Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

To continue with college or not?

  1. Nov 5, 2012 #1
    Of course I understand that ultimately, I am the only person responsible for answering that question, and I am the only person who can answer that question. But I would like some advice and guidance.

    I am currently a sophomore who is lost in what she wants to do. I am very very very passionate and interested in Psychology (especially when it involves biology), but I don't like the options that are opened to that degree. A B.S degree is Psychology is often regarded as an "useless" degree. And I agree. It is one of the most popular degrees and most people who hold that degree are unemployed or have jobs that don't require those degrees (fast food, etc). I am also interested in Economics and am considering majoring in Psychology (with emphasis in Biology) and minor in Economics.

    Even if I do manage to get a job with that degree, I won't like it. I'm not interested in being a therapist or social worker. The only thing I think I wouldn't really mind doing is maybe research in the psychology field. I am confounded by how I could like a subject so much but hate the jobs that involve knowledge from that subject. Is that common?

    I was an Engineering major during freshman year but I kept being afraid that I was going to fail. This anxiety caused me to procrastinate a lot, to the point where I've failed most of my classes. I've never been very good in math. In high school, I suffered from an eating disorder that disabled me from learning math well. So my foundation in math is very shaky. Plus, i don't think I'm bright enough to be an Engineer. I am very interested in technology, fascinated everytime an invention betters my and other peoples' lives. But i understand that aptitude and interest are two different things. Also, I don't deal well with stress. It seems to me, through a lot of research about the profession, that Engineering is an on-call job, and one where you have tremendous responsibility in. When I am stressed, I wash my hands a lot. I don't know why. I think I have OCD, but I don't understand why being stressed exacerbates it. Stress also played a part in my eating disorders in the past. But I digress. The point I'm trying to make is that I am not someone who can deal with stress well.

    My grades are so bad that I got kicked out of university, and am now attending a CC. I have to complete the lower division courses before I can go back to university ( i have signed a contract with them).

    I feel that without majoring in Engineering and without a GPA high enough to get into Pharmacy,medical, or grad school, my degree is really worthless. I'm wasting time and money to get a degree that will give me no return. I am already 10k in debt from freshmen year.

    Given my already ruined GPA (around 1.3) and my inability to be an Engineer, should I still continue with college? Should I pull out before my debt begins stacking even higher?

    As for money, I don't need to make too much. I don't plan on having kids or marrying, so I will only have myself and maybe my aging parents to feed. I'd like to take them on a vacation or two, but other than that, I'm content with living in a small studio apartment that has plumbing, a warm bed, internet access, and food. I think 30k-40k would allow me to have a very comfortable living. Of course I'd like to make more (who wouldn't?) but I would be able to sustain and be content with that amount of money.

    Thanks very much. All opinions are welcome and appreciated.
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2012
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 5, 2012 #2
    I think you should keep going. Even if you only finish with an associate's from the community college. Have you tried programming? That might fit into your fascination with technology, and is a very active career -- you're constantly seeing your code work and evolve into bigger things, especially with a team.

    I'm typically an all or nothing kind of person, which is more or less why I'm in school right now. I'm first year physics and am terrified of failing, too. I've learned to channel that into stubbornness. If I'm afraid of failing a test, I do more and more math problems until it makes me sick. And usually, it stops making me sick when I see I'm actually doing it right, so by the time I get to the test, I've aced it. So I think it might help to see yourself succeed, and it might only take one semester of hard work to prove to yourself you can do it, depending on how deep you've dug yourself into the failure hole. (And TBH, I still cry over low grades on quizzes, but it's better than it used to be!) Just remind yourself that math and overall quantitative thinking is a skill rather than a talent.

    Anyway, maybe you can go for computer science. I was able to get a job in IT as a system admin because I was familiar with Unix and had taught myself basic programming. Even with a low GPA, you can get a job with just an associates or bachelors (you don't have to put it on your resume, and I don't hear of people asking about it often).
  4. Nov 5, 2012 #3


    User Avatar
    Education Advisor

    I was almost in the same boat as you. My freshman year I received a full ride to a certain university. The jump from high school to university was something I was not prepared for. I failed all my first exams. I considered that a reality checked, so I spent more time studying and failed my second round of exams again. By the end of my first semester, I think I passed 1 class, and I'm pretty sure it was my rowing class.

