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High School Drop-Out.

  1. Jun 29, 2013 #1
    Hey, everyone I Love math.

    Okay, but seriously I dropped out of high school at the beginning of my Junior year. People say that there is only one or two options for me... erm well, maybe three, these options are Army(if they will take me), Get a job(But I want a career), or enroll into a Junior College and get my GED(I don't really like this option). As you can see, I am at a tree-forked road. Well, I am not being completely honest I do know what I want to do, I want to be a mathematician. I sit around my house all day and do nothing, but math. I guess fractals have peeked my interest or something... But the more I stay here the more I grow poorer, So how can I turn this interest, this career of mine into a profession?

    On another note, I will do anything to avoid my GED, I dislike school.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 29, 2013 #2


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    I love you and all :smile: but those two statements are extremely contradictory to the point of being oxymoronic. How are you going to become a professional mathematician if you don't like school? How will you get your bachelors and masters/PhD? It's a wildly impractical mindset to have (that of disliking school) if you want to become a professional mathematician in the academic sphere.
  4. Jun 29, 2013 #3


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    Not everyone takes to school. There may be other ways to get your GED, I mean more relaxed courses that give you more time to learn. But as I usually advise, there are tons of resources online, so if you can find out what is taught in the GED course, you can start now to get a feel for it by watching videos online or asking for book recommendations, there are study groups online, etc.

    You may find that school is too demanding but easing into it works. I know for a fact that people who have trouble concentrating find school very difficult.
  5. Jun 29, 2013 #4


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    Hey Tenshou.

    In all likelihood if you want to be a mathematician in any capacity (pure/applied/statistics/analyst/whatever) then you will need to go to university in some form.

    Also keep in mind that you can, with a lot of hard work, work for yourself in many different capacities.

    You also don't have to have a university education to do so: you could be a plumber, pastry chef, welder, mechanic, programmer, web-designer: the list is endless.

    What you will need however is the willingness to work hard, get enough experience, and become the best you can be if you want to be self-employed. It's a different mindset and a lot of sacrifices need to be made, but you might enjoy it and it gives you a good skill-base that employees don't necessarily have.

    Also if you do want to work for yourself, I wouldn't do it straight away: get educated, get experienced, and realize that there are many more careers than ones that need a university transcript.

    I say the above because a lot of people think that higher education is some kind of pre-requisite for good jobs: it's not, and given you dislike school, you may want to re-think your career if you didn't enjoy high school.

    I'd say the first thing you should do is research your options that are meaningful (i.e. things you enjoy, are realistic given your resources, are aware of the realities of the career, etc) and then think about what is important to you.

    Doing mathematics is not always an exciting thing: like many things it can be really boring and stressful and for some that is enough to say "no thanks". Also realize that in many jobs you won't be doing what you want: you will be doing what other people want, and if they don't need you to do what they want, they probably won't hire you.

    If I were you I would use your time to seriously look at different options, but don't spend too long. You are going to at some point become busy in your day to day life and having some hindsight of what you will be getting into may mean the difference between a happy life vs a miserable one.

    Don't let your environment dictate who you are: if you do nothing, find a way to get a routine and become busy and involved doing things that will help you out of your situation. You will be amazed at what a simple mindset change will do for you.

    Final piece of advice: treat things like an investment. You will be investing your time, money, and energy into something and you want to choose an investment that has a decent chance of getting some return on your investment.

    Be aware that some investments are bad ones: examples include gambling, drug addiction, drug dealing and gang-banging. These kinds of investments are the ones you need to avoid because the investment psychology leads many people to find returns on their investment when clearly the returns are nothing but pain and misery.

    Other investments are good. For example having certifications/experience in the right area are good for differentiating yourself against those without relevant experience.

    For example no body can become a brain surgeon over-night: they have application, enrol-ment, legal, and educational hoops to jump through. Try finding an area where you can become the best at what you do so that you build up the kind of experience that would be difficult to gain easily.

    Having something that is hard to obtain but in demand is where you are going to not only get an income, but also an income that is steady. If you try and jump on the bandwagon that everybody else is on, then you won't be any better or any wiser.

