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Question about a degree in Math and Physics

  1. Jun 14, 2015 #1
    Hey there physics forum. I will be done with my transfer requirements in the fall semester. I won't be able to attend a university until the fall. I will be classified as a junior when I transfer.

    A little bit of myself.

    I started arithmetic in community college, due to me having dropped out in 9th grade. I returned to cc with a GED at 21. It has taken me 4 yrs instead of 2, due to me having taken alot of remedial courses. I am majoring in mathematics. I have a 3.4 gpa. I know I can raise it to a 3.7(I will be taken classess in the winter/spring).

    How feasible is a double major in math and physics? I am not wealthy. And I will be 25 this year. I don't mind being in school for another 10 yrs.

    I recently found out I really like physics. I would like to someday teach community college and later transition to highschool. However, I do not want to be a teacher as soon as I graduate. I would like to work in industry. I do not know what industry interest me. However, by talking to professors, mathematical physics, mathematical modeling, and material science look like jobs I would not mind.

    The reason for me wanting to work in industry: i have had many excellent teachers who were often bored of teaching remedial mathematics ( what I mean by remedial is any course below Calculus 3). These teachers were really great, helpful during office hours. During lecture you could actually feel the teachers boredom, it was like they were being tortured in a maximum security prison, think Guantanamo Bay.

    Some teachers were differnt however, they had worked in industry. One professor went all over the world to solve mathematical problems in the real world. Ie the maple tree problem in Canada as one example. She would often show me pictures of what a math degree did for her, and how she was able to see and do things, she wouldn't have otherwise.

    Also, there was a professor who worked for Nasa for over 30? yrs. An older man, in his late 70 or early 80s, he would say he was 25 lol. He was extremely in love with the idea of teaching, I struggled in his geometry class, and he took time out of his day everyday, to tutor me. He showed me how to attack a mathematical txtbook and how to think. All these teachers were happy, teaching and sharing there experiences and knowledge.

    Someday I would like to be like these people. However, I fear, by looking at the other teachers, that if I do not work in industry I am always going to be in lecture bored and thinking what if I did something else.

    I like learning for the sake of learning. I'm not sure whether it would be more beneficial to just get a math degree, and study physics on the side, while taking some courses that interest me? Or should I double major? I am planning not to get married, not sure if this matters and I already do not have a social life (doesn't bother me).
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 17, 2015 #2

    RUber

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    Hi MidgetDwarf. I would say first to check with your university to see their policies on double majors. Some colleges allow you to use certain classes to satisfy both degree requirements, others only allow you to assign one class to one degree plan, so you might have to take more classes than you had planned. If you are in the first category, you may only need to take a few extra math classes than normally required for a physics degree to earn the dual diploma.
    With that said, I think your biggest problem might be time. If you are not speedy with the math, advanced math classes can be a time sink. Similarly, physics classes require labs, reports, etc. which are also demanding. Try it out for a few semesters and see...if you can't maintain the course load, there is no harm in slowing down or dropping one of the two tracks.
     
  4. Jun 17, 2015 #3
    If your goal is to teach I'd stick with the math with concentration in teaching and finish quicker.
     
  5. Jun 17, 2015 #4
    True, however, I would like to first work outside of academia and later teach, when I have more life experience. My teacher allows me to do my work, which is next door to math department chair. He has turned down many applicants with a degree with an emphasis of teaching.

    All of my professors advised me strongly not do go this route, because the curriculum is watered down and I would be limiting my Job prospects, if for chance, I do not get a job teaching.

    Thanks Ruber, I got into contact with a few colleges, they told me that a majority of the units are double counted. They did mention that my age could be a not so good idea. They specifically asked me if I wanted to go to grad school, which I do. They advised me to take some physics classess as electives, but never to use this to replace an important math class.

    A few others, said that it is possible, but it would be very extremely hard for the things you mentioned.

    They told me to go back next thursday, there going to bring an advisor and another person to talk to me.
     
  6. Jun 20, 2015 #5
    Your post seems to have some conflicting information in it to me. First you say you are only interested in industry, but later you say you like learning for the sake of learning. Sure, it's possible to have both, but to me it sounds like you are more interested in an academic or teaching environment and are only considering industry because of the money. You will be hard pressed (think...impossible) to find a job in mathematical physics in the private or government sector. Mathematical physicists are usually people with PhDs in physics or mathematics who publish papers and teach classes for a living as a professor and are pretty few and far between. Even highly regarded professors still have to teach undergrads what a derivative is for their job.

