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Do I have the drive to be a Physicist?

  • #1

Main Question or Discussion Point

Believe me when I say I've done my thinking and just can't call up my thoughts on why I should doubt myself but I'm sure it will come up, and better yet I'd like to hear some ideas. What's it like, how rewarding is it and why, can you find a job? How much is the average pay? How do you know if you should go for it and what math skill is necessary for it. Yah, I know lot of questions.

What kind of people will be in the major by the way, I mean I'm not stereotypical but there's always a general "personality range" right? They are probably calculating no?

Anyways, I guess I'll start. I love studying the mind, all the questions I have about the world (I don't know how) seem inevitably related to Physics. I don't know about the standard of math required to do a Physics major but the closes consensus I have is High school. I finished Calculus BS within the second year of High school, and also went through Statistics as well, college level classes and got A's and both. I know a physics major will go past this though.

So....would anybody like to speak up?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
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First of all, you shouldn't doubt yourself. You got an A in Calculus BC...there's literally no better high school indicator of being ready for college level physics than that...I'm sure you know that haha. It's difficult, it's rewarding in the sense that it will make you more intelligent and can give you a somewhat better grasp of every day physical scenarios, yes you can find a job, the average pay is roughly 100 K a year.
 
  • #3
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You are much better off than I was when I started my degree. I came from a small high school that didn't offer AP classes or even calculus. I always wanted to do physics but was scared that I wasn't prepared for the math so I chose engineering instead because I knew I just had to get above a 3.0 to get a job. After finishing my first year and getting A+ in both calc I & II and physics, I switched my major to physics with much more confidence in myself. From first hand experience, I can tell you that if you truly WANT to do physics, but end up doing something else because you doubt yourself, you'll always regret your decision and wonder how you would have done in the physics curriculum.

You have already basically taken these classes and done well so there's no reason why you should doubt yourself. Studying what you want to study is a great feeling.
 
  • #4
I very much enjoy the idea of development of the mind through abstract thinking like in physics. But certain difficulties eventually cause anxiety, which is one of my greatest fears. I was very good in math for a high school student but your progression in the subject is not necessarily consistent. I don't think it's that simple at all, there are many ways it could head. I know I'm not bad at it though.

My parents give the anxiety of telling me that nobody has ever really went that far in academics. She said "we are pretty smart, you can major in business, law, or engineering at most, but you are like me in intelligence and this family is not smart to the level where we can successfully major math and science." Her statements hold logic but are vague and bother me. They are hard to ignore but I'm doing ok all together at the moment.

100K sounds perfect for what I want. But...I've heard 100K on the internet but I've also hard it's hard to find a job at all with a B.S. I might go to masters but I'm really not sure about PH.D. ... Or any of it, haha.
 
  • #5
You are much better off than I was when I started my degree. I came from a small high school that didn't offer AP classes or even calculus. I always wanted to do physics but was scared that I wasn't prepared for the math so I chose engineering instead because I knew I just had to get above a 3.0 to get a job. After finishing my first year and getting A+ in both calc I & II and physics, I switched my major to physics with much more confidence in myself. From first hand experience, I can tell you that if you truly WANT to do physics, but end up doing something else because you doubt yourself, you'll always regret your decision and wonder how you would have done in the physics curriculum.

You have already basically taken these classes and done well so there's no reason why you should doubt yourself. Studying what you want to study is a great feeling.
That's true. But you will also regret trying it if you fail. I've never actually....it seems more logical that way and it's what I've been told but....I suppose it's not necessarily true. But you see here with you, talent it talent. The preparation really doesn't matter. When you get the chance like you did you rose to it. If I can't I can't, Calc BC doesn't matter too much.
 
  • #6
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That's true. But you will also regret trying it if you fail. I've never actually....it seems more logical that way and it's what I've been told but....I suppose it's not necessarily true. But you see here with you, talent it talent. The preparation really doesn't matter. When you get the chance like you did you rose to it. If I can't I can't, Calc BC doesn't matter too much.
Your first point is bothersome to me. I definitely would not regret doing physics even if I failed. If anything, it would be a relief because I could cross that off my list and try something else that interests me. Being capable of doing anything can be just as frustrating as only being able to do one thing. In fact, you may prefer the latter because in that case, you would not be in this position right now.

From my experiences so far, if you fail your classes there are many factors that may have come into play. But generally, if you fail, it will be because you did not spend enough time on the material... if you didn't spend enough time on the material, this is probably because you aren't enjoying and don't care about the material... if you aren't enjoying what you're learning, then you should find another major anyway.
 
