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Considering going back to school - Ontario high school credits?

  1. Sep 8, 2011 #1
    Hi. I'm 33, a librarian, and in the past few years I've developed a real interest in physics - it started out by trying to fill in gaps in my knowledge about the physical world and, well, as I read more popular science books about physics I'm realizing it's something I'd like more of an in-depth knowledge of, maybe even a degree. I've read enough posts on this site that are encouraging, so I'm not concerned about being too old, but I know it's still a hell of a lot of work to study physics, and quite a commitment, so I'm starting off slowly.

    I do know that I'd have to get some high school credits in math & physics to start university courses, and living in Ontario I can get these online through the Independent Learning Centre (http://www.ilc.org" [Broken]). They're $40 each so not a huge commitment if I get into them and realize it's not for me, but I've been contemplating it for a while now and have run out of excuses to put it off.

    I'm wondering if anyone else has experience with taking ILC (or any high school) courses as an adult, how they are in general, or even just how it feels to be taking high school courses in your 30's, and when you already have a masters. (Taking them online makes it easier, both socially and schedule-wise, of course.) Thanks.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 16, 2011 #2
    Hey Libraryguy. I'm 38, was an automotive mechanic, went back to school for Electronics Engineering Technology Co-op at a local college and graduated and am working in the field.

    Still, its not enough, so I've recently taken 12 Advanced Functions, 12 Calculus and Vectors and am 3/5ths of the way through 12 Physics and 1/2 way through 12 English, all of them through ILC. Plan is to get my engineering degree, using these as pre-req's, starting Sept. 2012.

    Start now! They are not the best written or presented courses you will find ($40 can't be beat, though!) but buy the related textbook for every course and you will learn a lot. I get giddy taking the courses and think that they are well worth it and learn a lot from each one. How much more painful would it be to be surrounded by prepubescent tadpoles that are only learning this stuff because of parental pressure at night school in some dingy high school building basement 2 nights a week, after working a full day?

    Like I say, get the textbook, learn in the comfort of your home, and get yourself back to school to do what interests you. The courses are not hard, they don't need teachers, only a little bit of dedication, and they will get you into any university in Canada you choose.

    Jump in and have fun! Any specific questions, just PM me. Good luck!
  4. Sep 16, 2011 #3
    What sort of courses are do you need to take? Does the university there not offer some sort of placement test to cover the basic requirements?
  5. Sep 19, 2011 #4
    Thanks for the encouragement. Most people look at me funny when I tell them I'm doing high school math courses in my 30's - you know, because I want to - so it's nice to hear from other people in similar situations.

    I'm planning on taking Physics 11 before Physics 12, though I'm not 100% sure I'd need to - I'd rather skip right to Physics 12 if possible, but no need to rush things. I've started the Functions course, which is mostly familiar ground, but since I haven't taken a math course in more than 10 years (except for a grad school stats course) I thought I should make sure I have a solid foundation before moving ahead.

    @QuarkCharmer, I hadn't considered that. I just looked at 2 local Physics programs and the high school prerequisites, so since Ontario offers the courses online, I thought I'd just work through those first before even getting in touch with the department. Being a 'mature' student, I figured it would be better to have the requirements 'on paper'.
  6. Sep 19, 2011 #5
    Here is the grade 12 math: http://highschoolmathreview.com/

    I'm taking Advanced Functions right now and it's a joke.
  7. Sep 19, 2011 #6
    If there are placement tests available, you might be able to contact the school and learn how that works. Then self-learn the material, there are tons of resources online, (MIT, Khan Academy, et al) you should have no trouble getting up to the pre-calc level at the very least from almost no math knowledge. Save money as well.
  8. Sep 19, 2011 #7
    Libraryguy, personally I wouldn't skip any of the required math courses (follow the 11 Functions and Relations => 12 Advanced Functions => 12 Calculus and Vectors). That being said, I've taken 11 Physics and am 3/5th through 12 Physics and I ~don't~ think you would leave any gaps by skipping 11 Physics. Its really just the same stuff, a little more in-depth, with vectors. Save some time and jump ahead, I would if I had to do it over again.I'm pretty sure ILC doesn't enforce pre-req's, so I would try it if I were you.

    I know what you mean. I talk to some of my peers about the stuff I'm learning (math, physics) and get blank stares. Its interesting to me, usually over most of their heads (not many science-y peers) yet still incredibly basic stuff as its only high school. Looking forward to undergrad where I'll have some people that are learning the stuff with me and are (hopefully) digging it as much as I am. Even if they might be half my age...

    What schools/programs are you considering?
  9. Sep 20, 2011 #8
    I have some experience with distance courses in BC. They vary a lot in quality. Some are good, some are muddled. However, any distance course requires discipline. As a mature adult, you should have more of that than kids in their early 20's.

    Don't be afraid of reviewing stuff that you may already know. Most distance courses go at your pace so, if you find something easy, you can speed through it quickly. If you find it harder, you can take your time.

    Some of the hurdles you face may feel a little artificial, but learning is worth it...
  10. Sep 20, 2011 #9
    That's good to know about Physics 11. I may very well just skip right to SPH4U and save the time of doing another course. The math, though, is something I'd rather not skip as the courses are more cumulative than Physics 11 & 12. I also saw that chemistry is suggested as a prerequisite for university physics students, which makes sense, so I might look into that as well. Or at least do what I can on my own. In general I'm taking this slow, trying to get it right, to make sure I'm prepared to do well in university courses, and not have to do any catching up later on, when the work will be more intensive. But all the advice and comments have been very helpful. I'm definitely going to take advantage of MIT & Khan Academy. Walter Lewin's Classical Mechanics course is supposed to be quite good.

    As for schools, I live in the GTA, so York and U of Toronto are my only options. I'm not in a position to move from the area quite yet....
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