Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Graduating Early

  1. Jul 6, 2005 #1
    I'm going into my third year of undergrad as a physics/math major. I currently have three more required courses to finish my physics degree, and a bunch for math (I declared it last semester). My parents have been hinting to me that they'd like me to drop math and graduate early and I was wondering if that would be a good idea. I plan on going to graduate school, so I suppose I would have to start looking at the GRE's and applications etc. etc. They say that it's not a money issue, but more of a reasoning issue - if I can graduate a year early, why not do it? Especially since grad school is usually "free" for physics grads. I'd be a year ahead of finishing education and begining a career, they argue. Of course, I don't want to graduate early. I told them I'd take on loans myself if that were necessary (they insisted on paying out of savings to avoid interest). I'd like to finish my math portion and be more involved on campus stuff and get to know my professors better (better recomendations). I hadn't given much thought about grad school applications yet either.

    Anyway, I'm sort of weighing the pros/cons and any input would be appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 6, 2005 #2


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    I believe the more math the better, especially if you're going for theoretical physics.
  4. Jul 6, 2005 #3


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    If you enjoy the math and have the opportunity to take more courses before grad school, the more the better. I also agree with your perspective that you'll get better recommendations if you get to know your professors better. If you've already completed your degree requirements (or are close to it), this would also give you more flexibility to do a senior research project in a lab to find out if you really like the research side of things when deciding on what direction to take for grad school.

    You've also cited some non-academic reasons you'd like to avoid graduating early, and those sound like good reasons to me. You won't have much time for outside activities once in grad school, so if you can spend a year getting involved on campus and learning the interpersonal, leadership, or teamwork skills that such activities can foster, that's invaluable experience no matter what career path you ultimately take.

    In the end, it has to be your decision. If you enjoy math and want to complete the second major, you don't want to regret it later simply because your parents thought it would be a good idea now.
  5. Jul 7, 2005 #4
    Actually, that brings up another question: How does the graduate school schedule differ from the undergrad. I know that grads can't enroll in as many classes per semester and typically have to be a TA or RA. Is the rest of time devoted to doing your own thesis? When do you have to declare that? At this point, I'm not even sure which branch of physics I want to do research in. Any insight from experience would be greatly appreciated.

    In regard to my original question, I think I'm fairly confident that even without dealing with the math degree, this next year would be too burdensome to try to graduate early. I was thinking that maybe someone would have some insightful reason why I should try to graduate early and change my mind.

    Thanks for the replies.
  6. Jul 7, 2005 #5
    the only reasons i can see to graduate early are to: a) get a job sooner or b) enter grad school sooner. If these don't sound like good reasons to you then don't graduate early. Another reason might be if you feel you're burning out.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook