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Help for a person with a GED

  1. Dec 13, 2009 #1
    First off I would like to say thank you in advance, and I would like to give a short back ground of my education. I went to public school until I was 13 and due to lack of sense I then dropped out. I pursued education on my own through used textbooks and focused on my favorite which was physics. I did not get my GED once again due to lack of sense and decided to focus on my career as a painter thinking that was going to be my profession. Now I am 25 and finally focusing on my education I thank my husband for this, since he just went to college himself. What I would like to do is is something with physics. I have a lot of drive and passion when it comes to physics, I know they don't make a lot of money that is not what I am after. I would like to humbly think that I have a fairly good IQ, 167 and I know I have done excellent on the Wonderlic test twice. What I would like to know is how should I go about this? Should I get some math courses taken care of at a community college? Or should I go straight into a four year university? Or should I give up on my dream of being slumped over a computer screen working on the next new concept that almost no one will hear of, and I probably won't get credit for ( I am a realist) and just become a engineer or something like that? Once again I would like to thank you in advance for your help and patience. - Jalah Stern
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 13, 2009 #2
    Depends on your financial situation, what type of school you can get into, and what will transfer. Basically, if you can afford and get into a 4 year straight off the bat, go for it 'cause you won't have to deal with transfer issues. If you feel like you can't jump into the 4 year colleges math, go for cc for supplemental stuff. Judging by how much you probably missed, you may have to take some courses at a community college 'cause you may not pass the math placement exam/get placed. Talk to some admissions people and see what they say.

    Again, depends on your financial situation/goals. If you can live with almost no pay 'til you get the phd, and then living off a researcher salary, go for it. If your work is significant enough, it'll get published somewhere and you may end up recognized in your field (but that can take a few decades, if ever.) If you need a steady income faster, maybe become an engineer-though that in itself is a minimum of a 4 year thing. (My school gets a lot of people with lives and families, and almost nobody does engineering in only 4 years-it's insanely difficult to manage good grades and balance it with work/family/life.)
  4. Dec 13, 2009 #3
    Thank you for your help, and in reply: I do not have a lot of money it's going to have to be student loans and pell grants. I am also not worried about monetary gains obviously I am not going to work for free but I am not going into this to make money or get recognition, I want to learn something new about the universe and have a closer understanding of how things work. When my husband gets out of school we will have his income as well. Family is not an issue either, I mean I am married but children are not possible. And the area I live in does not have any really good schools so I am going to have to move away from my family anyway. Thank you very much for the help. - Jalah
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2009
  5. Dec 13, 2009 #4


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    The first thing I would do, is start out with some courses at a community college. It sounds like you've been out of the game for a while and even though you may enjoy casual reading in physics, studying it at the university level can be a whole different animal. Figure out what you need to get admitted into some first year classes, preferably under circumstances where you're close to home and not under too much financial strain and then go from there. If you enjoy the classes and do well, you can make a longer term plan for finishing an undergraduate degree.

    IQ tests and the like won't give you any reliable indication of how well you'll do in these classes, so it's best to forget about them.

    Also, while it's good to be a realist, I'm of the opinion that going through for physics isn't all that bad. You can earn a decent living with a physics degree and you will get credit for work that you do.
  6. Dec 13, 2009 #5


