Guidance for High School Student Interested In Physics

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Hello. I'm currently a junior in high school and I'm interested in pursuing an academic path in physics at a university. My interests have always been in the math and sciences, although I will admit that I probably haven't even been exposed to some of the more complicated concepts, but I try to expose myself a little to them through the internet. Initially, my interest started with astronomy and as I learned a bit more about the field, I realized it was the physics and math that appealed to me most. At my school I'm currently taking a Physics Honors class, as well as a Trig Honors class. I do well in both classes.

I have several problems that are beginning to worry me more about my college readiness. In my physics class, much of the information I really enjoy learning, and I think I pick up on it fairly well because of my strong interest. But I am also aware of the fact that it is only a very basic curriculum. It seems that what I am learning feels so simple because it isn't even the half (more like 1/1000) of it. It seems that some of these concepts can be understood so simply when you look at them independently. But when you actually have to take all concepts/laws/forces into consideration at the same time, that's when it's a different story (this is how it seems to me so correct me if I'm wrong, I'm a noob). I will not be able to take AP Physics next year because my HS doesn't offer it, so I am afraid that I won't be at the academic level as some other students applying to universities and going in as freshmen. Is there anything that someone can recommend me to do in order to educate myself better in physics? And calculus considering that I haven't been exposed to that?

Another one of my more significant problems is my English and History classes. I struggle very much with these classes because of my self-discipline level. I have a very hard time succeeding in these classes because the subject matter is so unappealing to me, and I'm really struggling with pushing myself to do some of the work. I especially struggle with writing essays. I always seem to have a bunch of ideas and different angles to take the writing, but I get stooped at the part where you actually have to construct coherent ideas through coherent sentences... It's very discouraging and overwhelming for me. This has been a problem for a few years now. Is there anyone that has maybe gone through similar trouble with self-discipline or these English/History subjects, and has any advice with how to overcome it?

I apologize if some of this didn't make sense. I can try to clarify better if needed.
Any help will be greatly appreciated, thank you.

Answers and Replies

  • #2
You won't get a true grasp of physics until after you've learned calculus, so don't worry.

My school did not have AP physics either. Universities assume you have zero knowledge on the subject, so you'll be fine. Just stay strong in the fundamentals of precalculus and trig, because that's what messes most people up when they get to calculus.
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  • #3
Simon Bridge
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You may benefit from looking at AP physics primers and calc courses online, if you are finding the basic work seems "too basic".
  • #4
You're right, high school math and physics are very basic. But nothing stops you from self-studying more complicated subjects!
  • #5
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You sound like me may years ago. I didn't think I was college material and had no plans for such going into my senior year. But my physics teacher advised me to try it and see what happens. Glad I did. College seems so much more demanding. And it is but not to the extent that you may think. Don't worry about how you perceive yourself with regard to others. What you seem like today does not determine what you will become. Much is really within your control. Confidence is an important quality just follow it up with focus, persistence, and hard work. Those who are ( or were successful) seem to focus on the present and completing the task at hand today .

As for the problem with liberal arts I cannot prescribe a panacea for your problem. Just as not all are cut out for physics or math neither are we all cut out to be artists, writers or sociologists. That said it does not excuse us from a certain level of competence in expressing our self with the written or spoken word or learning about our society and those things that give us an opportunity to be physicists. I think that a lot depends on the teachers ability to instill an interest for the subject. If that does not happen try to see or find the value of the subject for you. You will change and you never know how your interests will change, so learning a diversity of subjects may ultimately be rewarding, so don't waste any learning opportunity.

You, we are not one dimensional or live in isolation. There are more or will be more aspects to our lives than just that in which we are currently interested. We have or will have varying responsibilities as, a spouse, a father, a citizen which will require a greater knowledge and interest in the world and its workings.

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