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Old May 11 2013, 06:47 PM   #1
Kenbushway
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Changing Major

Currently I am in school for automotive technology (fancy words - just auto technician) but its a direction that my father didn't like. He thought it was a waste of my abilities and I entered the field to late with no experience and less knowledge. I am interested in cars, but mostly my own. My mother wants me to do what makes me happy etc. I have thought about it recently, should I change my major. When I was young it was first dinosaurs that got me into science, then it was Star Trek that furthered my interest in science (mostly at the possibilities of what could be done). Science came extremely easy to me, math didn't though. I had a fear of math, still kinda do. I let it stop me from trying in school; the highest math I've been taught in a school is basic algebra. I cheated my way out of taking Geometry in high school. I regret that I didn't try in school, now more than ever. So I've been considering switching to a science major in physics. The only real school down here for that is Ga Tech. The problem I have is the cost and that I am once again entering into a field with little to zero experience. I don't know as many concepts, formulas, etc as the people next to me.


Is it even possible at the age of 21, is it even a good idea at the age of 21 to change my major to this? Or has my fear of math yet again held me back?
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Old May 11 2013, 07:12 PM   #2
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Re: Changing Major

Can you explain how "science came easy" to you when the math is hard for you?

I have to say that it is not really realistic to consider majoring in physics without a background in calculus. There are math-light (algebra-only) physics courses, but they're not for science majors. To get a degree in physics, you'll have to understand calculus and differential equations.
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Old May 11 2013, 07:20 PM   #3
Peach Wookiee
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Re: Changing Major

Kenbushway... have you been diagnosed with dysgraphia or did you just have a horrid experience with math in school?
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Old May 11 2013, 07:24 PM   #4
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Re: Changing Major

there isnt much science that comes without maths.
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Old May 11 2013, 07:30 PM   #5
auntiehill
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Re: Changing Major

Unless you plan to go all the way back and start over by mastering calculus first, you will never be able to handle a major in physics. You say science is easy for you, but those must have been basic courses if you only needed basic algebra. Was it biology, anthropology, geology, etc?

What exactly is it about physics that you like? Is it the engineering aspect? If so, you will not be able to earn even a Bachelor's degree without calculus and geometry. Are you prepared to spend an extra year or two just catching up on the basic requirements? Have you looked into the course requirements for a physics major at Georgia Tech? I suggest you get a course catalog and look at what you will actually have to take.

Do you really want to change your major or are you just trying to make your dad happy? You're only 21, for God's sake. It's not at all too late. The question is how much work you are willing to do, how much time you're willing to sacrifice and what subjects do you really like and what are your strengths?
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Old May 11 2013, 08:41 PM   #6
Spot's Meow
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Re: Changing Major

Science and math go hand in hand. You can't really study physics without going into advanced calculus. In fact I'd say that physics is the most "mathy" of the sciences.

An option is taking courses at a local community college, to get a feel for the subjects that you would enjoy.
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Old May 11 2013, 08:59 PM   #7
Timby
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Re: Changing Major



Does this terrify, baffle and / or confuse you? If yes, don't major in physics.
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Old May 11 2013, 09:10 PM   #8
teya
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Re: Changing Major

All good points made so far.

As to the "too old"... I'm 56. I started college as a fine arts major, changed it to linguistics midway through, got my masters in public health (my current careeer) and am now in an associates degree program in small livestock management (my retirement career).

The only time it's too late to learn something new is when you're dead.

I strongly echo the suggestion to try community college classes before committing to anything.
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Old May 11 2013, 10:27 PM   #9
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Re: Changing Major

Don't let your age deter you from entering a new field. That's just an excuse in the end. Also, it's your life so you should do what you want. No point in spending your time and money getting an education in a field of study you're going to dislike working in your whole life.

If you're good at science, but scared of math it sounds more like you just don't like doing it rather than aren't any good at it. It's up to you if that's something you want to overcome or not.

If you want to be an auto tech, hey you'll always have work as pretty much everyone has a car in this day and age. You're 21, so not having experience isn't a game breaker. If you're taking classes in college, start hitting up the local auto shops for a part time job. Explain you're new, and want to learn. You'll start out making close to min wage, but it'll build up your resume. But if you get a degree in it, you'll be up on most of the competition when applying for jobs since most auto techs don't. If your want to switch to physics... make sure it's something you're wanting to get into and not just because dad's giving you a hard time. He's not the one who's going to have to make a living out of it.
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Old May 11 2013, 11:24 PM   #10
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Re: Changing Major

Kenbushway wrote: View Post
Currently I am in school for automotive technology (fancy words - just auto technician)
Yeah, I hate it when book lernin' people use highfalutin words no one can understand like "automotive technology." This isn't MIT people, dumb it down by using roots and variants of the exact same words.

When I was young it was first dinosaurs that got me into science, then it was Star Trek that furthered my interest in science (mostly at the possibilities of what could be done). Science came extremely easy to me, math didn't though. I had a fear of math, still kinda do. I let it stop me from trying in school; the highest math I've been taught in a school is basic algebra. I cheated my way out of taking Geometry in high school. I regret that I didn't try in school, now more than ever. So I've been considering switching to a science major in physics.

