Should I Take Physics?

  • Physics
  • Thread starter final_arrow3
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  • #1
Hey guys,

I've never posted anything on this forum before but I've quoted you guys in my IB TOK papers ;) I've recently reached a dilemma (if you can't figure it out from the title...) and I would like to know some opinions from people who are more immersed in the field of physics and engineering.

Basically, I've always enjoyed physics because I like the mathematical problem-solving aspect and I'm a very good student when it comes to problem-solving. Hence, I've done quite well in my IB math course and IB physics. However, this past summer in between my grade 11 and 12 year I had a really amazing experience.

I participated in the International Summer School for Young Physicists hosted by Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. Well, everything I learned there was AMAZING! Physics is so ridiculously interesting to me, there's so much to learn, so many cool things going on in our world - it freakin blows my mind! So anyway, what you can take from that is "I really want to take physics."

However, the problem is that up until now I've always assumed I'd be an engineer. I may be smart but I'm not a genius (unlike some of the people I met at ISSYP). Plus, it seems like my skillset, problem-solving and mathematical ability, is well suited to engineering. Basically, I feel like I could do well at an engineering job and only need a bachelors as opposed to studynig for 10 years under a grueling Ph.D program.

So now I've been accepted to McGill University and I'm currently balancing two options: computer engineering or going straight into honors physics. To be honest, I bet most of you can figure out by now that I'm leaning (strongly) towards physics and I would really love to take it. But, job prospects and employability is really really important to me because I come from a low-income immigrant family and I feel like in my future I will need to support not only my own family but my parents as well. Thus I need something that pays and doesn't leave me looking for any kind of work whatsoever (read: MacDonalds) which is what I'm afraid having a Ph.D might reduce me to because I've heard that a Ph.D degree limits a lot of career possibilities by making you "over-qualified." And, on the other hand, I feel like engineering would be a very safe bet but I'm betting I wouldn't enjoy it nearly as much because I'm not big on creativity and designing thing, besides you don't get to probe the foundations of our universe. ;)

I would like some opinions to help me guide my path or at least get me better informed. Specific questions would be: "What kind of employment opportunities are available to graduates with a Bachelor's of Science, major physics, a master's of physics and a Ph.D in physics?" "What kind of competition is there for researching physics positions?" "Is it likely that most graduates of physics will be able to find "good" work (good can mean many things but I hope anyone whose answering this has a definition in their head already)?" "For graduates who have a Ph.D: were you genii (geniuses I think it means) or were you able to get a doctorate just by being "bright" and working your *** off?"

That's probably it for now. Depending on the answers I get and how I lean during the next few days there will probably be follow-up questions throughout this thread. Anyway thanks to everyone who got this far down the post, I know I wrote a book. Please, any comments would help greatly. Thank you.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
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Wow, I am actually in the same position as you. Coming from a lower income family wanting to do physics, and I know I have already made a similar thread but would like to hear more responses. Also people have recommended me engineering physics programs. See if McGill offer it, I know u of t does. Best wishes.
 
  • #3
Haha sorry to hear it John H, I would hate for anyone else to go through the stress I am :P McGill doesn't offer engineering physics but I actually just accepted my offer to the Honors Physics program. I've been left deciding for the last, well quite some time, "should I live for others or should I live for myself?" I decided it's more important to me to pursue what I want to do. Worst case scenario: I either go through a really hard bachelors program to become a computer engineer or scientist or something like that or I get a Ph.D and end up in a engineering/computer/technology something job that I don't like. Best case scenario: I become a particle physicist researcher at CERN!!! (haha unrealistic but who knows? :))
 

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