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Can i do it?

  1. Apr 22, 2009 #1
    im in high school and my grades are okay. im no einstein, although i have read many books on relativity. Im just not doing well in school, because i get bored and dont do the work. if i do the work, i get good grades, but sometime i forget some equations. my GPA for first semester sophomore year was 3.0 and im finishing my second semster in 7 weeks. if i got a 3.4, and tried really hard in junior and senior year, can i still become a particle physicist?

    also, im not so sure i want to be a particle physicist, im only 15 and have only studied a little into physics. Hell, when i started sophomore year i wanted to do something with chemistry, then i read all this physics stuff, and i changed my mind to physics. i know i want to do physics, but what is each sub topic like?

    P.S. what should i expect when going to college? i want to major in some form of physics, but am unsure which.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 22, 2009 #2

    Einstein didn't do well in school, so it sounds to me like you are an Einstein at school.
  4. Apr 22, 2009 #3
    Hate to burst your bubble but that's a myth. He was actually pretty good in school. Check out Isaacson's Einstein: his Life and Universe, he talks about that myth in Chapter 2.
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2009
  5. Apr 22, 2009 #4
    My comment is based off an interview of Isaacson talking about his book, and telling how Einstein was slow at learning when he was young and was very rebellious. Plus, I was just joking around, no need to get so serious. I don't particularly like reading biography's though.
  6. Apr 22, 2009 #5


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    Highschool grades don't mean squat once you're accepted to a university, so as long as you get in somewhere, your chances aren't diminished to do something physics related.

    Just don't close off doors for yourself. You're still young and I think it would be naive at this point to know what you want to do with the rest of your life. Certainly continue studying physics both academically and in your spare time, but don't allow it, at least at these early stages, to interfere with other plans.

    The subtopics of physics are extremely varied and it would be too complicated to give a decent description of how they differ. What you can read in say a wikipedia article is about the level of intel I could give you.

    Also, as an undergraduate you don't major in any form of physics. You major in physics. Guaranteed 90% of the classes you take will be general physics courses everyone else takes, and maybe you'll have a physics elective or two that will allow you to pick a subtopic and explore it in more detail but that's it. You don't really specialize unless you're doing research work junior/senior year, or until graduate school (long ways away for you).

    Just have fun. Build up an enthusiasm, because a lot of that tends to dry up once you get into the rough and tumble of things (i.e black holes seem interesting until you get into the formalism of general relativity and wonder "Where the heck are the black holes?").
  7. Apr 22, 2009 #6

    Vanadium 50

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    I think you need to ask yourself how badly you want to be a particle physicist. You will have to work very hard. If you're "bored and don't do the work", and you are too lazy to use proper capitalization and punctuation, you probably don't have the work ethic to succeed.

    You can change, but you have to want to change.
  8. Apr 23, 2009 #7
    Don't be fooled by some of the general physics books. While Physics is fascinating and exciting, it is TOUGH. Of course, if you really like the subject, then it is not a problem at all. I am not trying to say to not to study physics, just want you to know that more than often, physics is hard and, well, boring in some sense.
    One more note, while particle physics is really interesting, don't limit yourself to this field. There are many exciting fields in physics, and more often, they are related to each others one way or the other. Expose yourself to all the topics (I think this is really the purpose of undergraduate level physics, and prepare you for more advance stuff).
  9. Apr 23, 2009 #8
    They mean squat: they showcase ability at a young age, which is very important. Sure, no body will hound you about them once your in, but more often then not they will reflect your future performance.

    Einstein was the top of his class from an early age. He was so ahead in math, that his parents had to supplement him with books. He mastered geometry and began calculus at around age 13. He had speech difficulties early on, but that didn't hinder his performance in school at all.
  10. Apr 24, 2009 #9
    If it's any encouragement at all, I was in the same boat you're in now. I had my first encounter with Physics through reading about relativity. I was bored in high school, and consequently wasn't focused. I had a GPA of around 3.2 . My junior year I hear about an early acceptance program at the University of Iowa, and ended up doing it. Now I'm near the top of my class double majoring in Physics and Math, and am involved with a few different research projects.

    I guess the point of that is that don't let go of something you want just because you don't think your high school grades are high enough. If you truly want to do something, then go do it.
  11. Apr 24, 2009 #10
    thanks for the information and encouragement. people keep telling me that its so important to get into a highly prestigous undergrad college and its a lot of pressure, which makes me even worse at school, because its so stressful.
  12. Apr 25, 2009 #11
    You don't know stress until you've been in college.
  13. Apr 25, 2009 #12
    youre probably right, but still, you can understand where im coming from
  14. Apr 25, 2009 #13
    It's just community college, but college is far less stressful to me than high school.

    In college, you don't need to worry about somebody spitting gum in your hair, pushing you down a flight of steps, stealing your books, et cetera.

    I finished high school with like a 1.5 GPA, and right now, I'm crushing community college classes. I'm the only A in my physics 1 class, I've got a high B in Calc 2 (hoping to pull it up to an A by the end), et cetera.

    Taking 14 credits and working 40 hours a week, plus a mortgage to pay... and it's still less stressful than high school.
  15. Apr 25, 2009 #14


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    You also don't know fun!
  16. Apr 25, 2009 #15
    It's natural at your age to be chopping and changing the ideas of what you want to do with the rest of your working life (actually, yours hasn't even started yet!) so don't panic. Most people change careers several times, so the best advice for someone such as yourself may be to pursue the things that you feel you're interested in. Try your hardest to get the best results, if you're struggling with keeping up in workload - then maybe arrange to study with someone, form a study group or a study-plan and find a partner to work along with you.

    University is a whole other world, when you're introduced to physics at increasingly more detailed levels you'll find that most of the subjects you know about just now aren't what you thought they were- and it's likely that ultimate goals will change. It's a good idea to have long term aims, but since you haven't yet started on the long-term path (i.e. University) focus on the short.
  17. Apr 28, 2009 #16
    I think you will be able to become a particle physicist (granted you can find work after the 10yrs at school that is)

    I myself dropped out of college twice (In the UK, so this will be more of a ref to the UK school system but it can be applied to the US system) because i hated it and just got so bored. then took a year out got some money together and went back and just got through it with reasonable grades.

    When i got to undergrad(3yrs) it all changed as i was able to focus on the areas i loved.
    Then after that did my Masters(2yrs) and PhD(6yrs) which were bliss as i got to just focus all my attention on what i enjoyed.
    Where as back in school/college(School would put me at around 15 so this links to where you most likly are in the US system) i had to learn just stuff i didn't really care about.. i would just say grind through and when you find what you enjoy it will seem so much better.

    Just a side note.. i now study Quark-gluon plasma at the LHC for CREN and work with many Particle physicists and and they seem to have a right old laugh.. so is worth sticking with it.

    Hope this kinda helps.

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