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Physics Choosing physics over engineering

  1. Nov 14, 2016 #1
    Hey guys, I hope everyone's doing ok. I'm currently a sophomore at an average university studying electrical engineering. However I have always liked physics more than engineering and now that I'm getting close to my junior, I have started to doubt my decision. The fear being failure if I choose physics as my career path is holding me back and I seriously need some guidance. I have thought about doing a double major but the course-overlap of these majors literally ends at calculus 2. And there are a ton of EE classes I still gotta take. Even if my advisers let me do a double major, by the way that my university has constructed the degree plans, It's gonna take me more than 1 extra year to finish both of these degrees. So to make this short, I really like to study physics and continuing all the way to Phd and end up doing research way more than working as an engineer. But I have concerns about the credibility of my university's physics degree, and I'm afraid I don't get into a good graduate program and end up being a HS teacher or something. Has anyone done a double major on this forum? If so please let me know, I need to figure this out soon because it's been crawling in my mind everyday. Sorry again, I know you've seen similar post like this one a million times.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 14, 2016 #2
    Follow your heart and work hard.

    You can't lose.
  4. Nov 14, 2016 #3
    Thank you for the words of encouragement. I have an advising appointment with the Physics department tomorrow morning, hopefully it will go well.
  5. Nov 14, 2016 #4


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    I can't help but question the degree of confidence you place in a statement like this. Based on what are you reaching this conclusion? Remember the life of a physicist is highly romanticized in popular culture. Many of the ideas we have are largely derived from experiences and situations that were true 50 years ago or even more. Have you done much research? It's also important to remember that the engineering world is quite vast. "Working as an engineer" encompasses a lot of really neat stuff - including research and development. I'm not trying to push you one way or the other - just get you to make sure you're making your decisions based on the most realistic pictures you can get.

    If you don't like your current university. If you don't feel it's "credible" or if the double major that you're interested in doesn't have enough overlap then why not switch to another school? I know that's often easier said than done, but I think a lot of students get trapped in this idea that they have to stick with the initial university that they chose to attend, even if it seems like that choice was a poor one.

    There's nothing wrong with being a high school teacher. The real issue is that you're worried about not making it as a physicist. I get that. If it's any comfort, the odds are stacked highly against you. There's roughly an order of magnitude more PhD's produced than there are professorships. This means that even if you go all the way through a PhD, you can still count on eventually leaving the field. And that won't mean that you're a failure. It's more like the dice not rolling in your favour. But there are a lot of other wonderful things you can do in the world.
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2016
  6. Nov 15, 2016 #5
    EE is excellent field if you really want to work in physics. Solid state physics, accelerator physics, semiconductors and so on. There are many marketable physics branches where EE degree is nessesary for solid foundation. I would continiue with EE and double major or minior in physics. Then you can go to grad school in chosen field.
  7. Nov 16, 2016 #6
    Hope your meeting with the said personnel went of well. I am curious what did you decide finally. Hope you do not mind sharing it because this is a dilemma faced by many. Physics as a subject evokes a lot of interest but the difficulty is that it has lesser number of job opportunities unless you divert to other fields. Only the best and lucky ones can hopefully secure a job of their choice. It i a field which requires a lot of patience, perseverance and dedication.
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