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When did you know what Physics field you liked the most?

  1. Apr 7, 2013 #1
    I'm currently in my first year of undergrad in Physics. From the past few months I've been feeling that I should already have a fixed idea of what field I want to end up in, so that I can start working towards it from now itself (make those specific knowledge areas my strong points, read up as much as I can, take advantage of any research opportunities etc).

    So my question is, when did you PhDs know what you liked the most in physics - theoretical, experimental, particle, high energy, astrophysics etc etc? Is first year of college too early to be worrying about these things?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 7, 2013 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    Yes. You should have a general idea about the time you start to apply for graduate schools, but you don't need to make a decision until you pick a research advisor, usually at the end of your first year in grad school.
  4. Apr 8, 2013 #3
    I agree with Van. I'm also an Undergrad currently majoring in Physics and I'm not sure what I want to do with my degree yet, but I'm pretty mindset that I want to major in physics.

    I do; however, have a general interest in Geophysics and Astrophysics. There's just a wide variety in both fields that it's hard to decide on. Which is why I'm just waiting to get deeper into the physics world and seeing what I want to do further down the road before Grad school. (If that makes any sense. :tongue:)
  5. Apr 8, 2013 #4
    First year is way too early. Wait til you are done with your 3rd year and spend that summer thinking about what you like. Hopefully by then you'll have landed some summer research opportunity or have done research for some prof at your university, take advantage of it if you can (I didn't get that chance).

    When you actually apply to graduate schools you better have a clear idea of what the departments do. Expressing interests in fields they don't typically have their students doing theses on can lower your chances a lot, so when the time comes read up on what the subject matter of recent papers their grad students & advisers are putting out.
  6. Apr 8, 2013 #5


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    What I liked the most changed with time, study, and opportunity. I didn't really know what my real passions were until I was actually well into my PhD.

    As you progress through undergrad it's important to remember that your goal is to develop a solid foundation in physics (and even more broadly in science) itself that you can build on the more you go on. Balance learning the fundamentals with exploration. And on top of that, also remember to build in some work on marketable skills too. Deciding that you love string theory in your first year of undergrad is fine, but make sure you've got a realistic backup plan if that doesn't pan out for you.
  7. Apr 9, 2013 #6
    Thanks for the replies. Helped put my mind at ease quite a bit!
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