Should I pursue a second undergrad degree?

In summary, the conversation discusses the possibility of a career change from an arts program to a career in the natural sciences. The individual is considering pursuing a second bachelor's degree in physics, but has concerns about being accepted into a program and potentially being an older student compared to their peers. They seek advice on whether it is worth pursuing this change and any experiences others may have had with a similar situation. The conversation ends with a discussion on the importance of following one's interests and the potential for career paths to change and evolve over time.
  • #1
Nommo
2
0
Hi all! This is my first post.

I'm currently in the third year of an arts program. For a while now I've been dissatisfied with the way my education and career have been heading, and I'm realizing that I'm much better suited to the natural sciences. Specifically, I've been teaching myself basic physics, stimulated by some material I covered in a multivariable calculus course, and have fallen in love with the subject. Now I'm thinking I would like nothing better than a career in this field.

Problem is, my formal science education ended in grade 11. At the time I was turned off to physics by a string of bad teachers and discouragement by my parents. Now I don't know what to do. I am very tempted to do a second bachelor's in physics and eventually go for grad school.

But all in all, I don't know if this is feasible or not, and I don't much relish the idea of being a 40-year-old post-doc. Here are some questions I have:

1. Is it hard to be accepted into a decent science department without having senior-year high school science under my belt? I'll have an okay math background by the time I graduate, including differential equations and some real analysis, but no science. I'm guessing that this might be a huge obstacle. I also guess that even simply having a first degree might disqualify me from many schools.

2. If I were accepted into a degree program, would I be able to fast-track through it at all? I figure I would be able to at least test out of first-year physics, but I have no lab experience, and I suppose they wouldn't give me a B.Sc if I didn't cover freshman-level general science.

3. Is there any stigma attached to being an older (relative to most of my peers, as a first-year) grad student, or beginning post-doc?

And finally, this is more subjective, but do you think all this is worth it? Does anyone have experience with a post-bachelor's change of track like this? Thanks in advance for any comments!
 
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  • #2
Can you just double major in science at your current school? It should take less time 'cause your cores may carry over.

1&2 depend on the school. Some of the prestigious ones aren't keen on 2nd degree students, public schools take 'em all the time. My school treats 2nd degrees as transfer students and evaluates their first degree for equivalencies and such and then figures out a curriculum from there. Give an idea of which schools you're looking at and someone may be able to give you more specific advice.

3. A couple of the people I most looked up to in school were 2nd degree/come back to school types. Again, I'm in a big public school with lots of non-traditional students; this is probably one of those environment dependent things, but all the other threads here that ask the same thing basically come to the conclusion that it'll be fine.
 
  • #3
Nommo said:
Hi all! This is my first post.

I'm currently in the third year of an arts program.


Third year huh?...If you want to pursue a second degree (in the lucrative manner), that's another four years or so. Do you have the time and money to do that?

If you are just studying out of interest, sure go for it, but the times are against you my friend.

Don't let my words discourage you.

May the force be with you, my jedi, I mean scholar.
 
  • #4
flyingpig said:
If you are just studying out of interest, sure go for it, but the times are against you my friend.

.

If you can afford it and it is also feasible within your own circumstances, then definitely do some investigating.

Now as for whether or not you'll find a university that will accept you, I can't really speak for how thing work in the US. I know that in the UK, given the math background you describe, it would be no problem at all.

Finally, when weighing up your options (I say this also for flyingpig's benefit) - remember that, either way you're going to have a career. Whether it's something you enjoy or not depends on your decisions throughout. So, to me, it would mean that starting 5 years late is no price for 30 years of happier working.
 
  • #5
fasterthanjoao said:
If you can afford it and it is also feasible within your own circumstances, then definitely do some investigating.

Now as for whether or not you'll find a university that will accept you, I can't really speak for how thing work in the US. I know that in the UK, given the math background you describe, it would be no problem at all.

Finally, when weighing up your options (I say this also for flyingpig's benefit) - remember that, either way you're going to have a career. Whether it's something you enjoy or not depends on your decisions throughout. So, to me, it would mean that starting 5 years late is no price for 30 years of happier working.

Did you see the guy who regreted with his BS in Physics?
 
  • #6
flyingpig said:
Did you see the guy who regreted with his BS in Physics?

So...you're saying that one shouldn't attempt anything because there's a possibility that you might regret it?

For the time being, the OP believes that they want to move into science. You can't know if you'll regret it until you try - what is important is that the OP knows that the situation they are currently in is not the one they wish to remain in. Some people will perhaps realize that they didn't make the decision that is correct for them - well, it's exactly what is happening with the current degree. It's also important to consider that careers are very rarely as straight forward as you initially imagine it to be. Speak to your lecturers. Many of them will be working in areas that are the result of a complex evolution in their interests. Many people end up in places they would previously never have seen themselves. Reaching the point where you're doing what you truly want to obviously involves a combination of factors. it's important to follow your interests, and figure how this marries up with feasibility etc.
 
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  • #7
Thanks for your thoughts. So, from what I've been reading in this forum and other places, it would be next to impossible for me to ever obtain a decent faculty position.

Okay, in that case, I would certainly not mind working in industry or government. I understand that physics Ph.D.s industry actually outnumber those in academia. But is there a good chance to work specifically *as a physicist* -- working with physics in technology, for example? Or do most graduates end up working in unrelated fields, like programming and finance?
 
  • #8
Nommo said:
... it would be next to impossible for me to ever obtain a decent faculty position.
I think it is a long shot for anyone, but it is not a bad thing to dream about as long as you realize that you will revise your goals several times on the way. There are many people who decide to go for a 2nd degree. There is no problem with age. Just make sure your motivation is in the right place...
 

1. What are the benefits of pursuing a second undergraduate degree?

Pursuing a second undergraduate degree can provide you with advanced knowledge and skills in a new field, which can open up new career opportunities. It can also show potential employers your commitment to continuous learning and your ability to adapt to new subjects.

2. Will I have to start from scratch for my second undergraduate degree?

It depends on the degree program and your previous coursework. Some universities may offer credit for courses taken during your first undergraduate degree, while others may require you to start from the beginning. It is best to check with the specific university and program you are interested in.

3. Can I pursue a second undergraduate degree while working full-time?

It is possible, but it may be challenging to balance both commitments. Some universities may offer flexible or online options for their degree programs, which can make it easier to manage. It is important to carefully consider your schedule and workload before committing to a second undergraduate degree.

4. How long will it take to complete a second undergraduate degree?

The length of time it takes to complete a second undergraduate degree depends on several factors, such as the program requirements, your previous coursework, and your course load. On average, it can take 2-4 years to complete a second undergraduate degree.

5. Is pursuing a second undergraduate degree worth the time and financial investment?

This ultimately depends on your individual goals and circumstances. It is important to carefully consider the potential benefits and costs of pursuing a second undergraduate degree before making a decision. It may be helpful to speak with a career counselor or individuals in your desired field to gather more information and make an informed decision.

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