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27 years old and want to major in physics

  1. Nov 16, 2015 #1
    Hello Physics Forums,

    I've screwed up since I graduated high school 9 years ago. I really haven't done much during those 9 years. I'm now 27 years old and I want to go to college to major in physics. I intend to apply for a community college and then transfer to a university. Is it possible to transfer to a top university from if I do extremely well at my community college? How will the universities that I'll apply for as a transfer going to view that fact that I've really done nothing from 18 to 27? How will that affect my chances to transfer to a top university?

    And suppose I managed to major in physics with a very good GPA, GRE, PGRE and research experience, would I get accepted to any first-tier graduate school given that I'll be 31 years old by the time I apply?

    I really appreciate your help. Thanks in advance.
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2015
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 16, 2015 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    If you get excellent grades in a community college affiliated with a good 4 year school then you'll have a good chance of moving forward.

    You may have to take the SAT and have good marks on it to be considered as well so you should start reviewing for it and take some practice exams. You'll be competing with other students for limited junior undergrad openings and also some of your courses may not transfer over and so you'll have to take more to make up that weakness.

    Checkout the website MathIsPower4U.com for high-school to community college level math that you'll need for Physics.

    Having said that, you still need to understand why you didn't apply yourself when you were younger as that will surely come up and you may have to address it
    in your application essay or in writing on your application. Admissions will want to be assured that you'll succeed before they accept you.

    You should also consider some backup plans like learning to do programming or something in case things don't work out as planned. I mention programming only because when I graduated with a BS in Physics, knowing programming got me a job pretty quickly and the work was easy having done all the higher level math and knowing how to work with large amounts of data already.
  4. Nov 16, 2015 #3
    If you don't mind me asking, what exactly does this mean when someone says they have experience working with large amounts of data?
  5. Nov 16, 2015 #4


    Staff: Mentor

    Most computer work centers on processing data of sort or another. Having worked with vectors and matrices meant I learned about indexing and so processing the data, placing it in a table, performing matrix operations on it came naturally. Many of my fellow programmers had trouble with tables. They understood lists but struggled with using tables and indexing to work with the table of data. I don't know why that was so but many were self-taught or company-taught and their knowledge of arrays was limited.

    Some examples at the time, were handling computer billing tapes, extracting computer tape record info for tape library information, calculating the cost of a job based on computer resources needed, etc... This was in the 70's with a mainframe running GECOS for many other departments on a shred computer system.
  6. Nov 17, 2015 #5
    Is that really necessary?
  7. Nov 17, 2015 #6

    Vanadium 50

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    Unless you want to let them guess. ("I dunno...maybe he was in prison?")
  8. Nov 17, 2015 #7
    It's not as horrible as it sounds. When you write your essay to a 4 year school after 2 years at a community college, you'll want to own up to what you've been doing the last 8 or so years. It's what I did as a 26 year old community college student to get into a good 4 year school when I wrote mine. No matter how bad you think it looks, they actually look up to adults who own their mistakes when they were younger. It's a plus, not a minus if you've risen from those low points.
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