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In need of a career opinion

  1. Feb 23, 2009 #1
    First, allow me to apologize for failing to provide a more detailed thread title.

    Here's my situation, nothing too complicated:

    I am seventeen years old, and I am currently in an Honors Physics class (introductory level I assume). I get a high A in the class, and I have truly come to look at the world in a different way since I began studying Physics. I appreciate the detailed structure of physics around me, although I do not possess the in-depth knowledge to truly comprehend it. I derive much enjoyment from solving useful applicable problems that relate to everyday life. I also enjoy looking at the heavens and pondering the universe. Sadly, one of my hobbies is browsing Hubble photos and trying to understand the way the universe works. I guess I might be a little nerdy. I barely have a grasp of ideas such as dark energy and super symmetry, but I am utterly fascinated by the cosmos, even more so than the Earth we inhabit.

    Just to give you a brief idea of my physics and mathematics background,
    I am a junior, next near ill be taking AP Calculus (BC) and AP Probability and Statistics. As far as science my school doesn't offer AP Physics, but I'll be taking Intro to Engineering.

    Thanks for reading this whole thing, my question is: given my skill set and interests, what kind of a career in physics should I pursue? What kind of work would an astro-physicist or an astronomer do? Is there a difference?

    Many thanks in advance! :)
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 23, 2009 #2


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    Hi Oscar...if you're a bit nerdy you'll fit right in here at the Forums. Welcome!

    With respect to your question...the good news is you don't need to decide on a career path at this point. The first year or two of a physics/astrophysics/astronomer education at the college level are the same, regardless of which specialty you decide to study.

    So you have a few years to talk to your professors, take introductory classes, join clubs...that sort of thing.
  4. Feb 24, 2009 #3


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    I agree with Lisab.

    If you're really interested in pursuing physics/astronomy as a career, just study hard at the high school level for now and get into a good university with a strong physics program. Personally, I think it's best to stay as general as you can at first. University physics is a different animal than high school physics. By the end of your first or second year you'll likely have a better idea about the different sub-fields and you can select your courses according to your interests. By your third year you should start thinking about graduate school and whether you want to forge a career in academia.

    Also, I don't think there's anything 'sad' about astronomy as a hobby. Of the astronomers I know, it started out as a hobby before it became a career. Some people are content to remain amateur astronomers (while paying the bills with something more lucrative).
  5. Feb 24, 2009 #4
    Also, keep in mind that you can go into astronomy for grad school with an undergrad degree in physics. No need to specialize any further even as an undergrad.
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