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Should I give up on astrophysics and study something else?

  • Thread starter koh94
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  • #26
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I don't pretend to know where the grads are going- just that they are apparently employed. (Including in grad school, I presume). The study was done by Georgetown, which is not a disreputable institution. It's just a data point for the OP to use, I'm sure he can track it down and decide for himself.
 
  • #27
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How many graduates of astrophysics are there every year? It can't be a large number. When the actual measurement numbers are small, the statistics get silly.
 
  • #28
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To the original poster, I would say invest some time looking into the job market
and any astrophysics or science societies before deciding to change degrees.

I was interested in wireless communications during my undergrad degree, but job prospects
were quite low, so Im now studying to become a maths high school teacher instead and became a ham radio operator (to pursue my passion radio communications).

High school teaching always has job opportunities, provided of course you can handle the kids :P
 
  • #29
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How many graduates of astrophysics are there every year? It can't be a large number. When the actual measurement numbers are small, the statistics get silly.
Probably around 1000. And you're right - if they sample 1% of the students, they will get on average 10 astronomers, and won't be able to tell 5% unemployment from 0 or 10%.
 
  • #30
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Astrophysics has always been my passion. I remember reading many books on it when I was a child, and my fascination grew even more when I took my first intro astrophysics class this year in college. The more I read up on job prospects on astrophysics, the more depressed I get. I have always wanted to study this subject and eventually go on to graduate school in astrophysics. My ultimate goal would be a university professor, but I've heard academic job prospects in physics are dismal, and it's even worse in astrophysics. I can live with not making a lot of money as long as I get to study what I love, but I'm not willing to go into this field knowing that I probably won't be paid very well, I won't have a tenured faculty position, and I'll probably end up having a job that's irrelevant to astrophysics.

Recently, I've just been thinking about going into quantitative finance. I love math, I found economics interesting (I will try a finance course soon), I can tolerate programming, and the salary is very attractive. I just finished up my first year in college, so I'm trying to figure out what I want to major in.

If I decide to pursue astrophysics, I can major in applied mathematics, which is my current major, and minor in physics, OR major in physics with an emphasis in astrophysics (might graduate late), and go to graduate school in astrophysics. If I decide to go into quantitative finance, I will probably major in applied mathematics or statistics with a minor in managerial economics, and go onto graduate school in these fields.

I just finished my first year of college, and I know I'm still young, but it's frustrating deciding on something that your passionate about vs something that will give you a (more) stable future. What are your opinions?
Money won't make up for a job you hate. Do what you love. I would advise a physics undergrad. You can specialize in grad school. There is so much in physics to love/research. You will probably change your mind with each new course. Job outlook and salaries change. If your potential field suddenly took a pay cut, would you still want to do it?

I had a well paid job that I hated ($47.50 hour) in behavior analysis. The money didn't make up for my misery. I recently quit my job to study for GRE and update my rusty knowledge. I did finish first 3 1/2 years of a physics degree before taking off to Europe and finally finishing degree and earning a Masters degree in another field. I am 43 in August and decided it was time to do what I love. Even at my age, I will have 25+ years of work ahead of me. You probably have 50. What do you want to do with the next 50 years? Don't make my mistake.
 
  • #31
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I feel like I've been there before, not sure what to pursue.

Thus far, I have two bachelor's degrees and I'm off to graduate school to get a master's degree. Next year I'll be 30 and I'll have been in school for most of my life. I'm facing two more years of school, with the difficulty ramped up quite a bit (I imagine).

I think I could've saved a whole lot of time if I had just stuck with one plan.

My advice is to stick with one, single long-term plan, that has measurable goals. Reflect on your progress, when it's made, and expect some challenges.

Once you've reached your goal and experienced that reality, you'll probably have a very different perspective on things.
 
  • #32
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PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!!! DO NOT GIVE UP ON YOUR PASSION!!!

yes, you cite competition and lack of jobs.. but you are PASSIONATE!!! almost NOBODY is... PLEASE! I just graduated from a VERY demanding major (architecture) that i wasnt passionate about, and i just kept pushing myself because it was what I was supossed to do, what I needed to do.. I have now discovered my pasion is in product design, and I feel like I lost 4 years of my life.. where would I be now if I had dug deeper, and didnt just go along with what everybody expected.

You are lucky enough to know what you are passionate about. Please do not quit. I know this sounds naive, but trust me. You dont have to do traditional jobs... You can write books about astrophysics, make movies about astrophysics, sing songs, I dont know. Anything! But do not give up on your passion... Maybe you wont be rich (who knows!?)... But you'll be so passionate about your work, you will change somebody's life...

I know this man who sells food off a food cart. This man will never be rich or famous. And it doesnt matter. But this man is so dedicated and so passionate about his craft, that you just know. Eating this man's food is a pleasure. You feel like you are experiencing a work of art. This guy is an inspiration. Please keep inspiring yourself and other through your passion... DO NOT LET GO!

Passion and devotion to work are absolutely essential to live meaningful lives...

I leave you with a quote that may sound cliché, but i feel to be absolutely true today.. dont know where its from..

"But what if I fail?... Oh darling, what if you fly..?"
 
  • #33
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Passion and devotion to work are absolutely essential to live meaningful lives...
...
"But what if I fail?... Oh darling, what if you fly..?"
You make it sound as if work is the only meaningful thing there is in life. It is not.

My wife and children matter to me more than work.

I have passions: brewing beer, building radios, piloting airplanes, and coaching shooting sports, to name a few. My job helps to fund those passions.

I like my work, but if it were the only thing in my life, I would be a very shallow person.
 
  • #34
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totally understand.. And im happy you have found meaning in your life.. I speak only from my opinion.

I do not have a wife or kids, and am at a moment in my life where i feel like i need to define myself as a individual in society, and I particularly feel like that has a strong connection to my work and career. Im 24.

Thanks for the kind words,

Luis
 
  • #35
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PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!!! DO NOT GIVE UP ON YOUR PASSION!!!

yes, you cite competition and lack of jobs.. but you are PASSIONATE!!! almost NOBODY is...
I think graduates in physics are likely to be passionate about their chosen major. You hardly embark on doing a PhD in physics without passion (when most of your friends and schoolmates are starting their first well-paying jobs).

But I found the concept of an alleged life-long singular passion for something not very helpful anyway. You don't really know what it feels "to do physics" (academically) unless you tried or unless you talked to some persons who speak from first-hand experience and who probably change the picture of a typical physicist created by popular science shows and articles.

On the other hand you might find out that you are passionate about things you did not even consider when "discovering" your first passion - because you don't know about existing jobs or industry sectors yet - and because technology is evolving fast: I am passionate for fields / things / projects and indulge in ways of working today that simply did not exist at the time I graduated.
 

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