Is it too late for me to get into Physics?

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Sophmore CS student here. Took AP Physics in high school which I though was fascinating, however never really thought I had the capability to major in it so choose CS which I preformed a lot better in. Currently taking an introductory calc-based physics course, enjoying it a lot as well and thinking of pursuing it (at least a minor or preferably double major) however not really sure if I'd realistically be able to do this since I'm starting so late. Academic advisor was no help and even discouraged me since she only view things from job prospects.

Math knowledge wise I've taken calc 1 calc 2 and currently linear algebra. Next semester I'll be taking calc 3 and a proofs class.
 
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I don't see why it would be too late. You're already taking most of the required math courses that a physics undergrad would be taking at this point in your education, and those are generally the most important courses prior to the actual physics courses. I'd look into what physics majors actually do after school and see if that fits what you'd like to do for a living and then go from there.
 
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I suspect the real question here isn't whether it's too late, rather, if you can fit the courses necessary for a physics major into the time you have left. You can always take an extra year of school if necessary, but of course this is not without consequence (another year of tuition, another year of not earning a full time income etc.)

To figure that out you need to go through you course calendar and map out the courses that you need and want and pay particular attention to the prerequisite order.
 
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  • #4
Choppy said:
I suspect the real question here isn't whether it's too late, rather, if you can fit the courses necessary for a physics major into the time you have left. You can always take an extra year of school if necessary, but of course this is not without consequence (another year of tuition, another year of not earning a full time income etc.)

To figure that out you need to go through you course calendar and map out the courses that you need and want and pay particular question to the prerequisite order.
I'd have to add an additional semester minimum + classes over the summer to fit in an entire extra degree alongside my current coursework so I don't think that would be feasible.
However I was thinking of taking the most important classes to at least pursue something related to computational physics. So something like physics 1 + 2 this year, mechanics 1 + 2/E&M 1 + 2 junior year and them some quantum mechanics and other things senior year. That would definitely be enough for a minor at my university however not sure if that's enough to pursue any additional studies for graduate school.
 
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Drakkith said:
I don't see why it would be too late. You're already taking most of the required math courses that a physics undergrad would be taking at this point in your education, and those are generally the most important courses prior to the actual physics courses. I'd look into what physics majors actually do after school and see if that fits what you'd like to do for a living and then go from there.
Yeah that sounds like a good idea. But for now I'm just trying to actually understand physics to see what I like and don't like since my knowledge is so minimal
 
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Awadh said:
[…] Academic advisor was no help and even discouraged me since she only view things from job prospects. […]
Perhaps a bit wiser advisor than you might think.
 
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Awadh said:
I'd have to add an additional semester minimum + classes over the summer to fit in an entire extra degree alongside my current coursework so I don't think that would be feasible.
However I was thinking of taking the most important classes to at least pursue something related to computational physics. So something like physics 1 + 2 this year, mechanics 1 + 2/E&M 1 + 2 junior year and them some quantum mechanics and other things senior year. That would definitely be enough for a minor at my university however not sure if that's enough to pursue any additional studies for graduate school.

What is covered in Physics 1+2 at your university? I wouldn't be concerned about satisfying requirements for an official minor. I've never seen any benefit to having one (vs taking electives you like).

Awadh said:
Yeah that sounds like a good idea. But for now I'm just trying to actually understand physics to see what I like and don't like since my knowledge is so minimal

But then you really don't have enough information on which to base a decision do you (i.e., to switch majors completely or to double major)? The best you can do at this point is to continue your CS major and fill your electives with physics courses. Then you can make a decision at the end of your junior year or even in your senior year what to do (which might entail an extra semester or year, but at least you'll be sure it would be worthwhile, rather than guessing).

With respect to career prospects in the US, you can have a lead role in industry or business with an MS if you major in CS; but if you major in physics, you'll need a PhD. So do take that into account.
 
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CrysPhys said:
What is covered in Physics 1+2 at your university? I wouldn't be concerned about satisfying requirements for an official minor. I've never seen any benefit to having one (vs taking electives you like).
But then you really don't have enough information on which to base a decision do you (i.e., to switch majors completely or to double major)? The best you can do at this point is to continue your CS major and fill your electives with physics courses. Then you can make a decision at the end of your junior year or even in your senior year what to do (which might entail an extra semester or year, but at least you'll be sure it would be worthwhile, rather than guessing).

With respect to career prospects in the US, you can have a lead role in industry or business with an MS if you major in CS; but if you major in physics, you'll need a PhD. So do take that into account.
Sounds like a good idea, however at what point should I make a solidified opinion if I want to pursue physics fully or not? Would it be a good goal to try and get undergraduate research my junior/senior summer before fully pursuing it or would that be too much of an over commitment?
 
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Awadh said:
Sounds like a good idea, however at what point should I make a solidified opinion if I want to pursue physics fully or not? Would it be a good goal to try and get undergraduate research my junior/senior summer before fully pursuing it or would that be too much of an over commitment?
* Well, by the end of your first semester senior year, you will need to make a definite decision (here I'm assuming you will complete the degree requirements for a CS major):

(1) Apply for a job;

(2) Apply for grad school in CS (MS or PhD programs); or

(3) Extend your undergrad stint and complete the degree requirements for a physics major, in preparation for a PhD physics program (here I'm assuming you stay in the US for grad school).

* You should definitely sign on for undergrad research as soon as possible. If you're leaning towards computational physics, fine. But in what branch? Right now, it doesn't appear you're far enough along to know what sparks your interest: condensed matter, high energy, nuclear, plasma, atomic-molecular-optical, ...?

* What physics lab courses are available at your university?

* What undergrad research opportunities are available at your university, both during the semester and during the summer? For pay? For course credit? Strictly for experience? Do you need paid summer employment to pay the bills?

* You didn't answer one of my previous questions. At your university, what is covered in Physics 1+2?
 
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