Classic schooling questions [bachelor's]

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In summary: The honest answer is that you're probably not going to be admitted to a graduate school in physics without an undergraduate degree in physics.
  • #1
slimesimulation
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this is something I've considered posting for quite some time, but it was never the right time. now it is. please forgive me if i sound obnoxious, or even arrogant, i really, *really* don't want to.

let's cut to the chase.
i am 22, and i have never been to undergrad, because my parent wouldn't fill out the FASFA. i can't fill it out or go to undergrad on my own until I'm 24, because that's when they let you do it alone. no ifs, ands, or buts, seemingly.

maybe i could have saved up for community college, but that would have been a slog, and even with that i was very aware it was basically impossible to get a full ride. i was a precocious child, autism, gifted schools, calculus in middle school, then my family situation completely imploded. what i assume is a somewhat classic tale. so needless to say, my high school grades weren't great, even if near-perfect SATs and subject tests. lots of absences. you get it.

so I've been away, for a long while. working various jobs, mostly IT or at libraries. living with my partner for two years now, a graduate student in ecology. and studying. a lot. a lot a lot.
like, seriously. all the standard undergrad curriculum. general relativity. topology. complex analysis. computational linguistics. mathematical biology. i go to journal clubs over phone calls with friends who are physics and astronomy PhDs students. sitting in on classes. i have notebooks on notebooks. I've considered starting a blog. I've made a college freshman fall in love with differential geometry. i have research interests.

I'm not bragging, I've just had the time to do it. That's it.

I have a sinking feeling if I have to go through the standard first two years or so I'll give up or die. I don't want to wait until I'm 24. I'm worried I'll never be able to go to grad school. I want to be there now, frankly. I could get reference letters. I doubt that'll fly.

I don't know what to do.
I hope this isn't too much of a bummer thread.

If anyone has any sort of advice... I'm ready to hear it. It's time.

Thank you.
 
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  • #2
I do not follow well what you tried to say. Maybe you are at an age that if you could attend and afford Community College for two or three years, then when that much is done, you might be 24 years old and would be allowed to fill-in a FASFA form yourself.
 
  • #3
Here's the blunt truth of it.

If you want to get into graduate school for physics, the road is through an undergraduate degree in physics. There really aren't any short cuts around this. It doesn't matter how much you've self-studied or who will give you glowing reference letters or what your SATs or GRE scores were. You need that undergraduate degree to qualify for admission.

So you need a plan for getting that.

If that means getting the first two years out of the way at a community college that you can afford, then that's what you have to do, and it's probably better to start on that now. You're going to turn 24 eventually. Would you rather be 24 with a couple of years of community college under your belt and finally able to enter the undergraduate program you want with only senior coursework to complete? Or do you want to wait and start from zero then?
 
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  • #4
Perhaps you really do know your stuff, or maybe you're just fooling yourself. We don't know you, so there's no way for us to tell. The admissions committee has the same problem. You have to somehow convince a prospective school that you're adequately prepared to succeed in its program. Earning an undergrad degree in physics from an accredited school provides some objective evidence of your preparation.

With a non-traditional background like yours, you're asking a school to make an exception for you in how they assess prospective grad students. While you may be quite intelligent, you likely do not particularly stand out among the applicants. You need to ask yourself why the admissions committee should make an exception for you when they could just admit a regular applicant who's just as qualified as or more qualified than you are and who has demonstrated they can succeed academically.

I think you already know that the best way in is to earn the bachelor's, but you just don't want to do it.
 
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Related to Classic schooling questions [bachelor's]

1. What is the difference between a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Arts degree?

A Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree typically focuses on more technical or scientific subjects, while a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree focuses on a broader range of liberal arts and humanities subjects. B.S. degrees often require more math and science courses, while B.A. degrees may require more social science or language courses.

2. How long does it take to earn a Bachelor's degree?

On average, it takes four years to earn a Bachelor's degree. However, some programs may take longer if they require more credits or have specific requirements. Accelerated programs or dual degree programs may also allow students to earn their Bachelor's degree in a shorter amount of time.

3. Can I switch my major during my Bachelor's degree program?

Yes, most universities allow students to change their major during their Bachelor's degree program. However, it may require additional coursework or extending the length of the program. It's important to speak with an academic advisor before making any major changes to ensure it aligns with your academic and career goals.

4. What is the difference between a minor and a concentration?

A minor is a secondary area of study that requires fewer credits than a major, while a concentration is a specialized focus within a major. Minors are typically optional, while concentrations are often required for certain majors. Both can enhance your degree and provide a well-rounded education.

5. Do I need to have a specific major to pursue a certain career?

It depends on the career. Some professions, such as engineering or nursing, may require a specific major. However, many careers value a well-rounded education and skills, so having a different major may not necessarily hinder your career prospects. It's important to research the requirements for your desired career and speak with an academic advisor for guidance.

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