How should I decide my field of study? Watch

Anonymous #1
#1
Report Thread starter 1 year ago
#1
Hello,

I've been thinking for months, frustrated by now. Now, I have two weeks before I start International Baccalaureate diploma (high school). I have to choose between Physics (engineering, tech, etc.) or Biology (medical, doctor, etc.).

I get good grades at school, and I feel that I would do really well in both fields, in terms of grades, test marks, etc.

My parents aren't pressuring me, and won't be disappointed regardless what I choose. However, they do advice me very strongly to pursue the medical field, as they see better job security, value created for society, better opportunity to serve the less fortunate and poor, etc. They tell me that I am at a lucky spot where we can comfortably afford my becoming a doctor, financially, whereas people struggle to get in this field because they can't afford it.

Initially, I just said no, and disregarded the advice.

But after watching TED talks by Benjamin Todd and Terri Trespicio on not following passion or 'true calling' as it keeps changing, instead following what can create most value for society. I started considering medical as a option. I really don't like surgery, but my parents say that I will get over it, after doing it over and over again during my studies.

The truth is, I don't know what I'm passionate about. I like film making, graphics editing, and a little bit interest for machines, technology, more on the physics side.

Also I have started believing that passions builds after you start becoming good at something after watching the TED talks.

I happen to get bored during biology-related lectures in class, but that might be due to my attitude of not like biology, or not even trying. Also I don't like doing math just for the sake of math, a practical application of math is fine, but I'm not a Math nerd.

The way I see it, if I choose medical I will have committed at least 7-8 hard years of university, so I need to be certain if I want to go in medical since there is no changing after that. I could change but that would be stupid given how many years I would have spent in medical. Also I have this idea from somewhere that in med school, it's very rigorous studies and not much time for extra curricular activities, is it true?

Whereas in engineering, I would finish under-grad in 3 yrs and grad in 1 yrs. And even then I think I will have time to follow things I like for example film making, or graphics during university.

But when I imagine the amount of people I could help being a doctor, I become clear that I will go in medical. But after thinking of the surgery, bad looking diseases, long time commitment, etc. I become unclear and become confused, back to where I started.

I don't know if I should make decisions based on, my current liking, or value created for society?

Do we need more doctors or 'technology people'?

Any insights would be very much appreciated?
Thanks for bearing this long.
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artful_lounger
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#2
Report 1 year ago
#2
it doesn't sound like it matters, because you don't seem particularly invested into either route. Engineering is necessarily mathematical, and the maths you cover in an engineering degree may not necessarily be taught from a purely "problem solving" point of view. You certainly can teach an engineer analysis and proper linear algebra (they do in France, although whether that's overkill or not is debatable) and depending on the lecturer and their background even less ostensibly "pure" mathematics courses may have more or less of an abstract feel.

Additionally most of what is considered "pure" mathematics in IB/A-level Mathematics is actually the bulk of what you do in an engineering (or similar) degree - those topics are really "mathematical methods" and that's what you learn in those lecture courses (and then you apply those to various physical problems in your other lecture courses). Incidentally most engineering courses in the UK require HL Maths, which is probably more of a concern/consideration than taking Physics or not to be honest, so that might be worth reflecting on, as other programmes internationally may have similar requirements (certainly, you'll cover most if not all the topics in HL maths by the end of your engineering degree at one point or another).

On the medicine side I can't comment in as much detail but I would say, if you are not strongly committed to that route, I think it's a bad idea; as you've noted, it's a long degree/training programme, and you need the commitment to stick with it. Beyond that, as a non-medic, I certainly feel you owe it to your future patients to be fully invested in preparing to treat and care for them...While I wouldn't say completely rule it out, as it may well be worth exploring (by getting some healthcare working experience, or shadowing a physician or surgeon), it's definitely worth considering if you have the capacity to commit to that (which I don't think everyone does, which is fine).

Both engineers and physicians/surgeons create "value" for society; civil infrastructure is essential for society to flourish, and that is what civil engineers do directly, and most other engineering fields can go into this area or do work that supports it in some way. Thus, I wouldn't concern yourself as much with that. Equally, artists, writers, etc, etc, all create "value" for society that is almost impossible to quantify. Society needs those things that make life worth living, rather than just existing.