    I wish you the best of luck.
  6. Jun 29, 2013 #5
    D: that is the truth, I have a semi-understanding of these things I mean I am currently read 5 books all on Lin Al, Calc of Differentials, a book on fractals and more D: But I feel as if I try to write a paper and throw it into some "annals of mathematics"-type journal it would get rejected with in the first look over, not having a degree is going to be tough Q~Q

    It isn't because school is too demanding, it is just because I am terrible at school and the whole academic thing >.< I mean, school dulls the mind. LOL jk, but seriously I can't get good grades, the last good grade I got was when I was in second grade. I am just completely horrible now.
  7. Jun 29, 2013 #6


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    Continue for the high school diploma and, if still desired, use this as preparation for G.E.D. After that, attend a community college.
  8. Jun 29, 2013 #7
    D: But there has to be an easier way, a way such that I don't have to attend college
  9. Jun 29, 2013 #8


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    Have you considered the Open University? I don't exactly know the details of enrolment and what you do, but I was working part time last week and two of the people I was working with just so happened to be doing physics. One of them was enrolled with the Open University and he said, (not sure how much of this is correct), that contact time is minimal with a tutorial like once every month and most of the material self studied. I would assume there would be an online connection too.
  10. Jun 29, 2013 #9
    You can make a start by writing down your thoughts of Mathematical concepts and eventually forming them into ideas which can be depicted in a written form. This way you can start by sharing them to an online community or even writing to newspapers/science journals, etc. This way you will have a job, as close as you can get to being a career, which requires no formal training. An agency might like your work in this area and then consult you for pathways from there onwards.

    One of my previous maths teachers faced the same situation many years ago as you and made a small start by publishing some of his thoughts in the form of work. It took a while, but eventually he became recognised in the wider community and now gives talks and presentations about Mathematics for a living.
  11. Jun 29, 2013 #10


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    A lot of people are doing nothing at a professional level these days, so you are not alone.

    Unfortunately, there are plenty of folks with bachelors degrees (if not graduate degrees) who are stocking shelves and flipping burgers. Trying to get anything but even the nastiest, hardest, menial job without a HS diploma or GED will be tough, as there is plenty of competition for these jobs. Similarly, the armed forces also are leery of taking anyone without at least a HS diploma. A lot of military jobs are highly technical and require special training. Even lucrative civilian trade jobs like plumbing, auto mechanics or electrician require training at some type of school.

    You should check with your local adult education office and see what is required for a GED. In some locales, taking the GED test is free and you may not need to enroll in a CC or a JUCO before taking the test. There is a lot of GED test prep online which you can take at home.

    These days, not everyone can stay at home and be a philosopher or a mathematician; the pay is too little and the demand is non-existent. You should start acquiring credentials and building a resume, regardless of what you plan to do to support yourself. The HS diploma or GED is only the first step.
  12. Jun 29, 2013 #11
    CAF that idea sounds good and Amazing, you are amazing that sounds really nice, actually :D

    But AmazingLight I have one question. Who would want to read a drops out's science journal?
  13. Jun 29, 2013 #12
    The fact is Tenshou, they do not know you're a drop out straight away. You have to build your reputation as you go along. For example: you have to start small by writing to the online community (blogs, forums etc). This is in order to get your work critiqued - a fundamental step of the process in theoretical mathematics. Then if you are able to show your effort, in due time people will respect you and eventually find some use for your skill in Mathematics. Writing for a science journal has to be the very final step of the journey. At that stage, people won't regard you as a high school drop out but someone who is able to contribute to education and mathematics in his own right.
  14. Jun 29, 2013 #13
    In addition to what CAF said, there is a website (www.coursera.org) that offers free courses in any discipline (maths, science, humanities etc) run by many world class universities (Stanford, Penn, Duke). Sign up only takes a few minutes and at the completion of the course you get a certificate in recognition of your achievement.

    The pace is best described as "chill" because you learn at your very own rate. You only have to watch a few videos every week and answer questions in the quiz at the end of the week. The workload is minimal and only a 20 question multiple choice quiz usually

    I highly suggest you check this out. .
  15. Jun 29, 2013 #14


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    There is something not quite right here, and it calls into question on something beyond what have been written so far.

    So you don't like school. So you don't do well in exams. So you haven't gotten good grades.

    The question is, how exactly do you know that you are good at this? And how exactly do you know that you can perform, ON DEMAND AND UNDER A TIME CONSTRAINT, when the job demands it?