  • #7
My parents give the anxiety of telling me that nobody has ever really went that far in academics. She said "we are pretty smart, you can major in business, law, or engineering at most, but you are like me in intelligence and this family is not smart to the level where we can successfully major math and science." Her statements hold logic but are vague and bother me. They are hard to ignore but I'm doing ok all together at the moment.
I think that you mother's reasoning is a bit silly, ignore it. I think that you will make it (based on the information you have provided) if you work hard.

You should follow your dreams and if it doesn't work out you can just switch majors. So at least give it a try...
 
  • #8
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To answer your question as to the kind of people in the major: there isn't any set "personality range". There are those who are quiet, those who are loud. You have jerks and some who are sarcastic. Even what people do on their free time varies tremendously.
 
  • #9
I'm not saying you shouldn't be practical about this, but when you're an old person on your deathbed you'll regret the things you didn't do far more than the things you did do.
 
  • #10
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My parents give the anxiety of telling me that nobody has ever really went that far in academics. She said "we are pretty smart, you can major in business, law, or engineering at most, but you are like me in intelligence and this family is not smart to the level where we can successfully major math and science." Her statements hold logic but are vague and bother me. They are hard to ignore but I'm doing ok all together at the moment.
You parents are totally out of line for saying that. Let me break it down for you:

1) Idk where your mom gets off telling you that you're limited by her intellectual capacities (which may or may not be as accurate as she described them to be in the first place).

2) I know kids who have gotten 1700s on their SATs and later majored in physics. Albeit it was very difficult for them, but hey, it's difficult for everyone.
 
  • #11
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I very much enjoy the idea of development of the mind through abstract thinking like in physics. But certain difficulties eventually cause anxiety, which is one of my greatest fears. I was very good in math for a high school student but your progression in the subject is not necessarily consistent. I don't think it's that simple at all, there are many ways it could head. I know I'm not bad at it though.

My parents give the anxiety of telling me that nobody has ever really went that far in academics. She said "we are pretty smart, you can major in business, law, or engineering at most, but you are like me in intelligence and this family is not smart to the level where we can successfully major math and science." Her statements hold logic but are vague and bother me. They are hard to ignore but I'm doing ok all together at the moment.

100K sounds perfect for what I want. But...I've heard 100K on the internet but I've also hard it's hard to find a job at all with a B.S. I might go to masters but I'm really not sure about PH.D. ... Or any of it, haha.
"You ask me if an ordinary person could ever get to be able to imagine these things like I imagine them. Of course! I was an ordinary person who studied hard. There are no miracle people. It happens they get interested in this thing and they learn all this stuff, but they're just people. There's no talent, no special ability to understand quantum mechanics, or to imagine electromagnetic fields, that comes without practice and reading and learning and study. I was not born understanding quantum mechanics -- I still don't understand quantum mechanics! I was born not knowing things were made out of atoms, and not being able to visualize, therefore, when I saw the bottle of milk that I was sucking, that it was a dynamic bunch of balls bouncing around. I had to learn that just like anybody else. So if you take an ordinary person who is willing to devote a great deal of time and work and thinking and mathematics, then he's become a scientist!"
 
  • #12
Your first point is bothersome to me. I definitely would not regret doing physics even if I failed. If anything, it would be a relief because I could cross that off my list and try something else that interests me. Being capable of doing anything can be just as frustrating as only being able to do one thing. In fact, you may prefer the latter because in that case, you would not be in this position right now.

From my experiences so far, if you fail your classes there are many factors that may have come into play. But generally, if you fail, it will be because you did not spend enough time on the material... if you didn't spend enough time on the material, this is probably because you aren't enjoying and don't care about the material... if you aren't enjoying what you're learning, then you should find another major anyway.
That's true in fact, that's what I would think is logical. I think my mentality/mindset is a little but messed up at the moment. Failing feels extremely bitter, rather than enlightening. It has to do with my family, circumstances, culture, etc. Get's personal. I have a feeling they are brainwashed and partially not telling the truth. They probably also think they know about careers and such because they are comparing to lower standards, I'm not sure. They are interested in the idea of me and prestige. They don't really understand how this is "using me", I can not even address the subject and am confused. I'm usually not confused about such things but I'm not one to dismiss things until they make full sense to me, that makes this "who to listen to" thing some what difficult and impractical.

I know the feeling of studying what you don't care for. Unfortunately, so far I haven't enjoyed much of anything I've learned so far (generally speaking) but I also don't like following programs. I like following my own thoughts. Though I have a feeling that if in the correct school, and major, going to class may eventually feel like being at home and I will be compelled to follow along. What makes me feel stupid is I have very bad blanking out habits, unless something catches me attention, at that time I'm very focused. High school was bad for this reason. :P So I took off early, but it gives me less time to decide on things like this. Oh, I'm also worried about what other people are doing in comparison to me. People in general tend to grasp the basics faster than me (I'm not an in the moment person) but I usually like to go deeper more. But do you see how this would be discouraging at the beginning?
 
