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To minor or not to minor?

  1. Feb 24, 2016 #1
    My first 2 years in college I was a little lost in what I wanted to do so I completed almost all of my generation ed classes. I finally realized I love physics, I am interested in astrophysics although I know I have time and opportunities to change my mind . Happily I attend a school with a great physics program and am in the process of completing my "first year" of physics classes.

    Because most of my GEs are done I have extra time on my hands so I thought about minor (definitely don't have time in my personal life, I'm a parent, to double major). But I am not sure if this is a good idea. I definitely want to try to go to grad school, specifically Phd, but at least a masters. I seriously doubt a minor will help with that but extra classes might help me (knowledge, experience, connections etc).

    Am I wrong? Should I focus on just physics and trying to get involved in research? Is TAing worthwhile? If I minor I am considering mathematics. My other interest is a Materials Engineering. Any thoughts are appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 24, 2016 #2
    I'm willing to bet that if you complete all of the requirements for a physics degree, you won't be far off from a mathematics minor. For that reason, many physics majors decide to do that.

    Also, yes. Definitely do research. Especially if you want to go to grad school.
  4. Feb 25, 2016 #3
    If you want to do a minor "just to do a minor" or "because you're bored", then perhaps this isn't the bet reasoning. I think taking a minor is a very good thing to do, but it should be something you're very interested in, or something that may help you careerwise. This might be mathematics, or materials engineering. So if you have a pretty good idea which courses in math or engineering you would like to take, and if they add up to a minor or almost a minor, then go for it. If you have other interests which do not happen to add up to a minor, then don't go for the minor.
  5. Feb 26, 2016 #4
    Thanks, I have time to think about it, but I think I'm leaning towards doing one of them. I love math, and the materials engineering classes are really exciting to me. Neither is a lot of extra classes. I definitely don't want to take extra classes just because. I feel like I might have an opportunity to gain more skills. I'm really excited by the classes both minors would offer. Neither has a class that I find myself thinking "Oh I'd have to take that?" its more like, "Wow I'd love to learn about that!" I think I'm just going to play it by ear. If I can take the classes and they add up to a minor great, if not oh well. I know for sure I'd rather get time in on research than give up those opportunities for a class that fulfills a minor.

    If anyone else has pearls of wisdom to share please do! Thanks!
  6. Feb 26, 2016 #5
    Do you have any idea what kind of research you would like to do in grad school? Perhaps this could lead you to a good set of courses?
  7. Feb 26, 2016 #6
    I don't have a definitive goal yet. I've been looking up what research is being done now at some of the other universities in my area to see what peaks my curiosity in hopes that will help me narrow down my direction. This is actually one of the reasons I came to consider a materials engineering minor. There is so much out there that I find interesting, I'm just trying to absorb as much as I can and hopefully soon I can narrow it down a little.
  8. Feb 26, 2016 #7
    Understandable, but then a minor might not be the best you can do. If you have a few directions in mind, you can take courses on each of those directions to see if you like it or not. For example, take a few courses in material engineering, a few courses in math, and whatever interests you. The bigger the variety of courses you take, the more informed your eventual decision will be. Don't fix yourself in a certain direction yet because it will give you a minor.
  9. Feb 28, 2016 #8
    Thank you mircomass. I do have time to decide which classes to take. But I appreciate the input because I feel like I am on the right track with my thought process.
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