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Prospective Major in Engineering Maybe

  1. Dec 19, 2008 #1


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    As the title hints at, I'm planning (so far) on entering school to be an engineer. More precisely, I'm being told that I like math and science, so the only way to make any money is to go to a state school and major in engineering (I'm not shallow, just keep on reading)!

    However, I understand that to succeed in anything, one must apply themselves as much as possible. To do this, I also understand that one should at least have a interest in what they are doing. This is precisely what scares me. I'm afraid my heart isn't in engineering, and instead is in mathematics.

    I have always thought of myself as wanting to work with mathematics. I have always been great (relative to my peers, mind you, I'm not a braggart) at math from an early age, and this continues even through high school in my AP Calc. class, which I like quite a bit (although I do also understand mathwonk's concern that he mentioned in a couple of other threads with AP classes; see my AP Physics thread for more on that subject). To clarify even more, I have recently started self-studying books that are not assigned. I have read or am reading every math book I can get my hands on (Elements was a particular favorite!), and I have even branched out into some logic, along with reading the famous (although not directly math-related) Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs.

    The strange thing is, I love it.

    I have always had high grades (well, again, see my AP Physics thread for an exception), but just reading these motivates me more than anything in the world. Call me insane, but I feel like it's my secret that I get to study such interesting subjects. But here comes the reality of it all: I'm terrified of the reactions of mentors who have pushed me all these years so they can see me become 'successful', which to them means 'money' (or, more precisely, the ability to support one's self). I already have most or all of my college scholarships 'lined up' here at a state school to study engineering, but it's now December (very close to deadline for most admissions) and I feel hopelessly lost. All I want is to study math, and I don't want to spoil it by saying it's an 'undying passion', but I have never felt so strongly about a subject in my life.

    In other words, I have no idea what to do. I could major in engineering, get my college paid for at a state school, and have a happy life (assuming I make it out okay) earning a starting salary of $40 - 50K a year. Then, there's the seemingly-foolish option of going for my goal of a Ph.D. in math, which thrills me to no end. What do you guys think?

    I hope I'm not wasting anyone's time with these threads I keep opening, but I'm really nervous and confused.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 27, 2008 #2


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    Almost 100 views and no response. I hope I didn't offend anyone with my comment about a Ph.D. in math being 'foolish.' That was said in context.
  4. Dec 27, 2008 #3
    I would recommend doing what you enjoy. This is your life, not your mentors. However, you could always double major and have engineering as a backup incase you start to dislike math or want a easier career path.
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