    You have to admit, nothing here so far has given any indication of your accomplishment, and frankly, you are not the best qualified person to judge your ability. All I've read so far are your failures, your inabilities, and your distastes for doing certain things. There has been no indication or evaluation of what you can do or have accomplished successfully.

    If you think school was tough and not to your liking, then you can expect a career in such a field to be even MORE demanding. You want to work in a university? Welcome to the tenure process. You want to do research on fields that you like? Welcome to competing for research grant. Oh, did you get some money from some funding source? Welcome to the review and evaluation process to report what you have accomplished with that money that you got!

    The educational process, with all it's faults and shortcomings, isn't just the dissemination of information. It is also a practice ground for students to learn self-discipline, to work under pressure, to interact with their peers as a group, to learn more about how the field of study is run, and to produce on demand! I am currently supervising 2 graduates students and 1 undergraduate student. I try to convey to them valuable information, knowledge, and skills that you can never find or acquire in pages of a textbook or paper. This is what you will miss by thinking that you can skip the academic process.

  16. Jun 29, 2013 #15
    Wow this paragraph is moving. I may cite this in a speech some day.
  17. Jun 29, 2013 #16


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    This shouldn't be a surprise. It is the whole reason why I wrote "So You Want To Be A Physicist" essay in the first place. There's a lot about the process, especially the educational system, which is simply part of the whole experience, but is not outlined in your classes, your textbooks, or even your instructors. There are so many valuable experiences and skills that one can acquire during one's educational years, and these are the stuff I did not want students to miss.

    I try to make students not only be aware of such experiences, but also to consciously pursue and acquire them. Just guiding students in writing scientific papers, or doing practice runs for giving a talk at a scientific conference, is already something valuable that any scientists/academicians should know. You do not get such skills by simply reading a book.

  18. Jun 29, 2013 #17
    The army does not prefer persons without a high school diploma or equivalent. Employers do not prefer persons without a high school diploma or equivalent. Financial aid is not available to college students without a high school diploma or equivalent, and many colleges require or prefer a student to have a high school diploma or equivalent to enroll. Your life will be easier if you obtain a GED.

    A GED does not require schooling. A GED requires you to pass a test and possible pay some fees. I do not remember what I paid in total to obtain my GED, but the total I paid was less than 100 USD. I live in Maryland, so the fees may be more or less if you live in another state.
  19. Jun 29, 2013 #18


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    What exactly is so unappealing about getting your GED and taking college classes? I'm a high school drop out. I was a straight A student all through elementary/middle school, and held my straight A's through my freshman year of high school. Then I basically quit caring, and dropped out. I got my GED when I turned 18, and now at age 26 I'm a full time college student in a community college, majoring in physics, and planning on transferring to a university, and eventually going to grad school.

    Getting your GED is simple. I didn't take any prep classes or anything like that. I just went and took the tests, and smoked them. I forget the exact costs, but it was around $100 to take all the tests.

    If you didn't enjoy school in the elementary/high school vein, that doesn't mean you won't enjoy college. There is a world of difference. You get to take the classes that you want to take, and you actually get challenged by the material, because you don't have a teacher holding your hand and walking you through every type of problem you could ever possibly encounter. You are actually forced to learn on your own.

    I would strongly advise you to at least get a GED. It's incredibly more difficult to find a job without having at least a high school equivalency diploma. College would also be a very good idea. While it wouldn't be impossible to work as a mathematician without having a college degree, your options are going to be very limited. There's a lot to be said for the discipline and rigor that comes with a formal mathematical education.
  20. Jun 29, 2013 #19


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    I put a lot of stock into the cliché "don't knock it until you try it."

    I know the prospect of formal education at times can be daunting. However, you'll find that the environment in community college and beyond is very different from that of high school. For one, they're not watching you like a hawk demanding you to be working at all times. That doesn't mean there is less work, actually, it's the opposite.

    University work gives you more flexibility however, of when you do your work. You have more freedom. You might find you'll thrive in a small liberal arts college where you get a lot of one on one with the faculty. I know that my passion for learning increased with vigor in community college. I was fortunate to have more than a handful of helpful professors. I became good friends with a few of them.

    At the end of the day, there's always a few hoops we must jump through to get to what we want. If you'd like to publish work, higher education is a hoop you'll be jumping through.

    Don't put such a negative foreshadow on it. At least give it a try, even if it's not appealing. You can always audit a class. Perhaps foster a relationship with the lecturer and explain your apprehensions.

