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Do you know any highschool/grade school nuisance turned out to be scientists?

  1. Mar 20, 2012 #1
    I do not know any. The people I know of are almost unanimously straight A students with chin dropping stellar records.

    But I know my circle is rather limited...
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 20, 2012 #2
    I wasn't a nuisance in physics, but my physics teacher always referred to me as a "dud" because I never did my homework and I would just get by with Bs and Cs on his tests/quizes/projects. About a third of our class were called duds and it didn't feel good when he would point his finger like a gun at me and say "zap, another dud" in front of the class. Now I have more degrees than he does and work at his dream employer haha . . but I still respect the guy because he was right that I was being a dud and he loved physics.

    I was definitely a nuisance in calculus in high school since I didn't like the teacher and had friends in the room, and I barely passed even though I later took some AP tests and got out of the first two calculus courses in college. I also was a nuisance in chemistry because I didn't respect the teacher. I really regret that tho, I should have tried harder in both of those classes.

    I definitely had to straighten my work ethic when I got into my 2nd year of college tho.

    Only one high school nuisance I know of ended up getting a degree in EE, but he was always smart besides his attitude and getting a DUI when he was 17. A few others tried, but I don't think they made it through. The real nuisances didn't even go to college I think.

    The sad thing is that I have seen a lot of bright stars, straight A high school kids, fail out of college in their first year because of personal problems that came along with leaving home more than I have seen nuisances succeed.
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2012
  4. Mar 20, 2012 #3
    I was a bit of a dumb *** in the past, never a bully in my mind, but, as I've grown older, I've come to realize that no one really thinks he or she fits into an archetypal group like that. I had motivational issues and didn't know how to deal with developmental disability at that point in my life. I'm a little older for an undergraduate student, now, I have yet to get a B and I've been challenging myself to the fullest. I had a major depressive episode in 2008 and a neurological experience that probably wouldn't make sense to most people (perhaps a kind of hallucinogenic seizure). Since then, I've had a strong inclination for math.
  5. Mar 20, 2012 #4


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    What do you mean by "nuisance"?
  6. Mar 20, 2012 #5
    My friend did not turn to be scientist but he is quite passionate about what he does and also landed a good job after college. In HS, He got into all kinds of troubles and fights.
  7. Mar 20, 2012 #6
    I was good friends with a drug dealer in high school, who is now a physics post-doc at an ivy league.
  8. Mar 20, 2012 #7


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    I dropped out in middle school, came back in ~10th grade. But they'd only let me into vocational training at that point.

    I don't know if I was a "nuisance" but I sure wasn't a saint.

    Eventually got my BS in physics.

    What a long, strange trip it's been....
  9. Mar 20, 2012 #8
    I was thinking about lisab and Ivan too.

    I think there are quite a few people on PF who had strange trip.
  10. Mar 21, 2012 #9


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    Wow, what a great success story!!!
  11. Mar 21, 2012 #10
    I failed 10th grade twice before dropping out of HS, got arrested on two occasions. I'm finishing my junior year of a B.S. in physics with a 3.9 GPA at a fairly high ranked school.

    Being the nerdy squeaky clean kid doesn't make you better than other people, in fact I think it's the people with rougher pasts who end up having the best attitudes because those kinds of experiences give you perspective, which the kids who always did what they were told don't have.
  12. Mar 21, 2012 #11


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    Congrats to you too! Always nice to hear about people that have turned thir life around, it's not easy.
  13. Mar 21, 2012 #12
    Me either.

    That's been my experience also.

    Mine too. The people that I knew in high school who went on to become working scientists were almost unanimously people who more or less kept to themselves. Maybe had a small circle of nerdy friends. Some were in the band. I can only think of one who played sports. He went on to become a proficient mathematician.

    But I don't recall any people who eventually got post graduate degrees who I would consider nuisances. Almost to a person they were quiet, nerdy, and engaged in doing and learning stuff that most of the rest of us didn't understand.
  14. Mar 21, 2012 #13
    I dropped out of highschool when I was 16, then picked up some books a year later when I went to do some manual labour work in greece. I had a selection of books, I read them and when I got back I started studying for most of my days for the next few years, I then decided that I should probably aquire some form of degree so I sat my highschool level exams externally then applied for university. Currently studying material I studied two years ago in physics!

    It's been a bizarre journey.

