From India:B.Tech or B.Sc?

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  • #1
aim1732
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Hello I am from India and preparing to take entrance tests for undergraduate courses in science and technology in Indian colleges and univ. I had initially thought of B.Tech only but I am quite interested in an academic career, especially in physics. In that respect I feel a B.Sc in physics would be better. But I would rather have someone more experienced tell me.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
rajatgl16
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Hey i'm going through the same problem and i'm also from india studying in +1 std. Well being a junior to you i've no experience, but i still feel i can help you. Well I've decided that i'll definitely go with b.tech. (aerospace or mechanical). Trying my best to go with indian prestigious colleges IIT's. Please specify what you want as a academic career like i wanna be an astrophysicist. IIST is a well known college in this field, providing b.tech. in avionics and aeronautics, so you should also appear in ISAT exam. Its a good intitute with zero fees but the problem with this college is that you must have to serve ISRO for 5 yrs. And you know na that isro pays very low, i think its starting salary as scaientist or engineer is nearly Rs.15000 per month which is ver very low.
 
  • #3
aim1732
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Interesting take. I don't exactly care for money and working at ISRO would be fine with me. But you know, parental pressure does not give me much room. I was hoping for a career in research but have not thought about the field (lots of thoughts actually).Right now concentrating on JEE is top priority.
 
  • #4
rajatgl16
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Thats exactly right to give jee top priority. Pls tell me in which class you are and from where in india you are. You must should decide about the field, every fileld has sub fields.. no need to go so much narrow right now. And what you have decided about the stream in which you are going to pursue b.tech.
 
  • #5
aim1732
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I am in +2 now. Crunch year and yes jee is top priority. I have always wanted an engineering degree in aeronautics but you know so much for the details you would have to work hard for it. Even if we get the best colleges the areas of pursuit may not be our choice.
 
  • #6
rajatgl16
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ya, But for being an reputed astrophysicist one also has to go with b.sc. in physics.. so i'm searching if it is possible to do both b.tech.(full time) side by side with b.sc in physics (distance learning). I know it will increase burden a lot, but nothing is beyond passion for me..
 
  • #7
aim1732
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Good thoughts. I am with you on the passion factor.
 
  • #8
rajatgl16
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not only you, i guess almost all will agree me on this factor. But still I don't know whether it is possible to study both at same time
 
  • #9
RoughRoad
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I am currently in my 12th grade and am from Mumbai. I too want to become an astrophysicist, and I am quite adamant about it. But I am not pursuing IIT. Instead, I am studying for my CET examinations for the next year. One things for sure, becoming an astrophysicist in India is going to be really tough, and full of hurdles. But If we have the desire and passion, we can surely do it. And I am really happy to meet you both.
 
  • #10
aim1732
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Same goes with me. Happy meeting.
 
  • #11
rajatgl16
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So aiman, finally you have decided or not
 
  • #12
aim1732
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Not exactly but I have ideas. Like an M.Tech after bachelor's. People do enter academics this way and still have the option of pursuing a Ph.D. Or there are other options. There are integrated M.Sc and M.S courses in physics. Should be clearer once I have results to go for my plans.
 
  • #13
Prathyush
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Hi,
In India Chennai Mathematical Institute has a very good Bsc Physics programme.
http://cmi.ac.in/
 
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  • #14
maverick280857
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To the original poster: it really doesn't matter, as long as you can do undergrad courses in physics in your BTech program. There are very few (if at all) undergrad physics programs in India with good exposure to experiment. The engineering curriculum tends to be more hands-on and practical, and if you can top it up with a solid foundation of undergrad physics, it'll be a great combination.

Also, note that after a BSc, an MSc is a must if you wish to pursue something academic.
 
  • #15
maverick280857
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aim1732, I am responding to your visitor profile message here (because its more relevant to get these issues sorted out on the forum):

1. You ask where you should get your postgraduate degree from. That should be your decision. If you want to continue in India, there are places like the IITs, TIFR, IIsc, HRI, SINP, IOP, etc. If you want to study abroad, there are several universities with very good physics programs in the US, Europe, etc.

2. Second, you ask about specialization. There is no concept of specialization in undergrad, though you could possibly take many elective courses in one stream of your engineering/science major and think of it as some kind of specialization. I do not think specializing during the undergrad is academically healthy.
 
  • #16
Hwardhan
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Hello I am from India and preparing to take entrance tests for undergraduate courses in science and technology in Indian colleges and univ. I had initially thought of B.Tech only but I am quite interested in an academic career, especially in physics. In that respect I feel a B.Sc in physics would be better. But I would rather have someone more experienced tell me.

