I'm sort of confused how to go about finding my educational path. I've been studying alone for some time, quantum field theory, quantum mechanics, relativity and I am struggling. I went to school graduate actually in mathematics, studied general relativity, some quantum. I have a degree in math. But at the graduate level I really found there was too much stress. I tried taking a graduate course in quantum and felt it was way too fast. Of course, I was lacking the preparation of other students, but it gave me the impression I wouldn't be learning as much as copying and computing, without understanding what some concepts mean. I know I could get through a graduate program simply dealing with the equations and computing, but that is not why I am there. I want to understand quantum field theory and the standard model and particle physics in general. I would like the lab experience, in fact I might even be interested being a professional physicist, but I don't know how to find the right program for me that isn't going to eat me alive. I'm smart and bright and no teacher has ever told me different, but I'm often stubborn and don't like to just memorize things, I ask a lot of questions. I find the pace of grad school where I went at California State University system, was just too overbearing. So are there any programs or recommendations to help me learn? I tried looking up some grad programs in my area, but they just seem so heavy in requirements and so structured, I want something a little more relaxed in terms of structure and requirements. I don't mean easy, I just mean something perhaps catered towards non-traditional, non-linear type learning. Right now I'd just like to sit in on a particle physics or something but I don't live near a university that offers these things. So I'm kind of stuck, and I realize I might have to move to get what I want. The only thing I've seen that is somewhat like what I am asking for is UPenn has a program for non-traditional students, where you take grad classes without being in a degreee, but it is extremely expensive and I don't like how it doesn't feed into the PhD program. I feel I really need a custom program that is flexible enough for me because of my non-traditional background. I've studied Dirac's principles of quantum, some mathematical physics, some differential geometry, but it's bits and pieces. Also, aside from being told I'm smart and good at math and physics, my grades from undergrad are only around a 3.2 or so, I didn't try that hard. I have a different attitude now, but because of that my confidence isn't very high for getting into a good program. I took the math gre and did terrible. I imagine I'd probably do terrible on the physics gre as well. I'm just not a very competitive, cut throat student in general. You might say I have a lazy attitude, I don't know. I just want to learn deeply these things, I don't care about grades so much. It's unfortunate centers of learning are more centers of testing these days.