Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

What do universities require?

  1. Jun 29, 2011 #1
    I'm 14 and going into high school and need to know what course to take now so when the time comes, I will have the right credits for university and the proper grades.

    I'm looking to study either astrophysics, quantum physics, or theoretical physics.
    I'm looking to get into these universities

    Cal tech

    These are my top choices in that order
    Please reply!!
    Thank you!
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 29, 2011 #2
    Those? A lot of money.

    Take as much math, physics and computer science as you can at the high school level, including college credit / AP courses. Get involved in your community in as many ways as you can. Find someone to help with a few summer research projects.

    Study hard and do exceptionally well on your SAT/ACT or whatever entrance exam is required.

    Don't beat yourself up if you don't get into those schools at the undergraduate level. There are plenty of perfectly good public universities for completing undergraduate work in physics. Have a backup plan is what I'm trying to say I guess. If it doesn't work out then work hard as an undergraduate and pursue those schools for graduate work if they have programs that still interest you.
  4. Jun 29, 2011 #3
    Thank you! This helped
  5. Jul 1, 2011 #4
    Just out of curiosity, why did you list those universities and why in that order? Also, what if you don't make it in to any of them?
  6. Jul 1, 2011 #5
    those are the universities that i want to get into.
    I didnt list all of the universities but those are my main choices.
    lol, you sound exactly like my friends saying what if i dont make it in. I do have other universities that i want to go to but these are the main
  7. Jul 1, 2011 #6


    User Avatar

    I probably would have posted something similar at your age. But your undergraduate school really doesn't matter that much, and I ended up falling in love with a small liberal arts college when doing college tours. Then I attended a good state school, and got a great postdoc. Top schools are good, but they certainly aren't the only way to a successful and rewarding career, and can often backfire on you - far too much competition, not as much time with your professors, not much cooperation among students. Don't just look at the name. Figure out where you'll be happy. I know you won't listen to me now (I probably wouldn't have) but someday you'll probably be sorry you didn't.

    As other people said, getting involved in research is one of the best things you can do to stand out for a top school. MIT and NASA have summer research programs for high school students. Look into those.
  8. Jul 1, 2011 #7
    I would love to do an MIT or NASA research program, but do they accept international students. By that I mean Canadians.
  9. Jul 1, 2011 #8
    When I was 14 I didn't know what the hell I wanted to do... only decided on physics when I was 17... leaving it till then didn't stopped me getting onto a good physics course at a good university!
  10. Jul 1, 2011 #9
    Make sure you keep your options open too. You don't want to focus everything into physics and then find out your passion is actually for music or something completely different. That's really not as ridiculous a premise as you may be thinking. From grade 6 to grade 9, I was absolutely certain that I wanted to be a historian one day. I read up on history in my free time, and I loved the subject in school. Now, I've realized that what I thought was history was a condensed version of only those interesting little snippets. Now, I can barely stand history more than the occasional documentary, and instead I'm in the sciences. I basically made a complete turn-around, and if I had focused my studies 100% on history, I'd be very unhappy right now.

    Just make sure you take a good breadth of courses, even in things you don't think you would ever want to study. You might end up being surprised at what you'll like or what you'll want to do later. It's quite normal to keep switching plans right into your final year of high school, and it's even quite normal to switch your major in university. If you have a good wide base of high school courses, those switches will be relatively painless if you end up making them.
  11. Jul 1, 2011 #10


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    Not necessarily, at least some of them have very good financial aid programs.

    To a large extent what the top universities are looking for are people who are willing to challenge themselves. Taking advanced courses like APs, even in (or perhaps especially in) subjects which you don't intend to concentrate in, helps you look good in that respect. Of course even AP classes aren't actually that hard, so they'll also be looking at what you do outside of normal coursework. Participating in some sort of competitive extracurricular activities and doing well in them helps you stand out.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook