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My first post on this amazing forum.

  1. Jul 21, 2010 #1
    I have to say, this is the most fantastic website that I have ran across in a long time. I particularly like the helpful (seemingly so far?) community and in-depth coverage of virtually every general question I have had in the past year!

    I was reading through a thread that linked to an article by Dr. Michio Kaku, covering Physics Education, what to expect, and generally how things work. That was EXACTLY what I was looking for. I liked the article, the following pages of posts, and links, so much that I immediately subscribed to the boards. I feel that I have already received my moneys worth.

    Anyway, my question, well general situation.

    I have a fairly decent knowledge of electronics, mathmatics, and basic physics, from the military. Surprisingly, I am not at all disappointed in my experience while I was in. That being said, I am not a very "militant" person, and after doing some much needed maturing we went our seperate ways. I guess I am your typical "military for college tuition" type.

    Next week I will be finishing up my third semester at a local community college. I elected to take the beginning mathmatics courses even though I placed into College Algebra. I am glad that I did, it turns out there is a great deal I was not taught in Highschool/Military. I am trucking along, making progress, and believe that I will finish the 2 year program in about 5 semesters in total at this rate. I am finishing up College Algebra and at this point have recieved nothing lower than a 98. I think I have something like 35ish credit hours now, all with A's (you have to start somewhere right?).

    I have a monthly stipend as long as I am attending school, so realistically, I have no other obligations. I can attend wherever I want, and all of my bills are covered. I was looking into scholarships, applied for the Federal Aid that I just learned I was eligable for and I stumbled across the Honors program.

    Is it worth my time/effort to take part in the Honors courses? I am taking Trig-Honors next semester to sort of test the waters. I was lured in on the promise of smaller classes, and better professors, not to mention a scholarship (which is money in MY pocket given my situation. I am on course for an Engineering-articulated A.A. that will transfer to my local University, but I am almost positive that this point that I will switch that over to Physics at the 4-year. At this point, I will not have taken any un-needed courses yet anyway.

    I have made it my goal in life to get into the college of Physics where I live now, and would really like some advice on what sort of things I can do to maximize my chances? I have always enjoyed explaining new ideas to people, my job in the military was essentially instructing courses on AC/DC theory, and basic engineering theory. I know this is something that I can excel at, and I cannot remember a time in my life where I have been more excited. I love physics, I have read every mainstream book available to me, watched every BBC/NOVA documentary that exists in my tri-state area, and personally researched many things that I have no business learning at my current education level.

    I would really like to finish up my 4 year in 3 years total and when my military-funding dries up, go the financial-aid/RA/TA (basically whatever) route to the highest education that I can obtain.

    Is there any advice that you wish you had when you started your education path? I would really appreciate any advice, criticism, or just plain old reassurance :P


    /I have read all the FAQ's and Sticky-posts before writting this. If I am out of place for posting this here, forgive me.
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2010
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 22, 2010 #2
    I don't think you mentioned taking physics or other science classes at the C.C., and if you haven't you really should! Physics and chemistry, maybe even computer science, would be good ones to take. To be perfectly honest with you, it's a long road from AC/DC to an advanced degree in physics, and the sooner you get started on it, the better.

    It is definitely a good idea to take as many honors classes as possible. You're getting As now, so obviously you're up for it. Since physics is so mathematically intensive, math is definitely an area you should push yourself in. Plus, it will help you stand out when you apply to a 4 year college.
  4. Jul 22, 2010 #3


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    Welcome to PF, QuarkCharmer!

    Sounds like you're doing everything right. And you're in a sweet situation - it's great that you're taking advantage of your earned educational benefits :smile:.

    I also started in a CC, had to start with 'Introduction to Algebra' (basically high school math), and ended up many years later with a physics BS. My advice: it's a long slog, don't concern yourself with how far you still have to go, just keep your focus on the tasks at hand.

    As far as what classes to take, you could find a helpful professor at the university that you plan to attend, and ask him/her for their advice. They probably know the strengths and weaknesses of the CC you're now attending.

    Good luck!
  5. Jul 22, 2010 #4
    Thanks for the replies.

