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Feasible to major in physics?

  1. Oct 25, 2013 #1

    My question is simple: Would it feasible for me to be a physics major? Why I am interested in physics? I have a passion for understanding how things work. It has always been an interest of mine. Now, why would someone question if being a physics major would be right for them if they loved it? I am 22 and about to start my first semester of community college. Why community college? I work a full time professional job in MRO purchasing. I also did not do well in math during high school. Mainly because of work ethnic and because I never planned to do anything with math so I did not focus on it. Now we fast forward to the present: I have learned a lot over the years. I have worked a professional job for four years (I managed to get lucky in the job market after I graduated) and it has taught me a lot of life lessons. I now manage my time, have a much better work ethnic, and interpersonal skills. I will be doing a transfer program in CC, and intend to apply myself. I graduated in 2009, so naturally I now have to take a remedial math course. Does this doom me? Is it feasible for me to recover and go on to become a great physics student? For undergraduate I would be looking at ideally a B.S in Physics (maybe with a concentration in Astrophysics, one of the more awesome degrees offered at UNCC, the university I will most likely attend) with a minor in Chemistry. Past my undergraduate degree I want to either pursue an MD or a PhD in Physics but I have a good while to decide on which path I want more.

    I ask this question because my advisor warned me against a physics degree because of my lack of physics in High School and generally seemed to try and turn me away from pursuing that path. That I had been out of school for too long and should pick a major that was easier. This made me really doubt if I would make a good physics student. I have the desire, the will to study… but am I trying to join the game too late? Can I go from remedial math to successful physics student?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 25, 2013 #2


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    I dropped out of high school my sophomore year due to a lack of motivation. I'm now 27, and I'm in my second year of community college, and majoring in physics.

    I never took any physics in high school, and basically all of my knowledge of math had left me. I started in elementary algebra my first semester. Over winter break between fall and spring semesters, I self-taught all of the material from intermediate algebra, and a ton of a geometry, and managed to place into college algebra for my second semester. Then I took trig over the summer, and I'm now in calculus and physics. I had to delay taking physics due to prerequisites during the first year. So far, I'm doing very well in both. I'm holding a 4.0, and I'm currently overloading on credits with 21 hours. Aside from calculus and physics, I also have general chemistry, intro to anthropology, and beginning spanish 1. It keeps me busy, to say the least, but I apply myself to it completely.

    It's certainly possible. It seems odd to me that your adviser would be trying to steer you away from it. Having taken physics in high school is by no means a prerequisite for college physics. Some schools will require you to take some algebra/trig based physics before you can go into the calculus based physics, but it's by no means necessary.
  4. Oct 25, 2013 #3


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    Are you willing to quit your job? It will most likely come to that, unless you want to do a few classes a semester. If you decide to do both, be warned, most likely you'll end up half-assing both. This isn't a big deal though initially, while you get caught up.
    Catch up on the math, and then get really good at derivatives and integrals. You didn’t start too late, I started again at 28. Not being exposed to physics in high school will make it slightly more difficult for you, since solving physical problems requires a different sort of skill set, but it by no means will make it impossible. Sometimes it even helps, as you won’t get cocky the first couple of weeks and really take the time to focus.
    This is my opinion however based on the question and my experiences. If you want to do it, you should.
  5. Oct 25, 2013 #4


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    That's a worthwhile consideration. Majoring in physics takes up a pretty considerable amount of time. I spend hours every day doing problem sets in calculus and physics. I don't really have a "job" though either. I do work study as a tutor in my schools tutoring lab for like 15 hours a week, but that's not really "work." I work nights a lot, and there are times that there aren't even any people in there. When there's nobody in there looking for help, I can use that time to do my own homework.

    If you're working a full time job, it would be hard to take more than 2-3 classes a semester and still do well in them. Completing a physics major like that would take a pretty considerable length of time.
  6. Oct 25, 2013 #5
    Through CC I will be attending 3 classes a semester or so. I will be doing year round though (Spring, Summer, Fall) to make up for attending 2/3rd time (With the exception being my higher classes that are 4 credit hours) Once I start at the University though - I will quit my job to focus on school. Right now I am trying to save as much as I can so that I will be able to do that. Right now I need no student loans, since FAFSA considers me a dependent of my parents until I am 24 and they are both medically retired, because my grants cover tuition+books (At least currently) Good to see that I am not the only one that decided on physics later and didn't go straight out of the gate for it.
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