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I want to pursue a bachelor in Physics while working full-time. Any good options out there?

  1. Sep 26, 2014 #1
    Hi guys! My apologies if this has already been posted, I couldn't find anything.

    I'm on my way to finish my Bachelor in Business Management in February at the age of 21. I come from a small town in Europe and worked my ass off to the point where I currently have lucrative job offer straight out of uni in NYC in the field of business development / marketing (It is extremely hard to get a job offer in the USA, especially for a European my age with minimal experience, let alone in NYC. So I kinda wanna take the offer to also pay for uni).

    So the deal is I'm absolutely sure I want to pursue a bachelor in physics at a university, but I will have to work full time to pay for my general living expenses and such. So my question is are there any options for me to pursue a fulltime (university level bachelor) physics degree next to my full time job? (like online degrees, universities that provide evening classes etc.) Assume that I am fully capable to study and work simultaneously, capabilities are no issue here, I already accepted the fact that I won't have a social life.

    I just want to know IF there are any options out there for people like me. I found a double degree in physics and math at Open University (online education orientated uni) and some other options, but I heard people frown upon online degrees, especially people in the field of Physics (please correct me if I'm wrong, this is purely based on what I read on the internet).

    Anyway, now is the right time for me to pursue my interest since I'm still relatively young (right?), and I've already done lots self studying the past years so I think have a clear picture of what's about to come. The goal is to eventually get in a kickass graduate school at a kickass university with a kickass GPA. Thanks a lot folks! Your help is greatly appreciated

    tl;dr: Want to pursue a bachelor in physics while working full-time at the age of 21, curious on what options are available out there for people like me.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 26, 2014 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    In the US, it's fairly common for students to work towards undergraduate degrees part time while working full time. It takes longer than for a full-time student, of course, and you have to figure out how to fit your class schedule with your work schedule, for physical (not online) courses. I would check out various colleges/universities in NYC and see what your options are.

    You won't be able to do everything online. Physics degrees always include (or should include) laboratory work, so you'll have to do that in person, no matter where you get your degree. Also, if you're going to go to grad school, it's important to get research experience during undergrad. I don't remember ever reading about a US-based online physics degree. I think I remember someone posting here that the Open University physics degree isn't available to people who live in the US.
  4. Sep 26, 2014 #3
    Thanks for replying! I heard of students working towards undergraduate degrees part-time while working before. I was wondering if there are any opportunities out there to study and work full-time. I know this may seem like an extremely challenging endeavour, but there must be some institute providing some program that fits these needs? I'd like to think I'm not the only one in a situatino like this.

    But I agree on the fact that the degree should include laboratory work, which is why I was very hesistant on pursuing the Open University online degree. Thanks again, great to hear some insight.
  5. Sep 26, 2014 #4


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    Science Advisor
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    You might want to start with taking a few night courses at a community college. This can be a great way to test the water and get a feel for the workload you're committing to. It shouldn't be too hard to find a first year physics curriculum offered through night school. Once you get into the advanced courses though, the options begin to diminish.

    Building on this you could come up with a five or six year plan. Commit to working full time at your job for the first two years for example while taking a few night courses - maybe two per semester. If you spread it out and include the summers, there's no reason why you couldn't complete a full first year program (and then some) over two years. You might even try to extend it to complete the first two years of a physics program over three. At the same time, live a frugal student lifestyle and save up some money. That way you have two or three solid years of full-time experience and some cash in your pocket. Then become a full time student and switch to working part-time. Finish your last two years at a university where you can do your advanced courses, get all the lab work done, get some research experience and build some bridges with professors who can act as references for graduate school applications.
  6. Sep 30, 2014 #5
    There are open universities that offer laboratory sessions and courses. The one I just enrolled in is an example. They have lab work that should be done by going to the designated study centers.

    If we are systematic then we can finish the program in the stipulated minimum time. But working full time and studying physics is difficult. There are other problems to address as well such as these:

    1. Fear of being left out : By looking at the pace at which papers are being published, it scares the hell out of me. To find a problem for research one must be aware of all the research that is in existence and that is becoming increasingly difficult because of increasing competition.
    2. Age problem : I am now 30 years old and I just joined for a bachelors degree in physics. The requirement to compete with much younger people is an issue in that. As you age, your chances of making it to a research position in a reputed university or research center becomes thin since they need "younger" and "more energetic" researchers.

    It is easy to say "age is just a number" or "it is never too late" etc. But there are practical issues that confronts ideologies head on. I guess many "late bloomers" like me face these issues. I am determined to become a physicist. But just determination is not enough. Are there any tips that any late bloomers would like to share?
  7. Sep 30, 2014 #6

    Doug Huffman

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    Gold Member

    I retired from Federal Civil Service and was encouraged and enabled to pursue my EIT and PE, even to my employer hiring an EIT review course. We were, as I understand, the last cohort of technician EIT.
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