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My troubled educational route (Astrophysics?)

  1. Nov 21, 2009 #1
    Hey all, i've come to the physics forums in search of guidance as i just dont know what to think anymore with my studies. First off i live in the UK (i see alot of threads about people who study in the US).

    I failed my GCSE's (through a troubling familiy year), retook them next year, passed all, did a first year Biology, Chemistry, Psychology, Sociology at A-levels, but my family decided to move a large distance, attendance became near impossible to me, so i left college(UK college, not university) without completing my first year.
    I then went to another college the year after and studied first year BTEC applied science, with chemisty, and passed that year but went on to a university to begin a foundation year instead of going on to the second year (i thought a university atmosphere would better suit my studies), and so i did a year 0 in Biology and Chemisty. I managed to get good marks and am now in my first year of studying Pharmacology.

    But, it just doesn't get me up in the morning, when i'm racking my brain it doesn't feel like i'm doing it for myself or rather where i'm going, but rather just for the sake of having qualifications for some income that would be required in my life soon enough.

    Now, i've always, always been interested in Space and the whole shabang. I've been reading up on things that had no relevance to me since i was a kid, just for personal pleasure. So...i've thought to myself why aren't i doing something that i know i will love doing? I've come to the decision that if i somehow manage to begin my route to the said subject with no background in any mathematical/physical studies (apart from the preparatory route from my preliminary year), then i would take it all the way (Msc/Phd).

    My educational background isn't pretty, but i'm not a dunce. Family affairs may have ruined my beginnings but i hope to prevail in the end. The question is where can i start with all this if it's at all possible??

    Many thanks
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 21, 2009 #2
    Hi, while I don't have any specific info on where to start, besides enrolling in a university. I definately encourage you to continue on. I have a rocky academic past but am not trying to let it get in my way. Good luck.
  4. Nov 21, 2009 #3
    I don't know how old you are but even if you are in your 20s, you potentially have a very long life ahead of you, so don't let any minor setbacks discourage you.

    You should consult your school to see what are the necessary courses for each module (Physics and Pharmacology) and take a combination of each. By your third year you should be able to decide if you want to major in Pharmacology and minor in Physics or vice versa. Furthermore, a physics minor is good for a Medical Science student since Biomedical Physics is an emerging and important field and looks good on a professional school application.
  5. Nov 21, 2009 #4

    I don't wish to presume, but I think I have walked a similar path. For many people who know what they want to do, college is easy. Myself, I was at one time an english lit, computer science, engineering and biology major. Took me 5 yrs to get an undergrad degree after bailing in a fit of matephysical angst re science. I worked a year in a casino. Ouch. Back to school, then graduate school where I perambulated every which way. Got an MD and should have a PhD but fate got in the way. I lost both my parents in 6 months and got emotionally derailed. But this is about you, not me. My advice would be some time off from school. If you have no passion for pharm, quit. Work some crummy job, travel if you can, and pay particular attention to those experiences that interest you, Find your core.
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2009
  6. Nov 21, 2009 #5
    Also start by talking math courses (basic calculus and differential equations), and then take physics courses. These will be generally useful regardless of what you do. Personally, I'd move in step by step, so that you get a flavor of what the field really is like, before you jump in. Professional astronomy and physics can be brutal, so you need to figure out whether you really like it before you jump in with both feet.

    One other option is to do amateur astronomy.
  7. Nov 21, 2009 #6
    Thanks for the support lubuntu and denverdoc.

    I'm actually 20 years old at the moment. And i have to admit i was worried that i'd be too old to be beginning a new career path but friends i confide in and indviduals such as yourself reassure me alot. The combination idea doesn't sound too bad, i'll look into it.

    I've had a look around and found this; http://www.herts.ac.uk/courses/Extended-Degrees-in-Science.cfm

    It a course from the University of Hertfodshire that leads onto a course in Astrophysics. This looks like a possible way to start, would be helpful if there are any other suggestions as to where else is possible, thanks :)
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
  8. Nov 22, 2009 #7
    I think these two words should be banned from this forum. This is no such thing as "too old" unless you are trying to become a world-class boxer or olympic gymnast.
  9. Nov 22, 2009 #8
    K_I_P: Good for you, that would be my choice if I could start over and was a bunch smarter!
  10. Nov 27, 2009 #9
    I loved Astronomy until I encountered theoretical astrophysics at MSc level. They take drastic measures to weed out all the A* GCSE types who think they are Stephen Hawking. Stick to pharmacology, it can't be more brutal...
  11. Nov 27, 2009 #10
    It helps a lot in physics to be an intellectual masochist. Tough and brutal courses in which I do badly in, just makes me want to study it even more. Part of what I like about astrophysics is how hard it really can be, so a lot of the challenge is to see how much I can push myself without getting too overwhelmed.
  12. Nov 29, 2009 #11
    That for the interesting viewpoints. I'm well aware of the difficulties im certain to face if i was to undertake this course but in your opinions, is this course more suited to the students constantly hitting the A+ grades? I don't have the brightest history but im capable and willing to have next to no social life.
  13. Nov 29, 2009 #12


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    Comments like this are pretty useless to the OP, since he says he's from the UK. There is no such thing as the minor/major system, since you pick your degree course before you apply to university. It is sometimes possible to switch from one course to another, but it is ill advised to 'take a combination of both of the required courses', mainly since this is not possible. Furthermore, medicine is a undergraduate degree, so regardless of how many years of physics classes you take, you will then have to do the full undergrad degree in medicine.
  14. Nov 29, 2009 #13
    I went back to school at 29 years old. I'm 30 now and am starting to look into graduate programs in Physics, where I plan to apply to next year. If you're too old, I'm in major trouble.

    I have a wife and 3 kids, and had the same thoughts as you about age and education when I was 20 years old.
    After getting married, having 3 kids and working 2 and 3 jobs to put my wife through dental school (while giving birth to all 3 of those kids in Dental school) I realized I was taking the wrong point of view on the topic.

    You'll rarely go a day without a thread in this forum that starts "I'm afraid I'm too old to go back to school" or some other post referencing advancing age and worries with school....
    I went back to school during my wife's 4th year of dental school and it was the best decision I ever made.
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2009
  15. Nov 29, 2009 #14
    Regardless of what career you follow to make money you will end up doing lots of things that are not of interest to you. I would say get a job that pays well and use your free time any way you want (i.e. study anything that interests you). Remember Einstein was a patent clerk. There are very very few do-what-you-want academic positions in the world.
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