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Thread: Thoughts for the niave

  1. #1 Thoughts for the niave 
    Forum Freshman BobTheIgnorant's Avatar
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    Hello my name is Bob. I was curious if the forum or anyone had any advice, or gold nuggets of information for someone who is going into higher education. Specifically if it is a science field would be amazing, thank you for your time.


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    Forum Freshman BobTheIgnorant's Avatar
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    Sorry I have yet to tell you much about myself, I am a few months away from graduating a online high school. I am also going to be enrolling in (conditions pending), in a community college to hopefully take a associate degree for transfer and go from there. I do live in the U.S. and am planning to eventually get in the U.C. system from community college in California.
    I am aware of the statistics as far as positions that you are likely to get in with a graduate physics degree. My question is much more geared towards the education and transitions between. Like undergraduate to graduate, graduate to post-doctorate, or even to the private sector.
    Did you feel like it was worth going into a science field? Do you start feeling kind of "cramp" in your position education or when working? In physics it often seems like the more common sense jobs are a lot harder to get. So for example like being a physics professor is actually pretty hard, but being a quantitative analyst is likely to be much easier to get. The physics degree whether Master's or PhD is specifically unspecific. You qualify for a plethora of jobs but will likely to be the second or third pick. If you went for a graduate degree how did you fair? Was it just a giant step as far as difficulty? The reason why I ask the last question is that it seems that PhD students or even post doctorates have this really weird attitude. Almost like being in a slightly abusive relationship that you can't quite quit.
    My apologies if this is too in specific or not specific enough in some areas. Please let me know if there is anything else I could elaborate on or perhaps fix if it is grammatical.


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    Forum Sophomore Nisslbody's Avatar
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    I'm still an undergrad so I'm not jaded yet, but my advice would be to get your math and basic science foundations done as early as possible. I had a lot of catch-up to do with math so I couldn't even start science classes until my second year. I'm sure you'll be in a better situation regarding math, so my suggestion would be to take up through calculus II and statistics II (one or the other, and possibly both, will be required for any science degree anyway) and also take the intro biology series, gen chem, org chem, and gen physics. These will give you a very firm basis for entering any science track you end up interested in, and will play strong supportive roles if you decide not to go with a science.

    Even if you don't go into science, consider a math minor. It'll make you a stronger candidate in almost any field.
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    Forum Freshman BobTheIgnorant's Avatar
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    So go for a much more general approach and not necessarily have a set plan beforehand? Thank you for the time you took to post.
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    Forum Sophomore Nisslbody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BobTheIgnorant View Post
    So go for a much more general approach and not necessarily have a set plan beforehand? Thank you for the time you took to post.
    You're very welcome. Yes, because many options may open up while you're working on your undergrad, in my opinion it is a good strategy to simply take foundational science courses and see what appeals to you/opens up for you as you move forward in your studies. Meanwhile, check around at nearby universities to see if there are guest lectures you can attend, to try to get a taste of as many fields of study as you can. Keep your ears open for summer internship opportunities; you can get these even as an undergrad, sometimes you need to be a bit forward. Ask questions and don't hesitate to talk to people who are involved in fields you're potentially interested in. Even researchers in fields that don't seem immediately/directly relevant may be really great contacts in the future. In fact, you might be shocked at where you can meet good academic contacts... I have a mischievous streak, and inadvertently made one of my best contacts (an adcom for the grad program I'm applying to) in the act of messing with a local Burning Man Facebook group! I'm lucky she found my antics funny and creative, rather than irritating and inappropriate.

    Good luck!
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    Forum Sophomore Nisslbody's Avatar
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    Oh, one last thought; as you get closer to deciding on an academic track, check into requirements for some grad programs you may be interested in, and if there are any you can complete at a community college level, take them there. It'll save you some post-bacc work.
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  8. #7  
    Forum Freshman BobTheIgnorant's Avatar
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    Thanks for the amazing advice! Really didn't think about some of the points you brought up.
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    Forum Sophomore Nisslbody's Avatar
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    You're welcome, glad I could help!
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