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Is my whole physics career a joke?

  1. Nov 16, 2014 #1
    Throughout my undergrad career I relied on help from others, the internet, and the teachers allowing us to use equation sheets during examinations. I received all A's in my upper level physics classes, and B's in the introduction classes (which I used Yahoo answers for almost every homework problem, and figured out how to actually do the problems only a week before the exam). This was an approach I used for my upper level courses too. I hardly read any of the text books. I found the solutions to the problems, and then studied how to do those problems, memorized equations, and learned the bare minimum for the tests.

    I feel I cheated myself. I'm still doing this in graduate school. Most of my peers also follow this behavior, obviously a bit less in graduate school (or at least they are not as public about it).

    I would commit more time to it, but I don't believe physics is my entire life. I know there is the argument that if I'm going to graduate school than it should be what I am passionate about, what I do in my free time.. but I find so much beauty in everything it is hard to devote ALL of my time to studying it.

    I like being active, socializing, taking care of myself spiritually, emotionally, physically. Many of those I see in the physics department seem to be lacking in this, in one category or another. I get it. To be truly AMAZING at something you must devote and obsess over it. I can't bring myself to do this.

    Am I not cut out for physics? What do I make of this?


  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 16, 2014 #2


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    Eh, plenty of physicists I know have lives outside work. Kids, hobbies. Perhaps less so in grad school, but you've got to have some coping mechanisms to make it through. All physics all the time is a way to burn out.

    In addition, performance in classes for learning physics does not neccesarily predict how good you are at doing physics. How are you at research?

    However, I think that the most important aspect for being a successful physicist is being able to problem solve, and classes are where you begin to develop that skill. So if you don't develop your skills in classes, where all problems actually have neat solutions, you'll be in a world of pain in real physics, where not only does nobody know how to solve the problem yet, and the solution might be messy, the solution might not actually exist in the first place.
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