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Dual Majoring in Computer Science and Astrophysics

  1. Nov 17, 2015 #1
    Before I really explain and go into the point of this thread, I'd like to preface it with the fact that I have scoured the forums and read quite a few posts on "Dual Majoring with CS and Physics" and many of them have good advice, but my situation may require more specifics.

    I've been into computers since High School, I do enjoy working with them and lately I've been getting closer and closer to programming. I also very much enjoy programming. Within the past year or so, the interest in Astronomy has exploded with me. As soon as I started going to College, this field revealed itself to me like it never had before. I subscribed to Astronomy Magazine, watched tons of documentaries on Planetary Science and the history of Space Travel, got some books and have been doing some reading, I even took a basic Astronomy course at my Community College and loved it. I absolutely love the field of Astronomy, if I had to say, I may say I love it more than CS, but probably only by a small amount.

    For the longest time I've been thinking about practicality. I know if I work hard in school, pursue CS projects outside of school and find internships during the Summers in between my semesters, I shouldn't have trouble finding a well-paying job that would also be mentally stimulating and enjoyable to me, in the Computer Science field that is. I very much am interested in Software Engineering. But lately, I've been kind of thinking over things in my head.

    I won't lie, I've thrown myself all over the place when it comes to my major, but Astrophysics/Astronomy/Planetary Science and CS always seem to come back and be the longest occurring ideas. The ones I always fall back to.

    I did the math, if I were to dual major in Astrophysics and CS I would be adding on an extra year of schooling, as well as taking at least two courses every summer semester. It does sound like a lot of work, but a lot of these classes would be something I'm interested in, so I'd hope that would temper them out. I'm also being careful about how many classes I take, if the plan goes well I'd be taking about two courses of Physics and two courses of CS a semester.

    I'm not sure I like the idea of switching to either one major on its own, or minoring. If I were to go straight Astrophysics, honestly I'd be afraid about opportunities. It looks like it's really hard to get a job in that field, even if you do everything right. I'm not superficial, I don't want a job that starts me off at 90K a year and to live cushy like that. But I do want a job that provides comfortably for me, so I don't have to live in a hovel or some god-awful apartment. I'd also like something that I at least enjoy MOST of the time, I'd be okay with enjoying my job 60% of the time and not enjoying it 40%, or something close to those numbers. I want something mentally stimulating, CS could definitely provide that for me, but I'd be afraid of giving up on my dream of Astronomy and Astrophysics. I'd honestly like to go to Grad school. I kind of figured if I dual majored in both, if Astronomy doesn't work out, I can fall back on CS. And if Astronomy does work out, having a CS major behind me would make me that much more valuable for the skill-set I'd have.

    Right now I'm at the community college level, my plan is to finish this semester and the next with the prerequisites to fulfill either major. Then when I transfer to the University I'd like to go to, the first year I'll be doing a similar thing. Taking Computer Science Courses as well as the base Physics and Math courses. Maybe once I'm versed enough in both of the majors after that first year, I can make a better decision. I'd also like to participate in as many clubs as possible and talk to people who are in the field.

    I'm just kind of in need of some advice in either direction. In your opinion, is Dual-Majoring a good idea? Maybe someone who has experienced this firsthand could offer some advice?

    I know I love Astronomy, a lot, the interest really came out of no where. I love computers too, but... I feel like if I could have the ideal career, it would be a Planetary Scientist, I'd love to study the moons and celestial bodies in our solar system. Am I just being childish? Thanks guys!
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 17, 2015 #2
    There is a lot of programming going on in astronomy. Whenever you did some googling on astronomy, you must have seen some cool simulations of how galaxies behave. Well, those had to be programmed by somebody. So I think it is definitely feasible to combine your love for astronomy and programming. You should look into things like this, search for computational physics.

    If I were you, I would definitely double major. The only problem is the money. Spending an extra year in school might be expensive and might not be worth it. If money is not a big concern, then go for it. You'll get the best of both worlds that way: an outlook on a nice programming job (just doing pure astronomy and nothing else would not qualify you for many jobs!), and a chance to learn more about a subject you love.
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