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How strong Maryland's astronomy dept. is

  1. Jul 13, 2008 #1
    I'm not 100% sure what I want to do after college, but I know I major in physics. I ultimately want to be a college professor. Currently, my top choice is University of Maryland.

    I'm going into my senior year of HS, and I'm going to have nearly 70 credits going into college. For this reason, I am leaning towards a double major.

    These are the fields I have been thinking in double majoring in:
    Astronomy: I have had an interest in black holes, space, etc. since I was a kid. I'm thinking about focusing on this area in grad school. Not sure if there would be any point to the double major though, and I'm not sure how strong Maryland's astronomy dept. is.

    Math: Seems like it would make go well with physics, math is my strong point but I don't particularly enjoy the lengthy, meticulous problems.

    Finance or Accounting: Would leave me with many options after undergrad, apparently firms like people with technical backgrounds, and professors are paid well. The physics would help if I went into business, but I doubt the converse is true.

    Is there anything I'm missing? Do my assumptions seem correct? Are any of these particularly good choices?

    Any advice is appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 13, 2008 #2


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    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    Re: Astronomy/Physics

    Since you still have a year of high school left, it's best to keep your options open. Even though high school classes can seem thorough, you won't really have a feeling for the kind of work you would be doing in a particular field until at least your upper years of undergrad.

    Given you're interests, I'd look at doing a general first year program weighted towards math and physics with some business classes as your electives. Once you have a feel for what those classes are like in a university environment you can narrow your focus. I don't think there's anything wrong with a double major, but they can be a lot of work and you can get into grad school without them.
  4. Jul 13, 2008 #3
    Re: Astronomy/Physics

    With 70 credits going into college, though, it sounds like his double major might be easier than many people's first majors :wink:
  5. Jul 13, 2008 #4
    Re: Astronomy/Physics

    Next year I am taking my classes at a local college. I am enrolled in mostly business and math classes, because the only physics classes I can take would be review. I'll have calc 1-3, differential equations, and linear algebra all covered by the time I enter as a freshman.

    I'm pretty certain I want to double major, getting out of undergrad in 2 years would ruin the experience.
  6. Jul 13, 2008 #5
    Re: Astronomy/Physics

    Hah, I don't know about that just because I won't have many easy gen eds to pair with the rigorous upper level courses. I'll just have several 300 and 400 level classes.
  7. Jul 13, 2008 #6


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    Re: Astronomy/Physics

    If you're thinking about astronomy, have you considered attending U of A at Tucson? They are affiliated with prominent research projects, and they fabricate instruments, huge mirrors, etc. That way, if you discover that you have a particular fascination for the engineering side of astronomy, you could slide right into that.
  8. Jul 13, 2008 #7
    Re: Astronomy/Physics

    I'm going to be a junior at UMD, College Park next year going for a astronomy/physics double major. I like our astronomy department, though it isn't quite like our physics dept. It is a moderate sized department that has affiliations with some big projects. It definitely helps that we are a short distance from Goddard Space Flight Center.
  9. Jul 13, 2008 #8
    Re: Astronomy/Physics

    Awesome, how do you like the physics dept. thus far?
  10. Jul 13, 2008 #9
    Re: Astronomy/Physics

    The physics department is great, I think. For the most part, we have professors that really enjoy teaching, and are very good at getting the information across to the students. That isn't to say that the dept. is any pushover, either. It is easily one of the toughest majors on campus and the classes beyond the intro series should really challenge anyone. Maryland has something like 75 tenured professors in the dept. (not counting any research associates/post docs/graduate students), so if there is a topic you are interested in, chances are, you can talk to an expert.

    Bottom line, I love it at Maryland, both the physics and astronomy departments treat its undergraduate majors with well.
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