    I'm not sure what other people thought of me in classes though, I hated being at highschool and I had incredibly poor attentance yet I was in all the top classes, I even won joint best in the school and gold in some national highschool maths contest :biggrin:
    A lot of people in my classes didn't like me though, I really don't know why since I had never spoken to most of them, I guess I was a nuisance to them?

    It's hard to get back into the academic cycle once you leave it so good on ya buddy!
    I was also arrested once but nothing really came of it.. I managed to get it resolved with the other person involved, I was definitely a nuisance to him then :(
  15. Mar 21, 2012 #14
    Wow! That's some story, care to tell a lil bit more?
  16. Apr 1, 2012 #15

    My friends and I in high school were pretty much like the movie Project X. It was always party party party. Drug use and drinking seemed to be the all we were known for. Flash forward 10 years

    I have my Master's in aerospace engineering, working with propulsion systems at Boeing.

    One friend working on his PhD in entomology and another in dental school.

    We all get together in our home town (to visit family, reconnect, etc) and we always run into people we went to high school with, and undoubtedly we get questions like, "Hey did you guys go from party people to respected people" or "Why aren't guys dead?!"

    It guess it all came down to my friends and I were nerds in hiding and also knew that in order to play hard you had to work just as hard.
  17. Apr 1, 2012 #16
    Not at all
  18. Apr 1, 2012 #17
    Nope, sorry. But it's a true story.

    Most of my friends from back home are alcoholics, work as waiters and have a ton of kids, are into drugs, or generally doing things that make it easier to forget them.
  19. Apr 2, 2012 #18


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    Sounds like my hometown too, QC.
  20. Apr 4, 2012 #19
    I've gone through a few careers... I used to teach high school physics/chem.... but eventually got my Ph.D. in physics and now teach undergrad students.

    Well, when I was in my final year of grad school (in physics), on the selection committee for graduate admissions, and after I went through my individual evaluation process of one applicant's materials, I suddenly felt something seemed familiar about the applicant. Then I looked at his undergrad transcript, and got clued in. I'd taught this guy in high school. He wasn't a total mess-up or in trouble with the law or anything... just a general nuisance with really severe ADHD issues. I remember telling him (as a 17 or 18 y.o. "senior" student) to stop crawling on the floor during one class.

    I tore up my evaluation and recused myself (just giving it to another member of the committee with the statement: "Someone else needs to do this one. I need to recuse myself because I taught this student when I taught high school." I do remember that he didn't get in to our program (that could have been awkward had he been accepted and come...)... but I assume he has some career in science (he at least got his PS in physics, and probably did a Ph.D. somewhere). But I can't even remember his name to check now...

    Maybe he's even one of the respondents to this thread? I'd best watch it.
  21. Apr 5, 2012 #20
    I know several. But going all the way back to grade school we knew they were brilliant and would become scientists. They understood the subject matter better than the teachers. One taught himself calculus and differential equations at age 12, while being forced to sit through a pre-algerbra class. That year he made a point of getting a perfect zero on every test he took that year. He said that you have to be very brilliant to not get one right by accident on so may multiple choice tests. He got a 4 year degree in math by passing all the finals without taking any classes. He had two masters degrees at age 22, and went on from there.
  22. Apr 5, 2012 #21


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    That's really funny...a bit Feynman-esque, even :biggrin:!
  23. Apr 5, 2012 #22
    Not sure if you'd call him a nuisance, but one of my best friends was a grower / dealer in high school and college. He used it to pay for his entire undergrad. He took over his family's farm while he was still in high school, after his dad became ill (he passed away when my friend was in college due to cancer). He mostly did legit work with animals to keep the actual business at least breaking even. To make tuition payments, he grew loads of stuff on/in certain parts of the farm and found an easy market for sales at college.

    He was the valedictorian for his class in high school (he's a year younger than me) and he ended up getting a 3.93 or something at U Penn as a biochemistry major, then went to Purdue for a masters in animal science / bioengineering, then an MBA from Carnegie Mellon.

    I'm quite certain he hasn't been involved with anything sketchy for years since he now has an amazing job.

    Not sure if I'd describe him as a nuisance, since he was really a model student ... just somebody that your parents would have disapproved of you being friends with if they knew all his "extra curricular activities".
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2012
  24. Apr 11, 2012 #23
    I do not advocate nor condone behaviors/actions/choices that impede on one's own progress or the progress of others.

