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Am I making a huge mistake?

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by Techmonkey, Mar 16, 2008.

  1. Techmonkey


    Sep 4, 2004
    Wales, UK
    all my life, I've wanted to be a physicist or an engineer. when I was a small lad, I was always taking apart old television sets/computer parts, picking the resisitors and transistors away from the circuitboards, smashing them apart, trying to figure out how that powder, knocked from its pedestal, would think for itself.

    I've grown up programming computers and using the old soldering iron on circuit boards and that. for so long, it was what I felt comfortable with. It certainly runs in the family; my dad was given scholarship at Cambridge to do either electronic or chemical (can't remember which) engineering, but had to decline due to conscription in Iraq ("either you stay here and join the army or we shoot you"). He's regretted not following his heart his entire life; he's a consultant psychiatrist now, and one of the best in his field (schizophrenia), but it's not what his heart is in, and it's heart-breaking to see him go to work everyday, knowing full well it's not the choice he wanted.

    Well here's my dilemma. Since I started my A-levels (the last exams you do before university over here) I've been finding my subjects more and more bland. Amount of work I'm putting in is disproportional to the results I'm getting out, and I had my first ever B in maths in my latest module (although, it was one percent off an A), despite putting in hours and hours of work. It seems that people in my classes for maths and chemistry this year are walking through it, and need to put in no effort to achieve nigh on 100% in modules (no exaggeration, they never do homework, never look over notes, and before I've even had time to think a question through they're already calling out answers, especially in chemistry).

    Politics, which I randomly took at A-level to keep my command of the English language up to scratch, is proving to be a completely different story. I was fearing it to be my most difficult A-level... yet I've been scoring the best marks in my yeargroup time and time again in essays and exams. Granted, memorising all the information that I have to memorise is giving me headaches... But debating and arguing point comes naturally, and I've never experienced anything like that. I had a similar time at GCSE with English... appreciating poetry and writing essays just came as second nature.

    I just don't understand why I've suddenly excelled in politics and verbose elements, as opposed to the mathematical side of things.

    And now, the final straw for me, was checking out the exam papers for PPE at Oxford. I've never read a paper which appealed to me quite so much! the questions are all about analyzing arguments... it's difficult to explain, but it's like computing with words; finding solutions to problems in the verbatim. It seems like a perfect way to combine my logical side of my brain with the verbose.

    But why!? what happened to my brain? I really am stumped as to what direction I should go in... :meh:
  2. Scarlet Fire

    Scarlet Fire

    Mar 31, 2007
    New England
    It seems to me you've answered your own question.
  3. peterbright


    Jan 23, 2007
    On The Bayou
    At least you are beginning to figure this out now & not 20 years from now.
  4. MakiSupaStar

    MakiSupaStar The Lowdown Diggler

    Apr 12, 2006
    Huntington Beach, CA
    I think you're in love with the romance of politics when studying it from afar, but when you get up close the reality of politics is a spent condom with a fecal mater smear drooping from your johnson, and no matter what you do, you can't seem to get it off and flush it down the toilet. On top of that, you've got pressure, because there's a guy banging on the stall door waiting use the john for the same reason as you. So you zip up, head out, wash your hands put a smile on your face and play the handshake game, but on the inside you're really :atoz:. So long story short, yes you're crazy, I'm a monkey, and make sure you enter into it with a narrow stance. ;)
  5. steve21

    steve21 Banned

    Principal: Mr. Madison, what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.
    Billy Madison: Okay, a simple "wrong" would've done just fine.
  6. Lalabadie

    Lalabadie Guest

    Jan 11, 2007
    The same thing happened to me. I used to be a huge mechanics/electronics fan. I built a couple of functional cars with lego mindstorms and the like, all with a fully working transmission, handbrake, independent suspension and all possible combinations of drivetrain configurations.