  • #13
"You ask me if an ordinary person could ever get to be able to imagine these things like I imagine them. Of course! I was an ordinary person who studied hard. There are no miracle people. It happens they get interested in this thing and they learn all this stuff, but they're just people. There's no talent, no special ability to understand quantum mechanics, or to imagine electromagnetic fields, that comes without practice and reading and learning and study. I was not born understanding quantum mechanics -- I still don't understand quantum mechanics! I was born not knowing things were made out of atoms, and not being able to visualize, therefore, when I saw the bottle of milk that I was sucking, that it was a dynamic bunch of balls bouncing around. I had to learn that just like anybody else. So if you take an ordinary person who is willing to devote a great deal of time and work and thinking and mathematics, then he's become a scientist!"
Lol, this is overdoing it. I never suggested talent to that extent was necessary. Or some kind of talent that revolved around the ease of grasping Physics. I do think that somebody's mental process affects their ability in what they choose to study though. It's not necessarily intelligence, however you are defining intelligence anyways.
 
  • #14
You parents are totally out of line for saying that. Let me break it down for you:

1) Idk where your mom gets off telling you that you're limited by her intellectual capacities (which may or may not be as accurate as she described them to be in the first place).

2) I know kids who have gotten 1700s on their SATs and later majored in physics. Albeit it was very difficult for them, but hey, it's difficult for everyone.
Her view of things it very narrow. I think she thinks her IQ (for example) is higher than my Dad's and through very inaccurate observations and facts about me that chances are that my IQ is in the middle of me and my Dad's, the same as her's at highest. She's arrogant. Some people think some things are worth more than others. What upsets me about her is her inability to accept reality. Things can be disappointing, I cannot stand it when something is emotionally over-expressed. I still think I should be immune to her though. She added bits of things here and there in my upbringing that were unusual and less from things like mental health. Could have been because of stress too, I'm not sure. She views those specific areas as love, and eliminates other aspects of it all from her mind. So she thinks it's love. I begin to think it's creepy more and more and can't believe I didn't notice it when I was younger. D;

For me, SAT really doesn't make a difference again. It's something deeper and I don't think I'm going to manage explaining. I think I should have done more thinking about the stuff and whether to make this thread at all because people aren't mind readers. ==" Maybe I just assumed that people are good at that in comparison to me or something.
 
  • #15
I'm not saying you shouldn't be practical about this, but when you're an old person on your deathbed you'll regret the things you didn't do far more than the things you did do.
Haha, don't be offended if I start a topic and argue back, I start conversation to hear new things and prove things to myself. I've noticed I'm doing it here.

Anyways, I'm speaking of a career, a degree. My first degree. I can still do it before I die. I should make plans. Such as whether or not to do Physics now or later, and the consequences of both or something. @_@
 
  • #16
To answer your question as to the kind of people in the major: there isn't any set "personality range". There are those who are quiet, those who are loud. You have jerks and some who are sarcastic. Even what people do on their free time varies tremendously.
I was talking in a very general way and what the higher chances are. No, I generally see a line between most scientists and art majors. Majors shape personality a bit. I didn't mean "niceness level". < I'm bad at explaining things.
 
  • #17
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That's true in fact, that's what I would think is logical. I think my mentality/mindset is a little but messed up at the moment. Failing feels extremely bitter, rather than enlightening. It has to do with my family, circumstances, culture, etc. Get's personal. I have a feeling they are brainwashed and partially not telling the truth. They probably also think they know about careers and such because they are comparing to lower standards, I'm not sure. They are interested in the idea of me and prestige. They don't really understand how this is "using me", I can not even address the subject and am confused. I'm usually not confused about such things but I'm not one to dismiss things until they make full sense to me, that makes this "who to listen to" thing some what difficult and impractical.

I know the feeling of studying what you don't care for. Unfortunately, so far I haven't enjoyed much of anything I've learned so far (generally speaking) but I also don't like following programs. I like following my own thoughts. Though I have a feeling that if in the correct school, and major, going to class may eventually feel like being at home and I will be compelled to follow along. What makes me feel stupid is I have very bad blanking out habits, unless something catches me attention, at that time I'm very focused. High school was bad for this reason. :P So I took off early, but it gives me less time to decide on things like this. Oh, I'm also worried about what other people are doing in comparison to me. People in general tend to grasp the basics faster than me (I'm not an in the moment person) but I usually like to go deeper more. But do you see how this would be discouraging at the beginning?
You remind me a lot of myself. You think WAY to much about things... which is a good thing for a physicist I believe :wink:
I always over think things like this and have to have a defined logical end scenario before I'll commit to something. With this being said, switching to physics felt like one of the biggest decisions of my life, whether or not it truly was. This was one of the first times in my life that I didn't have an end plan and I kind of just went for it because I WANTED to do it, regardless of whether it was a logical move. This was really all kind of silly though, because you basically can't go wrong with any STEM field...