Is it even possible at the age of 21, is it even a good idea at the age of 21 to change my major to this?
There's a bit of a disconnect here in that you seem to think that liking dinosaurs or Star Trek means you have some inside track on being a paleontologist or physicist and that "science came easy to you." Sure, it's essential to have an interest in the subject matter you plan to study, but that doesn't mean you get to skip all the incredibly long and difficult work it takes to actually become proficient in the field. I like Star Trek too, that doesn't mean that I can just up and become a physicist on a whim, especially when you say you fear math, which is the central component of all physics (and all science, really).

Now, I'm not saying it's impossible for you to learn physics, and your age (especially when you're still so young) shouldn't preclude you from changing your major, but your nonchalant attitude towards the subject and your fear of math are pretty major stumbling blocks to overcome. You'd have to go back and make up for all that math you skipped over and excel at it before you even thought about taking physics seriously.

With the cost of going to university being what it is today, don't get bogged down in student loan debt over something you're not completely committed to, capable of, and passionate about as a major. And, to be blunt, you don't sound like you are any of those things when it comes to physics.
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Old May 11 2013, 11:33 PM   #11
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Re: Changing Major

Kenbushway wrote: View Post
the highest math I've been taught in a school is basic algebra.
Is it even possible at the age of 21, is it even a good idea at the age of 21 to change my major to this?
For your background: no. Maybe a softer science like psych or sociology. But even they might require a year of calculus these days.

Or has my fear of math yet again held me back?
Yes definitely.
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Old May 11 2013, 11:37 PM   #12
Kenbushway
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Re: Changing Major

Locutus of Bored wrote: View Post
Kenbushway wrote: View Post
Currently I am in school for automotive technology (fancy words - just auto technician)
Yeah, I hate it when book lernin' people use highfalutin words no one can understand like "automotive technology." This isn't MIT people, dumb it down by using roots and variants of the exact same words.

When I was young it was first dinosaurs that got me into science, then it was Star Trek that furthered my interest in science (mostly at the possibilities of what could be done). Science came extremely easy to me, math didn't though. I had a fear of math, still kinda do. I let it stop me from trying in school; the highest math I've been taught in a school is basic algebra. I cheated my way out of taking Geometry in high school. I regret that I didn't try in school, now more than ever. So I've been considering switching to a science major in physics.

Is it even possible at the age of 21, is it even a good idea at the age of 21 to change my major to this?
There's a bit of a disconnect here in that you seem to think that liking dinosaurs or Star Trek means you have some inside track on being a paleontologist or physicist and that "science came easy to you." Sure, it's essential to have an interest in the subject matter you plan to study, but that doesn't mean you get to skip all the incredibly long and difficult work it takes to actually become proficient in the field. I like Star Trek too, that doesn't mean that I can just up and become a physicist on a whim, especially when you say you fear math, which is the central component of all physics (and all science, really).

Now, I'm not saying it's impossible for you to learn physics, and your age (especially when you're still so young) shouldn't preclude you from changing your major, but your nonchalant attitude towards the subject and your fear of math are pretty major stumbling blocks to overcome. You'd have to go back and make up for all that math you skipped over and excel at it before you even thought about taking physics seriously.

With the cost of going to university being what it is today, don't get bogged down in student loan debt over something you're not completely committed to, capable of, and passionate about as a major. And, to be blunt, you don't sound like you are any of those things when it comes to physics.
Thank you for the advice. The star trek thing was merely detailing the start of my interest in science, well the expanding as in I started reading more than just things about dinosaurs. Science concepts, the basics(intro biology, chemistry, physical sciences; basically things that didn't have much math beyond Exponents), came easy to me as in I didn't have to work 2x-3x harder than the regular students to understand the basics. I understand I will have to make up math, the plan if I switch would be to take all the prerequisite courses (like math 1010) that I need, which means facing my fear of math. I don't want that regret, the chains of fear to be attached any further. I understand it could be a decade before I am even out of school. I understand its a long road, but its a road I am not afraid to take anymore; nervous? Yes.
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Last edited by Kenbushway; May 12 2013 at 12:41 AM.
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Old May 11 2013, 11:54 PM   #13
Pavonis
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Re: Changing Major

What's math 1010? Course numbers aren't standard across all schools, you know.
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Old May 12 2013, 12:14 AM   #14
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Re: Changing Major

Hound of UIster wrote: View Post
For your background: no. Maybe a softer science like psych or sociology. But even they might require a year of calculus these days.
Pretty much everything does.

I went back to school this last fall at 27 and I'm getting things in order to transfer as an industrial design major with an emphasis more on the design than the engineering. Even so, a couple of the programs I've looked at have listed Calculus as a transfer requirement, with even higher level classes required for graduating.

As someone who has a mental block on certain parts of math (factoring recognition is my downfall) I feel OP's pain.

I can sit through just about any Science 1A class and ace it without reading, taking notes or studying because the information is interesting and interesting information is stored much easier than formulas and figures. I imagine that is what "good at science" means for someone who has only taken those classes. At some point you do have to develop study skills and learn how to learn that uninteresting stuff though. It usually doesn't take as much work as you think it will when you sit down to try.

So I say go for it if you think that is what will make you happy and satisfied with your life. If you want to work on cars, work on cars. If you want to be a hobo in Tahiti and paint coconut shells for gin, go do that.
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Old May 12 2013, 12:42 AM   #15
Kenbushway
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Re: Changing Major

Pavonis wrote: View Post
What's math 1010? Course numbers aren't standard across all schools, you know.
Sorry its a basic algebra, a basic math course for people not going into fields that require more.
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