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Selecting a Vocation

  1. Apr 15, 2009 #1
    This may have occurred to many, where one finds himself unsure as to whether he truly loves science or something else. I'm facing a duality of pure memorization-to-get-good-grades as opposed to true understanding. This bores me to such a level that description is impossible. The further I (academically) progress in science, the more often I notice that one does not need intelligence to do great, one needs only to memorize the whole book. Anyway, how did you figure out what you wanted to study? Why didn't you choose psychology? Surely you very much disliked some or most parts of a year/semester/area... Specific details would be VERY appreciated.

    A little information about myself: I love mathematics, and I self-study maths and read various types of books on my free time. I love understanding, and I despise rote learning and memorization (Biology, chemistry...-_-)..

    Thank you very much.

    Edit: The end of the semester is nearing, and thus why I have the opportunity to switch from pure sciences to anything I'd like, anything hopefully harder (ironically), or more interesting. I'd very much enjoy career suggestions, tips, or just why I'm plainly mistaken in doing this, haha.
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2009
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  3. Apr 18, 2009 #2
    I think there are many biologists and chemists who would disagree sharply with this characterization. It's hard to imagine fields as experiment-driven as these being lumped in with "rote" subjects.

    Obviously, nobody can tell you what to do or glean what is right for you. That's for you to decide. However, upon reading your post, two thoughts come to my mind.

    First, studying science is not limiting your options. If you major in chemistry but decide to become a poet, then you can do that. But you would be hard pressed to find many poetry majors becoming professional chemists. Or, if you prefer, substitute "lawyer" for "poet", or pretty much any other profession, too. I think what I'm saying is that you can jump from science to something else any time you want, but you might never be able to jump back.

    Second, memorization is an important part of life and of skill acquisition. You may not like that kind of work, but it's called "work" for a reason. It's fun to major in something like folklore and mythology, and you can even justify doing so because it "teaches you how to think." But in reality, you're going to want to have something to think about! Probably, nobody is ever going to pay you to "understand" something. But there are plenty of ways to make a living by solving problems. And the ability to do that comes in a large part from making new connections among skills you have learned (which rest partly on memorization).

    And by way of disclaimer, one of my best friends was an F&M major, so I'm allowed to give him a hard time about it. :smile:
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2009
  4. Apr 18, 2009 #3


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    I might add that the further you advance in any subject area, the more opportunity/necessity there is for independent thought. But I can certainly understand how frustrating it can be when you're lumped in a class of 2000 other people that's graded by a multiple choice exam and difference between a top mark and an okay mark has more to to with whether or not you memorize specific wording as opposed to whether or not you actually understand the material.

    I once had a first year biology professor who was infamous for his fill-in-the-blank exams that went something along the lines of:
    The ______ and ______ are _______ of ________, _________, and _______, but not ________.

    We've all had classes that we haven't enjoyed. I think there's a certain element of faith that you have to hold on to that it gets better at some point. That's easy to say for me, because I think I always had at least one class that I enjoyed. If nothing is coming together, and you're really not enjoying the path you're on, and you don't have anything tangible to look forward too, then it may be worth exploring other options.
  5. Apr 18, 2009 #4


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    As of me, I wouldn't consider psychology, languages and other related disciplines as being serious enough to dedicate a whole life; despite the fact they are very vasts, fascinating and so on.
    On the other hand I feel that physics and mathematics are way too special and serious to be ignored and hence they deserve to be learned at a maximum depth. (that is, still as of me).

    I'm sorry if many are angry reading this but after all I'm not arguing that I'm saying the absolute truth but this is rather an opinion.
    I can't imagine studying seriously any other subjects than physics/maths. By seriously I mean by dedicating a great amount of time compared to a human's lifetime.
  6. Apr 18, 2009 #5


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    Fragment said:
    You are most obviously more interested in a path toward Physics or Engineering. Don't shut out Biology completely. Some of the general introductory courses in Biology might be dull and rely too much on memorization, but your feeling could change if you try an introductory Microbiology course. One reason suggesting your could be interested in Physics and Engineering is that you may feel more comfortable with some of the equipment used in Engineering, Chemistry, and Biology/biological investigations (Microscopes, autoclaves, radiation sources or devices, pumps).
  7. Apr 18, 2009 #6
    Yes, I totally agree.
    I used to take a course in Microbiology and really like the culture lecture on the subject. You will love stories about colonization of micro-organisms which is "symbolysed" by several simulation projects in computer science also...I am not interested in simulation but they are nice to watch.
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