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Should I quit school altogether

  1. Dec 19, 2015 #1

    I'm having a serious debate with myself as to whether or not I should continue going to University. Four years ago I was on the verge to complete a BA in Philosophy, but quit the program cold before entering my final semester (major motivational issues). I did some soul searching since then and realized that I am much more interested in Physics. I was recently accepted in to a Bsc Physics program at the same school, and was planning on starting another four-year journey in about two weeks from now.

    I cancelled my plans to pursue a degree in Physics recently, and removed all of my upcoming courses from my timetable. I can't commit to another 4-5 years right now, due to my financial and social situation (living with parents in my mid-twenties). I still have the desire to learn physics, and may enroll once again in to a physics program when I am older and financially independent.

    My current situation consists of either going back to complete the BA in Philosophy, which I have no passion for whatsoever, or entering the job market without a degree. From what I've heard, a BA in an arts program may not improve my chances of landing a job, so I may just be wasting my time not learning industry-specific skills (like learning to code). If I plan to finish the BA, I will have one by Sept. 2016.

    My parents really don't want me around anymore, and I don't blame them. I will not ask if I can live with members of my extended family, either. The second option entails struggling for a few years on my own (general labour, etc) while also learning to code on all of my free time/days off. Maybe after a certain period of time (not exactly sure how long this will take) I can land a job as a front-end web developer and make a OK living to start. Looking for some advice on which path I should take and please let me know if you see more options.

    Thank you kindly
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 19, 2015 #2


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    You need a job. If you can find and keep any job, then maybe going to school for Mathematics, computer skills, and some engineering could be practical too. Physics, still maybe... but you want to be sure you have some learned and acquired skills to make you more employable for more than your just "general labor".
  4. Dec 19, 2015 #3
    I understand
  5. Dec 19, 2015 #4
    Maybe, take the math and physics courses at a local community college? Since you have most of your general done from your previous philosophy stint. Not sure if this is viable from where you are from. I am from California, so different policies may apply. Will be cheaper and you won't have to pay big bucks for classes that are considered remedial, if indeed you have to take them.
  6. Dec 19, 2015 #5


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    You may be wasting one semester of time. So what?
  7. Dec 19, 2015 #6


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    you say you have no motivation. what about the motivation to get out of your parents' house and get a job and have a life? you need to finish something. how long would finishing the BA in philosophy take? and certainly those credits should be good towards another major. why would it take another 4 years to do a science degree when you have so many other courses? do you mean you have zero math/physics courses and need 4 years of them for a degree, yet you think you really want to do a degree in physics? i cannot believe that if you are still 4 years from a physics degree that you know enough about it to know that you want that degree either. make a plan to accomplish something in a finite amount of time and stick to it until you are done. and don't quit on the doorstep of completion this time. that's my advice, FWIW.
  8. Dec 19, 2015 #7
    It's just really difficult for me to judge the value of the BA in Philosophy, and the uncertainty about job prospects is causing me a lot of stress. From what I've been told for years by family members, as well the time I have spent researching the subject on my own, is that nobody cares about a piece of paper that says if you have a BA or not (in the humanities). Employers are looking for experience, industry-specific skills, etc. I guess the point I am trying to make is that I can move out on my own now, get a job in an industry with some growth potential, and at the same time self-learn programming skills. My biggest fear is being stuck in the same spot that I am now after I graduate.
  9. Dec 19, 2015 #8
    not too sure what you mean here - is the correct solution to stay home, go back to school, and finish the degree? I can definitely move out now and manage some sort of basic existence for a while, but will certainly forfeit the degree at this point.

    correct, I have zero math/physics courses at the Uni level. I did get A's / A+'s in all of my maths/physics high school courses however. I know there is a giant leap from HS to Uni, but I can be very passionate about things I enjoy. I am certainly not passionate about Philosophy, and the thought of spending more money to go back to school for a subject I find dry is a very intimidating thought.
  10. Dec 19, 2015 #9
    Philosophy is a diverse field, and some parts should be interesting when you have interests in physics: logic, philosophy/history of science, interpretations of quantum mechanics. In the final semester, I would expect you could choose something nice. (And almost everything gets interesting when you get into it.)
  11. Dec 19, 2015 #10
    Yes it so happens that while I was still in the Philosophy program four years ago I enjoyed the logic-based courses the most. If I do re-enter the program I would take only those types of courses you mentioned.
  12. Dec 19, 2015 #11
    Good thing is, Math is logic based. Should be easier for someone with logic training to make the transition into mathematics.
  13. Dec 19, 2015 #12


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    Maybe something other than Physics. You need to work, find a job, and go to school at least to learn some practical skills that could make you employable. Can you work maybe part time at some kind of labor and be a student, to study Mathematics and computer science (including programming)? Have you some interest in any Engineering, chemistry, or microbiology? Could you be just a student for a couple of years, and build some college course credit, MAYBE get an A.A. degree in something, and use that for greater job qualifications? Why restrict yourself to Physics? You have a goal to be independent and get out from your parents.
  14. Dec 19, 2015 #13


    Staff: Mentor

    Same with every other working adult in the world. This is a poor excuse.

