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Go into Physics?

  1. May 20, 2006 #1
    Hi, I am a rising sophomore and I am contemplating a major in physics&math. I'll be doing lab work this summer. I don't know what career to pick but I'll be $100k in debt when I graduate. My parents are not rich. And I wonder if there is any point of pursuing academia if your parents cannot pay for your education or at least leave you a nice inheritance? If I major in math&econ, i can get a $100k/year i-banking job straight out of college. So what's the point?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 21, 2006 #2
    $100k in debt? What are you going to do, take out loans and buy a ferrari?

    School does not cost $100k, no where near that.

    Really, $100k job straight out? Why don't you give me the name and office phone number of the department chair that told you that....:uhh:

    Having your parent's pay for college is nice, but I know people who pay their own way through college.

    If there is a will there is a way.

    I think you are way, way misinformed.
    Last edited: May 21, 2006
  4. May 21, 2006 #3

    I agree with Cyrus.

    Good luck finding a job straight out of college that'll pay you $100k, too...
  5. May 21, 2006 #4
    May be your school doesn't cost that much, but I go to a top10 school, hence the job opportunities. It is harder to get into a top physics ph.d. program than into a good I-banking shop on Wall Street. Academia sounds more interesting, but I don't have a trust fund!! Is it just me or is academia reserved for the rich kids?
  6. May 21, 2006 #5
    It's just you.

    $100, 000 is extremely bloody expensive and if you don't have the money then I honestly don't see why you would need to unnecessarily and willingly place yourself in such a situation.

    You can focus on going to a "top" school/university if you either have the money or you are that 'brilliant' that you can get a scholarship to that institution. But honestly I don't see what good it does you. I'd say most people just want to go to the top schools because they believe it will look impressive on their CVs and will secure them a job. But the thing is, once you're doing your degree at any reasonable uni you will most likely have done research. And if you've done good work then I'm sure the employer would recognise that and wouldn't blindly choose the guy who went to the top school over you.

    I truly believe that it would be an incredibly bad decision to put yourself $100, 000 in debt just 'cause you want to go to a top school.
    Last edited: May 21, 2006
  7. May 21, 2006 #6
    Or for kids who go to colleges that put them $100k in debt...

    Sounds to me like a career in physics isn't a great option with a debt like that.
  8. May 21, 2006 #7
    Well, if you pursue a doctoral program, usually you can defer the loans until you finish. You can usually defer them for a while afterwards too once you're out with a job. But I'd say that very few post-docs in physics make anywhere near enough to deal with that debt. Though I have my doubts whether math/econ will either, advisors have a tendancy to inflate the job prospects of their departments. Just because a student in your department got a job in i-Banking and some jobs in i-Banking make $100k, doesn't imply that their students make $100k once they have their degrees.
  9. May 21, 2006 #8
    First, if you live in the U.S. which I'm assuming but might be wrong, you should really look over your FAFSA forms and see what is going wrong that is putting you in that much debt. The government program is designed to make sure that people don't go into that much debt regardless of how expensive the university is. I also go to a very expensive university and I will likely graduate with about $20,000 - $25,000 in debt, which is much more reasonable. Is the problem that your parents have money but are unwilling to spend any to support you, if that is true I think you can apply to pay the college as a financial independent which should greatly increase your aid. But I don't know too much about that situation.

    As others have said, loans are deferred as you go through grad school, after you get out though, I don't know that post-docs pay enough to pay off that type of debt, professorships certainly do though if you can make it to that level fast enough but that's a lot of pressure.

    Really though, posting on a message board is not a good way to fix this problem, none of us know enough about your financial situation or about the system to give you good advice, and being that far in debt is a huge deal. Go talk to your college financial advisor and going over what is happening and see if there is a way they can get you more funds or give you an advice on how to deal with that type of a debt load.

  10. May 21, 2006 #9
    I'm assuming FAFSA calculates your expected family contribution to be about $25000, which means you are richer than an average student in the U.S. If your relatively well-off parents refuse to pay for your education and you come out of college with $100000 debt, it would be a tough decision to go into sciences, because there's no way you will be able to pay off that much debt with your grad studies / postdoc position stipend, unless you are extremely gifted and you get a tenured faculty position before you turn 35 or something like that. If you are serious about your science education, I suggest you talk to your parents about that. If your top 10 school (which would provide the most generous levels of financial aid packages out of all U.S. colleges) says you have to pay $25000 a year out of your (parents') pocket, that means your parents can and should.
    Last edited: May 21, 2006
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