"Hello aim, you are a science student so i would like to suggest for B.Sc. I have also done my B.Sc after 12th from Sikkim Manipal University. Sikkim Manipal University is the best university of India for distance learning program. It is also accredited by government. SMUDE uses the latest edunxt technology to create a virtual classroom where you can interact with the faculty and students and thereby also network with other students, which is a unique and one of its kind feature amongst other colleges offering distance education. For the prospectus and speaking to their counselor you can register for free at: http://bit.ly/smude [Broken]
 
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  • #17
aim1732
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Thanks but how viable is a distance learning course?
 
  • #18
maverick280857
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Physics is very interactive...just as it is not possible to learn everything out of a book (except possibly for a very very small fraction of people), it is not possible to 'learn' physics through a distance course. I do not see how it will help you get into a good graduate program. It is also quite likely not to be recognized by most graduate schools, even in India. I wouldn't advise you to burn your bridges this way. Getting a BTech from a decent engineering institute or a BSc Honors in Physics followed by grad school in Physics is much better (and safer!).
 
  • #19
aim1732
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Just what I thought.
 
  • #20
graphene
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Am I seeing Indian high school students interested in a physics research career, but aren't aware of the options they have for undergrad? In India, people just talk about engg/med, & hardly about science (& in fact, anything else).
But there are good places around for an undergrad in physics.

IISc is gonna (or has it, pls check up) start its BS program. That, I think, should be the best place. (I have done two summers of research there).
Next would the the 5yr. integrated M.Sc program offered by IIT's such as Kanpur, Kharagpur,...
(you can join these MSc programs right after class 12)
IIT Bombay, Madras & Delhi offer the 'Engineering Physics' program. (That's what I am doing). Though they call it 'Engineering Physics', it is predominantly physics.

After them, the IISERs. They have a BS program (& i think, an integrated MS program too. Just check up)

There were talks about doing a B.Tech (in engg.) & then trying to shift over to physics. But if you are interested in physics, and if you feel you have the aptitude for a research career in physics, go for one of these programs that I've mentioned rather than doing engg.
After a B.Tech in mech. engg / aerospace engg., physics would be totally different. Elec engg. is the closest to physics, but that's still quite far away.
 
  • #21
maverick280857
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Okay, I'm afraid this is going to be a long reply...

Though they call it 'Engineering Physics', it is predominantly physics.

Yes, I have heard good things about this program. But it is a 4 year BTech program like all others in the IITs. I seriously doubt your claim that "it is predominantly physics". A full fledged engineering undergrad takes 4 years and an integrated MSc (which I consider equivalent in India to a full fledged physics undergrad) takes 5 years. As an IIT student, I'm sure you know well enough how packed things are in the program..and will appreciate that it is impossible to do two things in the space originally designated for courses of one major. (But I'm sure it helps psychologically, because we all know that its mostly nonacademic reasons which propel people into BTech programs. I too thought hard about this program, so I know :tongue2:)

There are a lot of folks who go to grad school in engineering after an undergrad in physics (or even math) in the US and other countries. In India, this is made difficult because of a host of prerequisites in entrance exams. But it is possible to surmount those hurdles. IMHO, if you really want to "study" (different from "do"!) physics and engineering in India, the best way is to either do a dual major (IITs do not allow this, a minor is allowed at IITM and perhaps some others) or study engineering (the program is more competitive and you'll have to work much harder to study physics on the side, but the exposure is worth it). But if you hate engineering
already, and are sure of your interests in physics, then get into a physics program.

There were talks about doing a B.Tech (in engg.) & then trying to shift over to physics. But if you are interested in physics, and if you feel you have the aptitude for a research career in physics, go for one of these programs that I've mentioned rather than doing engg.

The OP seems to be constrained to study engineering. That being said, there is absolutely no problem in "switching" over to physics. It takes some effort, some extra preparation, but then what doesn't? If research in physics is what he wants to do eventually, it will be well his worth to put in that effort.

After a B.Tech in mech. engg / aerospace engg., physics would be totally different. Elec engg. is the closest to physics, but that's still quite far away.

Often comments are made on this forum about closeness of an engineering discipline to physics. While this is perhaps bothering you, please understand that every engineering discipline is strongly rooted in physics and mathematics, subjects you can never do without. Mechanical and aerospace engineering folks often get into physics programs, specializing in astronomy, astrophysics, fluid dynamics, thermodynamics/statistical mechanics, dynamical systems, chaos, to cite a few examples (with fluid dynamics being the area most of them can easily get into). EEs get into semiconductor physics, device physics, lasers, coherent optics, electromagnetics, quantum computing, etc. Oh and yes, I do know MEs and EEs who are 'full blown' theoretical physicists too.

