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I think I made a bad choice and too bad I don't have a time machine

  1. Nov 10, 2007 #1
    I need some guidance and hopefully you guys will help me choose on what career I should pursue ...

    First of all, I dislike English, mostly Shakespeare
    Second of all, I don't really enjoy chemistry, but I do enjoy physics except for electricity which I HATE with a passion
    Third of all, I love math, but I'm not that great in it

    Right now, I'm thinking of going to business, specifically accounting
    I only want to pursue this career because:
    1. Family pressure - all of them have an accounting degree (my parents and sisters)
    2. Money
    3. Easy to get promotions if you "click" with the right company + person
    4. In demand, barely gets any lay-offs, "safe job"
    5. Deals with math and no science! *best reason for me*

    Reasons why I don't want to be pursue this career are:
    1. I don't want to be in a cubicle, stay in the same place
    2. I don't want to use the computer EVERY single day doing spreadsheets and so on
    3. I'm not a "people person", I'm shy ...

    Reasons why I want to do engineering:
    1. I love math
    2. I like physics, except for electricity
    3. I am a "hands on" kind of person
    4. I like to fix and build things
    5. I like the fact that you don't stay in the same environment, like you don't work in a cubicle all the time
    6. I like a challenge, I'm more motivated and determined if things get hard
    7. I like technology, who doesn't? xD

    Why I don't want to be an engineer:
    1. I don't know what kind of engineer I want to pursue, I was thinking of civil engineering or mechanical engineering
    2. I don't know if this career is a "safe job", won't get laid off
    3. I don't like chemistry or electricity
    4. I'm scared I might be so stressed and drop-out and be a failure in life (lol)
    5. I know the projects you get, you do in groups, but I don't work well with people who are extremely bossy or clueless
    6. My courses are screwed up because in grade 11, I only took biology and physics, no chemistry ... and I didn't take any sciences this year, in my 12th year ... although, I have one spare that I can fill in and I can drop courses if I want too - but the thing is ... I don't want to get a low average and not get into a university at all - I live in Ontario so the schools base the admission on overall average

    Other facts:
    I had a 78% in physics 11, dropped since I didn't do the exam, I was away for a family issue and literally failed the electricity test and quizzes
    Right now, I have a 78% in math, I flunked in one test (74%) out of three tests and two quizzes (50% and 60%), which brought down my mark
    I don't even know if I'm going maintain my 70ish average from English, I have 77% as of now, but I'm failing in tests under thinking and quizzes (I hate Shakespeare ...) but doing well in essay assignments

    Right now...
    I'm thinking of doing correspondence so I can take chemistry 11 and take chemistry 12 and physics 12 next semester (my school goes by semester, 4 courses each semester)

    But... the thing is ... I don't know how long it will take to complete chemistry 11, I need chemistry 11 before I can take a chemistry 12, I really made a big mess in my life right now ...

    Since applications for universities is just around the corner ... should I pursue business or engineering or another field in science like life science or mathematics & statistics (so I can take chemistry 12 during summer school if I don't finish my correspondence credit before second semester starts ... and I can transfer the next year or maybe if there's still space for the engineering program, I can transfer in the first year)?

    I'm probably the most indecisive person in this forum ...

    Btw, I want to get admitted in McMaster
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2007
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 10, 2007 #2
    Pursuing a degree because of money or pressure from your parents is a pretty sure-fire way of either switching majors your junior year or following through and hating your career. Also, you should take a look around you. Bank of America just laid off 3,000 investment bankers a few weeks ago, and that's just the most recent thing I've read regarding business degree layoffs. You can read about it here:


    Right now is a ludicrous time to assert that those with business degrees are safe in their jobs.

