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Ever feel like you don't know what you're doing in life ?

  1. Dec 31, 2004 #1


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    so this is my first post but I've read the forums for a while and i think this is an appropriate place to ask for some advice about this future or mine and maybe other people who can relate.

    I'm a soph in college right now. I'm currently majoring in computer engineering. I thought i liked computers cause I guess I always use them, i like putting together my own computer (although only once) and just random stuff about them. But i'm taking courses and I really don't like some of the way the courses are. I dislike programming because it takes up so much damn time and it gets so frustrating you know? you sit there for hours and you cant even figure out what to do or what's wrong... ugh. Also assembly language and machine organization or some crap... you do 1's and 0's and all that, i hated that. I dunno i kinda figured maybe comp engr isn't the major for me. I guess computers is only a hobby type of thing for me.

    So I like cars too i guess. I don't really know how to get under the hood and fix everything and upgrade parts and stuff like real mechanics... but i'm willing to learn somehow. I always liked cars (but what little boy didn't, right?) and I admire their style and power. I kinda thought I could be some engineer for a car company or somethin of the field but then again I have no idea what it's like. Mechanical engineering would be the ideal major for that. But then here comes physics, which does NOT come as easily to me as other people. I spend hours reading the book and doing problems and still dont get some of the concepts that other people can. People say just keep practicing and doing problems, but isn't there a limit to define when you just suck at physics and a point where you realize you're not meant for physics?

    and I'm sure all of us in the future want to be somewhat "successfull" right? we want money and so we won't have to worry about MANY things in life. People say money doesn't buy happiness but seriously... isn't it true that if you were somewhat financially successfull you would enjoy life a lot more than someone who has to breathe a sigh of relief everytime you made enough money to pay rent, car payment, and credit card bills? this is what worries me. If i graduate from college with whatever degree, I am not certain I will secure a job that will be able to support my journies of tomorrow. I hear computer science industry is dwindling due to jobs going overseas to china and india. Then other stories about how some of my friends and relatives family members who major in computers and/or engineering never found jobs for 1-2 years after graduating from a much better institution than where I am currently attending.

    anyway if anyone read this, thanks. Some kind of advice or experience stories will definately be helpful. i'm probably not alone here but it sure feels like it. People always seem so confident about their future... bleh i dunno.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 31, 2004 #2


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    ok kiddo let me reassure you of something. first of all i started college in 2002 and im not too far ahead of you either. i started off as a computer science major, but i found out that there is no way i want to do programming for a living. so i transfered from college to a university and majored in chemical engineering for a year. i took materials balances and it kinda hit me that ill be transfering matter for a living, plus the organic chemistry, although extremely interesting and fascinating, seemed a bit out of my realm, as well as biology. both of these subjects are essential to chem engineers but when you are not good at something you are not good at it basically. but meanwhile i took a course on quantum mechanics and got hooked on physics - and decided to go for a dual degree in physics and some engineering field

    so i changed majors again from chemical eng to mechanical eng with aerospace concentration. thing with aerospace is that its pretty cyclic - and right now its in the down, but by 2007 when i graduate it should be picking up again and for a decade maybe it would flourish. but mechanical engineering as a profession will always be in demand as well as all engineering disciplines - not so much in comp science.

    so go with engineering. if physics is a stretch then either study harder and try to understand it, or try other fields (chemistry, biology and related engineering fields with it) - although you'll realize that physics is a foundation for all sciences and engineering fields.

    hope this touches on anything
  4. Jan 1, 2005 #3


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    yea i'm probably sticking with engineering of some sort because I looked at all the list of majors offered at my school and seriously none of them seem to fit me. Well it's good you finally found your calling.... don't know what I should do. bleh
  5. Jan 1, 2005 #4
    I would not worry about such a thing too much. Before I entered college I planned on majoring in computer science, then my freshman year I changed to physics, and then my sophmore year I changed to math education. This is what college is all about, in my opinion anyways. I consider the first two years to be a find what you want to do period.
  6. Jan 2, 2005 #5
    My problem was letting other people make decisions that I should have been making.

    All I wanted to do after high school was hit a trade school, learn to fix computers and networks (this was back in 1991) and get a full time job. I'm sure I would have found my way to college eventually, but I was young and stupid and let me parents push me into junior college.

    I'm a goal oriented person, so being in college with out a direction wasn't very productive. I let other people push me into going for a psychology major, pre law, biochemistry, and then pre med.

