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I want to learn physics, but

  1. Aug 12, 2013 #1
    I'm going to try and keep this short as possible, I have a tendency to rant and ramble

    I'm 19, graduated high school a little over a year ago now, and have literally done nothing with my life since. I've been wanting to go to university since I left school, but couldn't ever decide what... And this goes for everything, once i couldn't decide university courses i thought maybe i'd go into trades, but when i couldn't decide a trade i thought maybe i'd just get a typical average job, and when i started going in and out of jobs and quitting every few months i decided... I really need to change something.

    I've always been interested in physics, I don't know all that much about it, but it just fascinates me, always has... and I love space, as a kid growing up I've always dreamt about having a career related to space and science.

    But here's the dilemma... I suck at science, and more specifically physics and mathematics. Utterly horrible. I consider myself to be stupid... And I hate it, because I can't do what I want to do, and if i told people this is what I wanted to do they would probably laugh, the university may laugh, especially once they see my highschool grades.

    Throughout highschool, I failed math twice... I then tried to take physics because I really wanted to learn it, but I just couldn't do it... I had to drop out after a month, i was at that point of no return... I just can't do it, yet its still what I want to do. I've never been good at math or physics, and all of my grades in high school were very low... I graduated, but barely...

    I kind of just want advice, what to do, how to do it, etc... Should I just not even think about physics anymore and find something else? I dunno... I just don't want to waste all this money on university, or just to upgrade and get in to university, just to find out... I literally can't comprehend or do it, then i'm forced to drop out or i get kicked out and lose all of this money (which I myself will have to pay for)
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 12, 2013 #2
    To clarify, I love math when I understand it, when I understand what we're doing in class it suddenly becomes my favourite class, but the problem is... that is a very rare thing, 99% of the time i'm so confused that literally nothing can help me... I'd have to go back 5-6 lessons just to be up to pace...

    Same with physics, I just love it, but... I rarely understand it, I don't know why... I was like this in most classes, but mostly math and sciences. The main issue is staying focused and comprehending, then i just become lost..
  4. Aug 12, 2013 #3


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    Staff: Mentor

    Have you ever been checked for ADHD or another disorder?
  5. Aug 12, 2013 #4
    You could always enroll in a community college. This doesn't cost very much and the level is generally easier. You could start by taking college algebra to start refreshing your knowledge from scratch.

    I want to ask you how you study for math and physics. This could be the problem. Don't think that just reading the textbook is enough! You actually need to put in hours and hours. You need to solve the problems they give as homework AND you need to do problems on your own. If necessary, you need to go to office hours and ask as many questions as it takes to understand it. You might want to use this forum to ask conceptual questions or to get help with problem solving.

    What I'm trying to say is that just putting in 10 minutes of work or even an hour of work is not enough. Being a student is a full time job, so you need to put in the time of a full time job. If you don't, then you risk not getting the material.
  6. Aug 12, 2013 #5
    never seen a doctor about it, but i'm guessing i do have ADHD. I can't stick with anything, my mind constantly changes with every decision, and i just can't learn in class... I want to, but... focusing is easier said than done to be honest. Its like my mind just glazes over.

    To be honest, I have horrible study habits. Especially when it comes to math and physics, I don't study it because I don't understand it. The textbook means nothing to me, I read it but it's still all nonsense, all of the terms and language and examples they use... And I never learnt anything in class because it was the exact same thing. I would miss a few days here and there, then the next thing i know i'm confused, then i become more confused, the.. more confused.. etc.. then i'm at the point where i just don't even go anymore because i don't understand a thing they're saying.

    There have been many tests where I literally just sat there and left it blank because i couldn't even guess or make stuff up because i didn't even know the formulas... There have been final exams i didn't even show up to.

    The best way i learn math is through youtube, where i can go at my own pace and rewind time and time again.
  7. Aug 12, 2013 #6
    Well, then the solution is clear: get better study habits. (Sounds easier than it is, I know)

    Study a topic until you really understand it. If you are confused, then ask for help: either ask your professor or ask a classmate or ask online on this forum, whatever suits you. Don't give up until you understand it.

    You might think you are stupid for not understanding it immediately, but that is not the case. Every mathematician or physicist or scientist hits a wall somewhere. They come to a point where they read the book and just don't understand what it says. It is only by persisting that you can continue on. Keep learning and keep asking for help. Some people hit this wall very late, for example in grad school (which is not necessarily a good thing). You hit it very early. I understand this is demotivating. But if you put in the work, then I'm sure you can do it.

    And do see a doctor for a possible ADHD or ADD, getting treatment can help you a lot.
  8. Aug 12, 2013 #7
    watch documentaries on TV, go to museums, open up a textbook at the library and read!! remember time doesn't matter, learn as much as you want whenever you want!!! if you have trouble understanding look up you tube lectures! i know for a fact walter lewin does an amazing job at physics.
    good luck!!
  9. Aug 12, 2013 #8


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    Homework Helper
    Education Advisor
    Gold Member


    Do not worry about university yet. Start at a community college and start over.

    Physics requires Mathematics. Learn the Mathematics needed for Physics before starting into Physics. Starting your academic work with "College Algebra" at a community college is not right for you yet. You'll want it and maybe need it in order to continue in the needed Math for Physics, but you are, according to how you describe yourself, not yet ready for College Algebra.

    The community college you register admission for will test you and recommend placement for English and Mathematics. Take the recommendations about the results seriously. You may need to start at "Elementary Algebra", which would be about like "Algebra 1" of high school. The results may indicate you need Basic Arithmetic or something. Do what the counselors recommend; study hard every day; make you way term by term into Elementary Algebra (if that is on your pathway toward what you need for Physics), and keep going, ... through the needed courses including College Algebra, and on to Calculus.

    If you held your math knowledge well enough before being admitted to the c.c. then maybe you will be allowed to start with Elementary Algebra. Do not feel discouraged about all of this; just handle yourself through each course, term by term, and study everyday carefully and thoroughly. You HAVE some time. You are only 19 years old.
  10. Aug 13, 2013 #9
    Alternatively, have you thought about scientific journalism? Rather than studying physics, you could report and write on it. You'll still get to learn, be involved and understand but you don't have to fight through your math problems.
  11. Aug 13, 2013 #10
    interesting.. yup i think it is not to do with sucking at math or physics.. although chances are that if you are unable to do high school math it will be tough- but not impossible.. maybe you havent had the correct mentors. if you put in the hours, and work hard you can become good. For example when i was in high school I would spend upto 4 or 5 hours during other classes just solving math problems from various workbooks- it is definitely the best way to learn. pick up a workbook just above your comfort level and start solving problems, same with physics. If you need specific advice, where to start etc once you decide what you want to do (go to college etc); I can help. Lectures and notes are fine, but solving problems is the only way to really become good and to expand your functional capabilities- especially at the basic level.
  12. Aug 14, 2013 #11
    let me tell you a little a story
    since i was a kid i was always fond the of atoms and particles , i wanted to study them , asked some teachers and they all told me that i have to study chemistry * damn them *
    i spent around 5 years of my life ignoring math and physics and doing chemistry , then in high school i realized its all physics , so i started doing math and physics
    at first everything was so confusing i couldn't solve anything , but i worked hard with the teacher and he handled my stupidity with patience and now i scored As in all my math , physics and chemistry classes
    all you need to do is take it from the beginning , and work your *** off
    go to khan academy its a channel on youtube that has everything you need from arithmetic and pre algebra to linear algebra and so on , start with arithmetic , do it one by one and you will find that you are progressing .
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