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Looking for some direction

  1. Sep 16, 2006 #1
    Here is my situation,

    I'm a 24 year old college graduate with a degree in Aeronautical Science (A pilots degree) from Embry Riddle. I've been out of school for 2 years now. I was unable to finish my last few flight ratings due to a medical condition discovered my last year of school (graves disease-an over active thyroid). I was able to graduate but I am unable to fly as a career, and quite frankly I'm no longer interested in it. It would seem real life has gotten the better of my childhood dreams. Right out of school I started working for a car rental company that prommised me the world, after nearly 2 years of fantastically unfulling 60+ hour work weeks I but the job on the shelf and walked away. I took a job managing a friends mattress store with the intention of going back to school as soon as possible, which brings me to why I'm here.

    About 2 years ago was when it all started, an innocent trip to the book store turned into an intellectual facination. I bought "The Ellegant Universe" by Brain Greene and I was hooked, since I've read his other book as well as a many others. It got me thinking how great it would be to do something allong the lines of physics as a career but I knew I would have to go back to school and more or less start over again.

    Here's were I need some input, I live in Jacksonville Florida, it looks like my best choice for schools around here is UF in gainsville (only about an hour for were I live) I'd like to go to a public school because I dont care to accumulate any more debt then I already have (my 1st undergrad was an arm and a leg) The only way I would consider something private is if I got into one of the big shot schools (and I dont think I have a chance). What I'm trying to figure out is what on earth to study though, they have some excellent engineering schools at UF and nuclear engineering caught my eye as something that would be interesting. I also thought about engineering physics (as I know some people who did that at riddle). I'm a pretty big computer buff so I'm also thinking computer/ellectrical engineering would be a good way to go too. Then again I could just get a general math or physics degree and specialize in something in grad school, really I have lots of options I'm just not sure were to go. I've deffinantly been enamorized by many of the books I've read and the theories within them, but I have a feeling that they are interesting on paper but in practice/research they are not as compelling to study. When it comes to science I'm a glutton, I want to learn as much as possible about everything, I dont know how to settle down and pick something. Another concern I have is my math background is fairly limitted I did take calc 1 although I dont remember a bit of it, I did so so in the class although I cant honestly say I applied myself.

    So with all that said (I guess that was allot for such a simple question) I'm looking for a little direction. I do know this, I'm not happy were I am now, and I dont want to sell beds for the rest of my life if I dont have to, my degree right now is getting me nowhere, so its time to go back to the drawing board and make a change.

    Thanks allot for any input, Tristan
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 16, 2006 #2
    First off, let me say that I am still a student, but I wanted to chime in because my situation is similar to your's: i.e. I'm 28 and have a degree in international affairs. Although I've been fairly successful in this field, I'm not that happy and do not care to continue in it.

    I can't say what the best plan would be for you, but I can tell you what I'm doing and maybe that will help.

    I was never that great at math either, and given the nature of my degree, I didn't have to take anything above college algebra. Once I got interested in physics, I realized I was going to have to get good at math if I wanted to study physics. So, I've been taking night classes at my local Jr. College and have actually been doing very well (all A's so far, surprisingly). It's been reall tough to go to work all day and then head off to class every night, but I'm really really enjoying it. It's amazing what a little motivation, interest, and maturity will do for you. Eventually I plan on getting a B.S. in physics and then (hopefully) continuing on to grad school.

    All the advice I've gotten is to not worry about specializing in any subfield of physics until you get to grad school. Then you can find some research that interest you and specialize in that. Also, I've heard that it itsn't terribly important where you get your undergrad as long as you work hard, get good grades, and try to get some research expereince. If you do well and get to know your professors, you should be able to get into a good graduate school. As I understand it, most PhD candidates do not have to pay tuition, which is nice.

    Hopefully some of the others who have already been through the gaunlet can give you some more informed (and very probably more accurate) advice than I can, but I do know where you're coming from. I hope it goes well for you.
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