As for the situation with your parents, I'm not sure if we can really help you with that. You really just need to sit down with them and TELL them (don't ask) that you want to study physics and tell them why. I had to do this with my parents. My mom was supportive but my dad not so much at first. But just telling them WHY I wanted to study physics (and not engineering) was a huge help. They are much more supportive now because they know that I am doing what I enjoy.
 
  • #18
I think that you mother's reasoning is a bit silly, ignore it. I think that you will make it (based on the information you have provided) if you work hard.

You should follow your dreams and if it doesn't work out you can just switch majors. So at least give it a try...
I probably will, or at least expose myself to it in some way so I'll know.
 
  • #19
You remind me a lot of myself. You think WAY to much about things... which is a good thing for a physicist I believe :wink:
Physics nature...yay haha. I don't think there's a measure of too much, though if something's not well thought out and clear I feel strange. (Psych related! ^^) But I have an active mind, and I don't like shutting it off.

I always over think things like this and have to have a defined logical end scenario before I'll commit to something.
It's security~

With this being said, switching to physics felt like one of the biggest decisions of my life, whether or not it truly was. This was one of the first times in my life that I didn't have an end plan and I kind of just went for it because I WANTED to do it, regardless of whether it was a logical move. This was really all kind of silly though, because you basically can't go wrong with any STEM field...
I'm picky, it has to fit everything, from every angle, perfectly, there has to be a reason for every step.

As for the situation with your parents, I'm not sure if we can really help you with that. You really just need to sit down with them and TELL them (don't ask) that you want to study physics and tell them why. I had to do this with my parents. My mom was supportive but my dad not so much at first. But just telling them WHY I wanted to study physics (and not engineering) was a huge help. They are much more supportive now because they know that I am doing what I enjoy.
I'm pretty sure nobody can help with it. Not even me. It's not exactly as if they can control it, it's the bad feeling the emit. I can feel it, I don't know what it is. If they say yes, they will be saying "yeah sure" in their mind. If I enjoy what I do they won't believe it. My mom won't, he probably will. There's no point in telling them, if they ask when the time comes I'll tell them and there won't be any discussion. I'll just drift away, depending on how bad things get.
 
  • #20
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That's true. But you will also regret trying it if you fail. I've never actually....it seems more logical that way and it's what I've been told but....I suppose it's not necessarily true. But you see here with you, talent it talent. The preparation really doesn't matter. When you get the chance like you did you rose to it. If I can't I can't, Calc BC doesn't matter too much.
That is not the right mind set. You should never regret trying something because of failure. I had a c+ avg in highschool i screwed around, partied, went out with girls all the time, skipped class do i regret it? No. Because that made me who i am today. Now im getting straight A's. Failure isnt final, giving up is. If you regret everything when u fail you may as well live in a cave and do nothing. Everyone fails. That is how you LEARN. You learn more from mistakes then success
 
  • #21
That is not the right mind set. You should never regret trying something because of failure. I had a c+ avg in highschool i screwed around, partied, went out with girls all the time, skipped class do i regret it? No. Because that made me who i am today. Now im getting straight A's. Failure isnt final, giving up is. If you regret everything when u fail you may as well live in a cave and do nothing. Everyone fails. That is how you LEARN. You learn more from mistakes then success
This makes me wonder exactly how mindset's like my parents actually works...
 
  • #22
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This makes me wonder exactly how mindset's like my parents actually works...
It is a defeatist mindset -- don't adopt it. You make yourself fail before you even try.
 
  • #23
It is a defeatist mindset -- don't adopt it. You make yourself fail before you even try.
Yes but I don't mean my plan of action. I mean....what inspires it, what do they think they are doing. What logic is behind it, are they really incapable of realizing what is beneath their doings?
 
  • #24
Yes but I don't mean my plan of action. I mean....what inspires it, what do they think they are doing. What logic is behind it, are they really incapable of realizing what is beneath their doings?
You can spend the rest of your life trying to understand why people (including you) think the things they do and behave the way they do, and you'll still come away confused. That's a big part of what life is.
 
  • #25
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I feel I should point out that the typical salary for a person with a bachelor's degree in physics is not $100,000. It's about half that, plus or minus a bit depending on exactly what you end up doing.

A master's can net you a bit more and a doctoral degree a bit more still.

http://www.aip.org/statistics/trends/emp_salary.html
 

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