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Choosing Between 349382 Different Majors

  1. Jul 9, 2013 #1
    Hey guys, first post here. Anyway, I was hoping you lovely people could help me narrow down what I want to major in, because right now I'm sort of overwhelmed by the options.

    So for some background I'm a rising college freshman, and my school has strong departments/research opportunities in all these fields. Here's a list, in (kind of) preference order, of majors I'm thinking about.

    Nuclear Engineering
    Mechanical Engineering
    Materials Science/Engineering
    Aerospace Engineering
    Electrical Engineering
    Chemistry/Chemical Engineering

    Basically every kind of engineering and science.... Which I would really like to get narrowed down so I can start focusing on my course schedule etc.

    And my final career goal is to be involved in some kind of innovation, relevant to a lot of people, involving physical things (not computer software/websites/apps/etc). Yes I know, I have very specific goals.... Not astronomy or string theory or math because that's too theoretical. Also not comp sci because that doesn't have the kind of impact I'm looking for. Not medicine/bio either.

    My main issue in looking at these things right now is that every single field seems to overlap with every other field, so even if I did know what I wanted to study I would still be confused.

    If you all wouldn't mind sharing what you personally majored in, what your career is/will be, why it interests you, what is happening in these fields right now... stuff like that, it would be invaluable to me. And sorry this thread is so broad. But really and info/advice you can share would be wonderful! Or even just links to relevant sites or whatever.

  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 9, 2013 #2
    I would say just choose the broadest one to start (maybe mechanical or electrical) and by the end of your second semester, you should have a much better idea of where your interests lie. The first year will essentially be identical between all of your choices. I was like you starting out, many interests, and started in engineering. I ended up switching to physics after my first year and didn't lose any ground. It really is not a big deal to switch around once you are there... it took me maybe 10 minutes of filling out paperwork and another 10 minutes to hand in the papers to officially change my major.

    It will be very difficult to know without a doubt what you want to do before you get the exposure in your classes. I was like you and wanted to plan out my whole 4 year plan (and career) before I even stepped foot on campus, and while good in some ways, it was a mostly HUGE waste of energy. I thought I knew exactly what I wanted and after a semester or two found other things that interested me more. It wasn't until after getting exposed to certain classes and getting involved with research that I realized what I really wanted to do (and not do). So just relax and focus on enjoying your classes and LEARNING, and in the process do some soul searching to figure out what it is that gets you fired up.
  4. Jul 9, 2013 #3


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    In most places I know, when you get into engineering the first year (or 2) is filled with introductory courses of all the engineering disciplines. That should give you enough of an idea of what you will want to graduate with. If after those first couple of years you still want to deal with more "physics" side of things, changing from a engineering major to a physics should be quite doable.
  5. Jul 9, 2013 #4


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    An engineering degree is very marketable. If you're interested in hands-on physical things, that's the way to go. Mechanical engineering is versatile and broad. You should strongly consider it.

    But the first two years of science and engineering majors are very similar so you won't have to make up your mind right away. Get involved in engineering clubs, so you can work on the kinds of problems engineers typically work on.

    Since you asked, I majored in physics, but I just have a bachelor's. I run a small chemistry lab. If I could do things over, I surely would have chosen engineering over physics. The nicest thing to have in life? Options :smile:.
  6. Jul 10, 2013 #5
    Thanks for the responses! The thing is, at my school, I only have to take general requirements for about the 1st semester (I have some AP credit), and after that all majors have separate classes in their specific department, as far as I can tell. But I guess I can just take intro classes to a couple different majors and keep an open mind.
  7. Jul 10, 2013 #6


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    One thing you could do to help with the decision is to start looking at the specific courses you would be taking in each major and maybe start with a list of courses that you'd really prefer to take. Then figure out the major that best fits your desired courses rather than the other way around.
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