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Author Topic: Should I study geology in university?  (Read 7248 times)

Offline Onmop

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Should I study geology in university?
« on: 27/12/2014 12:55:21 »
Hi, I'm new to the forum :)

I'm in my last year of high school and I'm seriously considering studying geology in university. I've read a lot about the subject and job prospects / opportunities, and right now I can't really imagine doing anything else. I love to be outdoors and I can't imagine myself sitting in an office all day. I also love science, I'm just bad at math. :P

My reasons for going into geology would be:

- I love to be outdoors
- I love science, and to learn about the Earth
- I want a career where I can travel a lot, discover exoctic places and / or work internationally and in different countries
- Seems like a good major with all the field trips, and I've read that the job prospects for geologist are good.

My reasons for NOT going into geology:

- I'm not obsessed per se with rocks, volcanoes or earthquakes, though I do find them interesting (never really learned about it in school though)
- Ending up being stuck on an oil rig or with an office job I don't like
- If I wanted to start a family, travel could possibly get in the way
- Too much math for my liking

If possible, I would want to study in a foreign (preferably english speaking) country like USA, Canada, Australia or New Zealand. Is there any specific country you would recommend?


So, do you think I should pursue the major or does it not fit me? I really want some answers because there are almost no geology forums on the internet and I don't know who else to ask...
If you need more information, just tell me.
Thanks a lot in advance!!


 

Offline alancalverd

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Re: Should I study geology in university?
« Reply #1 on: 27/12/2014 15:26:57 »
How bad is your maths? If you can manage a half-decent A level, try mining engineering. If not, then consider geology/geochemistry at a mining college. The UK colleges (particularly Camborne School of Mines (Exeter University) and Royal School of Mines (Imperial College, London) have a worldwide reputation and an enviable record of industrial placements in a well-paid profession.

Travel is part of the deal: there is almost no mining in the UK nowadays. But it doesn't seem to stop anyone from getting married or having children: contracts are essentially longterm because it's a longterm business.

There are plenty of less vocational courses in earth sciences but the world doesn't seem to be short of graduate ecologists and green freaks.   
 

Offline Onmop

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Re: Should I study geology in university?
« Reply #2 on: 27/12/2014 15:47:16 »
How bad is your maths? If you can manage a half-decent A level, try mining engineering. If not, then consider geology/geochemistry at a mining college. The UK colleges (particularly Camborne School of Mines (Exeter University) and Royal School of Mines (Imperial College, London) have a worldwide reputation and an enviable record of industrial placements in a well-paid profession.

Travel is part of the deal: there is almost no mining in the UK nowadays. But it doesn't seem to stop anyone from getting married or having children: contracts are essentially longterm because it's a longterm business.

There are plenty of less vocational courses in earth sciences but the world doesn't seem to be short of graduate ecologists and green freaks.

Thanks for a quick reply!

I'm not particularly BAD at math, I just don't enjoy it. I'm taking as much as math as possible atm, I just don't find it fun. I like to think of it as a mere "tool" for the fun stuff.

I don't think engineering is for me, I think I'd find it petty boring. Can I ask why you would suggest a mining college? I don't particularly want to work in a mine. But then again, I don't know so much about the job possibilities :p

In terms of geological interest / beauty, would you consider England to be in the top?
 

Offline alancalverd

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Re: Should I study geology in university?
« Reply #3 on: 27/12/2014 19:10:09 »
Why mining? It's the best-paid nonacademic application of geology, and involves every aspect from aerial, satellite, gravimetric and seismic prospecting, through yield prediction, extraction (the bit that actually earns the money!), primary refining, transport, and site remediation.

The British Isles are certainly geologically interesting and very accessible - no need to trek across deserts or through jungles to get to the rivers and mountains - so a good place to study, but as they are pretty well explored and exploited, I guess you will need to travel overseas to make much of a career in geology. Unless, of course, you get involved with underground engineering....

I have a son who is a mining engineer - liked geology and physics at school and decided to make a career of it. Now settled in Australia, earning a fortune and having a whale of a time blowing up bits of desert with several of his classmates. So perhaps I'm a bit biassed!
 

Offline Onmop

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Re: Should I study geology in university?
« Reply #4 on: 27/12/2014 20:28:18 »
Why mining? It's the best-paid nonacademic application of geology, and involves every aspect from aerial, satellite, gravimetric and seismic prospecting, through yield prediction, extraction (the bit that actually earns the money!), primary refining, transport, and site remediation.

