiosity.

So, in my humble evaluation, I'm going to suggest that if you find yourself spending lots of time studying a subject which you're very curious about, but that you're still not getting anywhere, then there is probably something unhealthy about your learning environment that should be fixed. And my guess is that it's not seem deep unfixable intrinsic flaw that you have, and my guess is also that whatever is wrong can be fixed provided that it is first clearly identified.

Maybe you're not getting enough sleep?

Maybe your teachers have you so focused on homework and tests that you have to spend most of your mental energy "just getting things done" to pass the class, when instead what you should be doing is taking it slowly and enjoyably trying to absorb the ideas for their own sake and pleasure.

Maybe the course doesn't match your particular curiosities well enough, and perhaps you should start studying the sort of physics that's very immediately relevant to astronomy, because that's where you'll have the most motivation and mental energy (as opposed to studying the seemingly random bag of ideas that they throw at you in a general physics courses).

Or maybe it's something totally different that I can't foresee, or perhaps maybe my whole way of looking at the problem is totally off from the get go. But that's my 2 cents :-)
  • #6
victor.raum said:
If conditions are normal and healthy, then skill is really just a direct function of time and curiosity.

That is so true. I was never that good at physics at school, mainly because the I wasn't great at maths. But I was massively interested in it. There is a surprising point in any mathematicians career where you suddenly "get it". Then everything becomes easy. Physics is logical, and with enought curiosity, you'll get it.

My advice is do what interests you the most. It may be hard, but your enthusiasm will encourage you. If you just do a subject you think you're good at, you'll hate it if you don't love it.

I did art (I know right), for that very reason. I took me years to retake engineering after I realized that actually, maths and science is far more interesting even though it's "hard".

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