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Graduation advice

  1. Jul 16, 2014 #1
    Before my questions, a small introduction of myself...

    I'm 21 years old by now. Left my job this month to dedicate myself in studying for the exams needed to ingress in the universities in my country (BR).
    Until high-school I never was a "good" student (or "bad"), just studying enough to get approved. But I always liked science, mostly physics, chemistry, not so much math.
    After finishing high-school, knowing of my academic deficiencies (due studying just enough to get approved), and knowing very little about universities, I did not take the admission tests. Instead I did a technical course (or professional course, don't know how it's called in US/UK/Europe) in electronics. This showed me a brand new world, my interest in physics increased, as my interest to ingress in college.

    Working for some time in the electronics area, I know i DON'T want work with it, despite liking electronics. At least, the technician jobs seem too "dumb" (simple if you prefer) for me, and the engineering ones are almost all the time just administrative. I know this thought is kind limited, as I obviously don't know all technician and engineering jobs in my country, but I really want to change my area.

    I'm in doubt between two graduation courses:

    1 - Computer Science: from the electronics course, the subjects that I most liked was digital electronics (logic gates, logic circuits) and microcontrollers (programming, studying the microstructure of the microprocessor, making algorithms). I'm not a master on it, but I have some ease on those subjects.

    2 - Physics: As I said, always liked it and always get intrigued by it. Every little new thing that I learn just increases my curiosity. But, I'm not so good on math. Regarding the physics of high-school (don't know if its the same on US/UK/Europe) I have good knowledge on it.

    Would like to hear your opinions about my choices. I know that graduating in Computer Science there will be no problem to find a job. Graduating in physics, I don't know.

    Do you think not being a math genius is a drawback for graduation in physics?
    The math that I will learn in CS can give me means to study physics by myself in the future?
    How CS and physics are related today? I'm also interested in molecular dynamics.

    Sorry for the long post and any english mistake. Thank you.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 17, 2014 #2
    I see some very good things in your questions:

    1. You realize that the career is not the same thing as the study.

    2. You recognize having an interest in something does not mean you want to make your career from it.

    3. You have narrowed your potential career choices, though you remain unsure.

    These are all good things.


    Because I can't tell you, while sitting here in my office on the other side of the equator, what the future holds. I can barely tell you five years from now what kind of future to expect --nor can anyone else. If we could, we would command the markets of the world and be extremely wealthy.

    However, I can offer a few observations: Discoveries tend to happen when someone studies two or more interests and combines those experiences to advance the state of the art. Discoveries within a single discipline are rare, and usually involve a new application of mathematics.

    My suggestion to you, if you can afford it, is to study Computer Science while continuing a minor study of a basic science on the side. Your skills on computing will probably be useful for decades to come, but the application of those skills is where you will get ahead.

    I have met many who were just smart enough to understand one aspect of one field and were left behind when the market changed. Don't do that to yourself. Study the computer science but keep an eye on the applications to scientific research. You may find some interesting ideas between the two. However, note that many physicists are quite proficient with software design, so you might want to investigate other physical sciences, such as chemistry.

    Most of all, do not stop learning when you graduate. You do not have to be in a formal classroom setting to learn. In fact, you are probably better off if you apply your classroom study habits to some endeavor outside formal teaching.

    Ultimately, that is the goal of all the formal education you have received to date: to be able to study on your own discover new things by yourself, and then convey what you have learned to others. That is why a basic understanding of some physical science, in addition to your interest in computing, is probably the best course of study.

    Good Luck!
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2014
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