    And then I discovered applied arts. I must say I've shocked myself almost as much as I've shocked my parents. I had just never considered it as a profession. But discovering new tastes, of simply changing, happens.

    On the other hand, if you refer to your grades as a measure of your interests, don't! I may misinterpret your post, but getting lower grades on a subject you like happens, and it's not a sign that you give up, if it is part of the education you want.

    Now if you are an analytical person, I must say that political sciences and rights (for example) is a field of study that has much depth in it, and is less likely to give you the "bland" impression that maths and chemistry leave to some people.

    In my humble opinion, try it. You will either know that it was not your cup of tea, after all, or you will be thankful for the rest of your life that you dared see what it was.
  7. kevteop


    Feb 12, 2008
    York, UK
    You'll probably change careers a few times in your life anyway, what you decide to do now is - in all likelihood - not going to be very important in the grand scheme of things.

    I chose not to go to Uni at all, and instead spent three years playing in bands in the USA and taking lots of drugs. I'm currently in my second/third (I did play bass for a living until I was 23 but never reached "the top" so I can't really count that) career, writing web apps for a living, and hoping to switch again in the very near future to something a bit more creative that I'm too shy to talk about.

    So yeah, do what you want right now. You've (touch wood) got decades to do something else if you decide you made a bum decision.
  8. MakiSupaStar

    MakiSupaStar The Lowdown Diggler

    Apr 12, 2006
    Huntington Beach, CA
    I said I was a monkey. What more do you want? :eyebrow: ;)
  9. IconBasser

    IconBasser Scuba Viking Supporting Member

    Feb 28, 2007
    Fontana, California
    heh, I had the same thing happen to me. I always thought I was good at math and science.

    Over the past few years though, I've grown exponentially in my abilities to understand and emulate the intricacies of literature, analysis, debate, and so forth.

    remember, you don't have to commit yourself completely to one side or another. Find something that incorporates both sides.

    For example: my two most prevalent career choices were/are comp sci and music. I'm currently exploring jobs like sound engineers, studio workers, and working for companies like Pro Tools.
  10. Tsal


    Jan 28, 2000
    You have to ask yourself, might you be tempted by politics because it feels easier for you? Would you be willing to place a life-long dream of engineering or physics below studying political sciences, a field relatively unknown to you? Which option offers a challenge, a road to walk? It doesn't count what you are good in now, but where you'd want to make yourself excellent during the next 20 years.

    If you are naturally good with something, it's completely normal that at some point you start struggling with it, since you are not used to working hard to extract that knowledge like many other people. When the stuff eventually gets harder, your course grades don't tell about your talent, but rather how much work have you put into it. Failing at something at first is natural - the only moment you should be worried about failing is when you can't figure any way to work harder for success.
  11. I used to love math and economics, but once I got into University and started really getting into it I discovered that I really didn't like it. Turns out that I enjoyed my logic and philosophy classes much more and was really good at it. I have always enjoyed English and writing, but I never got amazing marks, so I decided to not follow it, but I know that if I had been in University for English I would have enjoyed it a lot more. Do what you like doing, follow your heart and remember that in the grand scheme of things money is just a number on a piece of paper.

  12. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    I don't know how your education system works, but here in the states, it is possible for a student in college to have a "double major" where they pursue two (possibly unrelated) subjects with equal vigor. A common double major is math + physics, which is what I took. But the majors don't have to be related to one another. I had a friend who double majored in science and piano, whereupon he ended up going to medical school. He had to negotiate with the various colleges of the university to come up with a set of courses that would satisfy both programs.

    Granted, it takes motivation and effort to pursue a double major. But for some reason your post gives me the impression that you could do it. You are also young enough that a few years of really intense study won't kill you. I don't think that I was a super student, but my parents were paying for it, and I noticed that the extra courses cost them practically nothing, so I decided to consume as much education as I could.

    For this reason, I suggest considering an "all of the above" solution to your dilemma if possible.

