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Considering leaving the science field

  1. May 25, 2012 #1
    Considering "leaving" the science field

    I need advice on choosing my academic path. I am currently doing pure and applied science at CEGEP (Quebec equivalent of first year of university; in a separate institution before actually being able to go to university). Fortunately, I am one of those "talented" people when it comes to science and I can get very good marks (~95%) with very little studying involved. People have always used this to suggest that I continue my studies in the science/engineering field. I, myself feel obliged to stay in the physical sciences field (math/physics, especially math) because I'm good at it and I enjoy it.

    However, I'm also interested in politics, history and law. I love arguments and debates. I think I would really enjoy studying these topics. These are the two paths I'm considering now:

    1. Math (possibly a double major with physics; If I choose this path, ideally, I'd at least do a Masters)

    2. Political Science (and then go to law school)

    Everyone in this forum is much smarter than me, so I thought this would be the best place to ask for suggestions. Should I not consider #2 because I'm much better at math and physics? Alternatively, how about doing an undergrad in Math and then going to law school?

    All suggestions and comments are much appreciated :)
  2. jcsd
  3. May 25, 2012 #2
    Re: Considering "leaving" the science field

    Why don't you study math or physics and then go to law school? I know someone who did this. You could also choose poli sci as a minor. Kind of a best of both worlds situation? You should really study and do what you will enjoy the most.
  4. May 26, 2012 #3
    Re: Considering "leaving" the science field

    As a scientist, you would be doing quite a bit of arguing of your own. You would have budget proposals, legislative proposals, presentations, the works. The fact is, politics, history, and law can all be hobbies; science cannot.
  5. May 26, 2012 #4
    Re: Considering "leaving" the science field

    If you feel that law, history and politics suits you better, then you should absolutely go for it. Don't stay in science just because you're good at it, you may regret this later.

    However, do think about the following:

    1) Are you any good in law, history or politics?? OK, you enjoy it, but that's not the same as actually being good at it. Leaving science means leaving a study that you know for sure you're good at.

    2) Will the interest in law, history and politics remain?? Remember that what you study now potentially might determine your career the rest of your life. If you get tired of law after a few years, then you are in a bad situation. The same holds for science of course.

    3) Can you make money with the degree?? In my country, people who study history usually end up unemployed or in a rubbish job. Science is also quite a difficult field to get an academic position, but people who don't make that do end up with nice jobs because of their skillset.
  6. May 26, 2012 #5


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    Re: Considering "leaving" the science field

    You are not obligated to do something just because you are good at it. If you would rather do something other than physics or math, it is entirely within your rights to do whatever that is.

    I had a friend in undergrad who was top of the class in all of our physics or math classes and would talk to the professors about this or that, and generally enjoyed physics and math, but he left to join a band, and seemed much happier for it. (That reminds me, I also recently heard of a story about a tenured professor who left to start a band).

    That said, as others have pointed out, you want to make sure you'll choose something that gives you a good chance of being employed later on in life. A law degree is probably a good choice if you're interested in that (although some recent law school graduates in the US have had trouble finding jobs due to the economy).
  7. May 26, 2012 #6
    Re: Considering "leaving" the science field

    Thanks to every one for their replies.

    Micromass: I am pretty good at history and politics. I haven't taken any specific law related classes but I am usually in the top 3 of my humanities classes. The only thing is, as much as I love reading about them, I'd rather write up a math proof than do a 1000 word essay. I also have to put a bit more effort to get the same marks in these courses as in my science courses. However, I'm positive that my interest will remain because I've been interested in them since I was a kid. I'm not really sure about the employment outlook but I think there is a larger demand for lawyers here than in most parts of the States.

    I think the main problem is that I'm not ready to leave the physical sciences field. I like dustbin's idea of doing a major in math and minor political science. This way I will be able to study both subjects further and hopefully by then I will have a clearer picture of what I'd like to pursue. I'm always open to more suggestions. :)
  8. May 27, 2012 #7


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    Re: Considering "leaving" the science field

    I would also echo Mute's statement about the economy, particularly if you are in the US.

    The fact is that in the US, law degrees if you can even get one, require a huge premium and you may not actually get a job as a lawyer per se (provided you have taken and passed the bar and so forth).

    The situation is that if you get into law school and then graduate, you will be faced with debt likely to be in the six-figure range which is comparable to a mortgage. This is something you will have to keep in mind.

    Also you should be aware that law is for lack of a better word, a 'prestigious' degree where the place you get the degree can mean a lot. I don't believe in this prestige BS, but a lot of do and it has an effect.

    Also I think you should get a real opinion that is as unbiased as possible from people who have studied law, graduated and tried to look for work. Finding someone to do this in a genuine way might be hard because most people that have spent six-figures in loans and can't find a job may not want to let someone else avoid the same trap that they fell into, but then again on the other hand, you will find someone that will tell you the story straight.

    One thing though is that you might consider if you can get into a law program, if you are interested in doing work in say an area of need, like say providing legal advice and services for people with low-incomes, then some schools will actually pay for some or all of the tuition costs. You will have to check the specifics of the contract if you end up pursuing these kinds of programs (I think IIRC Harvard might do this still), but if you want to do law to help people as opposed to doing something like corporate law, then it might be a good avenue to pursue.

    You also might be interested in statistics given your interest in law since statistics is an area where you analyze primarily under uncertainty and because of this, the analysis and conclusions are also made under uncertainty which makes things interesting because people will end up debating what is 'right' and what is 'wrong' with regards to analyses and conclusions.
  9. May 27, 2012 #8
    Re: Considering "leaving" the science field

    Fortunately, I live in Quebec so tuition fees are peanuts compared to the States. The average cost per year of law school is only $3000 (same as any other program) :D I am not interested in corporate or IP law. I am more interested in international and administrative law. Taking statistics courses is a great idea. Thanks :)
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