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Going to graduate school, but don't know if I really should be

  1. May 21, 2012 #1
    I just graduated last week with a Math/CS degree, and I'm going to graduate school this fall at a different school for CS, working on CS theory and scientific computation (as far as I can tell). The program is really interdisciplinary so I assume I won't be kept locked up in my CS department. But.... I'm really really scared that it's not a good idea, and that I'm not going to complete the entire program. The school is paying for it so money isn't an issue here.

    A lot of the more technical aspects of CS, like systems etc., I really can't stand. I don't even really like "real-world" coding. And I guess everyone else can tell, because I can't for the life of me get into a software engineering internship. (Although I did get a full-time thing but had to decline it for graduate school.) But that's not for here. And the very little CS research I've done (simulation of road traffic patterns and analysis of Parikh's theorem) tended to leave me crying myself to sleep, or sometimes not even able to sleep.

    So why did I apply to graduate school? I kind of didn't know what else to do, because it would at least keep me out of having to be a software engineer. And it's definitely possible that what I wind up doing at this new school I will really like. But in the recent past I took 3 physics classes for fun and really, really liked them (and as a freshman I thought physics was a stupid subject and I was so glad I didn't have to take them like the engineers did) and I also looked in to a lot of engineering and saw some things there that I really liked.

    Academic advisers kept telling me to apply for engineering/physics graduate programs. But I didn't. I see here people with those undergraduate degrees getting rejected left and right from graduate schools, so what chance would someone with a Math/CS degree have, who has done zero research in physics or engineering and has only taken a few courses?

    So this is basically my thing. I can stick it out as long as I can in graduate school, which won't cost anything and could be something I really like, since my adviser there does a lot of work with engineers and scientists as well as theoretical CS. Or, sometime in the future, if I decide I really like one of those other fields, I could spend all the money and time it would take (probably 2 years worth) to get a second B.S. degree in an engineering field (or engineering physics).

    So, what would probably be the best position for me to be in, (say) 3 years from now?

    Something I should probably mention: I don't know if it's true, but things like researching quantum computers, optical computers, etc. sounds like something I could try to get into, since it seems to be a combination of the fun physics I grew to like and theoretical computer science. I think I'm going to send an email to my old quantum professor who does work in quantum computing to ask for his advice, but this may be a good place to ask too so I'll just throw it out here.

    Thanks :)
  2. jcsd
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