You should follow what you enjoy doing - this doesn't necessarily need to be some overarching "passion" which consumes you to the last, but just think about what it is you actually choose to do, when you have the option, and why you choose that. You can then probably determine some relevant career paths and hence degree programmes that might be of interest/relevance. I wouldn't necessarily rule out either of those, but you don't seem to have any really cogent reasons for making those choices other than "they're prestigious and other people will respect that decision". From experience, I can tell you that isn't going to carry you through an engineering degree (and I'm pretty sure the same goes for a medical degree). As above, identify what it is you choose to do, what you want to do with your time when you can, and then think about whether there is some way to involve that in your future path, or if not, what is the option to best maximise your ability to pursue that thing when not working.
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wolfmoon88
Badges: 21
#3
Report 1 year ago
#3
(Original post by Anonymous)
Hello,

I've been thinking for months, frustrated by now. Now, I have two weeks before I start International Baccalaureate diploma (high school). I have to choose between Physics (engineering, tech, etc.) or Biology (medical, doctor, etc.).

I get good grades at school, and I feel that I would do really well in both fields, in terms of grades, test marks, etc.

My parents aren't pressuring me, and won't be disappointed regardless what I choose. However, they do advice me very strongly to pursue the medical field, as they see better job security, value created for society, better opportunity to serve the less fortunate and poor, etc. They tell me that I am at a lucky spot where we can comfortably afford my becoming a doctor, financially, whereas people struggle to get in this field because they can't afford it.

Initially, I just said no, and disregarded the advice.

But after watching TED talks by Benjamin Todd and Terri Trespicio on not following passion or 'true calling' as it keeps changing, instead following what can create most value for society. I started considering medical as a option. I really don't like surgery, but my parents say that I will get over it, after doing it over and over again during my studies.

The truth is, I don't know what I'm passionate about. I like film making, graphics editing, and a little bit interest for machines, technology, more on the physics side.

Also I have started believing that passions builds after you start becoming good at something after watching the TED talks.

I happen to get bored during biology-related lectures in class, but that might be due to my attitude of not like biology, or not even trying. Also I don't like doing math just for the sake of math, a practical application of math is fine, but I'm not a Math nerd.

The way I see it, if I choose medical I will have committed at least 7-8 hard years of university, so I need to be certain if I want to go in medical since there is no changing after that. I could change but that would be stupid given how many years I would have spent in medical. Also I have this idea from somewhere that in med school, it's very rigorous studies and not much time for extra curricular activities, is it true?

Whereas in engineering, I would finish under-grad in 3 yrs and grad in 1 yrs. And even then I think I will have time to follow things I like for example film making, or graphics during university.

But when I imagine the amount of people I could help being a doctor, I become clear that I will go in medical. But after thinking of the surgery, bad looking diseases, long time commitment, etc. I become unclear and become confused, back to where I started.

I don't know if I should make decisions based on, my current liking, or value created for society?

Do we need more doctors or 'technology people'?

Any insights would be very much appreciated?
Thanks for bearing this long.
Or you can take HL Chemistry, Maths and Physics and delay this decision a bit longer , since most medical schools only have Chemistry and double science as a prerequisite. What I would do is read more into both fields generally and then decide. As long as you go into medicine for the right reasons (to help people and society), it won't be arduous. Most of my friends doing medicine still has time to continue with their hobbies as long as they organise their time wisely. Personally I think we need more people broadly in Medicine but can argue either way (and really this shouldn't matter towards your decision) I can suggest some books about medicine etc... for you to get started if you need it

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Anonymous #1
#4
Report Thread starter 1 year ago
#4
(Original post by wolfmoon88)
Or you can take HL Chemistry, Maths and Physics and delay this decision a bit longer , since most medical schools only have Chemistry and double science as a prerequisite. What I would do is read more into both fields generally and then decide. As long as you go into medicine for the right reasons (to help people and society), it won't be arduous. Most of my friends doing medicine still has time to continue with their hobbies as long as they organise their time wisely. Personally I think we need more people broadly in Medicine but can argue either way (and really this shouldn't matter towards your decision) I can suggest some books about medicine etc... for you to get started if you need it