    Math + Politics?
    Physics + Politics?

    I can only imagine that science related political policy will increase in importance in this century.
  13. theshadow2001


    Jun 17, 2004
    Just remember that engineering in college is going to be different from what you've experienced in school. It will definitely be more interesting if your that way inclined.

    However thats not to say that this is what you should go for. But it's not all just doing maths.

    Think of the careers that each will lead you to. This will be a good way to decide.

    See if you can find out what practicals and projects they do in the college your considering for your preferred branch of engineering or physics. This is where the real interesting stuff is to be found. Open days are a great way of seeing this. Although remember that things are always dressed up for open days to entice new students
  14. Vorago

    Vorago (((o)))

    Jul 17, 2003
    Antwerp, Belgium
    If I were you, I'd try to check out what a politics and an engineering course are at university.

    Highschool (or whatever you call it, secondary school?) and university are really two different things. Believe me when you'll have to study heaps of extremely boring stuff in both educations.

    So, get in touch with people who study politics and engineering, check out their books, notes, etc, ask them about their experiences.

    Otoh, I always thought I was gonna be a journalist and now I'm studying linguistics, a turn I only made after the first year of university.
  15. CrashBang


    Jan 1, 2008
    Newton, MA
    You should also look at what you are going to do after university. You will probably need a graduate degree of some sort in math/physics or law school if you go with the politics. With the law degree you can always fall back on being a lawyer or as they say over there a barister, not to be confused with a Starbucks coffee maker, a barrista.

    Many people have stated that this will probably not be your only career. Just do it in the right order. Learn from my mistake. I went to university to study culinary arts. Had the time of my life, loved what I did and loved many cocktail waitress' but one day I started to look at real estate and discovered that I just made enough money to love what I did and buy an occasional round. I changed tracks and went to law school after 20 years in kitchens.

    During my time as a chef I taught for a time at university and saw many people that came from other fields late in life to become chefs. These people had made it on wall street, in high tech. and other fields and wanted to now do what they loved. It is easier to do what you love after you have financial security.

    Remember, in politics, the only thing worse than being caught in bed with a dead hooker is being caught in bed with a live boy.

    So as Maki said "So long story short, yes you're crazy, I'm a monkey, and make sure you enter into it with a narrow stance." Because we all know how such trouble that wide stance can get you in, just ask Senator Craig.
  16. Start looking now to see what the prospects for getting a job with are aswell.

    They didnt really give us any heads up at school, they just said university was the thing to do. Here i am, a few months short of graduation, knowing i'll probably not get a job in the field i want.

    And +1 to what other people have said. If you enjoyed it at school, university kills it for you :p

    Also, I thought you got 6th year studies which were higher than A-levels?
  17. IanStephenson

    IanStephenson UnRegistered User

    Apr 8, 2006
    The odd B grade isn't going to matter much unless you desperatly want to go to oxbridge, which you probably don't if you want to do engineering (I did engineering at York). The guys who are getting the top grades, often are the ones that can't adapt to higher study. They can tick the boxes required at A levels, but can't come up with the depth required by a degree, so don't let that put you off.

    Personally I love to argue anything with anyone, but could never got the law/politics route. You say it's "logic with words" - thats true in the abstract, but in practise it so often comes down to "cause I say so". Career politics is a popularity contest, and I can't keep my mouth shut when I see an issue, even if it's not in my best interests. Law's are the way they are because politicians want them to be - right and wrong rarelt have anything to do with it. I couldn't work in that system.

  18. peterbright


    Jan 23, 2007
    On The Bayou
    You might consider the law as a career as well.
  19. dlloyd

    dlloyd zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Apr 21, 2004
    Go for what you have a passion for, not necessarily what you find easy. That said, PPE inevitably includes a lot of logic and has a fairly hefty mathematical element. I had some friends studied PPE at Oxford and they were generally very positive about the course. If you can get the grades, definitely apply to go there.


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