Electrical engineering is indeed a LOT of physics, and I don't know what your metrics are when you say that it's "still quite far away". If your definition of physics is limited to familiarity with quantum mechanics, field theory, relativity and some of the more terse theoretical areas, then I don't see why closeness should be a consideration at all :-)

The dividing line at least between experimental physics, a lot of theory (cond-mat, amo, optics, lasers, ...) and engineering is very thin now..just look at the kind of research labs are engaged in. Some fringe areas of theoretical physics, such as superstring theory, high energy particle physics theory, and cosmology are still quite far removed from engineering, but usually one is not sure of his or her interests in 'fringe' areas until one has gained enough mathematical maturity and some research experience to be able to make a decision.

Now a bit about theoretical physics:- very few programs at the undergrad level (BSc) in India will prepare you well for the meat of theoretical physics -- quantum mechanics, classical mechanics, mathematical methods, electromagnetic theory, statistical mechanics. Yes, the 2 year MSc courses and the 5 year MSc courses at the IITs and other places listed by graphene, are of course great, if you can get to do those. But if you can't, then ironically even the physics undergrad won't prepare you well for grad school and research in theoretical physics!

In summary, if you simply cannot go to a school graphene suggested to study physics in your undergrad (BSc or MSc Int) for whatever reason (let's not get into that), then go ahead and join a good challenging engineering undergrad program, take lots of theoretical physics courses, read lots of things, and do lots of experiments. Have fun, and prepare for the entrance exams to TIFR, HRI (JEST) and also take the Physics GRE. Sustaining interest in physics is a key. If you can do that throughout the 3 or 4 years of your undergrad (whatever be the area) and you feel motivated at the end of your 3rd year (usually the toughest, in India) to go to graduate school in Physics, dive right in! [It is also important to emphasize the need to do well in your undergrad courses -- even the non-physics ones.]
 
  • #22
RohitJain
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Hi aim1732, I think , B.Sc is best option for you .you need not to give entrance test for B.Sc You can take admission directly in B.Sc in Sikkim Manipal University. I have also done my B.Sc from Sikkim Manipal University. There is no entrance test for admission. SMUDE uses the latest edunxt technology to create a virtual classroom where you can interact with the faculty and students and thereby also network with other students, which is a unique and one of its kind feature amongst other colleges offering distance education. For the prospectus and speaking to their counselor you can register for free at: http://bit.ly/smude [Broken]
 
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  • #23
aim1732
430
2
Thank you everybody for your insights. I suppose that the bottomline is what maverick says - have fun and enjoy your physics. Although I can not understand much of the intricate differences the two of you talk about b/w engineering and research I am thinking I would get an engineering degree first, possibly in engineering physics itself.
 
  • #24
maverick280857
1,789
4
Although I can not understand much of the intricate differences the two of you talk about b/w engineering and research I am thinking I would get an engineering degree first, possibly in engineering physics itself.

There is no difference. There are research jobs and not-so-research jobs, in both engineering and physics. Typically you can get some kind of research jobs in industry in engineering with a bachelors degree. But proper research jobs in physics will usually require a masters degree at the very least, and preferably a PhD (esp for research in academic institutions). Then there is theoretical research, experimental research and computational research in both engineering and physics research.

The 'real' engineering is really only limited to some research labs and industry. Everything else is some morphed form of engineering. For instance, if all your time is spent coding in MATLAB in an engineering 'lab', then there is little difference between you and someone who works on software coding full time, whom you may consider a 'coder' (and perhaps look down upon, as unfortunately happens sometimes in academic circles back home).

In other words, what we study as engineering in universities is a fraction of the preparation required for actual engineering, which is what you're supposed to do outside. That makes engineering slightly different from physics. Mainstream research groups in engineering, at universities essentially do applied science -- and the name 'engineering' sticks because of the program and department (and sometimes because the 'purists' would not like it otherwise :-p). Sometimes their research also involves a lot of 'pure' science. So, at the research level in engineering, you are actually doing science, physics if you will. Those who do it may choose to label it otherwise, but how does that matter? Research in engineering, research in science, they're really not all that different...sure the content and approaches may be a bit, but that's granular.