The British Isles are certainly geologically interesting and very accessible - no need to trek across deserts or through jungles to get to the rivers and mountains - so a good place to study, but as they are pretty well explored and exploited, I guess you will need to travel overseas to make much of a career in geology. Unless, of course, you get involved with underground engineering....

I have a son who is a mining engineer - liked geology and physics at school and decided to make a career of it. Now settled in Australia, earning a fortune and having a whale of a time blowing up bits of desert with several of his classmates. So perhaps I'm a bit biassed!

But trekking across deserts or through jungles is exactly what I want and the reason why I want to become a geologist. I want to see every part of our planet, to be on top of the world (quite literally) before I'm put 6 feet under the earth. Maybe it's just my romanticized idea of the subject though...

I'm sorry for not understanding half of what you wrote about mining, but those terms are quite new to me! You say it's the best paid job, but I don't care about money for now. The British Isles do sound interesting, HOWEVER, I would personally like to study in a place a little more exotic - the ones I listed for example - in particular Australia where your son works has caught my interest, seems like a great country and a good place to study geology. Would you perhaps happen to know how hard it would be for an international student with average-ish grades to get into an okay-ish university in Australia to study geology? Is it near impossible or well easy?

I'm not sure what I want to do after graduation, but I'd like to keep my possibilities open. Would you even recommend me studying geology based off my first post? Do you ever regret not changing your career?


Again, thanks so much for answering, I appreciate it.
 

Offline evan_au

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Re: Should I study geology in university?
« Reply #5 on: 27/12/2014 20:59:43 »
There are parts of mining & prospecting that rely strongly on maths/supercomputer skills - and are mainly indoor jobs.
But there are other areas that are not so strongly bound to mathematics, like collecting the data or collecting the minerals. If you are a bit claustrophobic, or concerned about being in the dark for 20 hours per day, look at open-cut mining, which is more an outdoors job (compared to shaft mining).

I also was going to suggest Australia, especially studying in Perth (in Western Australia), which has a strong focus on mining & geology, and a great demand for people in that field.
From talking to people who have been to the mines, I see that the work is hard (eg 2 weeks of 12-hour shifts), but there are frequent, good breaks (eg 2 weeks off, in between) and well-paid. Locations are remote, but flights to and from work are provided by the employer.

As you have considered, different activities are better suited to different parts of your career. Things that may seem unattractive now may better suit your abilities and interests in another decade.
 

Offline Onmop

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Re: Should I study geology in university?
« Reply #6 on: 27/12/2014 21:38:13 »
There are parts of mining & prospecting that rely strongly on maths/supercomputer skills - and are mainly indoor jobs.
But there are other areas that are not so strongly bound to mathematics, like collecting the data or collecting the minerals. If you are a bit claustrophobic, or concerned about being in the dark for 20 hours per day, look at open-cut mining, which is more an outdoors job (compared to shaft mining).

I also was going to suggest Australia, especially studying in Perth (in Western Australia), which has a strong focus on mining & geology, and a great demand for people in that field.
From talking to people who have been to the mines, I see that the work is hard (eg 2 weeks of 12-hour shifts), but there are frequent, good breaks (eg 2 weeks off, in between) and well-paid. Locations are remote, but flights to and from work are provided by the employer.

As you have considered, different activities are better suited to different parts of your career. Things that may seem unattractive now may better suit your abilities and interests in another decade.

Hi, and thanks for answering :)

Yes, I have considered studying in Perth and would like to apply soon. Do you know if it's hard to get in as an international student? I guess geology is not that popular of a subject...

You say there a parts of mining which is dealing with collecting the minerals. Is this what's called an "exploration geologist"? If not, which career path could possibly take me around the world? Something like a mapper? Or do you have to be a researcher for that? Can you list some of the jobs that a geologist can do other than mining?

Really, I'm not sure what I want to work with. Open cut mining doesn't look so bad - what exactly would be the job of a geologist here?
Sorry for all the questions, but figuring out what I want to do for the rest of my life requires a bit of research... :)

PS - What do / did you work with?
 

Offline alancalverd

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Re: Should I study geology in university?
« Reply #7 on: 27/12/2014 23:56:42 »
Would you even recommend me studying geology based off my first post?
Can't say geology enthralled me in my student days. It was peripheral to solid state physics and chemistry, but always seemed more like stamp collecting than science.
 