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    I concur. Start with math and science classes at a community college, which should allow an opportunity to minimize expenses while testing the academic waters. If one does well, one could transfer to 4-yr program.
  7. Dec 16, 2009 #6
    Thank you once again for your sound advice. I realized maybe it may have came off a little aloof when I was talking about not being recognized. It was not my intention to be a "debbie downer" I was just trying to impress that I am not going in to this to be the next Dr Michio Kaku I just really love physics. Also I would like to add again that I wasn't trying to sound like beacause of my IQ and that I read a lot of books in my free time, I was automatically a shoe in, I just wanted to impress that I didn't see a cool show about physics on the science channel and decide I wanted to by a physicist. Once again thank you for the advice and afirmation that with a lot of hard work I can make this happen.
  8. Dec 16, 2009 #7
    I got into my major partly 'cause of a cartoon and a video game, so I wouldn't judge you if you had. Motivation isn't the issue, it's about seeing it through when it stops being all shiny new stuff and starts in on the boring, tedious, incredibly difficult, can't see a reward in sight, stuff. Back in freshman year, a good percentage of my fellow engineers dropped down when they realized that just 'cause they liked robots, cars, bridges, etc., it didn't mean they were cut out to be engineers. But, like the other posters said, that's what the freshmen/community college classes are for - to see if you really have the motivation and aptitude to see it through.
  9. Dec 16, 2009 #8
    The shiny, new problem is why my husband didn't go to school for so long. He is brilliant but he was worried he would quickly not like college anymore. He got out of the military when he was 24 I believe and had his GI bill to pay for his college but waited until he was almost 28 to go to school. Now he is in devry going for a computer and electronics technology degree and he has a 4.0 without trying! So needless to say there was no shiny new conundrum with him. Not that I am saying that won't happen with me, I have heard that the mathematics that is needed before you even start the physics side of the house is hard, boring, and tedious. But it is necessary to understand the physics and then there is the hashing and re-hashing of newtons laws and principles. I have heard physics described as the Newtonian cult. I looked at several different websites before this one by typing in "how to become a physicist" on google and a vast majority said what ever you do don't do that. but so far I have not been deterred. I will be testing in spring to get my GED (I have already taken the pretests online and passed those very well so I am not worried) and purchased three math books which I am working my way through now. My husband has to take calculus in the spring so I will get his text book and lecture notes and guidance before I even go into college so I am pretty psyched about that. He has his first physics class in two weeks so eight weeks after that I get that book and those lecture notes as well. Woo-hoo! It's like second christmas!
  10. Dec 16, 2009 #9
  11. Dec 16, 2009 #10
    ReBoot, which is set inside a computer, and a Barbie fashion design game that I wanted to recode; I'm almost done with a computer engineering degree.

    Technical schools are structured very differently from colleges (which is why they appeal to certain people) so don't even bother comparing him to you.

    There's lots of work in non-Newtonian physics, some of it really cool.

    Depends on your personality and how you treat the math, but in general yes. But you get to make some very pretty pictures while learning it.
  12. Dec 16, 2009 #11
    Yeah I am not thrilled about devry, I wanted him to go to Sacramento tech but he was having problems with his GI bill. He is switching universities after he gets this first degree. He has to any way since he is moving from the west to the east coast. He wants to as well since it's not very challenging. But I wasn't comparing him to me I know there is a big difference in technical schools and universities, he has accelerated classes and his semesters are divided into sessions a and b. but he can get an engineering degree in half the time it would normally take him at a university there and they participate in the yellow ribbon program which pays the remainder of his tuition after the GI bill so it was kind of important for him to go to devry. I am thinking about going to Ga institute of technology after community college takes me as far as I can go. its close to home and my husband can go there as well. He wants a degree in computer engineering and I want a degree in physics and we can both get them there.
  13. Dec 17, 2009 #12
    lol, I once read a book just so I could get an xkcd joke. "The enemy's gate is down". That was one of the first xkcd comics I came across, and was hooked ever since
  14. Dec 18, 2009 #13
    Xkcd rocks I found them while researching sleep cycles of all things, I was looking for sleep related images on google and one of there comics came up now I am a devoted fan.
  15. Dec 19, 2009 #14
    This whole thread seems to be the OP asking for advice, being told that yes, it will be hard and difficult, and then the OP inventing 10 more reasons why she's incredibly smart or something and it should be a breeze for her. If you're already convinced that you have a monstrous IQ, or that your husband doing a degree at DeVry means you're destined or have a leg-up on a physics degree, why even bother asking for advice? The final verdict is that physics is a hard degree for a reason and whether or not you got inspired to go into it by something trivial, you will have a difficult time. It is a long four years and a lot of it is grinding and straining to build the necessary, but often boring, base that supports the more interesting stuff you study later. I see bright-eyed, bushy-tailed new students like you all the time, and no matter how much they absolutely insist that they know it will be hard and tedious, a lot of them still drop out later when they find out that it isn't all black holes and time travel. Just my two, jaded cents.
  16. Dec 20, 2009 #15
    "should I get some math courses taken care of at a community college? Or should I go straight into a four year university?"

    If you dropped out of public school at 13, then how would you have the prerequisites for CC or Uni math courses?

    I also dropped out of school at a young age, and had to earn my prerequisites in order to even apply to University. It took me 15 months to finish those courses.

    I think the best thing you could do would to actually get the process started, and stop daydreaming/posting on the Internet.
  17. Dec 20, 2009 #16
    I did the same thing with my GI bill. DeVry isn't the most prestigious school, but I definitely learned more about engineering there than I ever would have had I stayed at the University of Maryland CP. DeVry is more up to date on technology, although they also have fewer core requirements they are still ABET accredited.

