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Unrelated areas of study

  1. Jun 22, 2015 #1
    Hello all,

    I was hoping some of you who have taken or are currently taking courses in an area unrelated to your major would share something about the experience:

    What are the two subjects, and why did you choose to pursue formal education in the second area of study? Did you take only a few courses, or did you take enough courses to obtain a minor or even a second major? Was it fulfilling to learn more about this subject? Did it detract from your primary education?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 22, 2015 #2
    I took several classes that ended up being somewhat unrelated to my major after switching from engineering to physics. However, I did take 1 course completely unrelated to my major/research interests on purpose, in the final semester of my senior year. I majored in physics, but I decided to take an ornithology class (the study of birds) from the biology department simply because I love birds and wanted to learn more about them. A very good friend of mine was also TAing the class and helped convince me to do it. Although I took several biology courses, I didn't take enough to actually minor in biology.

    I chose to major in physics in hopes of doing a PhD in geophysics and becoming a seismologist which I still plan on doing. Although I really enjoy birds, watching them is really more of a hobby for me, so I don't necessarily want to devote my career to birds. Birds are everywhere - I can just go on a walk and see all kinds of birds, no matter where I am... On the other hand, Seismology requires very expensive equipment and lots of computing power to do something interesting. Also seismology research is just so much fun and fascinating.

    Needless to say, I really enjoyed the ornithology class, and yes it was very fulfilling. It did not detract me from my primary education, although I was worried what geophysics PhD admissions committees would think of that class. I got accepted everywhere I applied, so they didn't seem to care too much :smile:. It was actually a nice break from the typical grind of my math and physics classes. We had 2 labs a week each for 3 hours and it was basically just hiking through the woods identifying birds... very fun and relaxing! I was taking a graduate seismology course at the same time and it was nice to have an easier class in the mix.

    I would take ornithology again in a heartbeat. Hope this helps.
  4. Jun 22, 2015 #3
    Thanks for the reply. That's exactly what I was wanting. I'm not necessarily looking for guidance; although, I am considering pursuing a minor unrelated to my major. I thought a discussion of broad and varied interests would be very enjoyable, and I thought it may beneficial for students considering such a route.
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