1. Not finding help here? Sign up for a free 30min 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!

Admissions Seeking Graduate Admissions Advice

  1. Mar 16, 2010 #1
    Hi, I am a freshman engineering major thinking about graduate school. I am also thinking about whether or not to change my major when I get to graduate school. If I change my major, I will change it to either physics, mathematics, actuarial science, or statistics. I have made a list of pros and cons of switching to one of these majors and I would like to know your opinion.

    PROS:
    - Since I plan to pursue a career that involves research, I think a graduate degree in physics or mathematics would be better suited for this type of work than a graduate degree in engineering.
    - I don't really like to build things and I would prefer an office setting.
    - I like and am good at math and physics.
    - I didn't do well in the courses related to my major and I didn't find those courses interesting.

    CONS:
    - Most of the courses I take as an undergraduate will prepare me for an engineering career.
    - Although the undergraduate engineering curriculum covers a lot of math and physics in the early years (freshman, sophomore, some of junior), we won't learn any more math or physics in the later years (end of junior year and senior year).
    - I'm not sure if most graduate programs will take me based on the classes I took as an undergraduate.

    I am still a freshman so I think I still have time to figure this out. In my own free time, I am studying math topics that my major's curriculum doesn't cover. Also, I am studying for the GRE. I plan to take the math subject test along with the general test.

    I am trying to get research experience too.

    The college I go to doesn't do GPAs; we just do weighted averages. My weighted average is an 85 (out of 100), which is a B. I got all A's in math and physics but a C in the class with my major.

    My goal is to get into MIT. A lot of people from my school get in every year but I don't know anyone who's gotten into the mathematics program. But I will also look at other schools because I know that MIT is very hard to get into.

    If anyone has any suggestions as to whether or not I should switch majors, how to get research experience, how to study for the GRE, what's the best way to prepare in order to get into MIT, and any other schools that I should think about, please post them here. Your advice will be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 16, 2010 #2
    Do you prefer an office setting or a lab setting? Are you interested in business? Do you know what you would like to do when you are done with school, or do you have some sort of idea?

    Also, you don't really change majors for grad school. You should probably major in whatever it is that you would like to study later on. It's not impossible to switch, but you'll certainly have an easier time applying to the field you majored in.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2010
  4. Mar 16, 2010 #3
    Oh, and welcome to PF :smile:.
     
  5. Mar 16, 2010 #4
    Either an office setting or a lab setting will be good for me. I just don't want to work outside or in hazardous areas (e.g. hard hat areas or places that require hearing protection). I'm not particularly interested in business. I want to do either research in mathematics or physics when I'm done with school.

    I am afraid to change majors right now because I don't know exactly what I'll be doing in the future. The only reason why I'm majoring in engineering is because it encompasses both math and physics, my two favorite subjects. So if I change and become a math major, I won't have the opportunity to learn enough physics. If I become a physics major, I won't have the opportunity to learn as much math as I would if I just kept on studying engineering.
     
  6. Mar 16, 2010 #5
    If I were you I would look into the types of research that engineering PhDs do. You might find that there are some areas that interest you and would be a perfect match for what you are doing now. Otherwise, you may want to decide pretty quickly what you want to go for. You can change later if necessary, but if you know you don't want to do engineering, you aren't helping yourself by staying with it.

    Another very important thing for now will just be to keep your grades up even if you aren't as motivated about staying with whatever it is you are currently studying.

    Have you considered the types of jobs math and physics PhDs can have? You should not plan on being a professor at this point. Realistically, you will probably have to do something else, and you might want to have in mind what that something else would be.
     
  7. Mar 16, 2010 #6
    Why do an undergraduate degree in engineering if you don't find engineering classes interesting? If you don't like something don't do it.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook