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Physics Pursuing a career in physics?

  1. Mar 16, 2016 #1
    Hello to all the physicists out there! Before I begin, I'll tell you that I'm a 16 year old currently in my junior year of high school. I've taken on a loving of physics over the past year and have more or less been deeply impassioned by it. The question isn't should I study physics, it's more of where I should go from here. I'm taking AP Physics and have been reading The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene, but I want to begin to learn more in depth about physics.

    I revisited an old thread (about a year old) that was posted by someone of a similar age and the answers ended in a rant about "child prodigies" and "insane geniuses", but I don't care about any of that. I just want to do what I love and be good at it.

    So that's that, Im just here to ask for advice on where I should go from here and what I should do to further my education. Any advice is welcome since I trust this community as most of you have become physicists yourselves! Thank you in advance.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 16, 2016 #2


    Staff: Mentor

  4. Mar 16, 2016 #3
    Thank you! I will start reading this (actually I've already started), but I have one question that I'm sure anyone could answer. Would taking AP Calculus over Hon. Calculus in high school provide a significant advantage for me during the first year of college? Or is it just important to know calculus? (or does it really just vary depending on the teacher, the school, etc.?)

    Also, this article only gives a very brief overview of how those in high school who wish to study physics should prepare. Although it does offer insight, I was looking more for specific advice on what I should be doing. Obviously I will take the required courses and such, but for now what are ways I can better my understanding of physics?
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2016
  5. Mar 16, 2016 #4
    Knowing and understanding calculus is really the best thing you can have before taking physics in college, I could tell you that! Not sure the difference between honors and AP is (usually AP was the highest level back when I was in highschool) but I'm sure both will make you prepared. Taking AP physics alone should be fine. May I ask how do you guys learn physics in AP? Is it just remembering formals and applying them and understanding them or do you guys perform calculus based problems?
  6. Mar 16, 2016 #5
    Well actually, it's mostly conceptual. We learn based off of AP curriculum which used to be formulas and basic algebra based equations, however now it is more of learning the basic principles and being able to apply them. We learn how to set up and properly perform labs on our own, lab follow ups, procedures taken, etc. We haven't done any calculus based physics, sadly, as most of us who are taking AP Physics are still in Pre-Calculus.

    Edit: Now that I think of it, we have done calculus based physics, however very minimally. We just use the basic trig functions and trig graphs as well for waves. Other than that, we haven't gone too in depth.
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2016
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