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My Life

  1. Jan 26, 2007 #1
    I need some help with my life.

    Age 16: After years on the borderline of failing my math classes I decide that I want to be a physicist, and I read that calculus is important towards this end.

    Age 17: Convinced high school AP calc teacher to allow me into the class, even though my math grades are terrible. After the year long course I get a C, but get 100% on the AP exam.

    Age 18: Enter the local university as a physics major. In a class where the test average is in the 40s, I consistently have the highest exam score by a 30pt margin.

    Age 19: Have finished all the classes required for a physics major, and begin serious self study of mathematics.

    Age 20: I wrote a textbook and acted as the lecturer for a course that other undergraduates took for credit (I am considered the local expert on Mathematica). Begin serious self-study of computer science.

    Current Age 21: I am often told "you are ready for the end of graduate school", even though I will not graduate with my bachelor's degree until Spring 2008.

    Problem: No money. More specifically, I am writing this email because I have no one to talk to at school, they all hate me. Other students get the money instead, even though they are all rich (my school, although 3rd rate, is located in paradise and so it attracts some world-class professors and lots of rich kids who didn't do good in high school). I grew up in a single parent welfare home, and the only times I've traveled more than 100 miles from home has been for severe medical emergencies. None of my classmates/professors
    know this about me, they all assume I was a child prodigy raised by mathematician parents with lots of money.

    What should I do?
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2007
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 26, 2007 #2


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    sounds like you are on your way to a brilliant future! keep up the good work. and be patient. as long as you keep working you will definitely be on track for a good job.

    as for people hating you, this is amatter of relating tot hem. for you life has been a struggle, and you are not used toa ctually being considered as superior to other people for your intellect. they do not hate yopu, they are a little afraid of your smarts.

    cut them sokme slack, try not to hold your succes up to their faces too much, be helpful to them, realize tht you are reLY THE ONE WITH THE FUTURE AND NOT THEY, AND BE GENEROUS.


    best wishes,

  4. Jan 26, 2007 #3


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    The fact that none of your instructors know about your situation may work against you. You really need to talk to someone at your school for help or people need to know that you need assistance.

    You never mentioned if you tried for any state or federal assistance. Did you try getting a student loan at the very least? I would imagine that with your economic background, you would qualify easily. If you have good grades, ask your instructors or department head if there are any form of financial awards from various organizations that you might qualify. Go talk to your school's financial assistance officer and explore all possibilities. There are many federal programs that might be relevant to you.

  5. Jan 26, 2007 #4
    Thank you, I really appreciate being encouraged by two of the people I respect most. At least I can take out a loan if things get really bad.

    I guess the problem boils down to an unsupportive department. There is no way to force the instructors/dept. head to help me and they flat out refuse to do so (by ignoring my emails). I always thought that success/support would follow from studying hard and doing well, but without the support of these instructors these things do not mean much.

    I have resolved to focus on my own research, and start trying to publish without an advisor. I can still hold out hope that academic journals will judge me based on the merit of my work rather then my personality.
  6. Jan 28, 2007 #5

    If you have no money, apply for fin. aid, if you get good grades, you should of qualified for university scholarships or applied for 3rd party scholarships. Professors can't control whether you get scholarships or not, they can help by giving you good recommendations but all the scholarships I got didn't require professors recommendation.
  7. Jan 28, 2007 #6
    This bears looking into. Are you talking about other students, or your staff? Tell us more about your situation in terms of interaction with your peers and teachers.
  8. Jan 29, 2007 #7


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    If you feel it's relevent, you need to bring it up with someone.

    If you don't tell people your concerns, you can't assume that you're being treated different because of your indivdiual situation, ie. w.r.t. all the "rich kids getting the money".