    I really wouldn't worry about being indecisive at the age of 17 or 18. That's what college is for, deciding where your interests lie. I would recommend taking core requirement classes early on and intersperse some classes that might give you an idea of what you're interested in. Take engineering physics and an intro to accounting class and see which you could picture doing in the long run. You don't have to decide right now, but you should set up your college schedule so that yo can make a fairly informed decision in about two years.
  4. Nov 10, 2007 #3
    Be glad your not even half of how much of a loser I am. I dropped out with 14 credits, quit my minimum wage job, and i have been sitting on my ass for the past 2 years, I'm 19 now. My brain is slowly rotting away. Ehh... not really, I just have social problems and I have to pay for psychotherapy just so I can enter a college building, I ment that literally. Yep, just to talk to one of those course planners.
  5. Nov 11, 2007 #4
    You must not have read his post - he's interested in accounting. Accountants are still in great demand, and are not being laid off in any significant numbers. Comparing that field with investment banking is ludicrous.
  6. Nov 11, 2007 #5

    First, accounting uses very little math. A bit of arithmetic, a bit of statistics, that's it. Secondly, lots of engineers end up in cubicles. Of course some don't - but there are lots of accountants with jobs that move them from place to place as well. Not all jobs within a discipline are the same (an understatement!) so you'll want to have your sights set on a list of jobs that fit you as early as you can - and make sure they're a realistic possibility.

    You have a bit of time to make this decision. However, you don't have as much time as some people will make it sound - the accounting and engineering curricula are very different. This is something I know from experience - I switched from accounting to physics, and it essentially started me over. Took me another 4 years to graduate, despite the core I had already had. You might be able to be undecided your first year of college, but you had best know by the end of that.

    Take some time and really study up on these different career paths. Avoid getting advice from people who aren't familiar with their subject matter. Young people today are bombarded by opinions from guidance counselors, friends and even family members that are often bad or worse. Read what people write here carefully, and also explore some accounting and engineering forums - there are lots out there.

    Some time invested now will pay off big later.
  7. Nov 11, 2007 #6


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    You can do any degree and still become an accountant.

    Half of my friends became accountants after uni, the most successful (head of a team in a multinational) did a degree in biochemistry!

    Follow what you want at uni, and then see if accounting suits you when you graduate.

    It's easy to get into accountancy programs with a degree in any technical realted subject -- they will then train you up and pay for your accountancy exams.

    Finally, the is little point or adavntage in doing a specific business related degree at uni.
  8. Nov 11, 2007 #7


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    btw, Shakespeare is great -- you'll appreciate him a lot more when you don't have to study him for exams :wink:
  9. Nov 11, 2007 #8
    OP: remember, if you get a degree in engineering, you can work for a few years as an engineer then get an MBA and earn BIG money (6 figs? sure). This is a common route. Look at Harvard Business School... most of the students there are engineers.


    Most of the incoming graduate class of 2005 had a TECHNICAL background (which means ME, EE, IE, CS, etc...). Also look at the class matriculation... most of the students are engineers or social humanities majors, then second comes Business Admin majors (accouting, finance, etc.). Pretty shocking, right? You would expect the incoming class to be full of business majors, but it's not. If you study engineering, you'll develop extremely critical thinking skills, problem solving skills, and most importantly the technical skills needed to survive in an organization. You can have both, study ME and if you'd like, be a manager/consultant afterwards.

    PS - I never took Chemistry in HS either... I had to take it first semester of college. Didn't go so well. I got a C, moved on. I'm doing excellent in my major and other science/math classes, so no worries. Looking back now, I wish I had motivation to study harder at the time (when I was a freshman). You can pass freshman chemistry if you study hard enough. If you do ME, you'll be taking classes in thermodynamics and some sort of course in mechanical properties of solids, etc... which might have some chemistry.

    Also, with an engineering major, you will have almost no english requirements... only classes in technical writing.
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2007
  10. Nov 12, 2007 #9
    This is terribly misleading, and in many senses just plain wrong. In most states you need a bachelors degree in accounting to become a CPA. The vast majority of accounting jobs that are worth having require a CPA. Thus you will want a bachelors in accounting if you plan to go into the field. Even if your state doesn't require this, to pass the uniform CPA examination requires a tremendous amount of work, even with the coursework. It will require years of preparation without.

