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Schools University Degree Choosing Help. (Engineering vs Theoretical)

  1. Aug 6, 2012 #1
    I'm leaving high school to choose a degree and I'm having a hard time choosing and I thought I wouldn't loose anything by asking here for opinions and maybe similar experiences.

    I have mediocre grades overall, though I get very good physics and maths sometimes, others I get average (14/20, 15/20, Physics, Maths total). With subjects that don't interest me or require memorisation my grades are terrible (7/20Philos., 8/20 Literature)
    I'm a pretty slow thinker (including tests), lack focus and have terrible memory. On the other hand if I'm given the time, not immense but some, I often solve problems I see no one else around me solve and ask questions and understand what most don't. Not saying I'm a genius, far from it.
    I have a lot of trouble focusing but when I do (which is highly dependent on interest) I can be productive. I've learned Calculus at home and learned a decent amount about other topics about physics and maths.
    I'm one of those who'd be fine with, for example, being in a desk all day trying to solve questions and learning things (eg.:Theor.Phys or Maths). I'm extremely curious but I've only started focusing on studying around 3 years ago, but I've gotten better and I hope to keep at it.

    The most appropriate degree's I found were:
    (PE)-Power Engineering (wiki translation)
    (PhE)-Physics Engineering
    (AM)-Applied maths

    I'm afraid of non-"fundamental" courses (in which my grades tend to be bad), which show up often in degrees like (PE, PhE, AM) But these are the safest ones job-wise. (PE) is by far the safest (?) but the least interesting probably.
    On the other hand when I looked at the (P) and (M) degrees I didn't see unwanted courses. I only wanted even more. But I fear I'm not good enough for them.

    I think pure math (M) is better job-wise than pure Physics (P), the only problem is that I'd be driven physics starved.
    Somewhere I'd really like to work at would be CERN.

    So basically, is the difference in job-safety that big between the pure degrees (P,M) and the engineering/applied (PE, PhE, AM)? What can I expect from getting each degree?

    PS:After finding out minors exist, if they're free for students doing them repeatedly sounds like a nice idea to keep learning and keep looking for other opportunities.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 7, 2012 #2
    You should focus on what interests you. Pick a curriculum that motivates you and that you want to study. That's what matters and usually being motivated is the only way to do your best and to also get somewhere.

    Pure sciences tend to be a bit dry job-wise, because pure sciences are research-oriented fields (usually in the subject itself at least in academia). I.e. you're likely mostly looking to work as a scientist, a teacher or in a specialized company that needs scientists, if you want to do pure science and not only apply it to somewhere. Although you can do both.

    Don't use the word job-safety, because an education can not guarantee job-safety, although any STEM degree is a good pick, because they cover topics and develop skills that are of societal importance and used across different sciences and fields. Engineering degrees are often applicable straight out of the school though, because of their emphasis on applicable knowledge and skills, so that's a pretty good path, if you just want a job fast.

    Pure science degrees are oriented to studying the subject(s) extensively and in general they aim to produce students with extended knowledge in the subject(s) and who may go on to do research and advance knowledge in the subject itself or to work in applications where advanced knowledge of the subject is needed. "Applied" science degrees can be closer to engineering or closer to pure science, but anyways they are often concerned with gaining knowledge in applying the science to practical applications vs gaining and advancing knowledge in the science itself. However, they can often be pretty interchangeable, because the theoretical base is the same. And actually some don't consider there being such thing as "applied sciences", but only pure sciences and their applications. As research disciplines applied and pure sciences are usually interested in different aspects though.

    Check the curricula and options in minor subjects or even double degrees and major in what fits your interests and future plans best.
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2012
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