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Choose my major!

  1. May 7, 2007 #1
    So, I just finished up first FIRST YEAR of undergrad a bit ago, and am at somewhat of a crossroads

    Basically, I am leaning towards pure math, and was wondering how I could make myself more marketable "just in case". The pure math program is pretty flexible, and I can take a bunch of courses either outside of math, or in different departments (ie C&O, Statistics), so I thought I'd take advantage of that.

    An obvious choice seems to be CS, but I really, really hated the two CS classes I took (and even ended up doing very poorly in one of them)..so what else seems like a good idea? Apart from obvious choices, I can even do options in Finance, take EE electives, or get a high school teaching certificate (not entirely out of the question)

  2. jcsd
  3. May 7, 2007 #2
    I wouldn't think CS would be an obvious choice, if your good at math doesn't imply your good at programming and if your good at programming doesn't mean your good at math.

    It depends what your interests are, if you enjoy business Finance/Economics could be an option.

    I know a lot of math majors who can't get jobs because they are looking for engineers not just math so they ended up becoming high school teachers.

    I'm sure other pure math majors on this forum will have better advice just my 2 cents.
  4. May 7, 2007 #3
    It all depends on your taste. If you are really into pure math, then a minor in economics (or a double major) is a pretty good choice. You could also be an actuary.

    Otherwise just do engineering. I don't see the point of majoring in math and taking a few EE courses. It won't hurt, but it also probably won't help a whole lot.

    I also love pure math, but I also worry about a career. I've chosen to major in EE and minor in pure math. You can major in EE and specialize in something like signal processing, which is quite abstract and mathematical. That's what I'm doing. And since I minor in pure math, I get to keep it as a sort of "hobby" that can serve to supplement my engineering skills.

    My pure math course is always my favorite class each quarter. :) It's such a nice change of pace to sit around, prove things, and contemplate the theory. Unlike my EE classes where we really don't have time to understand the foundations.
    Last edited: May 7, 2007
  5. May 8, 2007 #4
    You know, before I decided to go to graduate school (in physics), I looked around for jobs. I have degrees in both physics and math, and I found that while many employers were looking for math majors, almost no one was looking for physics majors. So on a relative scale, math isn't all that bad. With a math degree you can get a job as an analyst or even a programmer (you don't need to be a CSci major to take a few programming courses; your math degree may even require it).

    By the way, even if you don't get teaching certification, you could always do Teach for America for a couple of years. They're always looking for math and science people, if you don't mind teaching at a lower-income school for awhile.
  6. May 8, 2007 #5
    why don't you try applied math along with pure math?
  7. May 8, 2007 #6
    Just one thing I'd like to add to that. Applied math is an excellent suggestion, but Jeff might want to get a master's degree if he goes this route. During my job search, I found a lot of employers looking for math majors, but none of the jobs they offered were specifically mathematician jobs. From what I can tell, a math BS by itself is useful, but if you want to be a mathematician, you've got to get an MS.
  8. May 8, 2007 #7
    Unfortunately, engineering isn't an option for me (i think i'd consider going into EE if it were) because my school is pretty heavily departmentalized. I'd probably have to redo first year.

    As for Applied Math, I'm not sure. I've taken three physics courses so far, and I decided that I don't really like physics. That said, I'll probably end up taking some differential equations courses.

    The thing is, ideally, I'd like to go to grad school for math and all that, but not everyone gets to do that, so I want something that'll help me still get a pretty good job. It's encouraging to hear that math majors do OK in the job market as it is though..:smile:
    Last edited: May 8, 2007
  9. May 9, 2007 #8
    Yeah, so I've been giving this more thought...

    Would it be a better idea to major in something more practical and take pure math courses that I'd be interested in?

    Ideally, I'd like to keep the types of courses I take as general as possible, but I ended up "wasting" a lot of my elective slots in first year by taking a lot of science courses, so if I wanted to major in something that's more restrictive in its requirements, I should choose soon!

    I'm somewhat worried because it feels like when it comes to some of these more "academic" subjects, only the top of the class get to do what they want with their degrees. And while I've been getting good marks, I've had to work HARD, whereas it seems like the real smart people breeze through and ask interesting questions in class all the time.

    So, basically I looked through and here are the majors that to me, seem like the most practical:

    Actuarial Science
    Operations Research
    Education (could major in Pure math with this)

    what's up? :confused:
  10. May 9, 2007 #9


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    Just take what you find most interesting. There's not point in specialising in, say, actuarial science, since if you decided that you don't want to be an actuary, then there's not many places you can turn.

    Anyway, my advice is to study what you like, and are best at, and not to worry about the job market yet. You'll come across many jobs during your undergrad education that you never even knew existed.
  11. May 13, 2007 #10
    I've had similar doubts at times, seeing other people who seem to go through a subject which much more ease than myself. My big question was, what place is there in the world of physics for a person who is ok at it and really loves it but who is not great and for whom it takes a bit more time and effort to sink in?
    I don't know that I've come up with an answer to this question. I've just decided to ignore it and focus on myself and not others and just do what I enjoy and see where it takes me.
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