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Reservations about future academic pursuits

  1. Nov 22, 2011 #1
    I know that there are quite a few relatively similar posts, but for my own assurance, I would like some input/guidance regarding the possibility of pursuing a physics or engineering degree.

    I'm 29, so the prospect of returning to school is rather daunting. To be clear,my high school academic record is absolutely awful (D average), and I regrettably pursued a GED rather than a diploma. While I was able to comprehend and complete the work, for reasons that I will not elaborate upon, I chose not to.

    Over the course of a few years, I picked up books on mathematics and found it rather enjoyable. On occasion, I hire students from the local university to tutor math. The more I read about math and physics, the more I desire to learn. I can't imagine anything that would be as desirable as a physics or engineering degree, regardless of future earning potential, job prospects, etc. etc. I want to do this for the knowledge, not the money or the "look what I did" factor (although I do have the deepest respect for physics, math, and engineering majors).

    To make an already long story short, I'm actually terrified of what to expect when I apply to colleges. I understand that I'll have to take the SAT/ACT and spend a couple of years doing well at a community college to make up for my past academic follies. However, I'm afraid that all of this won't be enough. I know that it's going to take a sizeable amount of work, but I'm afraid that my applications won't be well received by universities because someone who's almost 30 with a GED wants to study physics. Should I bother, or do I have a legitimate shot at this?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 22, 2011 #2
    enroll at a community college and take the placement tests. talk to an advisor about what typical physics/engineering students take before they transfer, and then enroll for those courses.

    i dont think the SATs matter once you have already taken college level courses, but i could be wrong.

    ideally you will want to take Calc1-2 (and Calc3 if it's offered), General Chemistry 1-2, and Physics 1-2 (Calc-based, or "engineering physics"). Those are the main freshman courses, but you could probably do some humanities as well if you see anything you are interested in, or want to be a full time student.

    If offered, Calc3, Linear Algebra and/or Differential Equations should all be required for your degree and transfer as well.

    You can start with Algebra if you need to, before taking Calc1, but I don't recommend getting caught up in the PreCalc or Trig classes -- they are literally a waste of time/money as they don't prepare you at all for Calc1. They contain other aspects of math, and those courses / credits won't count towards anything.

    **** the age ******** and don't sweat it :P

    There are lot's of older people in classes working towards degrees, so it's really not that big of a deal at all. :)
  4. Nov 23, 2011 #3
    Thanks for the information!
  5. Nov 23, 2011 #4

    So your story is similar to mine actually. I actually graduated from High school with a 1.8 GPA. Not that it was hard, but because at that time in my life I did not care. It took the military for me to figure out what I needed to do and after I went to CC and ended up getting a 4.0 after 52 credits and transferred into a top 20 school. Unfortunately I didn't get an Engineering degree that time so here I am at 30 going back to get a 2nd degree. It's ok though, everyone thinks I'm 25, haha. But yes, it is worth it, and yes it is doable. And to be honest, I would ALWAYS be looking over my shoulder if I never went back for this.

    Good luck man,
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