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More majors?

  1. Jan 15, 2007 #1
    Currently, I am a freshman in college and I am majoring in Physics and Applied Mathematics. I am taking Calc II this semester, even though I have already had it in hs, and find it to be fairly easy. Anyway, since most (if not all) of you have already been in the same position as I am in, I was hoping to get your views on the whole experience (level of difficultly, work load, stress ect.) The major emphasis I want to focus my life on is physics, specifically in the field of Cosmology. The problem is, while on a long winter break, I was messing around with my class schedule for the next 3 in a half years and found that I have some playing room. After working it out I realized that I could add another major in Chemistry. I love math and I love science and currently (after one semester) I have a 4.0 GPA. I really dont know the boundaries in college yet, or how much it will change in the years to come. I dont know if a triple major is actually (humanly) possible in these subjects. I dont mind studying/working hard, but is this taking it too far? Each semester I would have between 16.5-18.5 credits.So like I said before, what are your views of college in relation to the items mentioned above? Do you see this as possible?

    With the schedule that I worked up I am able to take every physics class that is offered, however, this is not the case with math courses. With that major (and the chem major) it is just the bare min. Is that a mistake since my focus will be in physics? Also, as part of my university's honors program, I will spend both my junior and senior year doing a independent research project under a professors guidance. Also as part of a different honor's program, during the summer between my sophomore and junior year, I will be doing a different research project with a professor. Both of these projects will be in physics. And as part of the math major, I am required to do an research project. There is a very good chance that i will be able to combine these, and if not,the math research is a class at the end of my senior year. So I am good there. But do you guys think I should focus more on math and forget the chem. And I have already passed all the grad school requirements (with this schedule).

  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 15, 2007 #2
    definately go with a double major in math if you can, as for triple major, I'm sure that applied physics and physics are very similar (at least in undergrad) so I'm sure that you could manage it if your school allows it. Most schools have a single physics major with general and applied tracks within it.
  4. Jan 15, 2007 #3
    Just do double and be King of two subjects instead of just good at three.
  5. Jan 15, 2007 #4
    I know a guy who is triple majoring in Physics, Math, and Chemistry. He got accepted into MIT so that he could do a dual PHd.

    If you want to have no social life, live in a library, average 21 credits a semester, and lose your summer/winter breaks for the next 4 years go for it. (im not being a smartass, Im dead serious about what I said.)
  6. Jan 15, 2007 #5
    I think the question becomes how much do you like the topic of chemistry? If you really enjoy the topic, than sure a triple major may not be too crazy, granted you will need to expect that it will need to give yourself some lee-way as to if you really want to do it in 4 years.

    A Double major in Math and Physics is quite a bit of work once you start your upper division electives, additionally with research and an honor's program breathing down your neck, I would say you risk a burn out if you try to cram all of that knowledge in your head in just 4 years.

    If you are confident you aren't biting off more than you can chew, here are somethings you should look into before you go crazy:

    1) What is your Honor's College/program's opinion of double/triple majoring? This may sound weird, but I have had the head of the honor's college at my university tell the students that the Honor's College does not support double majors. So you might want to look into that possible issue.

    2) Is their a mathematical physics major at your university? It might be more reasonable to try to undergo a combination of your two concentrations as one major then double major in chemistry. This way you are getting a strong understanding of all three subjects without the possible issue of "overlapping" subject matter (at many of the neighboring universities in my area courses like: "compuational physics" and "computational chemistry" are essentially the same thing, a course in writing programs for solving difficult/impossible to do by hand alone, computations needed for some subjects.

    3)What about a mathematical/theorical track within the physics department? Does this exist? Does it look like it has a lot of the same courses in math that you were interested in?

    4)How does chemistry come into play with the other two majors? Is it just a side interest? Do you see any potential for it to aid you in cosmology (I can't say, I don't know much of about the topic).

    5) Do I have the possiblity of 5-6 years if I need it?

    6) How many GRE subject tests do I want to study for (this of course assuming you want to do all three for graduate work)?

    Note also, it has only been your first term, some people do very well after their first term and then slowly find themselves in a situtation when they finish the second year. Others do just fine as they keep about the same amount of workload throughout.

    And still others start not so hot, do better (but not perfect), and then peak for the last 2 years of their degree.

    My advice, hang in there with the 2, look and see what options are within the two, and if you see a means of combining any of the three you are looking at into 2, go for it. Otherwise you might be getting in over your head.
  7. Jan 15, 2007 #6
    Thank you for your replies. The only reason I ever consider doing this is because I started out as a pure physics major. After a couple months, I realized that I needed a lot of math courses for this, so to major in applied mathematics, I only needed to add 3 courses to my schedule. That wasn't bad at all and easily do-able. Later on, I relooked at the schedule, and found that I only needed 2 additional chemistry course to be able to minor in chem, but I had additional room in my schedule, so I am thinking about just filling it with chem course to be able to major.

    Unfortunately, at my school everything is clearly defined and none of the courses overlap (ie. instead of having mathematical physics as a course and world-applied applications of math, or something like that, it would be one course that both math and physics majors could take and count for either or both majors).

    However, I do worry a little about the triple major. While my honor's college encourages additional majors, there has only been 3 people in the past two years to successfully achieve a triple major with a 3.8GPA or higher (out of a school of 2400 and honor's college graduating class of 40).

    And I have hear of GRE tests before, but what exactly do they entail? And how much work is typically put into studying for them?

    Again, thank you
  8. Jan 15, 2007 #7


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    And, ultimately, is there any point in obtaining a triple major - or even less so a "dual" PhD?
  9. Jan 15, 2007 #8


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    Note that your classes are going to get more difficult as you get into your junior and senior year, which means that you WILL need to spend even more time on them. You are the only one who can decide if you can do this.

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