Not sure what to do
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08-06-2015, 11:35 PM
Not sure what to do
I have decided to pursue a degree as soon as I have the finances to do so, even if I have to take one class at a time, I might even go for a PHD eventually. I'm going to start off with community college to rebuild the knowledge that i've lost or otherwise suppressed and its simply more affordable.

Now the part that i'm not sure of is what degree do I want to pursue i'm torn between organic chemistry and astrophysics. In high school I took honors chemistry classes and I was good at it, but I know that doesn't represent degree level work by any means but organic chemistry does interest me. The elegance of compounds reacting with each other and forming new compounds I found fascinating to no end.

On the other side we have astrophysics a totally different world from organic chemistry, I like the elegance of it and how it's trying to broaden our understanding of the universe as a whole. The main thing that gives me pause is basically the sheer amount of math at the same time, I do see the elegance behind the equations even though I don't really understand the equations themselves at the moment. When I was taking college courses I completed single variable calculus and although a lot of work, I found it rewarding when I would solve a problem. And I really like the idea of possibly creating or at least contributing to a new equation to explain something that we have observed in the universe.

I just don't know where to go from here, any advice?
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08-06-2015, 11:51 PM
RE: Not sure what to do
Follow your heart. I really admire anyone who can get an education. I had to leave school at 8 years old and have always wished I'd had a chance to become an archaeologist/historian. I became a musician, which was lucky for me and I ended up with friends who were professors at uni's. I'd have liked to be one of them, truth be told. Had I not become a professional level musician I'd likely be digging ditches.

Go for it I say. And good luck to you! Smile

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09-06-2015, 12:23 AM
RE: Not sure what to do
Are you looking to use this qualification to further a career / embark on a new one?

If so, follow your head, not your heart, into e.g. the Oil & Gas industry.

If this is about the pleasure of studying and proving to yourself that you can do it, Banjo is right. Follow your heart.

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09-06-2015, 03:16 PM
RE: Not sure what to do
Thank you both for your advice, I mainly want to do it to prove I can do it, it might turn into a career someday but it's more out of interest and wonder. I'm leaning more towards astrophysics in that regard Smile

“We can judge our progress by the courage of our questions and the depth of our answers, our willingness to embrace what is true rather than what feels good.”
― Carl Sagan
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09-06-2015, 08:43 PM
RE: Not sure what to do
we have a forum member here, Organic Chemist. Maybe he will provide some insight.

I think the chemistry would be the path I would take. You could use it into many different fields, a ton of different industries and find much variety in applications and innovations.

astrophysics is cool, but application and employment opportunites seem more limited.

Most of us have to work to survive, pick something you like, add some variety and most of can be happy for quite a long time.


"Life is a daring adventure or it is nothing"--Helen Keller
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09-06-2015, 08:45 PM
RE: Not sure what to do
I wish you the best.


But as if to knock me down, reality came around
And without so much as a mere touch, cut me into little pieces

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09-06-2015, 08:53 PM
RE: Not sure what to do
(09-06-2015 08:43 PM)Bows and Arrows Wrote:  we have a forum member here, Organic Chemist. Maybe he will provide some insight.

I think the chemistry would be the path I would take. You could use it into many different fields, a ton of different industries and find much variety in applications and innovations.

astrophysics is cool, but application and employment opportunites seem more limited.

Most of us have to work to survive, pick something you like, add some variety and most of can be happy for quite a long time.

You make a good point as well, organic chemistry is something I believe I would enjoy as well and if job prospects are better it seems more of a win win situation. At least the nice thing is I do have some time to further contemplate as the first 2 years of progression are similar with general studies classes. Math doesn't diverge until I think the 2nd year depending on how well I do on placement tests for community college . I'll have to dust off my ACT scores too, once I get to the point to transfer for the last 2 years of studies to get my Bachelors Degree.

