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Roads in physics?

  1. Jan 31, 2012 #1
    I was trying the stickied links but there are broke :(

    Im 22, out of the army with full GI Bill, with the kicker. I have not taken my SATs or in AZ we can take ASATs. In highschool, I always knew I was going in the army so I didn't plan for college. I never saw my councilor, never went to the orientations. So I have no idea about how to enroll, and if I should save my GI bill for my graduate studies, and just pay cash at a Community College. I have forgotten alot of basic stuff I should still know, so Im not sure how rusty I am. Im intelligent, got outa highschool a year early with a 3.8gpa, and that was withouto opening my backpack a single time at home all 3 years. I NEVER did homework, I hated school cause it was boring. I read like a maniac, all kinds of stuff. About 14 I started reading hawking, and fell inlove. So now Im unexpectiadly a civilian who cant get his act together.

    I have an awesome job, in sales. If I worked hard I could 60k a year. Im the best in the state at what I do, but Im terribly lazy. The company I work for would never fire me. Ive been promoted to manager and demoted like 3 times tho. This lenencey has destroyed my work ethic. I dont have to work more than a few hours a day, so I dont. I make my quota in 2 hours and go home. I could stay all day like I should and start making real money, but I dont. Cause its boring and I dont have too. I hate it. I rush home from work to sit on my couch and read. Or watch house/fringe lol. Im obsessive when interested, which is why I know I have what it takes to get an advanced degree in physics. And I refuse to give up until I have it.

    Now that I have bored you guys with useless background info(felt good to say all that so thanks :))Ill get to my real question. Whats should I do next? Is MIT a school were you can get your BS? Like could I theoretically go to my local community college, get amazing grades, then could I make it into MIT? or is MIT a graduate school? So I would have to get my BS at a Uni, then hope for MIT? Then if I go to MIT, what are my degree choices, and how do the different degrees limit what fields I can go into?

    Also, what are the actual careers in physics? Teaching, research, ect? Could someone list them with the differences?

    Edit: typed all that while driving. Sorry if its scatterbrained. I appreciate the info in advance.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 31, 2012 #2


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    You're making more money now than most people will make with a bachelors (even one in physics) and more than a lot of PhDs I know in physics (who are gainfully employed in a job that required a PhD in physics). So I hope money isn't part of your motivation, because this would be a very poor career move if that is the case.

    You can't earn a bachelors degree at a community college, but you can start at one and then transfer to a 4-year college or university where you can earn a bachelors. MIT grants bachelors, but you really don't have a shot at MIT. You might get into U of A; they are very good for physics. Even ASU is pretty good. You'll go somewhere else for grad school anyway. No need to save money for that; grad school in physics pays YOU to get a PhD as long as you teach and/or do research for them, and they pay your tuition as well. Spend the GI bill on undergrad.

    I'm not sure why so many people on here just out of high school emphasize that they never had to work in high school for high grades, but all that tells us is that (a) your high school (like many) was very easy, and (b) you have no study skills. That's really going to hurt you when you get to college, where they will expect you to take hard courses (especially in physics) where you simply cannot learn the material based on what you hear in class. You'll need to be able to take notes, do homework, and work hard if you want to succeed. You've never had to do that, so you have no idea if you can do that. Not to mention it sounds like your ideas of what physics is are probably pretty warped by watching TV and reading books for the lay person. So college physics might come as a bit of a shock. Also, you'll have to take a lot of class unrelated to physics, and work hard and do well in those as well.
  4. Feb 1, 2012 #3

    I appreciate the response! Try not to assume too much, tho I am a Layperson, my views are not warped, just underdeveloped. Especially with the application of physics to a job.

    Why would I not have a chance at MIT? Is that because they do not accept from CC, or are you assuming something again? lmfao. If it requires a certain SAT score, or something that is still possible for me to obtain now then its not impossible.

    I was not bragging about not doing homework. It takes much more skill to commit to studying the right way. I was just explaining my old habbits. I know that I could not get through college without studying. Infact it is my biggest hurdle, not being lazy.

    Btw, my view of the physics im interested in has come mostly from feynman. He was pretty warped, so I can only hope I will be a little one day as well!
  5. Feb 1, 2012 #4


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    MIT accepts very few transfer applicants, and fewer than 10% of freshman applicants (all of whom have amazing grades and fantastic test scores - that's all the applicants, not just the 10% who get in). Pretty much no one has a good chance at getting in, so it's definitely not something to bet on. Most people who get in have already found a way to show a lot of promise in the field they plan to major in.
  6. Feb 1, 2012 #5


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    :surprised :surprised :surprised :surprised :surprised :surprised :surprised :surprised :surprised :surprised

    You may not value your own life, but what about the other innocent people on the road?
  7. Feb 1, 2012 #6
    I live in arizona amongst alot of old, retired, conservative people who don't give anything about me so I don't care about them.

    Jk. Honestly it was rush hour on the busiest street in Phoenix. I was barely moving.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 1, 2012
  8. Feb 1, 2012 #7


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    OK, cussing is also against the rules. Are you going for a warning record now? :smile:

    It causes me pain to think of someone driving a car while typing a huge message like this.

    I have got to unsubscribe from this thread.