    I don't think any of us like "work", but we do what we must to get to the tasty stuff.

  21. Jun 29, 2013 #20
    Good at what mathematics? I never said I was good I just love it, I am not arrogant enough to say that I am or will be a good mathematician, I don't have that talent. I wish to avoid working for people even more so if I have to be their lap dog.

    But that is it, and you are right, I don't know what I can do or have accomplished successfully, but that doesn't mean school will help me find out what I can do and what I can't do successfully. I think that is more of a self journey

    This is what I know, and it scares me that I will be missing this, having people to talk to and people that share an interest in what I love.

    you sound like the best teacher!

    that is unappealing I want to have done something by time I am 26, well, at one point in time it was like that...
    I don't think it is possible for me to be some ones lap dog, I am not saying that I don't want to be I am saying I will do anything to avoid it, this is what I see school as grad program or not, I feel as if I go to school, then I will have to be someones lap dog, a sense of self, independence is taken from me and it is not much I can do about it, if I want to get "to the top". You know what I mean.
  22. Jun 29, 2013 #21


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    It is definitely a self journey, but part of that self journey is going to school and exploring different areas so that you can find your passions. As others have mentioned, reading papers online and working through a textbook on your own is not a substitute for having a formal education.

    Then why the apprehension? College is NOT like high school. Teachers aren't going to threaten you into doing anything. They'll help you succeed though, if you're willing to let them.

    I don't want to sound rude, but without a formal education, it's going to be incredibly difficult to do anything "real" in mathematics. You may be able to get a grasp on some complex stuff, but you won't be able to understand it to the point that you can REALLY get it. Unless you're one of those beautiful mind, 5 year old genius doing advanced calculus kind of guys.
    This is just a conclusion that you've come to on your own. Being in college has nothing to do with being someones "lapdog." You're recalling your high school experiences, and applying them to college. In high school, the teachers hold your hand and tell you exactly what you need to do, when you need to do it, and how it should be done. In college, you don't have to do a damn thing if you don't want to. You won't get far with that mindset, but you aren't going to have anyone hovering over you making you do it. College is very free. You are able to learn in your own ways, and learn what you want to learn. Sure, in grad school you have to work with an adviser, but you're going to be doing your own research. An adivser is not going to be telling you what to do in any kind of capacity. They can give you advice, and help you to a degree...but they're not going to be holding your hand through your graduate research.
  23. Jun 29, 2013 #22


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    You will not be a lapdog. In fact, you will have the autonomy you seem to desire. In fact, if you're respectful,in some cases you can be seen as an equal. Obviously some professors will shrug you off, but others want to inspire the wonder in the next generation. I'm not entirely sure why you're so put off from the idea of being surrounded by fellow mathematicians? They were, and by some arguments still are, students just like you.

    I understand that you want to do what you want, when you want. And you will have it, within reason. If you want the grades, that's entirely up to you. Sure, a professor who takes a liking to you may be silently disappointed if you neglect to pass their course, but they recognize that responsibility is on you.

    If I may say so, and you may find this to be rude:

    You're acting immature. What you see as a lap-dog future, I see as your inability to rise up to a challenge and take responsibility for your own future. The work is hard, and some of it may seem unnecessary, but it's part of the whole. And no one but you is responsible for the outcome.
  24. Jun 29, 2013 #23


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    1) Army isn't even an option for you. Even during the peak of the Iraq war, a GED was required and even then it was a waiver that had to be approved. I don't imagine many of those waivers being approved during a reduction of forces.

    2)In many ways, you're already more a dog then you'll ever be with a college degree. Right now, you have no choice but to stay outside of the house. You'll never become a professional mathematician or someone contributing to science, you'll forever be someone outside of the box contributing nothing because you refused to learn your lessons and put the work towards your goals. If you don't want to do the work, then why should anyone bother making it easy just for you and only you? If you want to succeed and do something you love, get the requirements. Part of the requirements are just filters to see who really wants it.
  25. Jun 29, 2013 #24
    Actually that's backwards. The easier way would be to get over whatever hangups and prejudices you have about school, and go and get an education. Trying to do it without an education is the extremely difficult way.

    -Dave K
  26. Jun 29, 2013 #25
    This is a solely a mental block on your part. It has nothing to do with the way education really works.

    -Dave K
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