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Do you ever regret not changing your career?


Not for one minute! It evolved around me, and always in a more interesting direction. I'll probably do something completely different in a year or so, but there are a few projects to wrap up first. The fact is that if you study some basic sciences, you can meander along life's pathways as they open up: a first degree is not (or shouldn't be) a blueprint for the next 40 years, more like a master key to lots of doorways.
 

Offline Onmop

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Re: Should I study geology in university?
« Reply #8 on: 28/12/2014 19:25:55 »
Would you even recommend me studying geology based off my first post?
Can't say geology enthralled me in my student days. It was peripheral to solid state physics and chemistry, but always seemed more like stamp collecting than science.
 
Quote
Do you ever regret not changing your career?


Not for one minute! It evolved around me, and always in a more interesting direction. I'll probably do something completely different in a year or so, but there are a few projects to wrap up first. The fact is that if you study some basic sciences, you can meander along life's pathways as they open up: a first degree is not (or shouldn't be) a blueprint for the next 40 years, more like a master key to lots of doorways.

So would you or would you not recommend it to someone like me? :)

I know it's hard to say, but still...
 

Offline alancalverd

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Re: Should I study geology in university?
« Reply #9 on: 28/12/2014 23:59:49 »
All I know about you is that you are (a) interested in geology and (b) intending to go to university. What other recommendation can I logically make with that information? On the other hand, the fact that there is a doubt in your mind could weaken that opinion in mine. You also seem to be torn between a life of adventure and exploration on the one hand and a settled family life on the other; also between
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job prospects for geologist are good.
and
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I don't care about money for now
.

As for studying somewhere exotic, Perth may look exotic from the UK, but lots of Aussies think London is exotic. If anything, the word just means "somewhere else". Given that all major cities are with 24 hours' flying time of each other, and all science courses cover pretty much the same material (especially those that lead to a professional qualification) I think the subject choice is more important than the location. Australia does have plenty of dangerous animals, but the beer is awful. 

Best advice is to go to a few university open days and ask what became of their graduates in any field that interests you. The world seems to provide a niche for anyone with sufficient motivation.
 

Offline evan_au

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Re: Should I study geology in university?
« Reply #10 on: 30/12/2014 11:13:19 »
Quote from: Onmop
Do you know if it's hard to get in as an international student?
If you can afford to pay the tuition fees, they would love to have you!
(In your home country, there are probably more mechanisms in place to help with fees...)
I think the trickiest part will be demonstrating how your final marks in high school /college relate to the acceptance criteria in the target country.

Quote
figuring out what I want to do for the rest of my life
Don't count on doing the same thing for your whole life. Getting a degree shows that you have what it takes to start on an intellectually demanding career. But you need to plan on lifelong learning, whether that is taking on new challenges in a business setting, or additional academic qualifications.
One decision that faces many professionals sooner or later is whether to stay as a worker (in a field for which you studied), or move into management or consulting/contracting (which, unfortunately, is often not covered adequately in university courses).
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If I wanted to start a family, travel could possibly get in the way
Overall, I think it is easier if you start a career before starting a family...
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What do / did you work with?
I work in telecommunications; some of my colleagues visit mining/refinery sites to set up their telecommunications. So I don't have personal experience in geology as a career.
In my business, the technology changes about every 6 years, so you are always learning and there are always new challenges.
 

Offline Onmop

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Re: Should I study geology in university?
« Reply #11 on: 04/01/2015 12:04:47 »
Ok, thanks for all the good replies, appreciate it.

If I were to study geology (and I think I will) is there anything specific I can work on now up until I start, so I have a bit of an advantage? Something like remembering the names of Earth's eons, or crystal names, or something like that? I don't know what is important and what is not.

Thanks :)
 

Offline alancalverd

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Re: Should I study geology in university?
« Reply #12 on: 04/01/2015 15:29:59 »
Physical fitness! All earth sciences from geology to agronomy involve a fair bit of field work, and you'll get more out of it if you don't spend your field days complaining about the weather and sore muscles. As you are in your final year of school it's probably too late to take a whole new subject, but have a look at the GCSE geology syllabus, or, if you have done GCSE geography or geology, look at the geology A level syllabus and familiarise yourself with the concepts, if not the details.
 

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Re: Should I study geology in university?
« Reply #12 on: 04/01/2015 15:29:59 »

 

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