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Schools Is it common for your interests in university pursuits to change?

  1. Oct 7, 2007 #1
    Since I've been in elementary I've wanted to become a programmer of some type, I never knew what field, whether theoretical, software engineering, OS design, or compiler theory. I was just generally "interested" in all aspects of programming "animals" ( I like similes :p ). However recently in my last year of high school I've begun to get "extremely" interested in mathematics and physics. I've always liked math, and in high school I started liking physics. However, recently I'm starting to pull all-nighters, and just work on math and physics problems while watching episodes of NUMB3RS, yah I love that show and I bet you all do too XD. I've started losing interest in programming even though it's still interesting to me, and begun researching math topics out the ying-yang. So, can anyone tell me if this is normal? I used to want to go to university for a five year computer science major, but now I've been thinking of taking a degree in mathematics and physics.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 7, 2007 #2
    Perfectly normal. Usually expected even. Now your task is to decide if it's just a passing fancy or something you want to make a career out of. You'll still likely end up doing plenty of programming in whatever math or physics fields you may choose to go into so don't give up the programming just yet.
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2007
  4. Oct 7, 2007 #3
    I had to make the exact same decision you have to. I eventually, logically chose physics.

    The reason is, that computer science is human engineerd. It's a limited field of curiosity. I realised that the reason I was interested in computers, was because I kept wondering how it worked. How a computer was built together. How applications worked. How I could recreate programs by programming.

    But then I realised, we already have nature. My interest in nature in physics is much like my interest in computers. I want to know HOW it works. I want to recreate physic phenomena using experiments. But there was a big differents between nature and computers, and that is that computers is limited. Nature is unlimited. You can keep researching new area's that nobody has entered before. It's a journey, it's an exploration.

    Computer science on the other hand has a great advantage over physics though. You can create. Creativity is not something found in nature, you watch, observe, and write down. In computer science you can create all the things your imagination can desire. There are no limits on this area.

    The only question you have to ask yourself is, are you an explorer or are you a creator? I am an explorer. But I like to create things too, and that's why I'll have a lifelong interest in computers.
  5. Oct 7, 2007 #4
    Why do you both have to make such perfect sense? XD A passing fancy? It could be that. I just don't like the fact that after all this time I'm questioning my future career path, it's... disheartening.

    However, I love your view on this matter Swatje. Am I an explorer or a creator? Hmm.. Interesting thought, I geuss I'll have to come up with some serious considerations on this matter.

    For the moment, could you guys try to give me some suggestions as to what I'd do with a math major and/or physics major walking out of university?

    Also, does anyone have recommendations as to what fields of math they found particularly enlightening? My favorite thing to do in physics class is deriving equations, are there any courses in universities that are based around that thought?
  6. Oct 7, 2007 #5
    Well I can't help you there, since I'm in my third week of my first year of bachelor in Physics and Astronomy. :p

    And if deriving equations is your favourite thing, and my english interprets it correctly, I think classes like "theoretical physics" will interest you in later years of the education.

    Might I add this: If you have absolutely no conclusive decision on wether you are a creator or a explorer, you can always consider "engineer in applied physics". You get a taste of both there. But for me the explore part just didn't live up to my demands.
  7. Oct 7, 2007 #6
    Alright, well thanks for your insight, Swatje.
  8. Oct 7, 2007 #7
    I can't even count the number of times I have considered changing my major throughout college. I went from Physics to Undecided to Education to Math (and along the way I thought about numerous other majors). I am glad that I will be graduating in the Spring otherwise I would probably change to statistics or business or something else :rofl:

    As for what you will do with a B.S. in Math I have been researching quite a bit lately. First thing that will help you get a job are computer skills: programming knowledge (Java, Python), SAS, SQL, Excel, stuff like that. As for what kind of job, it depends on what you like, but there are quite a few possibilities. You have the standard options: Teaching, Actuary, Statistician, Mathematician, Operations Research (though the job title might not actually be called these things). Then you have some others that deal with Finance/Banking, Sales, Marketing, anything that deals with numbers/trends and money. Problem solving skills and computer skills are a must it seems.
  9. Oct 7, 2007 #8
    I'm in my 3rd year of physics and I'm still deciding if I want to switch majors. I won't, because I'm too far, but I'm getting an itch to learn more comp sci and engineering. What I'm trying to do is just fit in those classes whenever I can. You should probably do something like that, too. Take what you want to do the most as your major and the supplement it with things you'd want to learn, even if they won't help towards your career. After all, college is about getting an education, not just a degree.
  10. Oct 7, 2007 #9


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    I started out thinking I would double major in computer science and math. Computer science because I really enjoyed programming and, at the time, didn't mind having a career in the software industry; and math because it interested me. As I progressed through, my interest in math kept growing and growing, while computer science started to bore the jumping jeebus out of me. By the end of my second year I finally realized and admitted to myself that pure math is what I want to do (and that there is no way I could take CS any more).

