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I'm in my last year of high school and I don't really know what to do next.

  1. Oct 15, 2007 #1
    Hello everyone,

    I'm in the last year of high school and I need to decide what I'm going to do after. I'm thinking of getting a B.Sc. in either Physics or Math. I'm not sure what I want to do for job but I really like learning about Physics and Math so I don't think it would be wasted.

    I went to two different counselor but they didn't help, they mostly told me what I already knew. I want to know if my plan is good or should I approach this differently. Also, what could I do with those degrees?

    Thanks for any help.
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2007
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 15, 2007 #2
    Since I have to answer the "what can I do with a math degree" question everyday at UT, i'll figure I can do it here too.

    Basically, you can do a hell of a lot of things to do with a math degree. To avoid the obvious route (graduate school, researcher, professor thing) basically any business will take you. A degree in mathematics show that you have the ability to think critically and solve difficult problems. Furthermore, a math degree can prepare you for the wonderful high paying job of being an actuary.

    If you find the business world boring, don't fear! A math degree can assist you in getting into law school or medical school. The work ethic learned by being a math major is useful in both of those types of schools and can only be of a great amount of benefit to you.

    I'm sure the same could be said about physics, so overall, you can do a lot of things with a math degree.

    Also, why can't you do both? At UT you can double major or do a mathematical physics approach. Why must you decide before college? I would just wait and see which appeals to me more. I used to think physics was my calling, but after my first year, I learned that math is just so much more cool. :-p

    *UT= University of Texas at Austin.
  4. Oct 15, 2007 #3

    I never heard about a double major, I'll have to inform myself if it's available in the university I'm going. I don't need to decide now, I just wanted to know more about those two in specific.
  5. Oct 15, 2007 #4


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    Staff: Mentor

    You might also throw engineering into the mix. At many colleges, your first two years ("lower division") are very similar for physics and engineering. You might find that the practical applications of EE or ME are appealling to you. Best of luck to you in whatever you decide.
  6. Oct 15, 2007 #5
    You can double major most anywhere (or higher combinations). Depending on the program, this may not even entail spending more years as an undergrad (with the requirement that you know the requirements for both programs well and plan your courses fairly well).

    Generic "Help I'm leaving high school soon, like physics, and don't know what to do" plan:

    Major in physics. Get some research project / work study job where you hang out in the lab and play with the cool stuff. Graduate after 4-6 years, maybe with extra majors so they don't try to kick you out after 4. Apply to various graduate schools, get rejection letters, end up going to something on your top 10 anyway. Hang out there playing with more lab equipment for another 3-4 years, publish a few things so you look productive, plan out really cool project that will sound impressive to other grad students but qualify as "something new but more of the same." Write longer paper on it that will end up on a dusty library shelf with other such papers. Depending on other developments, milk this for another 2-4 years. Graduate again, this time spend a few more years in a postdoc position playing with lab equipment again. By the time you have to actually deal with the "real world" you can be about 30.


    Seriously though, you can put off making really serious decisions for like 5-10 years after high school. And in the "real job" side of things, a career is really just a sequence of vaguely related jobs...don't worry about it too much yet. You like physics? Awesome. Study physics. You like something else? Study that instead/also. College is loads of fun if you're actually interested in learning stuff for the sake of learning stuff.
  7. Oct 16, 2007 #6
    Freshman physics courses are generally weed out classes. Go ahead and take them your freshman year. If you like them, great, you're probably meant for physics or engineering. If you don't, go for math. Either way, you don't waste any time in classes you won't need, since math is required for physics, and physics doesn't hurt a math student. Keep taking physics as long as you enjoy it. If it loses its appeal, you can always just settle with a minor. In my experience most people on the math/phyics border know which they prefer after the freshman courses anyway.
  8. Oct 17, 2007 #7
    I'm in a similar situation, I haven't a clue about what I'd like to do career-wise.
    But I love physics so I'm at University studying Physics and Astrophysics, just because I can.
    Physics is such a great subject because you can use the skills from it in a general sense and go for a career in finance etc, or you can specialise it and play with cool gadgets as has already been mentioned :)

    If your Uni offers a physics society then get involved in that too, I have and it's a great source of potential career info plus enables you to mix with physicists from all years so you can see where they're heading.

    I certainly wouldn't say your time would be wasted if you took this approach. Mine certainly isn't being wasted so far. I say go for it and enjoy it while it lasts! :)
  9. Oct 19, 2007 #8
    With a physics or math degree you will have many more employment opportunities than the vast majority of people. There are too many MBA's and social sciences and other crap, but not enough people majoring in math and physics.
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2007
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