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Astrophysics, what do I need to do?

  1. May 14, 2009 #1
    I am currently getting ready to end my sophomore year at my high school and have basically come to the decision that i wanted to study astrophysics. Although i still have "time" it seems as though i will run out of it before it is too late, so I am wondering what suggestions people have that i should do in order to go into the study of astrophysics, in school and outside of school. Also if i can get a list of some of the better astrophysics schools out there. Thanks.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. May 15, 2009 #2

    jtbell

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    Staff: Mentor

    As far as high school is concerned, just take whatever physics and math your school offers. If you can take calculus in high school, great, otherwise it's not a deal-breaker. College/university physics degree programs are normally set up so you can start with "general physics" and calculus during the freshman year.

    If your college offers both physics and astrophysics degrees, the courses are likely to be the same until about junior year, so you don't have to lock yourself in right at the beginning. As an example, check out the University of Arizona's web site. They're big on astronomy and astrophysics, and offer both physics and astrophysics degrees.

    I encourage you to keep your mind open to other sub-fields of physics along the way. In physics, you don't have to commit yourself to a particular sub-field until graduate school, and it's very common for people to change their minds along the way.
     
  4. May 15, 2009 #3
    Thank you for the advice, and i will try to keep my mind open and see where it takes me
     
  5. May 15, 2009 #4
    Yes keep ZapperZ's advice in mind before you try committing yourself to anything
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
  6. May 16, 2009 #5

    jtbell

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    Staff: Mentor

    As you get exposed to more subjects, your preferences may very well change. This is completely natural.

    When I was in high school, I took chemistry as a sophomore, and got really interested in it, enough that I took the general chemistry course at a nearby college (the one I ended up going to later, in fact) during the following summer. Then in my junior year I took physics. After that I couldn't make up my mind between Physics II or Chemistry II for my senior year, so I took both.

    When I graduated, I was waffling between chemistry and physics and a couple of other things. During my freshman year in college, I had already taken the general chem course, so the obvious thing to do was take general physics. That finally hooked me on physics, and I went ahead with a physics major.

    Actually, looking back on all that I've done since then, I think that if my college had offered a computer science degree (this was back in the early 1970s when fewer small colleges had CS programs), I probably would have gone with that instead. Instead, I spent a lot of my leftover time from physics, playing around with computer programs, in Fortran and a couple of different kinds of assembly language. That experience came in handy in grad school in physics.
     
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