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Other Help Non-traditional student planning to study astrophysics

  1. Jul 14, 2016 #1

    I am an MBA graduate from India, currently working at a private company. I am single and I belong middle income group. I discovered my interest only after completion of my postgraduate degree. I am so much passionate towards astrophysics and astronomy. I am 27 years old now, and I am thinking of studying Astrophysics/Astronomy. I was a average student in maths, physics, chemistry when I had taken 12th grade. Now I am ready to start from the scratch to prepare for my course.I am exploring my options now. My location choices for study are US, UK or other European countries.I am planning to start my course on 2018. I am researching on this topic, and I would like to know few things on this.

    Am I allowed to study second undergraduate degree in astrophysics/astronomy in any good universities?

    If I am allowed what are the eligibility criteria? I am planning to write A level exams, so that I could secure good scores to get into top universities. Should I take SAT/ACT even if I finish A level exams to join in US universities?

    There is no financial support from my family to do my studies, I am planning either on scholarships or to take loans.. Do I have any chance of getting partial or full scholarship for my study? If the scholarships are not available, is it possible to take up a loan?

    Meanwhile I have to support myself during the years, and I am okay to live a simple life ( Just food, clothes and place to survive) so is it possible to get a part time job to afford my living expenses?

    If I get admission in any university, is it possible to cope up with the syllabus of astrophysics or astronomy as a non traditional student?

    I want to be a researcher in astrophysics. What would be my career after I finish the course? ( I am ready to go for Ph.d path)

    I read lots articles and updates on astrophysics and astronomy for years, I would clearly say that this is what my dream is, this is what gives purpose to my life. I don't have any guidance from anyone, and overseas consultants here have no idea on astrophysics courses. Please please please provide your suggestions, advice, comments, instructions on what are the measures I need to take up to join the course. I have to make some important decisions based upon the details you give. I am so much passionate about studying astrophysics, and I would like to make my dream come reality. Thanks a lot in advance and I look forward to receive your valuable response.

  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 14, 2016 #2

    Larry Gopnik

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    For the UK at least you're not entitled to scholarships (unless you find a very specific scholarship but I doubt you'll have any luck as they are very rare and for people with extraordinary grades) or funding and will have to pay the tuition fee upfront in order to attend. Fees for non-EU students are very high.

    If you want to apply you have to apply through UCAS so I suggest looking on their site - everything undergraduate in the UK is done through that one site. It's possible to get a part time job however as you are a foreign student you will not be allowed to work that many hours per week. I'm unsure on the exact amount. I'm not sure what you mean by "good universitys", what sort of ones have you been looking at?
  4. Jul 14, 2016 #3
    Here in the U.S. too, many universities do not fund a second undergraduate degree if you already have a bachelors, and any private scholarships that do are rare - although you could probably find some. You also won't qualify from federal funding due to being foreign unless you obtain a green card or satisfy these requirements (https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/eligibility/non-us-citizens). On the other hand, you might have financial support if you take out private loans.

    If you do plan on attending undergraduate college in the U.S., take the ACT/SAT. What degree did you get in India? Depending how much that degree mixes into physics, you might not have to redo undergrad.
  5. Jul 15, 2016 #4

    Hi Larry :smile:, Thanks, By good universities I meant tier 1 or 2 universities which offer programs on astrophysics. This is going to be a big decision in my life, I want it to be worth it. So by completion of the course, I want to be recognized for the degree I have completed, to get a job in the same field or pursue further studies(masters or phd). Do you have any idea which are the colleges in UK that provide financial aid for international students?
  6. Jul 15, 2016 #5
    Hi thanks :smile: I finished MBA graduation in India, its totally not relevant to science field. About funding, do you have any idea to whom or where I can contact about the loan details at U.S?
  7. Jul 15, 2016 #6
    There are a lot of private loan companies in the U.S., like SallieMae for one. In addition, banks or major credit card companies offer loans. BEFORE YOU TAKE OUT A LOAN, please please please read the fine print. You might not be able to take out some loans independently (i'm not sure if India has a credit system or anything like it and how it transfers to the U.S.) or at all.

    In additional, when you're talking about "top tier" schools, do you mean Ivy League or prestigious? I suggest you stay away from those solely because of the tuition costs, especially because of the chances for little or even no return for getting an astrophysics degree. There are cheaper state universities with just as decent undergraduate programs.
  8. Jul 15, 2016 #7

    Larry Gopnik

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    We do not have the Tier system in the UK although I think I know what ones you are talking about. For the highest universities, I am sorry to say, you will be rejected outright. You have been out of education for a long time, you were an average student and you already have a degree.

    No universities (colleges are different things here and are not the same as universities - they are a place to take A-Levels etc.) outright offer financial aid for foreign students like I said, UNLESS they are extremely gifted.