    Life may sometimes feel like one big competition. However, the best thing to do is see where it takes you. You suggest that you're naturally gifted - this is good: don't study 24/7, go with the flow, and take time to interact, socially with your other students - even if they are "rich kids" :smile:
  9. Jan 29, 2007 #8


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    The most important thing is to make sure that you do not rely solely on e-mail. That is a huge problem in today's environments, especially with younger people. When you have something as important as this topic is, you MUST approach someone in person. Most of my college profs were so bogged down with commitments, e-mails would back up and eventually get purged without ever being read. When people can put a face to a situation they are much more likely to lend assistance. Good luck.
  10. Jan 29, 2007 #9


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    Why can't you graduate this spring? It sounds like you ought to be able to graduate early, unless there's still a bunch of general education requirements that you have to meet. Or are you majoring in something other than physics?
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2007
  11. Jan 29, 2007 #10
    I, like you, had a rough home life. I grew up in a domestically violent home and was constantly the target of physical and mental abuse from my step-father (who was 6'3 and 240 pounds). My mother, brother and I were beat and abused for five years through elementary and middle school. When I started high school, I moved in with my father who I had not seen in six years, in a very poor trailer park, from which no one every emerged out of. It was known as the ‘crack and meth’ neighborhood which was, conveniently, located next to the high school I attended. While this never affected my athletic or social high school life, it eviscerated my academic motivation. The only contribution I made to my school was winning the Virginia State policy debate tournament (along with my athletic achievements but they are worthless after high school). I graduated high school with a cumulative 1.2 GPA, in the bottom 10 of my class. Unfortunately for me, I was not able to discover the elegance and beauty behind mathematics and physics until after I graduated high school, so I have only recently started to learn and understand mathematics. Your achievements are quite impressive and I am definitely happy to see that you are have transcended this boundary and excelled.

    As for finances, I come from an extremely poor family and the only income that I receive, is what I make working part-time to cover my rent. However, I filed for financial aid and based on the lack of income, I receive the full amount. Upon completing high school, my father wrecked my brand new car that I had purchased for myself (so that I could get to and from work and save enough money for college) and had allowed my insurance to lapse (which he had promised he would be responsible for paying) and finally, put a 1,000 dollar balance on my credit card (which was for emergencies). The day after he wrecked my car, I got on an air plane and flew out to San Diego with enough money for one month’s rent. I got a job at a large law firm doing file clerking and worked for a year until I received residency in California.

    I knew that I wanted to go to UCSD or UCLA before moving here, so I made sure that nothing would ever stop me from doing so. I have now developed a small but modest amount of resources and friends in San Diego and I am working harder than I have ever worked in my life, to get where I want to be. I live with my girlfriend and we struggle but we do get by.

    I receive 2,000 pell grant per semester (which I am not required to pay back) and a 1,300 Federal Direct Loan per semester (which I will have to pay back). I attend a community college, however, so my tuition is free. If you have not applied for financial aid, you should definitely do that first and foremost. From there, your school can give you plenty of options to support yourself. If you are not interested in working full-time/part-time, then you will be forced to rely on loans.

    With your credentials and apparent bright future, I wouldn’t concern myself too much with having to pay back loans. It seems you are very intelligent and highly employable, assuming you complete undergraduate (and continue into graduate school).

    I thought it might be reassuring to hear a story similar to yours to understand that you are not the only person going through this. Although it seems unfair that we did not receive the same family attention that we perhaps, should have received, we have subjugated the past and engineered a future for ourselves.

    Keep working hard my friend and don’t hesitate to speak with your school. My school KNOWS that I rely on financial aid to pay my bills (as I make it clear to them whenever there is a problem with my checks). Do not be embarrassed by your situation. Intelligence, passion, hard-work and determination will supercede monetary gain any day. If anyone ever has something to say to you regarding your financial situation, just throw some large but applicable words in their direction and they will shutup. <3

    Good luck my friend!
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2007
  12. Jan 30, 2007 #11


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    Blimey - respect for posting that cP, and for your positivity towards your goals!
  13. Jan 30, 2007 #12
    Wow mathwonk, did you hit the bottle before writing that post? Jeez louise, I count 11 misspellings in there... :P
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