It is hard to explain to you that at least in India, the idea of an engineering degree (if you're interested in research) is to acquire a set of skills which launch you in one direction. You're supposed to build up from there. It matters little then whether you do biochemistry or theoretical physics, after mechanical engineering. Sure, you'd probably have to change the way you look at things and analyze them, but quite often you bring a fresh perspective to the area being an 'outsider' (in an attempt to become an 'insider'). 'Science-based engineering' is what you ought to do...at least that is the spirit of the IITs. Perhaps with some renewed interest, other engineering institutes will also catch up and integrate science into their engineering programs.

So, there's a bigger problem here I think. What you guys want is the label of a physicist and you're naturally concerned that an engineering major will take you off by a few radians. This is partly because of the antiquated notion in India, of weighing the social advantages of engineering against the academic advantages of physics (or anything else).

Well, the ideal track (as stated earlier) is to do your undergrad major in the area you are most interested in. This way, there is no second guessing, and you will remain motivated (hopefully!). But if that doesn't work out, you can switch fields with some effort. Another https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=417120" on this forum might be of interest.

As I have repeatedly emphasized before, simply having a BSc from any arbitrary place will not make you a better theoretical physicist. India has a VERY LARGE number of BSc students graduating every year. The much smaller fraction of them who get a chance, have few financial hardships, and are motivated go on to do their MSc and PhD, and do well. The rest don't, and the BSc just becomes a passport to a slightly better job far far removed from anything scientific or academic. Also please note that some of these colleges may not even be recognized by premier research institutes (including those in the country) where you'll want to pursue your masters and doctoral research. Not to mention that many universities in the US do not take students directly after BSc.

Anyway, its more important to enjoy doing what you are doing now even if you want to do something else!
 
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  • #25
RoughRoad
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I am in my 12th grade, and I have not taken IIT( which I regret now). I want to be an astrophysicist, and I am really confused as to what to do after my boards. I am considering doing my engineering first and then opt for a degree in astronomy or physics. What say?
 
  • #26
maverick280857
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I am in my 12th grade, and I have not taken IIT( which I regret now). I want to be an astrophysicist, and I am really confused as to what to do after my boards. I am considering doing my engineering first and then opt for a degree in astronomy or physics. What say?

Did you finish 12th grade this year? Technically, you have one more shot at that exam. As for your other queries, most of them are answered in my replies below. Best of luck!
 
  • #27
RoughRoad
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Will appear for my 12th as well as AIEEE and CET next year. But I don't think I will be able to do IIT in a year. So my question is, should I take up engineering and then pursue a degree, or directly take a degree after my 12th?
 
  • #28
maverick280857
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So my question is, should I take up engineering and then pursue a degree, or directly take a degree after my 12th?

I don't understand your question. What 'degree' are you talking about?
 
  • #29
RoughRoad
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BSc and MSc. My question is that in order to pursue a career in astrophysics or theoretical physics, is IIT a compulsion?
 
  • #30
maverick280857
1,789
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BSc and MSc.

After engineering, it would be quite pointless (not to mention a time waste and a complete turnaround) to apply for a BSc. It would also be academically foolish, imho. You could apply for an MSc (and you will have to, if you go to a place like HRI which will make you do your MSc before your PhD). It would be a wiser option to apply to grad school (PhD) right after your BTech (if that is what you do). They may make you do a masters, and that's okay. But don't apply for BSc after BTech! So, if you wish to pursue a BSc and an MSc, you should do so right after Class 12 (also read below).

[PS -- It might help to know that a BSc + MSc is considered the equivalent of a BTech in India (for purposes of some jobs). By equivalent, I do not mean equally proficient or experienced (since the fields are different, such a claim would be absurd!) But rather, equivalent in terms of academic status (e.g. MSc is still an undergrad program despite being called 'Masters'). So, applying to BSc after BTech would be quite pointless...you will know just as much math if not a lot more than any BSc student, and unless you get into a Honors program for Physics, you wouldn't do a lot of Physics either.]

My question is that in order to pursue a career in astrophysics or theoretical physics, is IIT a compulsion?

Nooo, definitely not! Some of the best theoretical physicists from India were/are not from the IIT system (and those that are from IITs are mostly from MSc/PhD programs; the set of BTechs getting into theoretical physics is very small). In order to pursue a career in theoretical physics, you should have a good undergrad exposure (from any decent university which is recognized by decent grad schools and has good teachers, and a good track records), a PhD in theoretical physics, and research experience. I think in the context of the discussion below, IIT came up only because of a reference to engineering physics and to the integrated 5 year msc program.

