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Courses Switching Fields: Should I finish the major or just switch?

  1. Feb 12, 2017 #1
    I'm a sophomore math and physics double major, and I'm losing interest in physics. I still love math (like seriously love), but I honestly don't see myself working in a physics lab or anything. A lot of the modern physics stuff really does not appeal to me at all.

    I currently plan on switching fields after undergrad and getting my masters in computer science (I've been python programming for a few years). I see myself continuing to a PhD program afterwards, but that's way too far in the future for me to be certain.

    I need 5 more classes to satisfy my physics major (quantum I and II, electromagnetic theory, math methods in physics, and another lab). The question is, should I just stop taking the physics courses and start picking up on the cs material, or should I finish the major and squeeze in whatever cs courses I can?

    My primary fear is that my waning interest in physics will drop my gpa. For instance, I got an A+ in my upper level electrodynamics class by a huge margin. I now have statistical mechanics with the same professor and I hit the average dead on for the first midterm, i.e. I'll likely end up with a B if this continues. Worst case scenario, my physics gpa drops from 3.922 to 3.663 after this semester (I definitely won't get worse than a B in my physics classes).

    I'm leaning towards finishing the physics major. I'd appreciate any comments/opinions anyone has!
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 12, 2017 #2
    Two initial comments:
    1) You say "a lot of the modern physics stuff" doesn't interest you at all, but you don't appear to have taken a quantum course or a math methods course. For many (myself included), this is when physics really starts to get interesting!

    2) Why not double-major in math and CS, and pursue a minor in physics? I did something similar (double major in math/physics, minor in CS) and the three really seem to complement each other.
  4. Feb 12, 2017 #3
    Hmm, maybe you should try to revive your interest in Physics again, not that you have to go into a career for it but motivation really does make a difference in grades. In psychology, there's something called the mere exposure effect or familiarity principle, where the more you're exposed to something, the more you enjoy it, because humans tend to feel comfortable around things we are familiar with. However, the concept also states there comes a point where when you expose yourself to it too much, you also tend to get bored or tired with it. It could also be burn out, if you feel like you're stressing yourself out with physics, you'll tend to develop resentful/negative feelings. If that's the case maybe you should take a break from physics or lessen the amount of physics courses you're taking. I would finish it since you're so close and the skills are somewhat transferable. I'm starting as a Physics and Mathematics Major myself and I heard the first two years can be a little dull, but it gets more interesting and wild in the 3rd and 4th year.

    But if you're sure that you won't be needing physics in your career, might as well cut your losses and start taking computer science course. I think most graduate schools only require that you have a relevant degree like math in your and mainly look at your courses to see if you would be prepare. If you're going to do a comp sci major, then you'll probably stay back a semester or two.
  5. Feb 12, 2017 #4
    Are you really suggesting that the OP apply this to his/her college major?

    OP still has over two years left, they aren't even halfway (more than likely), plus it sounds like you have never gone through an undergrad degree program in physics. You don't half-ass a physics degree, and you can't "wing" upper-level physics courses.
  6. Feb 12, 2017 #5
    1) You're right about this, which is why I'm leaning towards finishing. I've been attending talks/seminars whenever they show up to try to see if anything really sparks my interest, but my interest is typically nothing beyond "hey that's cool." Not sure if that means anything.

    2) It's a bit late to switch, and I more than likely would not be able to finish a cs degree with my remaining 4 semesters. My scholarship is for 4 years, so I'd rather not shell out for an extra semester.

    I do feel a little burned out, but I thinks that more so because I feel immense pressure to maintain a high gpa for grad school while working on a research project. There isn't much time for me to, say, start building my own website or work on these little projects I keep writing down.

    To clarify, this is my 4th semester, so I am *almost* halfway through :)
  7. Feb 12, 2017 #6
    It could, just pointing to a theory of course, I did offer alternative explanations, its just something I've noticed in my own experience.

    Yes I believe I stated I was just starting my Physics and Math major, in general starting my university experience, so it would be indeed correct to assume have I never gone through an undergrad degree in physics. However, I fail to understand where you inferred the last part.
  8. Feb 12, 2017 #7


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    I would just stop at a minor if you are not that interested and take additional classes if you are interested without feeling pressure to fulfill all of the requirements. I don't think doing a double major is as impressive as people think. This is especially true if you are applying to grad school as they are interested in the specific courses you took and your performance in those courses, not the name of the other major listed on your transcript.
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