    A degree in philosophy is not a golden ticket to sure riches and certain prosperity, but it beats no degree and it only costs you one semester.

    Nobody does care, but not having one gets you automatically disqualified from a lot of jobs. That is one of the easiest criteria to filter applications.
  15. Dec 20, 2015 #14
    There are a lot of jobs that you can get either with or without a particular degree.

    But in my experience, people *with* that piece of paper are usually paid a bit more and treated a bit better than those without.
  16. Dec 20, 2015 #15
    good point.

    Many would consider themselves blessed to have your opportunities.

    Get a job, earn your keep, and take some evening courses to test if what you study is what you like. It's a tough regime but worthwhile earning and learning simultaneously.

    But only you can decide how to stop drifting. Where would you like to be,say, five or ten years from now.....give it some thought. Good luck
  17. Dec 20, 2015 #16
    When you write that you lost your passion for Philosophy, what do you mean? Why did that happen? What turned you off about it?

    Conversely, when you write that you are suddenly interested in Physics. Why? What fascinates you?

    Understanding your own whims might help you decide whether it is worth investing in still more education.
  18. Dec 20, 2015 #17
    I just need something solid and fundamental to focus my attention on. Math/Physics does this, while Philosophy seems to have a lot of fluff that can be entirely opinion based most of the time, if not all the time. The logic courses in Philosophy were alright when I took them.
  19. Dec 20, 2015 #18
    What makes you like physics and what makes you want to spend a lot of time in physics. There are many good reasons to study physics, but also bad ones.
    For example, if you watched a nice documentary on string theory and want to do the same. That would be a bad reason to get into physics.
    Or maybe you think physics will provide you with certainty about philosophical ideas. It will tell you what nature really is. That would also be a bad reason.

    I don't say you can't enjoy physics if you have these bad reasons. But if those are the main motivations for going into physics, you might end up disappointed.
  20. Dec 20, 2015 #19
    If you're planning on studying physics just because it's something solid and fundamental, you're going to waste your time and money. One should only pursue physics if they REALLY love it and have a passion for it, and you don't seem to really have a good idea of what physics is like. It's not like it's portrayed in popular science books, and I echo the advice of the others that if I were you I would move out, get a low level general job to keep yourself going for a while, and take community college classes in different subjects to see what you'll enjoy. As far as money, computer science and engineering (especially petroleum engineering) are your best bets for a degree. I can't recommend enough that you look into petroleum engineering, if you find that you like it then you're going to be set for a well paying job as soon as you graduate. Definitely worth looking into, imo.
  21. Dec 20, 2015 #20


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    Given the current low oil prices, does it really make sense to look into petroleum engineering at this stage (even factoring in that the price of oil may arise substantially)?
  22. Dec 20, 2015 #21
    All I know is that petroleum engineers are literally being bid on by companies straight out of college and sometimes making 6 figure salaries right away, and although things certainly seem to be improving with the economy from what I have seen this trend seems to be continuing. I have no firsthand experience here, this is what from others have told me as well as job reports, so my information could be outdated.
  23. Dec 20, 2015 #22


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    Since you are in your mid-twenties, it may be a good idea to spend a semester-or-so working while you think carefully about what you want to do, as Micromass and JakeBrodsky suggested, to avoid another false start. Maybe you can negotiate with your parents one more semester in their place while pitching in through your job, and going through a description of classes in different majors. Once you are clear on what you want, things will fall into place more easily.

    EDIT: I forgot to say that I agree with DaleSpam (and now Vela's post.) you are so close, get it out of the way , if you can stay at home with a part time job and maybe talk with your parents for advise while you finish.
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2015
  24. Dec 20, 2015 #23


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    I'm with DaleSpam on this. Just finish the philosophy degree and graduate. It's only one more semester, and having that piece of paper will open some doors for you and possibly get you paid better. Then you can get a job, move out, and take physics and math classes if that's what you really want to do.
  25. Dec 20, 2015 #24
    Thanks for the advice everyone, I am still listening.
  26. Dec 20, 2015 #25


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    Don't you have counselors in your school who can guide you?
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