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College/Career path help

  1. Feb 15, 2012 #1
    So I have been out of high school for 5 years and did not go to college after school because I ended up with a very good job in the trades area and did that up until now where I really started to realize that I must go back to school and follow something that I have an interest in. I was a B student in high school and the subjects I excelled most in were math and physics and they interested me the most. I have been getting into and reading about quantum mechanics and astrophysics for the past several years and it is something I would really like to get into, and eventually become a theoretical physicist. Is it possible to follow this after going to a 2 year community college then transferring to a state university to finish out a BA in physics and then off to graduate school? I know I will have to work super hard but this is something I definitely want to do with my life, its been a dream of mine lately to obtain a PHd from UC Berkley or CAL Tech one day and I know it will take a while and ill have to work hard but its something I really want in life. I am currently 23 and will be starting community college when I am 24, what are the exact steps I should be taking to obtain my PHd. I live in Connecticut, forgot to add and ask, what are the chances of transferring from my community college to UC Berkley to obtain my undergrad BA in physics? Or is it more logical and possible to go from my community college to a state college?
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2012
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 15, 2012 #2
    Amend that to "BS", not "BA" in physics.

    You've got a good plan set out. I would recommend taking things a few steps at a time. It's not necessary to go to UC Berkeley for undergrad, and in fact it would probably cost you an exorbitant amount of money due to out-of-state tuition fees without gaining you anything significant. Do your time in the community college, and if you do well, you'll be a shoe-in at a great many universities - some of which is bound to offer you a scholarship. An interesting fact to note is that some state colleges will waive out-of-state tuition fees (in other words, allow you to pay in-state rates) if you get a scholarship above a certain amount. I don't know if UC Berkeley is like that. I'm not sure what you mean by your last question; UC Berkeley is a state college.

    I wouldn't worry about grad schools until you've settled in at your university after community college. Trying to plan these things before you even know what you want to do (and your interests may very well change - I went into aerospace engineering interested in fluids and thinking materials was a bunch of crap for the snotty mech engineers to do, but now I'm finding materials and orbital mechanics interesting now that I'm dealing with these topics).
  4. Feb 15, 2012 #3
    Remember that UC Berkeley and Caltech are ridiculously hard colleges to get into. Don't set your sights too high, and just remember that it's not the college that you go to that makes you a good physicist, it's what you put in.
  5. Feb 15, 2012 #4
    Sorry, I was typing faster than I was thinking BS is what I meant. I also forgot to add I really want to work with string theory what type of physics does this fall into, and what exactly are the steps into becoming a theoretical physicist doing this type of work?
  6. Feb 17, 2012 #5
    *Thread Bump*
  7. Feb 17, 2012 #6
    If you want to do string theory, then it might be a good idea to take some math classes. Classes like differential geometry, real analysis, etc. will be quite helpful.
  8. Feb 19, 2012 #7
    I am also a little confused on obtaining my PhD. Can I go from a 4 year college obtaining my BS to grad school for my PhD or do I have to get my bachelors, masters, and then PhD?
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