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I would like some advice

  1. Aug 24, 2008 #1
    I am a high school senior, and I'm not sure what to do. I have to be applying to colleges around...now. I'm not sure what I want to study. I like physics, but I have interests in engineering as well. Engines, of various assortments, electrical components, electronic circuits all catch my wandering mind. I've passed the Nocti test for Electronics Technology, but I don't want to end up just testing electronic components for a job. I find physics to be very interesting, also. My dream job is to be a college professor. Could anybody offer an help?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 24, 2008 #2


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    To be a college professor, you'll need a PhD in your field. If you're going all the way to the PhD, even if you don't get a job as a professor, a PhD in physics will take you pretty far. But you don't have to choose right now - go to a college that offers both engineering and physics, and take the intro classes for both - you'll need a few semesters of physics for engineering, at least. See if you can get an internship or something in the field(s) to get an idea of which you like more.
  4. Aug 24, 2008 #3
    I intend on going to one that offers both. Is an AP course good enough to judge whether I will like physics or not? Or is there something I'm missing from an AP course? I think that(taking intro courses at college) would be my best course of action, though.
  5. Aug 25, 2008 #4
    Like most things, taking a course in physics (especially a high school course) confers no real experience of what it is that physicists actually do. That's not to say that your interest now can't be genuine, just that it's not enough to guarantee anything. I knew a couple kids who thought they loved physics after high school, but then they could barely make heads or tails of introductory E&M, and became business majors after flunking out of intro to modern physics.

    Anyway, the best way to really know if physics (and especially the academic profession) is right for you is to get involved right away in undergraduate research projects.
  6. Aug 25, 2008 #5
    I know that UIUC (urbana) offers engineering physics and is a top-notch physics school ... if u take physics u can handle any type of engineering ... however if u change yr mind and want to do physics research it becomes a lil harder with strictly engineering courses ... ofcourse it depends on the courses too! I am sorta in a similar jam :) it's so hard to choose! So I pretty much end up fulfilling both requirements which means a much heavier courseload than the average college student!

    I actually need advice too .. I am currently an international student studying at a 2 yr college however I am interested in transferring out ... scholarships would come in handy at the transfer stage ... can you suggest some unis which give need-blind aid to all applicants where ever they may be from? I know private unis are more likely to give aid to worthy intl students than public unis but if u cud suggest some it wud be great ... also plz spread yr answer out over many different tiers because wouldnt bet all my odds on one (kind of) horse ...

    also i agree that getting involved in research is the best to find out yr dedication to physics ... but physics and pretty much all sciences are abt dedication (which is a prereq for all research) ... not about flunking out per se ... but r u willing to try again??? if u wud rather opt for a business course after flunking then physics never was for u ...
  7. Aug 25, 2008 #6
    I agree that it is about dedication, but those kids I spoke of were extremely bright and went on to be very dedicated (and successful) business majors. My point was that physics is very aesthetically satisfying at the high-school/introductory level. I agree that physics was never for them, but to answer the question of being able to determine if you'll like physics after an AP course, there was no way they could have known coming in.
  8. Aug 25, 2008 #7
    Ok, I'll apply under University studies, thanks for the help.

    As an after thought, could I enter under engineering and if I like physics, switch? I heard that colleges tend to make it hard to switch out of engineering.
  9. Aug 25, 2008 #8
    The classes for engineering and physics are very similar the first couple years, except that engineering students often have to take special introductory classes for different engineering fields. In my experience these classes can be pretty fun, so it's not a big loss if you do find that you'd rather be a physics major.

    I've never heard of colleges making it difficult to switch out of engineering. I changed my major 5 times as an undergraduate. The first time I was convinced (incorrectly) that I had to talk to an advisor, which ended up being kind of a wash; subsequently I just turned in a form each time.
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