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Switching majors

  1. Nov 19, 2011 #1
    Hi, can anyone give advice on whether I should switch my major from chemistry to physics?
    I'm not the best at physics, so will it be too hard? Does physics get significantly harder in upper years?
    If you put in the work and effort to keep up with the classes, is it possible to do well? Or is it that no matter how much you study for it, you'll always have a chance of not doing well since it's all problem solving?

  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 19, 2011 #2
    Yes, you will do well if you put in work and effort. You should do the major that you would enjoy/find interesting, though.
  4. Nov 19, 2011 #3
    See, it all depends on your interests and career goals. If you are sincere of course you will do well. Regarding whether it will get hard or not. It will but you will also have some expertise to tackle the problems.
  5. Nov 19, 2011 #4


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    Yes, physics gets significantly harder if the only experience you have with it so far is the introductory classes. Those are pretty easy, so if you're not doing very well in them, physics might not be the best choice of major for you. Why are you thinking about switching to physics?
  6. Nov 19, 2011 #5
    So your saying intro classes might be an indicator of your performance in higher classes?

    Maybe, or maybe not. Personally, I'm completely bored out of my mind with Calc-based physics I because I'm being introduced the concepts all over again and classical mechanics doesn't fancy me much. And I'm the kind of person where if I'm not interested in the material I won't do much. Luckily, my interest is easily sparked haha. But don't get me wrong, first time I took the class in highschool I fell in love, but now it feels almost redundant haha.

    I can spend all the time in the world in calculus because I enjoy it, but if I don't get an A in physics does that mean I won't excel in future classes? Some excel by pure discipline, that isn't me in calc based physics I at the moment.

    In other words OP, the most important aspect is how much time you are willing to put in studying. Your only enemy is time. If you have the interest that is supplemented by discipline then you will be fine. If you got a B because you felt pretty bored towards the class that is stripped of all its beauty then give it another shot. But if you got a C then you might want to consider something else, or learn from your mistakes and put in 3x more effort.
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2011
  7. Nov 19, 2011 #6
    I don't know if it will be too hard. I don't know you, or your capabilities. Furthermore, the classes do get harder as you proceed to upper level courses (just as with any degree), and the severity is relative. You are expected to have a lot more background knowledge.

    Yes, it's possible to do well.

    Yes, there's always the chance that you may not do well. Albeit, with proper study habits and exceptional motivation it would be a small one.
  8. Nov 19, 2011 #7
    honestly you can't tell based on any one thing, but im sure advanced physics is pretty difficult. . . however, if you want anything bad enough, you will make it work, and to some people, that is all that matters.
  9. Nov 20, 2011 #8
    At this point, it's possible to take courses from BOTH fields... in fact, they are complementary to each other... so the coursework you take in physics will give you a deeper understanding of how chemistry works (ex. quantum physics)... and the coursework in chemistry will help you see physics being applied. I'd suggest that you settle down a bit about the decision of switching... and just look to plan your coursework so that you could take either route. Once you take a course, you can then decide whether or not it's for you.

    I was a double-major in physics and chemistry for quite some time... so it can work. Eventually in my junior year, I ran into a conflict with labs... but I wasn't (surprisingly) enjoying PChem (in part becuase it seemed to be glossing over a lot of elegant physics). In my case, at this conflict point, the physics degree won out... but I had a solid chem minor, which helped in my later studies and employment.

    Even if you choose to stay with chemistry, a course or two in physics (especially quantum or statistical thermo) will be highly complementary.
  10. Mar 1, 2012 #9
    I am an undergrad in organic chem 1 right now and find it absolutely mind-numbing, ridiculous course. I am interested in mathematical explanations of chemical processes and find physical chemistry interesting. I want to do a grad studies in theoretical or quantum chemistry (PhD), but wonder if I can get the skills and knowledge better from modern physics and quantum mechanics course from phys.department rather than chem.department P.Chem courses.

    Can you give me some insights on that? People who are in grad theoretical chemistry (couple of TA's I talked to) seem to have a little physics envy. So I wonder I probably should go major in physics before it is too late and tackle this theoretical chemistry problems from physical perspective.

    What do you think?
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