    But that's me. You have to decide what's right for you. Although I have to leave you with a word of warning: please don't let your decision be swayed too greatly by Numb3rs. :)
  11. Oct 7, 2007 #10
    Lol, yah I know what you mean. it's still a show that gets me into that kind of mood though, you know what I mean?

    But to all of you who're helping me with this, I had an idea.

    At the moment I've been having the thought of late to go and get a degree in mathematics AND physics. While doing that I could find the time to also learn some of the curriculum for the comp sci courses, and later on I could also get a degree in that so that I could apply my knowledge of math and physics correctly.

    Is that a decent plan? Although I'm struggling to find out how I'm going to afford all of this since I'm not in the running for any huge scholarships.
  12. Oct 8, 2007 #11
    It's perfectly normal. I went from psychology to premed (biochemistry), to getting burned out on school and dropping out and working full time for 7 years, and finally to electrical engineering. I'm probably on the more extream end as far as wasted college time goes, but I know many people who ended up giving up 2+ years of completed college work in order to change directions.

    I don't think I would have had the drive and determination to make it through my EE program before I found that I hated my first few choices.
  13. Oct 8, 2007 #12


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    Perfectly normal.


    Business -> Physics -> Mathematics


    Philosophy -> Psychology -> Psychology and Philosophy

    Other friend...

    Biology -> Psychology -> Medical Field

    Other friend...

    Business -> Geography

    It happens like all the time.
  14. Oct 8, 2007 #13
    maphco, we are on a similar boat. I started doing Eng Phys, only to change in my 2nd year to Math and Phys with a minor in Comp S. It obviously takes loads of work. So much in fact that you might be forced to take the comp classes in the summer if you are not willing to take 6 classes per semester, in order to save some energy for when it begins to run out. You should start by learning that long term goals cannot be made. In fact, it is not even beneficial to make them. You should just go with the flow, and with whatever your true passion is at the moment, i.e. don't even think about making plans right now for a third major in Comp. That would be ridiculous if not stupid. In fact, energy and enthusiasm to learn are scarce resources that anyone person just merely hopes to have when the time comes (no need to name the others we already know of). Believe this, all these qualities and more will be tested on you again and again, and persistence is the money you pay that shows how much you truly care, and how much you deserve it. Math and Phys are two beasts you love; just make sure you tame them!

    Also, it is perfectly natural that during some period you feel bored of a particular subject. Try to consider a different subject within the same comp area and see if it interests you. The boredom should worry you if it persists for long. For example, at the end of my 1st year I even considered droping phys completely due to my complete boredom throughout my entire semester of Electriciy and Magnetism class. That would have been a really bad decision. My new class, modern phys, is just so exciting.

    Anyways good luck with your studies. I wish all the best.
  15. Oct 8, 2007 #14
    Sure, people change and interests change.
    Here is my major changes:

    Biology -> English -> Biology -> Mathematics -> Biology

    Looks like I just keep coming back to biology
  16. Oct 8, 2007 #15
    What, you mean most math majors go on to become things like actuaries and financial analysts rather than supernerd sidekicks for the FBI? Drat...;)

    Although, it is a nice bit of propaganda for physics & math, isn't it? Bwahaha!

    Oh, yeah...

    Physics --> EE --> CS --> Math --> Physics --> Physics + Astronomy + Math

    Something like that. ;)
  17. Oct 12, 2007 #16
    i grew up programming myself. When i got to college i was a computer engineering major and just got bored of the software part. I started getting really enthused about math and physics so i switched to a double in EE and math in my sophmore year. That still didn't satisfy me so i am now a junior whose in the BA/MA program in math and im getting my BE and BS in Electrical engineering and physics. I understand your situation perfectly and have just one thing to say. Do what excites you and don't look back, even if it means a triple major.
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