    Sorry I wasn't able to contribute except to criticize, but I couldn't let that go without speaking up.
  9. Feb 1, 2012 #8
    Can you give me an example. And is that MOST people who get in already have shown promise in a particular field, or a lot. A fantastic test score is possible, granted as you said, not probable. But the whole reason why I never thought of going to school before now is cause I didn't believe in my abilities to become a hard working student. I believe in myself now, so Im not gunna cut my self short at all. :)
  10. Feb 1, 2012 #9
    Sorry, that one slipped out :(
  11. Feb 1, 2012 #10


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    I'd advise you to to to a community college and ask to take their placement exams. At least you will know where you have to start.

    If you need to refresh your high-school level math skills (and you probably will need that :smile:), then there is no reason to do that at a university. Community colleges are great for that sort of thing. Plus, they're generally very affordable.
  12. Feb 1, 2012 #11
    With respect to the GI bill, keep in mind that it will only pay for 4 years of school. If you end up taking 5 or more years (quite likely if you need to brush up on math), then it's better for the extra years to be at a community college than a university. In other words, I'd suggest you save your GI Bill for when you start at an expensive university.
  13. Feb 1, 2012 #12
    Not withstanding the admission issues, MIT is probably terrible, terrible school for you. In order to survive the place, you need a huge amount of self-discipline. If you are committed to doing science or engineering, and you are in the "I want someone to toss me into the water so that I can see what I can do", MIT is great.

    Also, the admissions issues are likely to get fixed in a few years. MIT is working on something like MITx, and something interesting is going to come out of it.

    Most likely you'll spend ten years of your life doing physics as an indentured servant, and then end up with a job that looks more or less like the one that you have. Pretty good if your goal in life is to study the universe. Sort of stinks, if it's not.
  14. Feb 1, 2012 #13
    I apologize in advance for the giant wall of text, but hopefully you will find this helpful.

    I was in the same boat as you. I joined the military around age 20, finished a music degree while I served and then got out and worked in the military industry for a while. It was difficult to make the transition to student again that's for sure.

    I started at a community college for a repeat of college algebra (since I barely passed it the first time), as well as everything up to Calculus and basic Physics. Then I simply transferred to a university and I'm scheduled to graduate within a reasonable amount of time, and with zero debt thanks to the Chapter 33 GI Bill.

    Since the GI bill pays out on the basis of time, it's important to plan out your whole schedule (be sure the classes are offered in whatever semester and such too) and then determine if the 3 years is long enough to complete it.

    I was basically broke, I had a few grand to my name and a 50k/yr job, so I sold my house and downsized my car. Then I used the GI bill at the community college to cover the first 2 semesters, meanwhile collecting what amounts to around 1500 a month in cost of living. This gave me extra cash since I did not have a car payment or mortgage. After two semesters, I had a few extra thousand from the monthly stipend from the GI bill to pay for the next 2 semesters out of pocket. I had a heavy courseload, since I was trying to rapidly get up to the level of Differential Equations, Physics II, and Organic Chemistry, which would be needed to do any actual in-degree courses at a university.

    Paying out of pocket with that saved cost-of-living money gave me extra time at the university and I will now finish having it fully paid for. I maintain a 4.0, which isn't saying much since I don't have to work, and fully expect to get paid to attend graduate school as well, though not through the GI Bill. In all honesty, it's bad to have to pay for grad-school, it should be covered in the hard sciences (by the school, not the military). Furthermore, the GI bill is limited to what it will even pay on grad school, best to try and fully deplete the time/funds during your undergraduate studies. I did all this without the "kicker" mind you.

    I suggest you do three things:

    1.) Call the VA and speak to someone about the GI bill, be sure you FULLY understand how it works, and what it will and will not cover. Also figure out what the COLA rate is where you live, so you can determine how much you will get.

    2.) Speak to a university adviser AND the one from the community college you plan to attend. They really don't know too much, but they can help you figure out all the things you need to get started.

    3.) Study a bit for the math-placement test (khanacademy.com is a good place to start) and then sign up for courses that are at your level of understanding. Once that is done you have taken the plunge. Go through the Universities catalog and figure out what courses you need for your B.S. Plan the schedules, making sure they offer the courses in which ever season you plan to take it in. From there, figure the cost, and determine how many months it will take you to finish the B.S. at the University, after having completed the transfer requirements for the degree you seek from the community college. Then figure out how much (and if at all) you would have to pay out of pocket from your GI Bill stipend to make it so that you can finish without using any of your own money.

    The goal is to have the GI bill pay out the most at the University, and come out of pocket if you have to at the cc, since the GI bill pays based on time in months, and assuming the university is more expensive.

    Good luck.

    I should note, some above posted said it's 4 years. The new GI bill only pats out for 3 years, but the total sum they pay is much greater than the older systems that allowed more time.
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2012
  15. Feb 1, 2012 #14
    And even people like me that got in twenty years ago, wonder if we could get in today. Admission rates have gone down a lot because schools are teaching more qualified people.

    One thing that I think most people in the Institute believe is that lots and lots of competent perfectly good applicants get turned away, and people I know in admissions say that it's a depressing job, because you have to make decisions among people that are all good. I'm pretty sure that MIT could triple enrollment rates without reducing quality.

    So even if you are completely excellent, you are probably not getting in. Sorry. All the dorm spaces are filled. And you aren't totally excellent, then you are doomed.

    That's one of the reason why lots of people are excited over MITx.
  16. Feb 2, 2012 #15
    Thank you for the information. I got to talk to the Veterans liaison at the community college near me (maricopa county, az) and she got me all squared away. I'm taking the placement test on next Monday.

    What do you guys think about taking some classes online? And which ones should I make sure to do in-class?(community college)

    That makes alot of sense. Without hurting my pride too much. :)
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