Posted from TSR Mobile

Thanks for the suggestion of delaying for two years, got that same advice from a teacher as well. It gives me plenty of time to investigate into both subjects. Could you please suggest some books on medicine that might have made your friends from medical interested in the field? Thanks again.
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wolfmoon88
Badges: 21
#5
Report 1 year ago
#5
(Original post by Anonymous)
Thanks for the suggestion of delaying for two years, got that same advice from a teacher as well. It gives me plenty of time to investigate into both subjects. Could you please suggest some books on medicine that might have made your friends from medical interested in the field? Thanks again.
The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by: Siddhartha Mukherjee

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by: Rebecca Skloot

When Breath Becomes Air by: Paul Kalanathi

and pretty much most books by Atul Gawande should be a decent start
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Anonymous #1
#6
Report Thread starter 1 year ago
#6
(Original post by artful_lounger)
it doesn't sound like it matters, because you don't seem particularly invested into either route. Engineering is necessarily mathematical, and the maths you cover in an engineering degree may not necessarily be taught from a purely "problem solving" point of view. You certainly can teach an engineer analysis and proper linear algebra (they do in France, although whether that's overkill or not is debatable) and depending on the lecturer and their background even less ostensibly "pure" mathematics courses may have more or less of an abstract feel.

Additionally most of what is considered "pure" mathematics in IB/A-level Mathematics is actually the bulk of what you do in an engineering (or similar) degree - those topics are really "mathematical methods" and that's what you learn in those lecture courses (and then you apply those to various physical problems in your other lecture courses). Incidentally most engineering courses in the UK require HL Maths, which is probably more of a concern/consideration than taking Physics or not to be honest, so that might be worth reflecting on, as other programmes internationally may have similar requirements (certainly, you'll cover most if not all the topics in HL maths by the end of your engineering degree at one point or another).

On the medicine side I can't comment in as much detail but I would say, if you are not strongly committed to that route, I think it's a bad idea; as you've noted, it's a long degree/training programme, and you need the commitment to stick with it. Beyond that, as a non-medic, I certainly feel you owe it to your future patients to be fully invested in preparing to treat and care for them...While I wouldn't say completely rule it out, as it may well be worth exploring (by getting some healthcare working experience, or shadowing a physician or surgeon), it's definitely worth considering if you have the capacity to commit to that (which I don't think everyone does, which is fine).

Both engineers and physicians/surgeons create "value" for society; civil infrastructure is essential for society to flourish, and that is what civil engineers do directly, and most other engineering fields can go into this area or do work that supports it in some way. Thus, I wouldn't concern yourself as much with that. Equally, artists, writers, etc, etc, all create "value" for society that is almost impossible to quantify. Society needs those things that make life worth living, rather than just existing.

You should follow what you enjoy doing - this doesn't necessarily need to be some overarching "passion" which consumes you to the last, but just think about what it is you actually choose to do, when you have the option, and why you choose that. You can then probably determine some relevant career paths and hence degree programmes that might be of interest/relevance. I wouldn't necessarily rule out either of those, but you don't seem to have any really cogent reasons for making those choices other than "they're prestigious and other people will respect that decision". From experience, I can tell you that isn't going to carry you through an engineering degree (and I'm pretty sure the same goes for a medical degree). As above, identify what it is you choose to do, what you want to do with your time when you can, and then think about whether there is some way to involve that in your future path, or if not, what is the option to best maximise your ability to pursue that thing when not working.

You're right, I'm 100% committed to either route and I wish it was more clear. But in the medical I fear surgery and the long-time commitment during studies and career; In physics, I fear the intense amount of math. I most likely will study in a UK university. Suppose after some time in class, it becomes clear that I can't handle HL math, than should I opt for biology since I wouldn't clear any universities in engineering?

I have come to a conclusion multiple times on what I should become, but than I start questioning myself. Once I settled on becoming a doctor and to test myself I went on google images and searched disgusting diseases, and I couldn't stand looking at the pictures for 1 second. I would love to be able to help people, but I don't know looking from this point in my life, if I will be able to handle this and not become frustrated with my life and have regret... and so on. If I could get over surgery, I would do really well in this field of study.
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