    I am just clearing out all of the generic general ed classes now. After the Fall semester I should be done with everything required for a general A.A. except for a second language. Then I should be able to start chemistry, higher maths, and whatever else is required.

    I am kicking myself now for not taking chemistry in highschool, well, for not doing well in highschool in general. I took two years of portuguese in highschool, failed the second year, and now I have to re-take 2 semesters of it! (Well, I will pick a different language). I really wish I was more responsible in my youth. Had I thought ahead, I would be in a totally different boat right now. I am actually a little worried about a criminal charge I recieved when I had just turned 18. Another downfall of my ignorant youth! What is the general rule on things like that?

    There are litereally 1000 courses that I want to take, if for no other reason than for myself. Astronomy, Geology, etc. But my financial situation is a bit strange. The VA will only pay for courses that are required for my degree (which is why I chose an articulated A.A. for Engineering instead of a general A.A., because it has more required courses for physics).

    Basically what I am going to have to do, is finish my Articulated A.A (I should have Calc III, Chem, etc.), then transfer to the University and changing my Major to Physics. I still wont be in the College of Physics there, well, I might if they let me in with less than the "recommended" courses, but I can then take the courses like astronomy, and some other maths, that I could no take at the community level. Basically, every elective I am taking is a higher math (aside from the 2 semesters of language).

    It's strange I know, the government really makes you work for that money!

    I am hoping that once I can obtain some scholarship money (if I can anyway), that will pay for some of the courses I want to take that would help me get accepted to the College of Physics.

    Thanks lisab, it's great to hear that some other people have started at the same level. I have to admit, sometimes it's embarassing knowing students just out of highschool that are taking Calc III, and DEQ. I was actually a little uncomfortable taking Freshmen comp I and II with students 10 years younger.

    Hopefully scholarships will come though, (I would rather not resort to loans), and everything will work out.

    Oh well, back to factoring practice. I typically get 100% on everything, but it takes me a while to do the work (still well within the allotted time(s)) because I check EVERYTHING. I absolutely hate factoring polynomials with a high coefficient, but I am told that it is something I MUST get really good at.

    I was also wondering, is there a guide around here to using Latex? Is that forum specific, or something I should know in general? I was reading through the homework-help section answering some of the word problems for fun, and I find that syntax much more fluid than font. 56x^3+16x^2+8x is practically the model of confusing.
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2010
  6. Jul 22, 2010 #5
    Most colleges require you to tell them of a criminal record or other infraction, but it's not something that automatically denies you admission. You might want to talk to a guidance counselor/career counselor/job placement officer at your CC and ask for advice on how to represent your past infraction in the best possible light (how you learned from your mistake, etc.). On college applications, they'll usually ask you to self-report a criminal record or disciplinary violation.
  7. Jul 22, 2010 #6
    The charge is really nothing. If I explained what happened to you, there is a good chance you would laugh at me. I can't imagine anyone holding it against me when if they heard the story. It shows up as "criminal mischief" on my record, but it was some time ago (10+ years). It never stopped me from doing anything in the Military, where I was subject to some intensice psychological screenings and background checks. Way more than any university would perform. They called highschool teachers, met relatives in person unannounced, it was intense.
  8. Jul 22, 2010 #7
    I wouldn't worry about the criminal charge. I have a Class 1 misdemeanor on my record and it was no problem getting into the school I wanted. With the amount of time that has lapsed since your charge they will probably view it as completely irrelevant. The biggest hassle for me was having to provide extra documents with the application. I had to write an explanation, call the court and get paperwork from them to the school, they wanted my lawyer to send them an explanation(didn't have to do this one cause I repped myself), and I had to pay 25 extra dollars to the school to do a background check. Mine was fairly recent(within past 2 years) but they still didn't seem to mind. So in conclusion, considering the silly nature of your charge and the large amount of time that has passed I wouldn't worry at all.
  9. Jul 22, 2010 #8
    This post made me start thinking about my record. I know the Federal Government does a much wider search, but I checked my states online criminal background checker. $25 later, I know that I do not show up in there at all. I wonder if there is some mistake, or if it was removed due to the length of time that has passed. Maybe I was a juvenile when it happened, it's hard to remember. I guess I'll have to get in contact with that courthouse and see what is going on.
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