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Physics Career trouble

  1. Feb 11, 2017 #1
    I am really enthusiastic about physics and always dreamt of becoming a physicist but unfortunately
    my parent's don't really agree :( and that they are instead telling me to get into mechatronics engineering
    which is good since I do have a love for robotics and automation but compared to natural science physics
    I'm not that into it I'm currently in my AS year 11 and I'm stuck on what to do. What should be done ?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 11, 2017 #2


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    "AS year 11", so what/maybe this means you are not in college yet...?
    You might be able to decide while you are in college or university, just WHAT job or employment positions you will want. You can decide then, what to study. Either Physics, Engineering, or both.

    Your parents hope or want you to pick something practical, which would make you employable and successful.
  4. Feb 11, 2017 #3
    Oh ok Thank you.
  5. Feb 11, 2017 #4


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    Keep going in the science and technology and mathematics direction while you are still in high school. Attend your chosen college or univeristy; next, is YOU CHOOSE what your major field should be. The choice is not theirs to make for you.
  6. Feb 11, 2017 #5
    If you are still a minor or financially dependent on your parents you need to listen to them. Can you figure out how to pay for your own higher education? Academic freedom requires financial freedom.

    As you work things out, you would do well to listen carefully to your parents reasoning. My dad really wanted me to be a chemical engineer, because he knew I was strong in Chemistry and that chemical engineers made great livings in Louisiana. Convincing him to allow me to major in physics required:

    1) Working very hard late in high school. I had been somewhat a slacker in grades 6-10. A great ACT score and high GPA convinced him I had the aptitude for physics. Both my mom and dad had struggled in physics in college (they met in a physics class at LSU), so they knew it required a stronger work ethic than I had been demonstrating to succeed.

    2) Earning a full scholarship to LSU. My dad had agreed to pay my college tuition, so he had a reasonable and just demand to have input into my chosen major. Earning a scholarship made me much less financially dependent, and financial independence was rewarded with freedom.

    3) My love of physics consistently demonstrated through many years of effort and accomplishment. I was a slacker in math and English, but always did very well in science.

    The idea that your parents should pay your bills while you study whatever you choose is very foolish.
  7. Feb 11, 2017 #6


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    I was very fortunate that my parents never pushed or pressured me to choose a particular major -- it was understood that they would help me financially the best they could so that I could attend university, and their only expectations were that I work very hard so that I can succeed and graduate. What to study was entirely up to me. As it happened, I won scholarships which saved on tuition, and I chose to study mathematics (started out studying math and physics, switched to math and computer science, and finally switched again to math and statistics).
  8. Feb 11, 2017 #7
    take further maths, if you like it and can work through it, then you can do physics.

    Yes I agree and its a very important point. I also wanted to switch (again) from engineering to pure maths, after switching from business and economics, but your parents and family want the best for you, so I didn't. I am not that talented anyway and need a job and income asap, then I will try it a few years down the line.

    I have heard from people who have done Phd in maths and physics that a bachelor in both can be "dangerous". Demonstrate your talent. take further maths, pass it, get the best grades in physics and normal pure A level maths. then no one will question your path.
  9. Feb 11, 2017 #8
    why not engineering physics?


    with such a degree, your parents can be happy and you can apply for engineering jobs (hopefully) and also can learn a lot of physics(enough to do an msc in physics)

    I had also applied for physics and got accepted, but my dad chuckled at the thought of someone who got a B in a level math (good scores in mechanics modules though) doing physics. He was right. You need a great amount of confidence and knowledge in mathematics.your career is not in trouble but rather it just might be starting! good luck!
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2017
  10. Feb 12, 2017 #9
    In the UK we can get student loans from the government, which are paid back on good terms with no pressure or threats of bankruptcy or bailiffs. We don't just rely on wealthy parents or fierce bank loans. Social mobility is a thing on our side of the pond! (Maybe not for much longer though...)

    We can't do it like that over here. You choose your course from the start and it's quite difficult to change to anything new later on. We do however mould our degree towards certain specialist topics as we progress. It's sort of similar in the grand scheme of things, but we can't just put things down or change direction in quite the same way, after already starting down a certain route.

    Here we choose a degree subject and take that route from the start. The idea behind it is that we get all the core parts of our specialism out of the way early on, allowing for greater specialism within that specialism afterwards. It's done via 'optional modules' which a student gets to choose from alongside the core modules. Optional modules are almost always related to the degree being taken.

    For example my course is 'theoretical physics', it's been called that since Year 1 and that's what my degree certificate will say. There's no minor or major aspect. However I can say, for example, that I've gained skills in programming, fluid dynamics and advanced mechanics because I chose these as optional modules (rather than optics, nanophysics, condensed matter or whatever other things that I only studied up to 'average physics student level').

    If you're interested, pages 8 and 9 of this PDF show what every British physics student must learn in their time. Better universities cover this material quickly in years 1 and 2, leaving plenty of room for teaching more advanced stuff later on

    British students essentially choose their major at the start, then can pick out little specialist things along the way.

    @tasjeel I went into my physics degree with the desire to learn for learning's sake, but now I'm near the end I'm thinking much more seriously about how I can employ myself afterwards. Physics is a great and intellectually stimulating subject, but always keep in mind how things will play out in the long run. I've just about managed to tailor my physics degree so that I'm a bit more employable when I graduate, mainly because of the programming stuff I've learned, and possibly the fluid dynamics and geophysics things I've done which may help get into areas relating to surveying, 'earth stuff', etc. But I think other students who go into niche things like quantum field theory or astrophysics are putting themselves into a very small hole.

    I would say do a physics degree if it's what you love, but make sure you go to a uni that offers a lot of specialisms in areas that will help you find gainful employment outside of academia.

    OR, go into it with the primary aim of becoming a researcher or a professor. Then you can study whatever you like, as long as you make the cut.
  11. Feb 12, 2017 #10
    has anyone done engineering physics and got a job as an engineer?
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