    At Maryland they made me take remedial math, at DeVry I aced calc 1, got a B in calc 2 (I was working full time by that point), and I knew it well enough to tutor other students.

    DeVry is a good school for what they do.
  18. Dec 21, 2009 #17
    Wow I am truly embarrassed, I'm sorry if I came off like a pretentious jerk. It really was not my intention. I didn't mean to take anyone's advice lightheartedly either. Thank you all for your advice.
  19. Dec 21, 2009 #18
    I don't know about the prerequisites, that's why I asked, thank you for answering that. As far as the daydreaming/posting, all I can do is think about this and talk about this. I don't want to get into it but due to previous obligations, monetary issues and a whole host of other things it will be at least a year before I can even think about going to any school. I am sorry if I grated on anyone nerves. Thank you for the advice.
  20. Dec 21, 2009 #19
    Hello there Stern-o :smile: Fellow drop out here. Here is my $.02 (remember when 'typewriters' still had the 'cents' symbol!? Fees lame writing it like that.). Since you mentioned Devry, I will presume that you reside in the U.S. of A. I went to a great community college to test the waters. They are dirt cheap and if you do your research you can make out like a bandit. Find yourself a community college that has arrangements with local 4-year colleges. A lot of them set up agreements so that the 2-years of 'core requirements' will transfer without a hitch (my CC did this with both colleges and Universities and my FULL 2 years transferred with no problems).

    If you plan ahead like this, you might be able to go through your entire 4-years (or more is you so desire) without incurring any significant costs. This has been my experience. I wouldn't waste my first 2 years at a 4-year college (too much $$). You are only taking your 'general eds' during those first 2 years.

    And no matter what people say, you absolutely can get just as good an experience from a CC as a 4-year. With courses like Calculus and Mechanics and the like I truly believe that though a great professor can facilitate your learning experience, it is not necessary to have one in order to come out of a CC with a solid foundation. I am a firm believer that the bulk of the burden is on the student, not the lecturer.

    Now, since you are 25 (i.e. over 24), the government finally acknowledges that you are independent. How nice of them (seeing as your parents stopped claiming you years ago). So there is much more funding available to you now. Especially since you are going into a scientific field. There are more grants out there that I can even name. I don't know what other people's experience has been..maybe mine is unique but this semester alone I received over $12000 in absolutely freely given money that I have no obligation to pay back based solely on the facts that I am in a technical major, I am an older student and my grades are top notch. Here's the kicker: I did not even apply for any of these! They just show up like magic each semester.

    I am going to be finishing up my masters in spring of 2011 and will have done it at virtually no cost. If you are motivated enough to stick through to the end and to be relentless in your studies, I see no reason why you could not do the same.

    Best of luck to you. And if you have any questions about my experience, feel free to post them here or PM me. Like I said, my experience might be unique, but I don't think that it is.

  21. Dec 21, 2009 #20
    Don't worry too much, all her posts are pretty much like that. It's not a reflection on you, it wouldn't have matter what you said or how you said it, you'd have received a similar response.

    However, if you do a search on the subject of your post (which I would advice doing before starting any new thread here), you'll see that this forum gets a similar post along the lines of "I'm 25 and want to learn physics. I've self studied a lot and love to read." about once a day.

    Mentioning IQ is usually included, and is kind of a 'trigger' for people getting annoyed. Again, it's not that you've come off as a pretentious jerk, it's just the standard knee-jerk reaction to these kinds of threads. The view on the IQ thing is sort of this: If you do go to school and get a degree in Physics, you will probably never feel the need to mention an IQ test again. In fact, you'll probably grow weary of the idea of IQ tests as you go through the hard work and dedication that goes with earning a degree in physics (and probably relates relatively little to IQ scores).

    If it makes you feel any better, I was one of the "I'm 29 and want to go back to school for Physics...I've done a lot of self study, etc., etc." posters about 18 months ago.
    I did go back to school and am in the midst of completing a degree in Math and Physics. It has certainly not been easy (I didn't expect it to), but it has been the best choice I can ever remember making. I still love the material (which only gets more exciting as you move past the freshman courses) and am very excited about eventually applying to PhD programs.

    I'd have to imagine that most of the "I'm 25 and want to learn Physics" thread starters never actually see their goal to completion. I hope you're one of the few that do, and remain an active member of this forum in the process. It's a great Math and Physics resource.
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