“We can judge our progress by the courage of our questions and the depth of our answers, our willingness to embrace what is true rather than what feels good.”
― Carl Sagan
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09-06-2015, 09:01 PM
RE: Not sure what to do
First of all, you don't have to pick a major and stick to it forever...it's not that kind of commitment.

If you are going to go to school after an absence, start with the basics you need no matter what your major may be. Along the way as you will have the opportunity to try out some different things and you will hit on the right course of action.

I went to community college starting in 2009 at the age of 52. Part time is all I could manage. Since I hadn't written a paper in forever, I started with a composition class that was a requirement for everything and I also took the first government class I was going to need.

My major changed due to a physical situation but I ended up with an AA in something I was really interested in anyway.

Your path won't necessarily be in a straight line. Just start...that's the most important part.

See here they are the bruises some were self-inflicted and some showed up along the way. - JF
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10-06-2015, 07:23 AM
RE: Not sure what to do
(08-06-2015 11:35 PM)Worom Wrote:  I have decided to pursue a degree as soon as I have the finances to do so, even if I have to take one class at a time, I might even go for a PHD eventually. I'm going to start off with community college to rebuild the knowledge that i've lost or otherwise suppressed and its simply more affordable.

Now the part that i'm not sure of is what degree do I want to pursue i'm torn between organic chemistry and astrophysics. In high school I took honors chemistry classes and I was good at it, but I know that doesn't represent degree level work by any means but organic chemistry does interest me. The elegance of compounds reacting with each other and forming new compounds I found fascinating to no end.

On the other side we have astrophysics a totally different world from organic chemistry, I like the elegance of it and how it's trying to broaden our understanding of the universe as a whole. The main thing that gives me pause is basically the sheer amount of math at the same time, I do see the elegance behind the equations even though I don't really understand the equations themselves at the moment. When I was taking college courses I completed single variable calculus and although a lot of work, I found it rewarding when I would solve a problem. And I really like the idea of possibly creating or at least contributing to a new equation to explain something that we have observed in the universe.

I just don't know where to go from here, any advice?

Org. Chem is a trip. I agree with your assessment. I liken it to playing with LEGOS that can kill you. I fell for it in my first undergrad class although I always had a thing for chem since Mr. List's chem class in high school.

You indicated that you are going to attend CC to get back in the swing of things. Great idea. You however did not indicate whether you are going to get an associate's before going to a large university or just take some courses and have them transferred. So what is the timeframe? Personally, I took the gen eds at a local CC and the major courses at the university since the gen eds transferred. Why pay $250/credit for an English course I don't care about when I can do it for $50? Just make sure that wherever you want to go recognizes them and will accept them.

Back to the question about the major. I have no real experience with the astrophysics part, sorry, I only can tell you about my experience with the chemistry part. Don't think that there is little math in a chem major. I took through differential equations in order to make the physical chemistry courses easier although it was still ridiculously hard. You may want to think about a math minor regardless of which you pursue (although not required, but it would make life easier). Most programs I am familiar with require through Calc II. Having said that, once you get past the BS for chem, you really only use basic math. I can still do the math, but nowhere near the level I could before. Org chem does require an assload of memorization but I imagine that astrophysics does as well. Of the chemistry fields, org uses the least math.

In terms of discovering something new or pushing the science forward, you can do that in either field. It really comes down to determination, skill, and a buttload of luck sometimes. I have authored or co-authored several articles and I hold 9 patents and I am only 35. There are tons of interesting things that we don't know about in org chem. You could even get a reaction named after you or if you design some new catalyst or ligand you can be immortalized that way. Personally, I would rather have the reaction named after me than a Nobel. I can only tell you of a few of the Nobel winners in chemistry but everyone in organic synthesis knows what a Kumada reaction or a Buchwald catalyst is.

I hope this helps in some way. If you have any further questions or whatnot, feel free to PM me.

Also, thanks Bows for forwarding this to me.

"If we are honest—and scientists have to be—we must admit that religion is a jumble of false assertions, with no basis in reality.
The very idea of God is a product of the human imagination."
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10-06-2015, 07:57 AM
RE: Not sure what to do
(10-06-2015 07:23 AM)The Organic Chemist Wrote:  
(08-06-2015 11:35 PM)Worom Wrote:  I have decided to pursue a degree as soon as I have the finances to do so, even if I have to take one class at a time, I might even go for a PHD eventually. I'm going to start off with community college to rebuild the knowledge that i've lost or otherwise suppressed and its simply more affordable.

Now the part that i'm not sure of is what degree do I want to pursue i'm torn between organic chemistry and astrophysics. In high school I took honors chemistry classes and I was good at it, but I know that doesn't represent degree level work by any means but organic chemistry does interest me. The elegance of compounds reacting with each other and forming new compounds I found fascinating to no end.

On the other side we have astrophysics a totally different world from organic chemistry, I like the elegance of it and how it's trying to broaden our understanding of the universe as a whole. The main thing that gives me pause is basically the sheer amount of math at the same time, I do see the elegance behind the equations even though I don't really understand the equations themselves at the moment. When I was taking college courses I completed single variable calculus and although a lot of work, I found it rewarding when I would solve a problem. And I really like the idea of possibly creating or at least contributing to a new equation to explain something that we have observed in the universe.

I just don't know where to go from here, any advice?

Org. Chem is a trip. I agree with your assessment. I liken it to playing with LEGOS that can kill you. I fell for it in my first undergrad class although I always had a thing for chem since Mr. List's chem class in high school.

You indicated that you are going to attend CC to get back in the swing of things. Great idea. You however did not indicate whether you are going to get an associate's before going to a large university or just take some courses and have them transferred. So what is the timeframe? Personally, I took the gen eds at a local CC and the major courses at the university since the gen eds transferred. Why pay $250/credit for an English course I don't care about when I can do it for $50? Just make sure that wherever you want to go recognizes them and will accept them.

Back to the question about the major. I have no real experience with the astrophysics part, sorry, I only can tell you about my experience with the chemistry part. Don't think that there is little math in a chem major. I took through differential equations in order to make the physical chemistry courses easier although it was still ridiculously hard. You may want to think about a math minor regardless of which you pursue (although not required, but it would make life easier). Most programs I am familiar with require through Calc II. Having said that, once you get past the BS for chem, you really only use basic math. I can still do the math, but nowhere near the level I could before. Org chem does require an assload of memorization but I imagine that astrophysics does as well. Of the chemistry fields, org uses the least math.

In terms of discovering something new or pushing the science forward, you can do that in either field. It really comes down to determination, skill, and a buttload of luck sometimes. I have authored or co-authored several articles and I hold 9 patents and I am only 35. There are tons of interesting things that we don't know about in org chem. You could even get a reaction named after you or if you design some new catalyst or ligand you can be immortalized that way. Personally, I would rather have the reaction named after me than a Nobel. I can only tell you of a few of the Nobel winners in chemistry but everyone in organic synthesis knows what a Kumada reaction or a Buchwald catalyst is.

I hope this helps in some way. If you have any further questions or whatnot, feel free to PM me.

Also, thanks Bows for forwarding this to me.

Thank you for your insight it did help. Big Grin I don't see math as being too much of an issue I took calc 1 and 2 followed by discrete math my last run before I dropped out of college(ran out of funds and computer science just wasn't for me), My plan is to get an associates degree before I transfer it will save me probably 20,000+ in tuition if I do so(especially since our dickbag of a governor here cut 150 million from the schools) Right now i'm trying to brush up on my math skills and then move on to my english skills so that when I take the placement tests I don't have to retake a bunch of lower level math and english classes.

“We can judge our progress by the courage of our questions and the depth of our answers, our willingness to embrace what is true rather than what feels good.”
― Carl Sagan
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