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Convincing my parents to let me be a physicist

  1. Oct 30, 2015 #1
    I have decided to pursue a bachelor's degree in physics with an aim of entering graduate school after that, but my parents are opposed to the idea and want me to purse a degree in engineering instead. How can I convince them to allow me to pursue a degree in physics?
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 30, 2015
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 30, 2015 #2
    I'm sorry, but you know your parents better than some strangers on a forum.
    A good thing to start with is by outlining why exactly your parents are opposed to physics. Is it job prospects?
  4. Oct 30, 2015 #3
    The reasons are as follows:
    1. They want me to finish my higher education quickly(in 3 or 4 years) and get a good job.
    2. They think that I'm too naive about how the world works and I should just follow the path they have chosen for me.
    3. They think that physics has bad job prospects.
  5. Oct 30, 2015 #4


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    There's nothing wrong with that. After all, they've supported you and your education up to this point in your life; they might feel that getting you started on your life quickly might be in your best interest, rather than going thru 4 years (at least) of undergraduate, plus years of postgrad study.

    Your parents do have the benefit of years more experience than you. If you think they might be biased, seek the counsel of other, older people, friends or relatives.
    It takes years of training and no small amount of talent to make a living as a successful physicist. Many physics jobs are in academia, training the next generation of physicists, who in turn train the next generation of physicists after them, and so on.

    Not every physicist gets to split the atom or make a revolutionary discovery.

    You might want to take a look at this article:


    It seems to cover most of the topics for someone fired up about becoming a physicist.
  6. Oct 30, 2015 #5

    Vanadium 50

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  7. Oct 30, 2015 #6


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    I agree with Vanadium. Maybe you should convince yourself FIRST on why you would want to pursue physics before trying to convince your parents. This includes learning what is involved in becoming a physicist and a career in physics.

  8. Oct 30, 2015 #7
    It's right that half a year ago I was losing interest in physics, but I the reason for that was because I had to self-study 10 high school physics chapters because the school I'm in didn't have a good physics teacher at that time. I still aced that academic year because of the work I put in.

    The main reason I want to pursue physics is my pure interest in it. I want to know more about physics and how the world around me works.
  9. Oct 30, 2015 #8


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    The first thing to realize is that you don't *have* to convince your parents. They aren't the ones that are living your life and by the time you go to university you're pretty much an adult.

    That said, life is often a lot easier when your parents are on board with your decisions.

    One way to approach the problem is through research. Their concerns are not unreasonable and so any decision you make should address them. It's best to start by looking for evidence over anecdotes. Look up the data on the employment prospects of physics graduates and compare that with engineers. Understand that academia is extremely competitive and the odds are that you'll end up outside of it.
  10. Oct 30, 2015 #9


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    You'll also have to self study physics at times in university, not all professors are gifted orators.

    Pure interest in what exactly? What about physics interests you?
  11. Oct 30, 2015 #10
    That is not a good enough reason to pursue physics. And if that is your reason to pursue it, then I agree with your parents that you're too naive.

    What you need to think about now is what kind of job you will want to do later. Do not count on a professor job or something in academia. Maybe you'll get one, but you will need to have a plan B. Once you got a reasonable career planned, then you can major in physics and possibly convince your parents.

    And you're an adult, your parents don't NEED to agree with your decision. It's just easier if they do of course.
  12. Oct 30, 2015 #11
    Thanks everyone for all the feedback you have given me
  13. Oct 30, 2015 #12
    I'm curious about how the universe works. I believe that physics can help me have a better understanding of it. I'm mostly interested in astrophysics and cosmology. I also like how elegant some physics formulae are.
  14. Oct 30, 2015 #13
    I've already done my homework on the career prospects physicists have and I'm considering either to have a minor in comp sci or to double major.
  15. Oct 30, 2015 #14


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    What do you find elegant about equations? I mean, $$\int{}$$ is certainly voluptuous, but I wouldn't take her home to mom.

    In all seriousness, the response you gave is a very nonspecific and naive one. So you like cosmology/astrophysics/astronomy type stuff, do you want to be an observer in the field, a number cruncher, the guy who tells observers where to look, a string guy?

    Physics can give you a better understanding of how things work in nature approximately given some set of constraints, but no one knows how the universe works. As a physicist you're going to end up working on some small portion of physics, some tiny piece that fits into a larger puzzle. Would you be happy doing this? Can you envision yourself working for years on some small part of physics that only a handful of other people will ever actually care about? Do you want to work in universities, a national lab, an obversation site in Hawaii, for industry? Would be okay knowing an engineer/business major with a B.S/MBA will likely make more money than you and be able to provide better for their families?

    These are the types of questions others are trying to get you to ask yourself. If you still say "yes!", then by all means major in physics and go to grad school. If your parents are still adamantly against it, you can enter as an engineer and change your major before you start up division course work. So you still have time to think things through.
  16. Oct 31, 2015 #15
    Honestly, I'm fine with not getting a high salary. But I'm not sure about the other things you mentioned. I will do as you say and I'll enter as an engineer. I might get interested in engineering if I try it out for some time.
  17. Nov 2, 2015 #16
    i wont ask like others did, just a simple question, is engineering other than physics? Engineering without physics is nothing, the only difference is that physics tells and engineering quantifies it, physics is the concept and engineering is the number you get by using physics, engineers use more physics and math than a physicist and a mathematician
  18. Nov 2, 2015 #17


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    I seriously doubt that. The difference would be in the type of math and physics each field uses, not in the amount.
  19. Nov 2, 2015 #18
    This is not strictly true. There are many different types of engineers with vastly different work environments. I don't really use any physics or math at all in my job as an engineer. Nor do any of my coworkers. I hope to find a job where I can use or do math and physics someday, but for now I never do.
  20. Nov 2, 2015 #19
    i was not referring to that so called rocket science physics, btw what is your job? being a mechanical student i am doing alot of math and physical laws that governs natural, thermodynamics heat electricity magnetism, forces stresses, Manufacturing processes statics dynamics what is it? is it biology that i am reading or Political science?
  21. Nov 3, 2015 #20


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    Do you think that, still being a "mechanical student", you are actually qualified to make such a statement? I work as a physicist, and I work with engineers. They do not use anywhere close to the math and physics that I use in my work.

    So what did you use to base such a statement from? Do you think you have an accurate-enough information to give such an advice here?

  22. Nov 3, 2015 #21

    Rio Larsen

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  23. Nov 3, 2015 #22
    Ok you answer me one thing, What is heat, electricity, magnetism, energies, Kinetics Dynamics Statics ? is it not physics or its some kind political sciences? For GOD Sake!! i just answered because that user had interest in physics and he/she is not going for Engineering, user did not mention specifically what branch of physics is he/she interested in specifically. but if User is interested in physics Yes Engineering is based on Physics and mathematics
  24. Nov 3, 2015 #23
    Nobody is arguing whether engineers use physics and math, they do. But you made the specific claim that engineers used more physics and math than physicists and mathematicians. You need to provide a reference for that claim.
  25. Nov 3, 2015 #24
    ok i am sorry for that, my mistake,that was just to convince her that engineering is better :p but in general we do more calculations than physicists :p one of my friend is a physicist and we use to live in a same house, and we always argue about it(just for fun), all the time he is busy in these theoritical thing while we are busy in solving numerical questions so if it comes to quantity yes we do more math calculations :p
  26. Nov 3, 2015 #25
    What is this, kindergarten? Won't different people find different subjects interesting? Why should one be better than another?

    1) Why would this be a good thing?
    2) How do you know this, other than that you talked to one person about it. The plural of anecdote is not data.
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