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Which specialty should I choose on my last year?

  1. Aug 7, 2013 #1
    Greetings, fellow scientists. I've come here due to extreme desperation over a simple fact that causes me a lot of stress: having to choose a specialty for my next year. But first, a bit of elaboration over that. Oh, and the question is going to be long, but I need the help, so if you are willing to aid a human being in need, grab a cup of coffee!

    I live in Greece, where the higher educational system works like this: every scientific 'major' (we don't really classify it like that, but you get it) consists of a 4-year mandatory studies that earn you a basic Bachelor of Science degree, which you may choose to upgrade later by following post-graduate studies. My Physics school (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki) presents us with a choice out of 9 different specialties during the last year. I will list them below:

    • Astronomy and Astrophysics
    • Nuclear and Elementary Particle Physics
    • Theoretical Physics
    • Solid State Physics
    • Electronics and Telecommunications
    • Computational Physics
    • Applied Physics
    • Material Science
    • Atmospheric/Environmental Physics

    These specialties do not change the degree's name (like 'Astrophysicist'), but some of them are required for specific post-grad programs. For example, to take up the Electronic Physics MS program, you have to have chosen the same name specialty.

    Now, on to the hard part. First of all, I'm not the best college student out there. Due to some personal ordeals, I didn't quite excel in the first three years, and now I'm facing the last year with over 20 courses failed. 'Fortunately', my country's education allows for infinite re-tests and I can stay in college for 3 more years. Truth is, many of those failed courses are that way because I chose to 'cut' myself in them; I don't want to just pass with a moderate grade, if I do this, I want to do it the right way. I'm already on a quest to purge my mistakes, having sacrificed the first two months of summer (and I'm going to do the same this month!) to study for the September re-tests, hoping for some excellent grades. But this isn't my real issue.

    The thing is, I'm not really sure about what I want to do. I never was, but in a good way. And you might call me out on that, but I didn't choose Physics because of some special calling. I liked Chemistry, Physics, Math, Engineering, every practical science since I was a little child and teachers knew I'd take this road. I just chose Physics because it is somehow magical compared to other disciplines and it offers an understanding of the Universe. I'm practically-oriented though, so I don't think I should follow something theoretical. My talents lie in computers/technology, and I also have a weird yet extreme love for...radars. Don't ask me why, I just get the butterflies whenever I see a radar or even a radar display. What I do know is that whatever I do, should involve computers /programming. I'm not into Computational Physics though, mainly because it involves many theoretical matters (like astrophysic simulations). I find Nuclear Physics -the practical part of it- fascinating, too, but I'm not sure it's the right choice. Last but not least, after taking a very interesting lab course, I got interested into Materials Engineering. My university also offers a very reputable Nanotechnology curriculum with a dreaded admission percentage of 20% - they take the best of the best from Medicine, Engineering and Physics departments, so Materials might be necessary.

    It's all very confusing in my mind. I feel like a little kid in a toy store whenever I have to choose one scientific principle or another. As I mentioned, I'm most likely going the electronics route, but I don't know if it would be a wise choice later on. Plus, what bugs me more is that some fields are interdisciplinary: Nanotech involves sophisticated electronics work (and I'd love to work on a stealth camouflage system), Solid State Physics are responsible for circuit technologies, and the Applied Physics Department does some fascinating experimental work on proteins that involve a great deal of simulations. I'm mostly choosing with my heart and 'childish' dreams here, but I have to be at least a bit certain about the future and most importantly, have many doors open. I might not even take a post-grad program from my department; Electrical Engineering seems alluring, too, so I might also pursue a second degree in that. When the next semester starts I plan on talking to my studies consultant, but until then, I need to have started making my mind on the issue.

    Thank you for your time reading this!
  2. jcsd
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