Considering majoring in Physics

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  • Thread starter 1MileCrash
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  • #1
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Main Question or Discussion Point

I've been doing a lot of thinking, and I think it's time to make a big change.

I'm one of those kids that's on his third year of college and has been constantly changing his major. Right now I'm in Petroleum/Safety major. Before that I was in Business Administration.

I didn't pick these majors because I was interested, I picked them because I thought they would be easy, and they are. I hold no interest in them, go to class and barely pay attention, and pass with C's. I don't want to do that anymore, I want to take the classes I'm interested in no matter how hard they are, bust my butt, and do well. Mainly because, at the end of each week of these easy classes, I am no closer to learning the things I want to learn about or better understanding the things I always think about.

That's why I want to stay for a couple more semesters at my current school (nicholls state university) to rack up transferable credits, then transfer to possibly ULL (University of Louisiana Lafayette) and major in physics.

I know it's going to be rough, and the general consensus from my closest friends have been that I "have some nuts." But I think I will like it and I want to give it a try. I have the intelligence, or at least that's what people have told me all my life.

So, I want to start preparing for this now. I've been watching Youtube physics lectures and taking notes, then watching it again and writing paragraphs about each concept. I'm looking for some resources to practice some more advanced math.

Any other resources or things I should read or study would be greatly appreciated. I haven't even taken physics 101 yet, so this is early preparation and I think that is a good thing. I'm starting late but all of the unrelated classes are taken care of....history, speech, chemistry, math up to calculus, geography/geology, all done with.

thanks for any help and advice guys.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
fss
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I'd pick up an intro-level textbook and start reading.
 
  • #3
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I think that's a great idea, I'll pick up the textbooks for the entry level courses and read through them. A nice headstart for the actual classes. Thanks!
 
  • #4
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Make sure you're well-versed in maths. Algebra is the biggest problem for most people, brush up on the trig, then tackle calculus.
 
  • #5
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I wouldn't make any major life decisions before taking Physics 101. See if the reality matches your expectations.
 
  • #6
Math math math math! Make sure you are up to par with your math before trying to jump in to physics. know Algebra like the back of your hand, as well as trig, and at least take a first semester calculus class. Then jump in to your physics classes. Also you should see if your school offers a conceptual physics class. this will teach you concepts of physics with little to no math, which will be very helpful once you start taking calc based physics courses because you will already know the concepts being taught.
 
  • #7
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May I suggest you are going about this 'backwards'.
Instead of focusing upon a major and then trying to figure out what to do, you might want to investigate the jobs, determine what they REALLY do (and no, the title does not tell you!), and then discover what fields contribute most to preparing oneself.

Regardless of area, at least a minor (or an MBA) in business is almost a necessity. In any regards, the technical aspects do not exist independently of an application, and every real world application will be strategically constrained by budget and , more importantly, an understanding of how the technology can add value to the business function.

Additionally, you can either be a technical functionary, or you can assume a position of both understanding the technology and influencing its development within the enterprise structure, where management and an understanding, and an ability to productively converse with the accounting and finance worlds becomes key. So business and finance communication skills are critical!

Besides, be aware that technical skills are now commoditized. Technical jobs are being outsourced at an ever increasing rate! You are not going to be able to compete in the wage market with the developing markets. So while the technical background is nice, it is simply an additional skill to be used in conjunction with the business, management, and communication skills where one is able to understand the strategic function where the technical functions are able to add real value of the business functions in a cost effective manner.

And I might also suggest, if you are going into a technical field now, although it will seem a bit more mundane, make sure you terminate the program with a professional JOB oriented skill such as a PE or an architecture degree where you are pathed for professional certification. Mundane maybe, but trust me, they are like a driver's license - no one asks what you scored on the driving test, they simply ask if you have the certificate as a prerequisite - and without it, explaining how profound an esoteric physics degree may be will impress them, but it will also result in their simply thanking you for submitting as application.

So, like it or not, a combination of an engineering degree and an MBA, and or a law degree is still the path to success, as you will be in a position to add value instead of simply becoming a technician.

(And familiarize yourself with the limitations of a purely technical masters and doctoral path, and learn from the PhD glut of the 90's and the inability to compete with off-shored engineering staffs currently - as well as the increasing pattern of academia hiring contract labor rather than tenure track positions. And then go out and see just how many job listings you find for a "physics degree"!) The medical fields may be the most practical avenue for future employment where you are not simply sitting and explaining how wonderful your esoteric education was in an unemployment line.
 
Last edited:
  • #8
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May I suggest you are going about this 'backwards'.
Instead of focusing upon a major and then trying to figure out what toe do, you might want to investigate the jobs, determine what they REALLY do (and no, the title does not tell you!), and then discover what fields contribute most to preparing oneself.
I can't agree more. I strongly believe whether you'll enjoy the actual work you end up doing is largely divorced from whether you enjoy your undergrad studies or the material in those studies. They just don't have much (if anything) to do with one another.

I know I still love the material in physics today, but holy cow, I am so much happier not having to actually work in the field. For lots of people its the other way around.

Lots of other parts of foxfyr's post is gold as well (thanks for taking the time to post it), the OP would be wise to take it seriously.
 
  • #9
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I'm in the fairly same boat... though I picked my majors because of future salary. I switched from Computer Science to EE to, finally, Physics. I realized, thankfully, only 2 years into my degrees that I've always loved Physics. That's why I'll be at LSU soon for my PhD.

What is it about physics that interests you? What degree are you considering? Is there any reason why you're choosing ULL?
 

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