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Uncertainty about Pursuing Physics

  1. Apr 14, 2015 #1

    Did you always know you wanted to study physics? How did you make the decision to major in physics? Do you regret your choices?

    I'm an undergraduate freshman who is thinking of majoring in physics. Nevertheless, although I enjoy physics, I sometimes wonder whether it's the right path for me. To major in physics, I would have to take math and physics courses, thus giving me little room to branch out and take classes in other subjects. Majoring in a STEM field is also restricting because you have to start early to complete your requirements on time. Thus, switching from physics to chemistry midway through college is not recommended.

    I like physics as a subject, but I haven't developed a passion for my physics class (I'm currently in classical mechanics). I'm not sure whether to stick with it--which means sacrificing other interests of mine in order to dedicate my studies to physics--or changing paths (e.g. go into computer science)--which would allow me to explore other potential interests but leave me wondering whether I should have stayed with physics. Any advice is appreciated :)
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 14, 2015 #2
    TBH I think that having doubts as strong as you seem to have may be an indication that Physics is not for you. Physics is a VERY competitive field and it is not easy to get a job in which you actually do physics related things. You do seem to be misinformed though, since STEM majors are probably the least restricted in the world and you don't even need to declare a major right now, and you can easily take the math for physics (which is useful by itself and for other science fields) and dabble in chemistry or whatever else you want and not have to go to the trouble of switching majors so long as you wait to officially declare until you're sure that's what you want to do.
  4. Apr 14, 2015 #3
    I was referring to STEM majors being restricted while in school. I know that they have many options once they graduate, but during school they have to devote themselves to their studies if they want to do well. I'm not concerned about the workload or difficulty of physics (I already know that, and I am willing to put in the effort). My main concern is that I'm not sure if I have another "passion" out there that I won't discover if I dedicate myself to the demands of majoring in physics.

    For example, if I stay on the physics track then next semester I'll take electromagnetism and multivariable calculus. The semester after that I will take introduction to quantum mechanics and liner algebra. However, if I want to major in computer science, then I should take computer science and discrete mathematics instead. I can't take physics, calc, comp sic, and discrete math at the same time because I have to fulfill other general education requirements. The problem is that my college offers these classes once a year (i.e. quantum is only in the spring semester, not fall). Thus, it's easy to fall behind if you stray from the path of your major.

    Has anyone else faced the problem of having to decide what to major in and having to sacrifice other interests in order to pursue one specific interest?
  5. Apr 15, 2015 #4
    Being able to take a class once a year is definitely a problem. I suggest you take a semester or so off from Physics (undergrads should be able to do this once or twice and still be on track) and dabble in some of your other interests to see if you're interested in pursuing them long term. Obviously your school may not give you the opportunity to do this, since being able to take a class once a year is kind of super dumb. Maybe self study or a Minor/double major in your second choice, but being flexible enough with the secondary major to change if needed and still keep the physics?
  6. Apr 15, 2015 #5
    It's quite common for schools to only offer a class for one semester per year. For instance, having electromagnetism 1 in the fall and 2 in the spring.
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