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Advice for a Non-Traditional Physics Student

  1. Feb 13, 2015 #1
    I am currently a Junior at a small, private college in North Carolina. I am going to my school because it is 25 minutes from my house, so I can commute rather easily. I am majoring in Physics, since the school doesn't offer degrees in Engineering. However, I do plan on getting my Master's in Engineering from NC State. I am also a non-traditional student (I am 27), which brings its own set of challenges. The reason I'm writing this thread is to get other people's advice about what I'm doing. I want this more than anything, but it seems like I have to fight twice as hard to understand the material, and trying to balance work, school, and a social life are challenging. If you guys have any advice or tips about staying motivated, understanding the material, or just general advice, I would appreciate it.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 13, 2015 #2


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    I urge you to check with the NC engineering department to ask them what classes you should take to be well prepared for your Master's program. Do this now, to establish contacts and to make sure you are on the right track.

    On your other points, I'm afraid I don't have specific advice. Balancing everything is hard for everyone and it may even be easier for older students, I think! I, too, was a non-traditional student. What helped me was keeping a study schedule - a routine. Also, if it takes you longer to "get" the material, don't take too many credits.

    The biggest mistake I made in school was I robbed my sleep time in order to study. This is a horrible idea! You need sleep in order to learn.

    And get regular exercise, too! Best of luck to you!

    Btw, what engineering do you plan on studying?
  4. Feb 13, 2015 #3
    I was thinking of mechanical, but I'm leaning toward civil at this point.
  5. Feb 13, 2015 #4
    Thanks for the advice.
  6. Feb 13, 2015 #5
    Be mindful when going into something like civil engineering (especially something like structural). Often these jobs are led by people with professional engineering (PE) licenses, and some states only allow people with a bachelor's degree in civil engineering to take the licensing exam. It's best to check up on those kinds of things.

    Many other states let people with related degrees (sciences, etc.) plus work experience take the exam. Just thought I'd point this out.
  7. Feb 14, 2015 #6
    I hadn't thought about the PE license. Thanks.
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