If you are concerned about the issue of recognition, you should aim to get into established universities such as IITs, NITs, Bits, CMI, DU, Presidency, etc. rather than recently mushroomed private colleges. I will emphatically add that IIT (or for that matter any specific system) is not a compulsion to pursue physics or engineering! You could take a shot at the exam, prepare hard for it (since that will help anyway).

And I will agree that if your primary aim is to become a physicist, then you should definitely pursue an undergraduate program in physics (enough has been mentioned about options below). Switching to physics after engineering, although possible, is trickier and should be avoided unless you have an interest in engineering and physics or are unsure of your interests in physics but sure of engineering.

EDIT -- Just read that you will take your board exams next year. Well, in that case, you have a lot of time to decide! (And two attempts at the JEE should you be interested.) Keep your options open and do well on your boards too. Good luck!
 
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  • #31
rajatgl16
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I think it is not all about degree. One if really wants from heart can touch any sky. Engineerin in electronics very close to phy. In india doing b.sc. M.sc means suffering from financial problems. I think we all from middle class families or atleast i am. Therefore, money also matters. Life is quite long. I am interested in astronomy and want to be an astrophysicist. I also like robotics and computing. And i feel that combination of astronomy and electronics is good. And if one also want degree, then engineering students are also eligible for pg and doctoral courses in any field of phy even through IISC by cracking jest.
 
  • #32
graphene
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I seriously doubt your claim that "it is predominantly physics".
buddy, I could show you my curriculum :)
(No offense, just trying to clarify things.)
 
  • #33
maverick280857
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buddy, I could show you my curriculum :)
(No offense, just trying to clarify things.)

If it is, then good for you..things might have changed in the past few years. When I was contemplating an engineering physics major, I was advised by professors that it would at best be a compromise between engineering and physics. I also happened to take a good look at the curriculum back then, and it wasn't quite all of physics. This was about 5 years ago. As I was more interested in electronics and devices at the time, I chose to study EE because I wanted to go to a particular college. And then I took two courses in QM, one on QFT, one on relativity and one on particle physics. I had enough time to study physics during my vacations, and my instructors felt I would manage the upper division courses. I'd say I was pretty lucky! I don't suggest this to anyone though, because its obviously a non-ideal way of learning. But if someone just isn't able to do physics, it doesn't mean he or she has burnt bridges by doing engineering.

As far as I know, a proper undergraduate physics curriculum (e.g. one at your undergrad institution, and mine) involves courses in Classical Mechanics at the level of Goldstein, two courses on Quantum Mechanics at the level of Griffiths/Sakurai/etc, two courses on Classical Electromagnetism at the level of Griffiths and Jackson, a course on Thermal Physics at the level of Reif/Schroeder, a course on Statistical Physics at the level of Reif/Landau, and possibly a course on relativity at the level of Rindler/Weinberg. Well, at least this is the system at IIT Kanpur. I have cut out the courses on atomic and nuclear physics, condensed matter physics, field theory, and a few other things which they also do here, which are things people in a BSc Hons physics program typically do not do, so that the comparison is even.

If these, or at least one course each in CM, EM, QM, SM are part of your engineering physics curriculum, then its awesome! I wish I had them as my 'core' subjects :-)

No offense taken by the way, I am someone who would advocate a very strong integration between engineering and physics departments in India. As a graduate student in physics, I have heard both sides of the argument, and was personally quite disturbed/disillusioned to see the compartmentalization while I was an undergraduate. If you, as an engineering physics major in India, are able to get exposure to enough undergrad physics while still also doing engineering, it speaks volumes of the changes that the system has taken in the positive direction.

----------

PS: This thread runs the risk of becoming centrifugal as far as the original query is concerned, since the question was directed toward a choice between 'BTech' and 'BSc' and not 'BTech' in a specific engineering field and 'BSc'. Since others are likely to refer to it in future for 'comments' and 'suggestions', let's agree to conclude it on the following notes (and I think graphene, you will agree with me here):

[Directed to aim1732 in particular]

1. If you are sure you want to study physics, join an undergrad program in physics. Make sure you go to a school that has a good reputation, and a good track record. Make sure its recognized by graduate schools you want to go to. You don't want to end up in a college/university where strikes and political upheavals govern whether you can study the spectrum of a finite square well..

2. If you are not sure of your interests in physics at this time, and feel more inclined toward engineering, join the engineering program most suited to your tastes (this is the only 'recipe' that works!). Later on, if your interests change, you can switch, provided you put in some extra effort.
 
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  • #34
aim1732
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Thanks everyone.
 
  • #35
aim1732
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I was wondering on this thread was still around.It's judgement time for me now.
 

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