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Other Loving Physics! But getting discouraged by staff, not the class

Hello! Sorry if this is kind of long:

I have an autoimmune disease and my grades occasionally struggle and sometimes I have to drop a class or two (though the dropping is more rare). I've been set on physics since I was 12 and love all my classes but here's the thing: between struggling with my autoimmune disease, budgeting, insurance issues (my medical costs are around $33,000 per month for treatment and they get kinda annoyed with that but I don't really have much of a choice), and not being able to be a college "kid" (living on campus with a meal plan and being basically spoiled), and a sick close relative, it's been difficult. I was also told by my advisor my first year that it would be find to try and have a full-time job in college (you can guess how that semester turned out). And in the last two years my disease has been more aggressive so I've tried to cut my classes a bit and am now part time.

Recently things have been okay, I've finally gotten into the department as a junior after being sent the engineering physics route and being rerouted quite a bit by advisors who just don't seem to understand my love for the subject.

I recently found out that someone high-up in undergraduate physics stuff has put together essentially a list of students they think will succeed in getting their degree and are sent to a specific advisor. Guess who's not on the list? Yeeahh that's me. I also found out one of my friends from the class who's just gotten into the program was also added to that advisor's list. They weren't rerouted through engineering physics either, getting to go straight to the actual physics classes.

I feel like no matter how hard I work and how much I love this stuff, I can't seem to make those who are supposed to be supporting me, well....support me. Lately I've found this really discouraging.

What do I do? I don't want to give up on my dreams, but I feel like I'm lacking so many things that would make it more attainable.
 
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ZapperZ

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You seem to think that being on this "list" is some sort of a fate that will determine your future. It will only be true if you fail. So don't fail!

Be direct with your advisor and tell him/her that you don't feel that he/she is being supportive of you. Let him/her explain his/her reasons for thinking that you might not make it. After all, based on your description of what you have gone through so far, if you were in his/her shoes, would you draw up the same conclusion?

However, regardless of what he/she thinks, if you are determined to want to graduate with a degree in physics, then say so, and ask for support from your advisor in terms of what you should pursue. You do not, and should not, try to change his/her opinion, but you do need proper guidance when you seek it.

If you are not getting it, then see if you can change your academic advisor.

But really, if you step back and look at this, ALL of this is besides the point. No one can deny you a degree if you have completed your classes up to the standard required, whether you are on some artificial list or not! You are letting irrelevant actions affect you, and affects you so much that you made this a topic of your very first post on PF. What about whether you are doing well in yours classes, whether you are mastering the physics topics that you're supposed to learn... etc... etc? Those are NOT irrelevant to getting a degree! Those are what you should be focusing on, not the "social interaction" aspect of college life.

Zz.
 

kuruman

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Is it or is it not true at your institution that you can enroll in any course you want as long as you have fulfilled the prerequisites? What prevents you, other than the discouragement by the "staff", from taking "actual physics classes"? Take one of these and see how you measure up.
 

StatGuy2000

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To the OP:

I find it surprising that being sent to the engineering physics route is somehow considered a "lesser" route in terms of studying physics. In my alma mater (University of Toronto), the engineering science degree program (an interdisciplinary engineering program where engineering physics is one of the options) is among the most competitive and intensive degree programs available, more so than the straight physics degree, with limited enrollment.
 

ZapperZ

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To the OP:

I find it surprising that being sent to the engineering physics route is somehow considered a "lesser" route in terms of studying physics. In my alma mater (University of Toronto), the engineering science degree program (an interdisciplinary engineering program where engineering physics is one of the options) is among the most competitive and intensive degree programs available, more so than the straight physics degree, with limited enrollment.
It is also probably a degree that is more "employable" than a straight physics degree.

Zz.
 
Thanks for the replies, but "don't fail" isn't something you can really help if sometimes you get sick for months on end. And this was my first post because I was looking for some advice or support from the community to see if anyone had any similar issues. It's just a little disheartening that when I've already expressed how badly I want this degree and the things I have to deal with at home, how little my advisor still seems to think of me. I will look into changing my advisor, thank you! I would think the same thing if I were in his place if I had never met with and talked to the student, but he has and is fully aware of my situation.
 

ZapperZ

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Thanks for the replies, but "don't fail" isn't something you can really help if sometimes you get sick for months on end. And this was my first post because I was looking for some advice or support from the community to see if anyone had any similar issues. It's just a little disheartening that when I've already expressed how badly I want this degree and the things I have to deal with at home, how little my advisor still seems to think of me. I will look into changing my advisor, thank you! I would think the same thing if I were in his place if I had never met with and talked to the student, but he has and is fully aware of my situation.
But the thing here is that (i) you're not doing very well in school and (ii) you are having a lot of personal issues.

While (ii) may directly affect (i), it doesn't change the fact that (i) is what you will ultimately be judged upon. Do you think, for example, if you crash in your GRE, that you can write to them and explain your personal situation to get the exam results changed?

You say that you are determine to get "this degree", but you never indicated what type of a career that you wish to pursue. It is as if this degree is the ends, rather than the means to something else. If you do not have strong grades already by now (and from all indication it seems that this is the case), then your chances of going on to a good graduate school in physics is diminished even further. Maybe that is why your advisor is trying to guide you into a more practical degree so that you do not need to go to graduate school to have a fair chance of a good employment after graduation.

I wish we have the perspective from your advisor's side, because I really have a feeling that this is not all of the story. But what is a fact is that you are not doing well in school. You need to do your own self-evaluation and ask yourself how this will change even if you get a new advisor, because from what I've seen, I do not think the problem is with your advisor.

Zz.
 

StatGuy2000

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@RelativelyEmma , I don't want to inquire too much about your medical condition, but I have a number of friends and relatives who suffer from multiple sclerosis (one of the better known autoimmune diseases), and among them all have completed their university education (one has completed her PhD in linguistics). Those I know who have done so have been provided support from services available at the college/university where they attended.

Doesn't your school offer such programs? Have you looked into this in more detail, as well as accommodations for students with disabilities?
 

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