    I lost my scholarship and didn't have money to attend any other school, so being hopeless, loss and basically a failure I sat around all winter watching tv. Long story short, a commericial motivated me to join the Army. Probably the best decision I ever made.

    At the time, I looked at it like this. "I can't go to school, I need a job. The military pays and if I like it I can still in if I don't I'll have the GI Bill and can go back to school."

    I eventually got out of the miltary and returned to school. I found the time spent being forced to mature taught me to handle stress better, focus more, and give me better direction in life. Interacting with so many poeple from different age groups from different backgrounds from all over the country, give me a lot of insight that has only helped me.

    So that's my 2cent.
  5. Nov 5, 2012 #4
    Seaofghosts(cute name), good idea. I'll look into computer science more. How old were you when you got the job as a system admin? And also, does computer science change? I know that in engineering you have to keep educating yourself after getting your degree to keep up with technology and discoveries in science. Does programming evolve, and do programmers have to constantly keep learning new stuff after graduation? And can you explain more about the relationship between programming/computer science and technology? Thanks a bunch!

    Marnemath, that's great to hear! After failing, i've also considered joining the army. Actually, i was suicidal so I had the guts to do that at the time, too. But as a five feet tall female, i doubt I would be able to get the position(s) you had and have the rewarding experiences you have had. :( But thank you very much for your advice.
  6. Nov 5, 2012 #5
    Thanks :) It's from Skyrim, I'm an RPG nerd. :p

    I was 24 when I got that job, still working my way through a worthless history AA. I had been little beyond a bank teller previously. (I've been in school FOREVER.)

    Programming evolves a bit, usually in terms of what languages become more popular in the field (like right now apparently Lua is picking up in popularity, which I hadn't even heard of until recently). But once you've learned one language, the concepts are very similar in all the other languages, so you can easily learn others. I would say it's a constant learning process, though, even if you stick with the same language(s).

    You'd need a bit of CS to be a REALLY good programmer -- you need to know what's going on in the computer when you code something, like how data types are stored, etc. My job required a lot of Unix scripting (like pulling specific lines/columns out of files and creating reports), so I had to know how to work my way around an HPUX system. Overall it really depends on who you work for -- I was with a credit union, but you could program for just about anybody. Games, cell phone companies, advertisement companies, grocery stores... all using different technology.
  7. Nov 6, 2012 #6
    Wow. That's really good info, seaofghosts.

    What do you think about a minor in Computer Science? Is its usefulness in getting a job comparable to that of a major in computer science? Also, how does getting a minor compare to getting an AA in computer science?

    Now you got me considering majoring Psychology, minor in either or both Economics and Computer Science. ;)

    If i could turn back the handles of time, I would have tried harder in math back in high school and major in computer science. But now that I'm already in a hole and have wasted a lot of time, pursuing a major in computer science would require the time and brains (lots of math courses) that I don't have. A minor in CS would require much fewer math courses.

    And also, do you need to apply a lot of maths in the programming/CS courses, or programming in general?

    Again, thanks a lot for your help. Sorry for bombarding you with questions.
  8. Nov 6, 2012 #7
    annoyinggirl, I noticed that you've posted several threads over the past months (even admittedly recognized your name on other websites as well, not being a stalker) about this stuff. Maybe you should take some time off school to think about this stuff before you dive into more debt.

    One spring semester and a summer to go work isn't the end of the world, if you need even more time take it. There are plenty of people in CC that go back when they're 25+ years old.
  9. Nov 6, 2012 #8

    Vanadium 50

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor
    2017 Award

    Let's start with the basics. Why are you in college? What do you hope to get out of it?
  10. Nov 6, 2012 #9
    I'm in college for the same reasons that most people are: for the opportunity to land a job that I would hate as least at possible or maybe even love.

