1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Not Sure What to Do

  1. Jul 26, 2015 #1
    Hello, PF!

    Some background information on me: I am currently a third-year physics undergraduate and I am in the process of choosing my classes for the upcoming semester. I have to take some math electives, which lead me to rekindle the thought of double majoring alongside math. Math and physics are some of the only things that have interested me academically, and I'm pretty good at them, I suppose.

    The problem is that I'm not sure if double majoring is worth it. Is it worth the money, time, and struggle? How much would the extra math complement my physics education? I've thought about this before, plenty. And to be honest, if it's only a few more semesters, then I actually wouldn't mind going through with it. The reason being is that math is more of a passion for me; I just like doing it, learning it. I would like your opinions on whether you think it is worth it.

    Perhaps a major part of answering that question is what I plan to do with a physics (and maybe a math) degree. Honestly, I haven't given much thought to that. I've just taken advantage of the fact that a physics bachelor is such a broad degree, so I just aim to complete the degree without much thinking about the future. Am I off track? Am I already supposed to know what I want to do for the rest of my life? All I know is that I'm interested in these subjects, and I would love to be studying them for as long as I can.

    I have also been getting a little bit of pressure from my family. They always ask me what I'm going to do with what I'm studying. The urge me to become an engineer, but I've never been good with my hands, nor am I much of an innovator. Engineering doesn't interest me, much. Maybe it's because I haven't been exposed to it as much as the pure mathematics that I like. You've probably guessed that I'm more keen on the theoretical side of physics, and that's true, but I also appreciate the experimental side.

    All in all, I'm just not sure what to do, especially post-grad. I want to continue my studies, but I would also like a good job. I don't really aim to please my family's wishes, but I also don't want to let myself down by studying and then not doing anything with it.

    TLDR; I'm pursing the degree(s) that I most want but I'm not sure if I'm going to make it in life after studying. What do I do?

    Thank you for reading and helping me by answering my questions. Sorry if I let some information out; I was really tired while writing this. Ask anything you need. Thanks again!
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 26, 2015 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    The main advantage of a double major as I see it is that it will essentially qualify you for graduate school in either of the majors. This comes at the cost of not having as much flexibility with respect to electives. You won't have as much opportunity to explore different areas with your undergraduate education. For some people that's not really that big of a deal, but for others it's critically important. So in making a decision like this, you need to figure out which camp you fall into. It's not like you have to know precisely what you want to do with the rest of your life at this point, but you are at a point where you have to start making decisions about the cost of keeping various doors open.
  4. Jul 26, 2015 #3
    I actually enjoy having my electives being math-oriented. I have already explored different areas while I was taking gen-ed courses. Philosophy/Ethics was the only thing that interested me. And I guess you're right about the double major qualifying me for either graduate school. I'm still not sure what I'm going to be doing post-doc, or even post-bachelors. Maybe it will come to me? Thanks for the reply!
  5. Jul 27, 2015 #4


    User Avatar
    Education Advisor
    Gold Member

    In third year the course load is usually pretty heavy. So being tightly focussed and not worrying about anything else is not a bad thing.

    I cannot tell you what to do with your life after university. But I can give you some hints that may help.

    Find out where graduates from your own university, and other universities with similar programs, have gone after graduation. Imagine yourself doing those jobs. If a job somebody else got makes you smile then maybe you should look into it. If you think it is boring or unpleasant, you should drive-on-by. You can get information on where people got jobs from magazines with titles like Physics Today and similar. These are the "happy gossip" mags with info about who got hired, what department is expanding, where there is a conference, and so on. Your university librarian should be able to tell you the mags and the issues. Google will help you.

    Find out where your co-students have had work terms. How did they like the experience? In many universities the work term is part of the required program and the students have to submit a report. See if you can find some of these and see how you like the picture they paint. If a university has a "co op" program they probably have such reports. Your university guidance office should be helpful in this regard.

    Consider whether you want to do a graduate degree. Probably you should think about this if working in academia attracts you. If academia does not attract you then a graduate degree is less shiny, though not necessarily a bad thing. In some countries a graduate degree increases your salary a lot. In others it makes only a tiny difference. Find out what the situation is in your home country, then consider how the idea of being Doctor Paradoxymoron suits you.

    Think back through your life and try to recall the activities that you found most rewarding. Or that held your attention the most and caused you to want to work hard on them. These are good potential areas to try to get a job. Or to do graduate work in if you decide to go farther in university. If you can put ability and interest together you can be happy and productive. If you get stuck in a job doing stuff that you hate or that bores you, even if you are good at it, you may not do well.
  6. Jul 27, 2015 #5
    The course load so far has been somewhat heavy, but I managed to do well. I actually do want to do a graduate degree; it's all about the learning experience for me. Academia does attract me more than any other area. I guess I can use the extra time I'll have double majoring to think about what I really want. Thank you for your post; it was really insightful.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Similar Discussions: Not Sure What to Do
  1. Not sure what to do (Replies: 0)