    That being said, I decided to drop out of school in the 7th grade. Went to an alternative drop out prevention school for a while. At this drop out prevention "school," doing classwork was not mandatory, and furthermore, work was hardly ever assigned in the first place. Smoking under the age of 18 on campus was allowed, attendance was never recorded and did not matter at all. You could walk off campus and come back as you pleased. That school was basically a business that said if you pay us 200 bucks per month, and show your face once in a while, we'll call you a student, give you an A on paper, and give you a diploma.

    I went there for two years before realizing that an education might actually be a worthy pursuit. When I tried to get back into the public school system for high school, they wouldn't accept any "credits" from the "school" I had been attending (for good reason). So I had to do some accredited home schooling to get enough credits to enter high school. I did what I could and paid a friend to do most of the homeschooling work. So I started in 10th grade the following year at age 17. But I hadn't done any math since the first half of 7th grade, so high school math was literally heirglifics. So my rationale became if high school experience couldn't be about education, it should at least be about having some fun while i'm there. So I just skipped, went to the beach, parties and smoked weed everyday and copied my way through high school and just tried not to think about the poor decisions I had made in the past that lead me to fall so far behind that I didn't feel I could ever catch up. I graduated with a 1.9 gpa and upon graduation I accrude just under the maximum amount of absenses that would prevent me from graduating. You actually need a 2.0 to graduate, but the academic advisor wasn't going to hold me back for .1 gpa point.

    As recently as 4 years ago I was content with the idea that I would never make a buck over minimum wage.

    However, through a series of really uneventful events and a few proactive decisions, I found myself with an opportunity to change the course of my life.

    As recently as 3 years ago, I wouldn't I didn't know y-y/x-x had anything to do with a slope of a line, or that y=mx+b was something that described a line, or that x^2+y^2=r^2 was a formula that could tell you the length of the longest side of certain types of triangles.

    Fast forward to today, I am currently taking University level calculus and have a B average in the class.

    So i'm not saying that you can make all the wrong choices and waste the first quarter century of your life and then suddenly pick up a book and simply catch up to where you would have been in a matter of a few years. What i'm saying is that if have been a good, sincere person, who has always followed the golden rule of treating others how you would like to be treated, then you are probably more likely to recognize or have more opportunities for improvement presented to you (even if you made poor decsions for yourself throughout your life that lead you completely in an undesirable direction).

    So I can not identify with the word nuisance, because I was always considerate towards others' thoughts and feelings. I grew up in a tough area and when there was a beef to settle that could get.. rough, both parties knew what we were getting into and were of the same mindset. I could never tolerate a bully and always felt compelled to stand up for anyone being unfairly treated, whether physically or verbally. So a nuisance, if i'm understanding that word correctly, then no I wasn't a nuisance. I can however ascribe to the word screw up. Because I screwed up a lot.

    I made a few wrong school decisions early on and before I knew it I was an adult without an education. The only advice I can give is to not drop out, or if you are a young kid who doesn't care for sitting in a class and hearing a teacher blab all day about things you are completely uninterested in, then if you decide to drop out, don't just hang out on the street s all day. Don't try to convince yourself that you can just sell drugs as a means to achieve finanical freedom or comfort. Don't fool yourself into thinking the odds of becoming the next big rapper or athlete are any slimmer than they actually are. Be realistic. If you feel compelled to drop out, do so with the intent of continuing your education as diligently (or more diligently) as you would if you were still in school.

    If I could go back and do things differently, I would never have dropped out of school. As soon as I realized I had fallen behind in seventh grade (due to hanging out on the street everyday and never doing a lick of homework or studying), I would have got my ego in check and sought extra help within the school to catch up. It would not have been that difficult at all, but I was more interested in getting home so I could hang out on the streets all day and all night, day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year.

    I'm very fortunate that I got what feels like a second chance to get an education. I'm spending almost every waking our studying and learning all things I probably would have known or could have known upon graduating high school had I never got off track.

    Kids today are very fortunate. I think its absolutely wonderful that they have so many resources, like the vastness of the internet and smart phones, to keep them on track and learning in any environment or situation. I feel very optimistic about the future of humanity.

    Now, I gotta get back to learning these integrals if I'm ever to be a "nuisance" (or screw-up as I prefer) turned scientist. :)
  25. Apr 12, 2012 #24
    I was kicked out of High School twice (in the same year!) and arrested once for drugs, never had straight As. Now I am a PhD student in Physics.
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