    I'm also looking to learn stuff, of course. That's why I'm considering to major in Psychology even though I know that it will probably not benefit me in the job market.

    Oh, and asian parents.
  11. Nov 6, 2012 #10

    Vanadium 50

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor
    2017 Award

    If you are in college to learn a trade, psychology is probably not the right choice, then. Or, put another way, if you do choose to major in psychology, it will not advance your primary goal.
  12. Nov 6, 2012 #11
    Good point vanadium 50. And thanks for the heads up. What are majors that are good for the goal of learning a trade? How about Economics?
  13. Nov 6, 2012 #12
    economics is fine. but keep in mind that currently the job prospects are just not that good for any major except maybe CS.

    i was in your situation before, similar schools even. long story short, i got kicked out of my research lab, put on academic probation, and switched majors... junior year.

    my pal has it WORSE than you. you're in CC for only a few semesters... one guy i know spent 3 years at a CC, failed physics multiple times, finally made it into a state school and got kicked out again after a few quarters, back to CC...

    my advice:

    1.) your parents. if you are going to school because of them, they won't pull the plug on your money!

    2.) get good study habits and sleep habits. this is important, during my entire undergrad i never had enough sleep; it was either partying, gaming or studying because i went to a party and the test is tomorrow/hw is due tomorrow.
  14. Nov 6, 2012 #13
    Yeah, I would advise against a psychology degree. The market is so flooded with psychology degrees it's ridiculous, and is always on those "worst degrees to get in college" lists on Yahoo (though you have to take those with a grain of salt).

    That said, the best degrees for learning a trade are whatever you see yourself doing with your life. Look through every single CC degree possibility and weed things out based on your interests and skills. What classes look the most fun?
  15. Nov 6, 2012 #14
    annoyingirl you seem extremely confused about where you're heading, I'm studying computer science at uni and I could tell you how amazing I think it is but when you come to learn it, you may hate it. To be honest if you've never thought about computing in general before then there's a good chance you won't like it just because you don't have a natural interest in it.

    Why not just do you physcology degree then go onto research and work as a lecturer at a university?
  16. Nov 6, 2012 #15


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Maybe it's the cognitive sciences you are interested in. Not clinical psychology, but more theoretical psychology. Given this and your interest in biology, maybe neuroscience and psychology can work together for you.
  17. Nov 6, 2012 #16
    I don't know if it's common or not, but I think turning something into a job is a pretty effective way to take all the fun out of it. People telling you what to do, how to do it, assigning tasks that you have no interest in. I wanted to be a mathematician and I am finishing up a PhD in it, but I realized that having it as a job takes all the fun out of it, and I am therefore, enthusiastically quitting as soon as I have this nightmare of a PhD taken care of. I am hoping to find something interesting to do, but it may end up being my strategy to accept that work sucks, and just settle for minimizing the suckage and the stress, so I can do cool things in my spare time, including math and physics. But I don't know.
  18. Nov 6, 2012 #17
    Honestly just my opinion, it seems to me like you set yourself up for failure. If you keep believing that you cant do something then no amount of studying will help you.

    I think you should continue with engineering finish it, and I guarantee you will feel so proud of yourself when you are finished that you could concur the world.
  19. Nov 6, 2012 #18
    You are so right. I wish I could believe in myself more. In fact, I act and talk quite cocky and even tell myself that I can do it. But deep down, I don't believe in myself and i really don't know how to get that confidence I need to succeed.
  20. Nov 6, 2012 #19
    Lecturing and research would be my dream. But lecturing is a job reserved for the best of the best. I've heard that for every ten people holding a phD, there is one prof position available. By the way, if I were to aim for this route, would majoring with a B.S in Psych benefit me significantly more than a B.A in Psych?

    Thanks for your help
  21. Nov 6, 2012 #20

    ahh yes. The things you have described really appeal to me. Thanks for helping me describe that area of the field. I can't seem to do it myself since the field of psychology has so many branches.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook