Some questions that kept springing up during my talk with 11/12th students (pre-university or plus two students) were:
- How is life pursuing science?
- What study opportunities do we have in mathematics/sciences after 12th standard? Where to study mathematics/sciences and what entrance exams should we write?
- Should I do pure sciences or engineering/medical or some other course?
- Will I get a good job and enough salary if I do study science?
I hope, I shall be able to answer some of these questions and provide some insights. Of course, all of this is my personal opinion. If you are a 11/12th student thinking about choosing a career path in science or otherwise, please read on patiently and comment your opinion at the end of the page. I will keep most of my discussion 'India' centric.
"How is life pursuing science?
Let me draw a more generic picture. Typically, somebody who wants to excel in sciences,
(i) go for an undergraduate degree (BSc in India, BS in US) with specific subject(s) like math, physics, chemistry, biology. Some universities offer too specialized BSc's like in 'nanotechnology'. But, I suggest stay away from too specialized courses. You will require a broader exposure at this level. You can always take up an internship during your holidays on your specific interests.
(ii) After an undergraduate degree, typically people take up MSc (MS) or the master's degree (Some exceptionally bright students might want to take a PhD directly). After a strong background in your undergraduate years, a master's course lays a good foundation for your PhD research work.
(iii) PhD — This is where you work on a precise sub-discipline or a specific problem of your field under the guidance of your guide(Professor) in the purview of university settings. At the end of your research work, you write a thesis and present it (called as 'thesis defense') for criticism in front of committee (consisting of profs from your or other universities). If your work is adjudged worthy, you become a doctor! (PhD stands for 'doctor of philosophy').
(iv) Post Doc, Tenure (becoming a prof, research grants, teaching) — you need not worry about this now :)
(v) You might want to get into industry (mostly applied disciplines) either after master's degree or a PhD. This usually involves working for a company say like Apple, Google, Microsoft, Bosch etc
Do I need to all this? …. Well, its up to you. Please talk to people of various professions around you and decide for yourself. What matters ultimately is, 'whether you like what you do, are you satisfied by it'.
There are other things you need to know: Sciences require a lot of personal discipline (especially when you are in the PhD phase). You will have to spend hours concentrating on your subject. This is only possible when you love your subject. You might be still doing your PhD, when your classmate has got a cushy IT job. You might have to cook for yourself, either because you are living in a foreign country or you are in research lab far away from the city.
But, its a interesting and rewarding life! You are doing some cutting edge, there always a glimmer in the eyes :) Choose wisely.
What study opportunities do we have in mathematics/sciences after 12th standard?
Here, I give specific details, mostly relating to mathematics. Most of these places do also offer other science courses too. Please find out about them, talk to relevant experts. A list in no specific order:
- KVPY Scholarship and undergrad course at IISC — Good stuff, probably the best at this point of time.
- B Math from ISI (Indian statistical Institute) — good exposure.
- Undergraduate course at CMI (Chennai Mathematical Institute) — as good as ISI's Bmath.
- Integrated masters at IISERs, NISER (Bhubaneshwar) — interdisciplinary, good.
- UM-DAE Undergraduate course.
- Integrated masters at IITs — they offer something beyond BTech too.
- BITS (Pilani, Goa, Hyderabad) — have a structured course.
- Central universities of Pondichery, Hyderabad offer Integrated masters
Caveat: Please choose integrated masters course carefully. They are long and arduous. This might not be your cup of tea. There might not be an option to quit after completing BSc alone.
Should I do pure sciences or engineering/medical or some other course?
Again, this is question for you to decide. You would have seen enough science by the end of 12th standard. Although, I agree that our education system is not very inspiring at 12 standard level, be aware, grass on the other side always looks greener!
Please talk to people of all backgrounds, talk to graduates who are just out the course, talk to professors, talk to people in the industry. Take your time, follow your heart! (easier said than done, I know :) )
Will I get a good job and enough salary if I do study science?
Yes! Very much yes! One probably better than any mediocre one. These days quick money, fancy MBA salaries is raising many a brows. Decide what you want, just money or satisfaction with comfortable amount of money.
Remember, the decision is always yours. Best wishes :)
— 15 Dec 2013 07:07