    Most "accounting" jobs that don't require a CPA are little more than bookkeeping, and I wouldn't suggest those jobs to anyone.

    Read up on this and you'll see I'm right. For every rule there are exceptions. Do not plan your life around them.
  11. Nov 12, 2007 #10


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    OK -- sometimes I forget you're mainly from the US on here, and things can be different.

    What I posted was cetainly true in the UK, where the qualifications are, eg. CIMA.
  12. Nov 12, 2007 #11
    Even there, the CIMA requires someone to pass more than a dozen examinations. It can require years to prepare for and pass that. What better time to do so than while you're already in school?

    I will say that you are right in a sense. One can always switch careers and enter into another profession. Whether you spend an additional two to five years getting certified as an accountant, or you going back to school to be an engineer, it can be done.

    But its costly, painful, and time consuming. Macleef may not find the career he wants to work in on his first attempt, but let's be realistic about how high the cost will be if he doesn't.
  13. Nov 12, 2007 #12

    If I'm responding a great deal to your post, its because I feel I feel a familiarity with your situation. I struggled very hard in college deciding between choosing business (accounting, specifically), engineering and science. I have only two big regrets:

    1) That I waffled between them. I believe now that which I chose was a lot less important than choosing one and nailing it to the wall.

    2) That I believed the nonsense I was told. There is very little good information out there for young people looking into careers. There is a great deal of poor, misleading, or bad information out there.

    To some extent I believe I can be forgiven for waffling.

    There is no excuse for being gullible.

    Double check everything anyone on here tells you, including me.
  14. Nov 12, 2007 #13
    I think we've discussed this before. Saying "most of the students there are engineers" is obviously incorrect. The correct statement is:

    "About a third of the students there are engineering and natural sciences."

    There is no information on that page that tells us how many of the students are engineers.

    There is information that tells us that most of them aren't engineers.
  15. Nov 12, 2007 #14
    PHYSICS IS AWESOME, if you honestly don't like it fine--but if you do SCREW WHAT ANYONE SAYS TO YOU AND BECOME A 1337 PHYSICIST!!!

    i hate it when people push me around, don't let people force you into a miserable career!
  16. Nov 12, 2007 #15
    I agree with Locrian's point about accounting using very little math. The most advanced it gets is a little bit of statistics in auditing and assurance.

    Engineering is probably a lot more interesting, but it's bound to be a lot harder than the work expected of business majors.

    I'm sure a bachelor's of finance would put you down the right track to becoming an accountant, but you'd probably need a masters of accounting in addition to that to satisfy most state requirements. I think a lot of states require close to 30 or so hours of coursework in accounting.
  17. Nov 12, 2007 #16


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    But if you get in with a company, you earn a salary and, at the same time, they pay for you to go to college and to sit those (eg. CIMA) exams.

    This hands-on experience has to be so much better than following, and paying for, an accountancy course in college.

    (Again, from UK experience.)
  18. Nov 12, 2007 #17

    Quite the contrary. Let me assure you of a few things.

    1.) Thinking (and agonizing) about major decisions in life is a healthy process. People who don't usually don't lead happy lives, simply because they've never done any thinking for themselves. A necessary condition for singing "I did it my way" at your 70th birthday is, well, having a way of your own.

    2.) Choosing an education based on current market demands is a useless strategy, as markets change pretty rapidly. In fact, an increasing demand is usually a good sign not to indulge in a particular field (unless you like it), because it means that equilibrium will soon be reached and demand will be quenched - this will usually be followed by over-supply of fresh undergraduates seeking work in the field, which will make survival even harder.