    I'm assuming you are working full time since you said you aren't wealthy, but since you aren't married you probably have enough time to take 3 or 4 classes if you devote yourself enough and still make good grades. I wouldn't recommend taking more than 4 courses per semester if you are working full time. You can always take courses over the summer to make up for lost credits. I would recommend that you aim for a PhD if you are genuinely going to do an undergrad in mathematics and physics. If you still want to work in industry, it would be much better to do an engineering degree like materials science and engineering or mechanical engineering.
     
  7. Jun 21, 2015 #6
    [Both OT cE="Hercuflea, post: 5146575, member: 425193"]Your post seems to have some conflicting information in it to me. First you say you are only interested in industry, but later you say you like learning for the sake of learning. Sure, it's possible to have both, but to me it sounds like you are more interested in an academic or teaching environment and are only considering industry because of the money. You will be hard pressed (think...impossible) to find a job in mathematical physics in the private or government sector. Mathematical physicists are usually people with PhDs in physics or mathematics who publish papers and teach classes for a living as a professor and are pretty few and far between. Even highly regarded professors still have to teach undergrads what a derivative is for their job.

    I'm assuming you are working full time since you said you aren't wealthy, but since you aren't married you probably have enough time to take 3 or 4 classes if you devote yourself enough and still make good grades. I wouldn't recommend taking more than 4 courses per semester if you are working full time. You can always take courses over the summer to make up for lost credits. I would recommend that you aim for a PhD if you are genuinely going to do an undergrad in mathematics and physics. If you still want to work in industry, it would be much better to do an engineering degree like materials science and engineering or mechanical engineering.[/QUOTE]

    Yes, sorry about that. My ideal job is a teaching position, not necessarily solely a university. A community college is good enough for me. I just wanted to work in industry before I settled down and became a professor. It seems it is not possible judging by your response. Yes, I am aiming for graduate school.

    Due to cost, I am limited to the California Public University system, calstate for short. I will be graduating with a 3.5 at the bare minimum, and it is quite possible to get a 3.7 maybe a 3.8. I will have completed all general ed requirements. I will have the full calculus sequence, differential equations, intro linear algebra, full introductory physics courses, and at least 1 semester of c programing. I have only 2 B's in my stem courses. They are calculus 1 and linear algebra. Everything else are A's.

    I'm looking into applying to Cal Poly(Both campuses), Long Beach, La. Maybe a few others. Some of my teachers did their under grad at Cal State La, and they had positive experiences. They transfered and completed degrees at UCLA, Yell, and Berkeley. They don't know anything else about the other campuses.

    Can any members chime into schools that are affordable and offer a great education?

    Are out of state schools a cheaper alternative given my economic situation?

    How good are UC giving financial assistance to needy individuals?

    Sorry for questions that are redundant. My parents cannot read or write and I am the only person in my family attending college. The school counselors have a nonchalant attitude regarding information. And what I do know Is by asking or random readings. The counselors at my cc seem to only be informed regarding the social sciences.

    I looked at engineering. I sat in 2 courses. One professor allowed me to take a course for free at a nearby university. Although it was entertainimg, It seemed that alot of the why's were unimportant. Ie, why does this equation work, shut up n calculate. Maybe it was a misconception of a bad exposure to an engineering class?
     
  8. Jun 21, 2015 #7
    Assuming you are going to finish your undergraduate studies at a university in 2 years, it might be hard to finish both the requirements for a physics degree and a math degree in that time. I would recommend choosing a major which will allow you to take the classes that interests you more, and take electives in the other major.

    If you are in-state at California, the CSU's are probably the cheapest option for you, given that they provide a lot of financial aid/scholarship. UC's have their grant calculator and information about scholarships for transfer students, which you can search for yourself (you can also talk to their financial advisers).

    Most introductory engineering classes have less emphasis on conceptual understanding, which is somewhat unfortunate in that a typical engineering curriculum don't train students to be independent thinkers (though there exists exceptions like MIT, who really pushes theory). For example, first and second year math and physics courses at my university, though one can learn a lot from extracurricular study, anyone can pass by remembering solutions to archetype problems which appear on homework and tests every year. However most of them struggle in their upper division studies, when understanding of the concepts comes to a need.
     
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