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Mine's a little different than the other 3x10^8 of these

  1. Jan 20, 2015 #1
    So basically this is my story. From a young age I have always known of my intelligence. From the time I was 3 years old I was saying "I want to go to college and be a paleontologist !". My parents split and I began to act out as a child and suffered academically. Only because I didn't pay attention. It was not a lack of Capability. When I was in the 7th grade I was introduced into the world of physics from a simple documentary. I was immediately fascinated by all physics. From your basic Newtonian Laws, Einstein's Photo Electric Theory, Einstein's Theory of Relativity, Coulomb's Law, Hook's law. No matter what it applied to, just the spacial images in my head of these things being applied to the grand design of the universe we live in fascinate me. So my Junior Year of High school I took what was called a "Conceptual Physics" class. It was all of the laws and principles of physics. Like Thermodynamics, and gravity. Just without the math. It peaked my interest even further. My Senior year of high school I took a College Level Physics. That didn't count as a college credit. Since I spent so many years with a lack of interest in school, and I rebelled against my parents I did not pay attention to math at all. I maybe did like 20 homework assignments from 3-12th grade. My teachers always passed me on because they knew I was capable, I just wasn't do it. So there I was taking a class that kids in our Calculus and Trig classes were dropping and I knew no math. I basically failed the class the whole year. But my teacher saw me getting the concepts. At the end of the year we had reached Einstein's theory of relativity along with Light and Sound Waves. Our end of the year test relied on the math behind Transverse and Longitudinal Waves. Like how to tell how much liquid was in a glass by the frequency of the the sound of the air being blown into the glass. Doppler Effect, Reflection, Index of Refraction, Types of Lenses, Reverberation, Internal Refraction, Scattering. Along with multiple choice questions about things like "The Double Slit Tests" and Time travel. Like how the electrons behaved, what is the law of length contraction. I studied for a mere 3 days and got the highest score out of the entire student body of my high school on the test. Resulting in me graduating. It made me want to pursue a carrier in physics. I'm not worried about the money genuinely. As long as I can live on it. I also here that all these "romantic" fields of physics are bad to get into. (Theoretical, Quantum Theory, Astrophysics.) because there isn't a demand for the work. I'm not like a genius who is a human calculator with a space age processor. So it's not like I see myself solving Einstein's Master Theory or being the man to confirm string theory. But I just have a passion here and I want to know what branch of physics am I best studying in college. I am not going to get into an IV league school period. My high school track record is to horrible academically. But right now I am in community college making awesome grades, planning to attend a 4 year college. I hear Condensed Matter Physics has a demand for work ? Please I am not looking for someone to tell me to be an engineer. I don't want to be an engineer. I want to be a physicist. So basically. For someone who is in my situation, which branch of physics is best to pursue a Ph.D in ?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 20, 2015 #2


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    At the undergraduate level, there really is no difference in physics degrees. Most schools simply offer a bachelor's degree in 'physics,' rather than in a specialized area of physics like condensed matter physics, particle physics, quantum physics, etc. There are a handful of schools that offer bachelor's degrees in astrophysics, but I don't know of any other specialized physics degrees like that. An undergraduate physics degree includes an introductory calculus based physics sequence (usually three semesters), followed by upper level courses, typically two semesters each, in classical mechanics, electricity and magnetism, and quantum mechanics, as well as courses in thermodynamics and often special relativity, as well as the relevant math courses. There is typically room for a minor or some electives, which can be used to study a topic or two in more depth.

    I think it's also worth pointing out that 'theoretical' is not a branch of physics. Theoretical physics isn't synonymous with string theory or the theory of everything. There are theorists in condensed matter physics and every other branch of physics too.
  4. Jan 20, 2015 #3


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    In future it would help if you used your intelligence to break your posts into paragraphs. It makes them a lot easier to read.

    More seriously, I agree with Quantum Curt. At the undergraduate level there isn't much point in deciding what you want to specialize in. That can close a lot more doors than it can open. Instead, if you really want to pursue physics, then pursue it. Study it. Take the opportunities to get involved in research as they come (or go out and find them). If you really dive in, you might find that a particular sub-field appeals to you a lot more than any other.

    Academic interests change and mature over time. In some cases, people aren't even aware at the entry university level of what their options are.
  5. Jan 20, 2015 #4
    are you me? this is basically my life story up to a few years ago.
  6. Jan 25, 2015 #5
    I would like to say that I as well had a similar situation in regards to your academic history. I am now in my second year of college finally taking my first Calculus based physics course as well as Calculus 2. I am unsure where you are academically but I HIGHLY advice you to be patient with your courses and to not get ahead of your self. I spent the entirety of my middle school and high school years trying to test out of courses because I already knew them only to be denied by administrators because of the fact that I was failing all my classes. Though I contributed that due to the lack of my enthusiasm for the class ;)

    I start at my CC in trig (basically 3 semesters ahead of what I had ever taken officially in high school) and ive finally made it to where I am only on classes with the other physics/engineering students.]

    I want to wish you luck and try to stay on the course. It is most certainly worth it.
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