    3.) If I have learned one, and just one thing in my life, it is that you will naturally be mediocre at best at things you dislike, while you will be good, even great at things you like. If you enjoy gardening for example, your passion will help you surpass even smarter gardeners than yourself. It will give you perseverance that will get you through rough spots in which other, better gardeners than yourselves will fail, despite whatever knowledge or intrinsic skills they have (unless they are really, really good).

    Make your choices wisely, and good luck.

    Physically Incorrect
  19. Nov 12, 2007 #18


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    Accounting has math? Since when?
  20. Nov 12, 2007 #19
    I dislike english too.
    I enjoy physics, except for electricity (i understood it until a certain point, but i dread questions with the word "current" or "voltage" in them :) )

    I am not going to try to talk you into something or out of something. I am just going to take each of your points and comment on them.

    1. Family pressure...Maybe something good would come out of not doing the same thing as everyone else, because then if you become a little less sucessful than someone else in the family you won't compare yourself to them all the time.
    2. Money. Can't buy happiness but neither can poverty. It's a consideration but engineers aren't poor either.
    3. And if you don't "click"?
    4. This is a consideration too. I've been worrying about the same sort of thing.
    5. Question: What do you like about math? is it the abstract stuff or the physics stuff?

    1. If you were really into business and say something like canoeing and such, it is possible to start up some sort of eco-tourism business.
    2. Mm I agree that would kind of suck... sorry i don't have any sort of advice here
    3. So am I!! (Sorry no advice here either. I would say that you should do something that doesn't go completely against who you are, so don't be a public speaker or something...lol)

    Reasons why I want to do engineering:
    1. Abstract stuff or physics stuff?
    2. You'll have to do a bit of electricity stuff in your first year, i think.
    3. That's really good for engineering, or so I have heard.
    4. And so is that. :)
    5. Same with me, I'd be bored if i had to stay in the same place a lot. (sorry no advice here either.)
    6. Same with me, and sorry no advice here either.
    7. ^_^

    1. The first year is almost exactly the same for all different types of engineering. I don't know what i'm going to do either (I'm thinking stuff to do with alternate energy but i don't like electricity :P or aerospace.)
    2. Sorry can't help you there...neither do I. I think some types of engineering are more competitive than others.
    3. You didn't take chem in high school. You might like it. My chemistry professor this year is amazing (he wins awards and stuff) but he makes an otherwise boring Basic Chemistry course, actually interesting!
    4. Define failure in life.
    5. I don't know what to say about this one :P Maybe it's just something you have to do. And if someone is clueless, they will probably not be there after a while.
    6. I don't know what to say to this one. I didn't do chemistry in high school (i did biology and physics, as well) but i ended up doing a general year at the university here, to catch up on chemistry. That's probably not the most economically feasible way to do it unless you get a random scholarship for people who live in the same "electoral district" as you, out of whom you are the only one who is graduating this year..:) )

    Other facts:
    -In my humble opinion, the electricity chapter can go fall in a hole. But obviously you show an interest in physics since you're here. Sorry no advice here.
    -Theoretical stuff or physics like stuff?
    -You don't hate shakespeare. Go back to hating it after you're done. From now until the end of the school year you will like shakespeare.

    Right now...
    -which, if you can do it, is probably a better option than what i did!

    You did not make a big mess of your life, just a little mess.

    About being indecisive, and deciding which one you want to do: I made up my mind once and for all, then changed it once and for all, then changed it back.

    As to what you should do (and kudos for reading this far, i probably bore you) Think of which one would make you happy doing until you're 55 or whatever.

    Climb every mountain
    Search high and low
    Follow every rainbow
    Till you find your dream
    A dream that will need
    All the love you can give
    Every day of your life
    For as long as you live
  21. Nov 17, 2007 #20
    You can certainly find an entry level accounting position without an accounting degree or any degree. But you will be doing book keeping and HR block tax return type work.

    Most of the large firms, and the BIG 4 will require that you have an accounting degree with a major in accounting, if you wish to work in an accounting function auditing ect..
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