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Entering college next year; advice?

  1. Jan 6, 2012 #1
    Hello, I'm a senior in high school right now and, with the start of my last semester, have begun asking questions about what my future holds for me. I'm attending CU Boulder next year to study Physics, and am planning on going through my Masters and hopefully a PhD. My parents are hesitant about me finding work after I finish. I've read through a few stories about people getting all the way through their PhD's and ending up as bartenders and other sort of jobs. What are the best routes to take? I've heard grad school experience can be superior to new PhD's? Is this true? I was thinking that I'd be pretty easily employed with a research or teaching job after, but am still unsure. What should do a lot of people end up doing? I know I have a lot of time still, but I feel somewhat anxious about it all. Any words of wisdom for the aspiring physicist?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 6, 2012 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    some universities have applied research labs that do govt research where you as a student can find parttime work that can eventually help in getting a job later on. Also as you progress further along you can become a research assistant to some prof and that might help as well.

    The second strategy would be to major in a second field like CompSci or Business or Law ... that makes you a double threat. Many programmers majored in Physics/Math, many patent lawyers have technical backgrounds in CompSci, EE, Physics...
  4. Jan 7, 2012 #3
    I heard some statistic like there are 10,000 new PhDs in the US each year, but only 1,600 faculty positions.

    So, you have to be very sure that you can do well at either teaching or research.

    You probably won't have to be a bartender or a taxi driver or flip burgers when you are done. There are alternatives. I'm nearing completion of my math degree, and I'm thinking about getting into finance, actuarial science, engineering, or operations research. You can come up with something.

    But, I don't know if it's worth it to spend so much time learning about something else if you don't end up actually doing it. My solution is to keep doing math as a hobby, if I end up not continuing in academia, so for me, provided I can get a job that leaves me with a bit of free time, it will have been worth it to get the PhD.

    I think if you work hard, you're in a good position, though, because you can start early. I didn't realize I wanted to get a PhD until I was almost done with my undergrad. But you have time to figure out how to get into grad school and get ahead of the game in every way. If you can compete with the top 20% (among a fairly tough crowd, though), you'll be good to go.
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