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Some advice for a perspective student in phyics?

  1. May 15, 2012 #1
    Hello fellow phyisics geeks, I am quite happy to finally find a forum in which the topic of physics is commonplace. I have am new here posting, but I have been reading posts here for a while. I do have some questions that I would really appreciate some help with. First a little about myself, I am 23 years old and I already have a b.s. in Business Management and marekting. I have recently left a position in sales from a pretty well respected company because as it seems, in business you must do sales to move up into any type of management or other positions. So in search for another job, I started contemplating whether or not to go back to school? I figured I would go back to be a mechanical engineer since I am a gearhead, big car guy, interested in designing engines for nhra pro stock. But I soon realized that cars were just a hobby for me, and mechanical engineering simply wont suffice. I have always had an interest in phyiscs, but never pursued the degree citing the fact that jobs are a bit harder to come by, and I always thought I wouldnt have the mind to be in phyics. But now the bug has bit me very hard, I want to go back to school for physics now, and I cannot wait to start the degree. The problem that I am having really is that with the degree I have and the loans I have to pay off, coupled with the physics degree I want, hopefully nothing short of a Masters, would love for a ph.d but dont know if I can afford that, is going to be killer on me with loans, we are talking about 100 grand worth of loans for just my b.s. in biz and a b.s. in physics. So the real question(s) I have are, 1. what can I expect job wise really with a bachelors or masters in physics, 2. I would ideally pursue a theoretical physicist job, but I dont know where to go for that? 3. are there any ways to pursue this degree with some financial help? 4. what should I expect as an income for with this degree right out of school? Please realize that I am not going into physics for money, but at the same time I do not want to be living with my parents for the next 10 years if you catch my drift.

    Thank you,

  2. jcsd
  3. May 15, 2012 #2
    Why do you find physics interesting?? What do you find so interesting? What physics do you already know or have already done?? Do you like math?

    I'm asking, because maybe physics isn't the right major for you. Nothing is worse then going to school, expecting to study something you like, and then finding out that this was never covered in school, or that it was done in a way you don't like.
  4. May 15, 2012 #3


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    It's important to remember that a degree in physics is an education and not necessarily job training. Sometimes workplace-specific training is needed after the degree (probably not what you want to hear, but better you learn it now). Physics majors tend to end up in a lot of different areas in the workforce. Their average salary tends to quite similar to that of engineers, but the spead tends to be a lot wider.

    Start with a degree in physics and build on that. Before you've really taken any serious physics courses you can't really know what field you want to get into. At your stage you may want to try taking some community college introductory courses before quitting your day job - just to be sure that you know what you're jumping into.

    I don't know too much about how things work when you already have a degree. But there are always approaches to mitigate the costs from the $100k you mentioned. This is one place where starting at a community college can really help offset some cost. Then obviously there are part-time and summer jobs, as well as co-op placements. You also have to pay attention to scholarships. Often universities will have all sorts of very specific scholarships awarded to "enterprizing student in the second year of a physics degree with a black dog who wrote an essay on world peace and..."

    Look up the AIP statistics for the data.
  5. May 15, 2012 #4
    Hey guys thanks so far for the responses. Physics for me provides anwers nothing else will. Engineering is a great job, its a great career, it is not for me, requires too much of a black and white perspective. Physics, from how I have percieved it, allows for many different thought processes, not only that but my personal traits have me striving always for beginning stages of a project or theory. In other words I am simply not interest in applying principles that have already been created, not to say that isnt impressive, because we all know that it is, but I am enthralled because I want to know more on a unified theory, I want to know more on string theory, more on quantum mechanics, and theoretical mechanics/physics as well. I am strong in math, I have a few college level calc courses but they were 4 years ago so I am a bit rusty. Basically to sum up the reasons for physics to me is that I have the want to apply my brain and learn as much as possible in the physical realm of the universe. I have minimal interest in going to be an engineer for some company and developing products all day long. I have bigger ambitions.
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