    After 6 years of college I was totally burned out and still didn't know what I wanted to do. I had to drop out and work for 5 years to figure out what I wanted to do and get some motivation to get back to school.
  7. Jan 3, 2005 #6
    I think most people have this point in their life where the wonder...what am I supposed to do? I am there right now, just as you seem to be. Although I can't help your situation too much, I thought I might be able to at least reassure you some and say a little about physics. I think most people would agree, it is simply a subject that doesn't come easy to most. It is a struggle, especially the more advanced topics. Often its laws are not intuitive. I watched the NOVA program on "The Elegant Universe" the other day, and these great professors doing amazing work even were admitting they can't say they have a completely comfortable feeling with quantum mechanics for instance.

    So just know that you aren't alone. What I have been trying to do, and what may work for you, is to think about all the various things you are interested in, and find an area of studying that has the potential to combine the most of them.

  8. Jan 12, 2005 #7


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    It's very normal to suddenly hit a stage in your education where you sit up and say, "What the heck am I doing this for?" How can you enter college with so little experience of what any major really involves and know what it is you want to do? Yet that's what is expected of all of us. As an undergraduate, I attended many seminars about careers, and realized there was this common theme among all the people who came to talk to us about their careers...they all started out doing something different, realized they hated it, stumbled around for a while, and finally landed on what it was they really enjoyed doing.

    You know all those elective/core requirements you have? Start making use of them. Take a variety of classes, test out some things you think you might like, some you thought you'd never like, and see if something jumps up and surprises you with some sparks of interest. If your university doesn't offer something of interest to you, start looking around at other schools. You can always transfer if you see a major that's more interesting somewhere else (you might want to take a course or two over the summer to try it out before going to the effort of transferring). If you transfer, you'll probably need to add an extra year on due to credits that don't transfer, starting a major late, etc, but it will be worth it if you'll enjoy what you're doing then.

    Think about it this way...better that you realized now that you don't like/aren't cut out for the majors you started out in than getting out into the job market and then realizing you can't stand what you're doing when it's much harder to go back to school for something else.
  9. Jan 12, 2005 #8
    I don't know if I can be of any further help after these great answers, but I am also in a turning point and this is the way I see it.

    I started in 2002 with political science, but after little over a year I realized I did not want to become an expert in a subject about opinions, power and other things humanity never has agreed upon. Hence, I looked back att my youth and refound my interest in hard sciences. I applied to helsinki university of technology to study engineering physics, but got a few points short and ended up in computer science. This year I've done my civil service and I will apply again to engineering physics (and probably pure physics at helsinki university) this spring. Wish me luck!

    Well, how did I make such a U-turn? I think that unhappiness with one thing is the best motivation to begin looking for another. (duh!) My point is, liking and disliking are not absolute values, but always relative to something else. Hence, doing a few years of something you do not want to end up with, will give you valuable perspective on whatever you will end up with. You may very well be better motivated than those who began right after high school and have note gone through your kind of experience.

    I am right now pumping up motivation to study for my entrance exams by reading bits from all kinds of vaguely related subjects: neurology, chemistry (I even took two exams in it!) and these forums, of course. So, why not do the same, as many here have suggested, stretch out your tentacles to see what you catch?
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2005
  10. Jan 12, 2005 #9
    I know exactly what I'm doing Hour to Hour

    The best off-hand quote that I ever heard was after a friend of mine kept repeatedly asking another person, "ok, and then what do you do next?"
    The reply was
    --" $%@&, man I only know exactly what I'm doing one hour from this one!"--
    So what I guess I'm saying is, not to worry too much about it.
    You're a problem solver so you will be able to solve this one and any others that will arise.
    I feel the pressure when someone asks me what my plans are after I get my degrees (B.S. Physics and B.A. Technical Theatre Costume Design)
    I used to feel bad about saying "Um I don't know probably grad school or something." now I just say "It depends on what my situation is like, so I really couldn't tell you."
    But life changes and your goals change and one day you wake up and you know what you want to do. So keep as many options available to you as possible and don't rule out making a career of your hobbies. I have decided for the moment to get my degrees, and stay out of debt but I will not be going to grad school. I enjoy where I live and would like to stay there so one possibility that I am content with is getting a blue collar job close by. I have also met the man of my life and could not imagine leaving him. I also have hopes of raising a family sometime. My goals have changed tremendously from the freshman liberated female I once was. I also realized that what I would want to do in life doesn't require a Ph.D. in physics which is running my own business of fashion technology (basically designing and selling high performance gadgets incorporated into clothing).
    If you really want something bad enough you'll figure out a way to get it degree or no degree. Just make sure that your overall education isn't wasted. College isn't just for making you smarter it should be making you wiser too.
    So you really only know what you are going to do about an hour before you do it. Everything else is just a probability.
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