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I have no grades. I want to learn physics? am I too late at 18 to learn now?

  1. Oct 14, 2011 #1

    I don't want to bore you with the story of my life but basically I am 18, I have no grades. The reason for that is because I had cancer at 16. I was offered to go back to school but I naively turned it down.

    Now I am a milkman. I started 3 months ago. I have become increasingly anxious about my future, its almost as though I am having a mid-life crisis, or rather, a early-life crisis.

    The reason is I want to be a scientist in physics. I am fascinated by how to universe works and want to be a part of our evolution to find out the wonders of the universe.

    Am I too late to go to collage and get my maths and other stuff, then go to uni?

    Also what would I need to study, apart from A-level Maths and physics?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 14, 2011 #2
    Have you got any GCSE's? If so then you could just get straight onto the a level physics/maths, also take further maths if you can. If not then you'd have to get your GCSEs (at least 5A-Cs) and get a B grade in maths and physics, and a C in English to get onto a college.
  4. Oct 14, 2011 #3
    LOL, of course 18 is not too late to learn physics!!! Don't worry. However, you do need to put in some work.

    It will perhaps be to early to go to a real college. You may be lacking in mathematics and physics. So I suggest searching a good community college and take algebra/trig/geometry/precalc and calculus courses there. Maybe supplement it with some physics courses.

    If you completed those, and if you liked it, then you can begin studying college physics. You'll maybe be 20 or 21 when starting to study physics, and you won't be much older than your peers!!

    We have people here who are 30 years old and who start studying physics, so 18 is certainly not too old...

    But then again, there are some legal requirements. If you don't have a high school diploma, then perhaps you won't be allowed to go into college. So you might have to study for a high school diploma...

    You have a job now, which is very good. You have a stable income and stuff. So use your free time studying math. Perhaps you'll like the book "basic mathematics" by Lang...
  5. Oct 14, 2011 #4
    Definitely start on that A-Level Math and Physics. Once you've completed them, you'll be more than well prepared for college math and physics.
  6. Oct 14, 2011 #5
    Hi, I don't have any GCSEs. When you say I need at least 5A's - Cs.. what five subjects would you recommend I take?

    You won't believe how relieved I am to hear that.
  7. Oct 14, 2011 #6
    You need Maths, English Language, Single science, Double science

    You'll need a C or above in all of them, and a B minimum in maths and Double science in order to get onto the a levels.

    A alternative route would be to do a btec level 1 in engineering, you'd have to study this for 4 years, and each year you'll go up a level, until level 3 which is for 2 years (total 4 years). You can do your GCSE in maths and English beside this. After, you could get onto an engineering course at university, or a physics course, but you may have to do a foundation year at university unless you self study/study physics.

    Best of luck.
  8. Oct 14, 2011 #7
    Thank you very much
  9. Oct 14, 2011 #8


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    It's never too late to learn, especially if one is only 18 years.

    PF is a great place to find support for learning math and physics.
  10. Oct 14, 2011 #9
    You still have time don't stress :) But as micromass mentioned, it will take some effort and hard work. Learn as much mathematics as possible from any sources available, starting as soon as you can (although try not to put too much pressure on yourself). This will make life easier later.

    I wish you the best of luck!
  11. Oct 14, 2011 #10
    Thanks to all of you for your answers. Its amazing how you can go from a poor outlook to being told what you need to do to accomplish your ambitions, to then looking up the nearest collage. All because of a few words on a forum.

    Thank you.
  12. Oct 14, 2011 #11
    littleheadspi, it's definitely not too late to start studying physics.

    To share my anecdote, I decided to major in physics at age 19, after my first year of college. I was always interested in "TV physics" (worm holes, string theory, etc.) but I never considered actually majoring in physics while in high school. In fact, in high school I did pretty poorly in physics, chemistry and math, mainly due to the fact that my focus was elsewhere. But once I decided to go for it in college, I took all the math I needed the following summer and year at a community college (don't laugh, please): college algebra, trig, and precalc, and enrolled in the physics program at a local university. I'm currently in my senior year, and I have 3.87 GPA.

    I don't mean to gloat or anything - I'm just trying to say that it is totally possible!
  13. Oct 14, 2011 #12
    we start to learn when we was young, until we die..so, it's never too late to learn something..wish you the best of luck..
  14. Oct 15, 2011 #13
    Another possibility is the Open University - may be the best route if you find 'being a milk man' a bearable job - you could have a degree and *no* massive student debts, and probably in about the same time as you would take in getting O levels, A levels, and a degree from another University.
  15. Oct 15, 2011 #14
    It's a very good option, but it doesn't get you into contact with professors. You won't be able to do undergraduate research and you won't get letters of recommendation (I think). So going to grad school will probably be difficult.
    If the OP aspires to be a physicst, then he will have to get into university one time or another...
  16. Oct 15, 2011 #15
    Ok here are your options.

    Go to a local college to take your GCSEs or purchase them privately through your own discipline.

    This involve studying on your own and taking the test at a local college.

    NOW! Here's the bad news. When you go to a college it's possible they'll advice you to takr a BTEC qualification. This are generally considered industry qualifications and although many universities accept, for a physics course it is unlikely.

    Many 'good' universities require Maths and a physics a-level. There's no BTEC qualification that will cover those subjects in such a depth as the 'pure' a-level.

    I did something similar to this. For a whole year I studies GCSEs while working to get into college(and then university) BE VERY PREPARED! I mean it. You have give up a lot of other activities. It's hard, but I finally got into uni! So can you. good luck! work hard
  17. Oct 15, 2011 #16
    The Open University has a scheme where if you successfully complete the first year of your physics studies via distance, after that you can transfer to a red brick university to complete your degree. There are no entry prerequisites required but the OP would have to decide if he's ready for the math.
  18. Oct 15, 2011 #17
    It's called OpenPlus. More details at:

    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2017
  19. Oct 16, 2011 #18

    Many British undergraduates don't get to interact with professors (though in the UK professors are the 'real high ups', not just lecturers...)

    The Open University offers weeks away at red brick universities to pursue concentrated studies, experiments and interaction with lecturers, and maybe even professors. Most tutors are university academics, and you get to see them every few weeks week or so. (Haven't you seen Educating Rita? They don't all drink as much as that professor, though ... :smile:)

    Of course you'll get letters of recommendation! (If your tutor doesn't drink too much...)

    There is no 'grad school' in the UK, so it would indeed be difficult to go to it...

    There are no problems with UK graduates of the OU becoming postgraduate students, just get a 2(i) or above like everyone else...

    The OU *is* a University - that's what the U stands for.

    Please don't respond to this thread if you know nothing about the UK academic culture, you'll just confuse the OP.
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