    If you do aim to apply for the "higher tier universities" you will also have another problem. I'll use the example of Oxford as I've lived there and know it well.Everything around the higher tier universities are stupidly expensive, for example rent. For instance, house prices and rent prices are over double - almost triple the price, of other places in England. With the lack of hours for working part time and no other financial backing, you'll find it extremely difficult/impossible to get up with rent payments AND pay the tuition fees and other expenses
  9. Jul 17, 2016 #8

    Thanks for the feedback..I am planning to take A level exams next year, so that I would have some experience in education. Seems to be I have to rule out UK from my studying options.:frown: It seemed to be a better option for me, as it provided integrated master course(Mphys), good medical policies, and a good place to learn. Since I am planning to study on 2018, Uk would have exited EU, would there be any policy changes in education which would be favorable for international students? Do you have any ideas?
  10. Jul 17, 2016 #9
    Hi, Thanks for information:smile:, I am researching on this now.. I am planning to take A level exams next year, and I would try to secure good grades. Also if I score better marks in SAT/ACT, do I have any chance of getting into universities with scholarships? Yes I meant top tier as prestigious and Ivy league schools.

    I have this doubt about career after completion of course. So what are the chances of getting a good job, if I study in a decent or normal universities? Is it the same as studying in prestigious universities? I mean while they pick me for job, would they consider where I finished my degree?(I want to pursue my career in research field). My main purpose of studying is to change my career, because I am passionate about it. There is no meaning of studying astrophysics or astronomy and work in some other field.
  11. Jul 17, 2016 #10

    Larry Gopnik

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    I doubt that there will be any changes to the education policy for non-EU students. In no way will they lower the fees, they'll still support the EU students who are in their degree when we leave but for how long I don't know. Baring in mine our PM yesterday stated that law is changing so that migrants who do not earn £35,000 a year after 5 years of being in the UK working will lose their visa and will be made to leave the country - I highly doubt international students will benifit more when we leave the EU.

    Anyway, there is now talk to raise the maximum cost of University so even if you were to come over in 2018, you'd have to pay a lot more than you would now.
  12. Jul 17, 2016 #11
    That's a big blow for my hope:cry: Okay, so I rule out UK option. Do you have any idea what are the other countries I can hope for. I am aspired to score my A levels higher. Would it help in other countries?
  13. Jul 17, 2016 #12

    Vanadium 50

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    Your odds of getting funding in the US are not good. 90% or so of the scholarships are reserved for US citizens and permanent residents. 90% or so of the scholarships are reserved for people getting their first degree. Even loans will be difficult, because a loan to a foreign national with no US credit history and the ability to flee to his home country is very risky. If you can get a loan at all, the interest rate will be sky high.

    Based on a few message threads, there seems to be the view in India that there are mounds of money in the US for Indian students, even unprepared students. That isn't the case, I'm afraid.
  14. Jul 17, 2016 #13
    Not to rain on your parade, but what kind of articles? I think astronomy articles in the popular media are fun to read too. But you should realize that actual physics and astronomy is very very different. If I were you, I would not commit myself to a degree until I completed a few books in university physics and math and I know I like it. So many people in first year drop out because it's not what they expected.
  15. Jul 17, 2016 #14
    Hi, Thanks for the information, I had thought over this. Yes I am unprepared. But I am planning to prepare for A level exams full time after quitting my job in few months. I am planning to pursue university on 2018. So I think I will be prepared by then.

    From your information, I think even getting into university in U.S is hard .. :frown: Do you have any idea where can I get the information on loans at U.S?
  16. Jul 17, 2016 #15

    Hi, Yeah I had doubted myself about this. But there are lots of students have taken astrophysics/astronomy as a non traditional student.(see the the below link, there was a sax player who started from scratch and got into astrophysics degree). These kind of people give me hope. I can say surely that I am passionate on science. So I have planned to take A level exams on maths, physics, and chemistry and based upon the results, I would apply for a degree. This would give me an experience on maths and physics. If I don't score well in A level exams I would drop the idea of pursuing degree. Please reply your opinion on my idea.

  17. Jul 17, 2016 #16
    You didn't understand what I meant. Of course it's a concern that you won't be able to handle it, but that was not my point. My point is that you're not even sure that you'll LIKE the degree and how astronomy is done. Reading popular articles does not give you a good idea of how things are done. So as of now, you cannot be sure you'll like the degree. You need to get more experience to see whether you WANT to commit or not.
  18. Jul 17, 2016 #17
    Hi, sorry you mean I have to go through few books on university level physics & maths to gain experience how the degree will be?
  19. Jul 17, 2016 #18
    Definitely, to see whether you like what they do and whether you can handle it. The degree will likely not be cheap, so you better know what you're heading towards.
  20. Jul 17, 2016 #19

    Vanadium 50

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    Loans will be difficult, because a loan to a foreign national with no US credit history and the ability to flee to his home country is very risky. If you can get a loan at all, the interest rate will be sky high.
  21. Jul 17, 2016 #20


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