1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Which major do you think would be the best for me?

  1. Nov 28, 2015 #1
    I've had this notebook of things I've wanted to create and sell since I was a really young girl, but I don't know how to make them. Therefore, I thought I could go into engineering, because a) I want to learn how to make them, and b) I'm really interested in the concept of engineering and seeing how things work and fit together.
    However, I'm really bad at math and science at least in comparison to other prospective engineering students. I'm definitely 100% more of an English and history person than a math/science person. I've gotten like mostly B's, a few A's and a few C's in my math and science courses. That may have been primarily due to my lack of effort, but now my basics are weak because I never put in the time to cultivate them.

    That's why I'm hesitant about engineering. I'm also worried that I'll get lazy and stop working and then I'll fail.

    Anyways, I'm considering industrial engineering, computer science, finance, statistics, IT, economics, and education. The last one is sort of the odd one out, but it's just something I really think I'd enjoy and I would do it if it weren't for the extremely low pay and lack of respect. I would love to teach high school.

    So my goal is either to create my things and own a business or to learn how to create apps. I think I'd be really happy with both. Obviously I'm not looking to earn like $100000000, but I want to be able to make a stable income where I'm able to support myself and my family without worrying.

    Thank you so much guys! Sorry for the extremely long post!

    Lmk which major has the best prospects and if any of the majors combined would help me.

    Would it be a good idea to not do cs in college and instead learn online how to code?

    Last thing, I'm looking at UIUC as my #1 choice if that affects anything.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 28, 2015 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    I can't say which major would be best suited to you. That's a choice that you'll have to make.

    But I have a few observations to make, based on what you've said, which might help.

    First, if you're bad at something due to a lack of effort, then that's a problem that is correctable. It may not be easy. As you've said, if you have a weak foundation, it will be tough to build on that. However, a weak foundation is also something that's correctable. A lot of first year university courses are set up to fill in holes in a weak foundation. So, really moving in a direction like that is more of a question about how much you want it, how much time and effort you want to put in.

    Second, pertaining to your computer science question, it might help to avoid thinking in binary terms. If you want to learn how to code, it's good idea to both take formal courses and do your own independent learning. You needn't major in computer science to learn programming either. A few courses might be enough so that you can do what you want to do effectively. Maybe take at least one course in that in your first year and see if you like it, and how well you learn from it.

    Third, if your real passion is the business side of things, then maybe what you really want is to become an entrepreneur and you can do that without a degree at all, even. Remember that the point of university isn't necessarily to preordain your career, but to give you an education.

    Finally, you may just want to consider taking a general first year, get used to the university environment, and explore your interests. Then look at what you enjoy and what you have the most success with and a natural path could very well open up to you.
  4. Nov 28, 2015 #3
    People tend to say that when they think that the studying that goes on in math and science is the same kind of studying that goes on in, say, history. The reality is they're quite different. Quite simply, it's impossible to do well in a math/physics-heavy field without a ton of practice. I don't believe anyone is a "math person" or a "humanities person." I think there are people who prefer to put in the effort to do well in the humanities, and people who prefer to put in the effort to do well in the sciences, and genetic factors, I believe, aren't really the be-all and end-all.

    That said, you should brush up on your math basics if you wish to go into a STEM field.You should be comfortable with everything up to and including precalculus. The reason I've seen that most people fail calculus is not because calculus is difficult, but they're unable to do the algebraic manipulations required in calculus.

    Now, you mention app design. In that case, you should certainly look into computer science or software engineering. If, however, you'd like to work more on the hardware-side, I encourage you to look into electrical engineering (my major, so I'm a bit biased). Of course, if you're really interested in the design and sale of products, you can always look into complementing a technical major with some sort of business/finance/marketing minor. I'm sure many schools would encourage such a path for engineering majors, for instance.

    What you can do is look around when you want to work and see where different majors end up. I advocate for engineering, but that's because I'm an engineering student, and I think it's a great major, but it's ultimately up to you, and it's determined by your priorities, interests, and goals.

    Don't major in engineering if you don't like the coursework. Don't major in engineering if you don't want to work as an engineer. Don't major in engineering if it doesn't fit your life goals. But whatever you do, don't avoid engineering just because you feel it would be difficult.
  5. Nov 29, 2015 #4


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Education Advisor
    Gold Member

    Not stated at what stage you are in life. If you earned between C's and B's in Mathematics courses, then maybe many fields are possible. You could begin at a community college, do several science, math, engineering courses, and transfer to a university. Best possibilities for you unless they change as you learn more what you want and your talents, would be Physics, Computer Science, or possibly Engineering.

    You did not say what kind of things you want to "create" or design; but only mentioned "apps" or something - which is why at least some computer science and programming would be interesting or useful for to you. Any interest in mechanical or electrical equipment or machines? Material movement or materials handling? Would you want to design measurement devices or sensing devices?
  6. Nov 29, 2015 #5
    No, it is not impossible for you to succeed in engineering or other STEM. But it is crucial you start getting good study habits. If you continue putting little effort into math and physics, you will fail.

    So what to do now? Get some basic mathematics and physics books and work through them carefully. Be sure you understand everything what's being said and why it is being said. Make sure you do ALL problems. This is the only way for you to succeed. If you're not willing to put in this effort, you should not go into STEM.
  7. Nov 29, 2015 #6

    Vanadium 50

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor
    2017 Award

Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook