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When everything looks equally interesting

  1. Apr 9, 2012 #1
    Do you flip a coin or what? Looking at course descriptions, I found everything ranging from EE (especially the bio applications) to geophysics to be interesting. I understand that between physics and engineering, the core courses will be very similar for the first year but still, I was wondering if one has enough time to sample enough of everything to be able to commit to a major by the time they have to declare one?

    If not, how can one go about to get a feel of every thing they're interested in? Sit in the said lectures or tutorial sessions? Start reading a few books on the more specialised subjects once one has done the core-mathematics sequence, intro bio, intro chem, classical mechanics, waves and E&M?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 9, 2012 #2


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    If physics is anything like mathematics or statistics you'll be able to at some point in the future, pick up a textbook or a well written paper on something and you'll be able to pick it up rather quickly (more than you would have imagined at this current point in time).

    You may not have the depth of knowledge that someone who has worked in the area for many years or many projects worth, but when you get enough mathematical maturity, you'll be able to grasp the basic ideas relatively quickly even though you won't have the context to know all the specifics.

    In terms of undergraduate study, I don't think you'll have enough time by a long shot but it doesn't mean you can get the most important things down and then pick up a book and read it over the weekend or month to get the basics down (without complete context of course).
  4. Apr 9, 2012 #3
    You most likely wont have time to try everything out, but that doesn't really matter. As long as you find something that interests you and that you enjoy doing you will probably end up fine. It's not possible to learn everything interesting, and you'll be facing the same problem in every field. Do you want to do course A or course B? Do you want to specialize in this or that? Should you specialize early or be as broad as possible? You can't do all of it, and yes your future will depend on it, but in the end you just have to chose one, do your best, and enjoy the ride.

    One thing you could do is to find out what people who have done the different subjects actually do afterwards. Aiming to be and engineer or a mathematician if you don't want spnd your life doing what engineers or mathematicians do is just silly.
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2012
  5. Apr 9, 2012 #4
    If everything looks equally interesting then I generally go by usefulness. For example, this quarter I had to decide between spectroscopy and elementary particles but ultimately, spectroscopy will likely be more useful so I opted to choose it (infact, elementary particle physics did sound more interesting too by a tiny bit).
  6. Apr 9, 2012 #5
    I'd say delve deeper into each subject and talk to people who have degrees in the things youre interested in. Know that you will your coursework will not necessarily reflect your work once you have a degree.
  7. Apr 9, 2012 #6
    I felt the same way a couple years ago but now it's all changed. I was torn between math, physics, and EE. After taking some more math classes I realized I don't like it as much as physics and EE. Last semester, I attended a seminar style class that had a different EE discipline every week. I quickly found out what I don't like from that class alone. If you're school has any class like that I would highly recommend taking it or just sitting in on it. Otherwise, go check out research seminars, I try to go to the physics ones if I have time. I definitely found out that I don't like particle physics from those seminars.
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