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Is 24 too old to start undergraduate in Physics?

  1. Nov 19, 2013 #1
    Hi everyone,
    I am Shing, I am 24 now.

    I start my college when I was 20.

    But unfortunately,
    1.) I was facing serious medical problems at the same time for over the past years.
    2.) I cannot agree the way my school does education.

    So basely, I couldn't do anything but endure those pain and sorrow in the past time. As an result, I got lousy GPA. Nevertheless, I learned Classical Mechanics fairly well, I can do calculus without difficulties; besides, I don't understand Physics.

    1.) I am very well equipped back in terms of high school physics and math.
    2.) I have learned to observe myself whenever my medical problems reoccur.
    3.) I am a good self-teacher
    4.) My logic is fair.

    but my problems are:

    1.) I do not agree the way my school does education
    2.) getting a bit too old (24 with mere knowledge of classical mechanics and calculus)

    as for 2.) I think the question is
    whether or not I have passion for physics.
    The answer is obviously Yes, but once exam is involved (my university using quite a spoon-feeding way of education) I found myself quite depressed.

    I need some suggestions, or advices,
    I am not sure (presuming 31 when I gain my PhD degree)
    to start a career of physicist at age of 31 is too bad.

    Thank you for reading and sorry for my lousy English used here.
    Wish you all the best.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 22, 2016
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 19, 2013 #2
    P.S. My strategy in the remain years:
    three years in undergrad (including this year)

    One and half year get myself well equipped in undergrad physics and restore my health (at the level of berkeley introductory physics)
    One and half year get myself well equipped in research skills plus one or two subjects in Physics graduate(probably at the level of Sakurai's Modern Quantum Mechanics.)
  4. Nov 19, 2013 #3


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    Education Advisor

    There's no time limit on when you can get your degree. The issues facing students/graduates who are older than those who go straight through from high school are practical ones (i.e. living as a student at a stage of your life when most people are working). Your age (particularly at 24) won't deny you opportunities if that's what you're worried about.

    The biggest issue to be concerned about is that you "don't agree with the way your school does education." I can certainly understand someone challenging general approaches to the post-secondary educational system, arguing that there may be better approaches to teaching, etc. but at the end of the day, if you want a PhD you have to go through the system you have. You have to successfully complete an undergraduate degree, and then a PhD. You're looking at a long series of successive exams that will get more and more challenging... undergraduate exams, PGRE, comprehensive exam, candidacy exam, thesis defence...

    If you're going to be miserable the entire way through (because of your feelings about the system and not medical issues), you really have to ask yourself if this is the right path for you.
  5. Nov 19, 2013 #4
    I finished an engineering degree when I was 26 and will be finishing a physics degree at 27 and due to some life circumstances will be starting grad school probably when I'm about 28-29, implying I'll (hopefully) be done with my PhD when I'm around 32-33. I couldn't see myself doing anything else, poor teaching or not, your miles may vary.
    Restoring your health is a good idea, depending on your research area, you don't need profound knowledge of it to start with. Some programming and/or electronics skills are more than adequate to start at least some research at the undergrad level (most undergrads do experimental research, even if it was theoretical it's going to be less pen and paper and more computer AFAIK).
  6. Nov 21, 2013 #5
    Should I start doing some lab work from now on along with building me solid background knowledge? (1.5 year)
    And start get some decent research done cooperate with my professor within another 1.5 year?
  7. Nov 25, 2013 #6
    actually, I am a bit ambitious,
    I was worried about if my physics cannot be as long as Pauli or Dirac's.
    but out of the blue I recall de Brogile,
    I think he finished his PhD at 32?
    thats a good news.
    perhaps we should do more sports as well,
    lets live for a few more years to catch things up lol
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