# Where to start...

• Studying
Seriously, where to start... Long story short I had a rough upbringing, school was not prioritized, but I managed to graduate community college with an AS degree and worked as a nurse for many years. Finally at 34 years old I'm no longer just trying to survive. I'm a stay at home mom and my kids will be in school full time in the next 2 years, so I have an amazing opportunity to return to school. I love physics, and I listen to YouTube lectures for fun. I only recently considered university as a real option. My first question is, am I just crazy to think it's possible!?! I feel a little old to be starting! My other question is I have 2 years until my youngest starts school, that's 2 years of focused self study, if anyone has links to YouTube videos that are a good starting place, I'd love that. As of now I just watch what interests me, mostly lectures on Quantum Mechanics, and lectures on experiments I find interesting. Thanks for any direction, and for reading this long post

ZapperZ
Staff Emeritus
You never stated what your ambition is. What is the end game here? Are you hoping to pursue a career as a physicist? Or are you just taking this up for fun?

The steps you take for those two paths are completely different.

Zz.

CalcNerd
Gold Member
If you can afford it, I strongly suggest enrolling in an online program (that is legitimate, of course). There are several. You may be able to finish (theoretically possible anyway) with a Bachelor's in Physics if you really book it. But even if you don't do it in two years, you would be close. Or if you aren't far from a college that offers a Bachelor's in Physics, enroll there.
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However, as a parent, you may have responsibilities that younger students DON'T have. And some professors are NOT accommodating vs online is much more flexible. Perhaps your local college can accommodate you when you will miss class, I had such an arrangement with a professor where I basically attended a traditional class remotely ie I used his class notes and worked all the problems and homework and just showed up twice to take a mid-term and a final exam. Some professors might do this if they feel you can handle this.

FailedMsc
You never stated what your ambition is. What is the end game here? Are you hoping to pursue a career as a physicist? Or are you just taking this up for fun?

The steps you take for those two paths are completely different.

Zz.
I'm still in the beginning stages of even considering going to school, of course I would love to work in a field I enjoy, but I'm not sure what work would interest me. I could see myself teaching, as I love just talking about what I learn (of course usually I get blank stares, they're totally uninterested, which I don't understand!) my interest is not financial, although it doesn't hurt! But I could see myself happy to teach beginning classes or something. I enjoy learning about what others have already discovered, although I usually seem to be left with more questions than answers so research could be an option. There's always the consideration of where I live, moving would not be an option, I love where I live way too much. I'm in California Wine Country, not sure what sort of employment there is within an hour of me for a physicist. So as you can see I still have lots to consider!

If you can afford it, I strongly suggest enrolling in an online program (that is legitimate, of course). There are several. You may be able to finish (theoretically possible anyway) with a Bachelor's in Physics if you really book it. But even if you don't do it in two years, you would be close. Or if you aren't far from a college that offers a Bachelor's in Physics, enroll there.
.
However, as a parent, you may have responsibilities that younger students DON'T have. And some professors are NOT accommodating vs online is much more flexible. Perhaps your local college can accommodate you when you will miss class, I had such an arrangement with a professor where I basically attended a traditional class remotely ie I used his class notes and worked all the problems and homework and just showed up twice to take a mid-term and a final exam. Some professors might do this if they feel you can handle this.
I will look into online courses, thanks! We have a local university that has a BA program in physics. US Berkely is about 45 min from me, so doable. Luckily I have a big support network to help with kids, and I wouldn't even consider going until my youngest starts school in 2 years.

CalcNerd
Gold Member
If you like the idea of teaching, definitely a Bachelors in Physics will provide you with lots of opportunities to do so. STEM is very much in demand. The real reality of the American teaching shortage is that most people who want to teach are usually graduates in English literature, journalism or some other Art type program. This leaves the STEM field of teaching with a shortage of qualified teachers. While we on the Physics forum might not understand this, most people seem to avoid STEM type programs.
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In fact, you might be able to get financial aid or have your student loans paid for, if you enroll in such a program and also take some additional coursework for becoming a K-12 teacher in the public sector ( I suspect High School science might be right up your alley!). If not, well, you might consider going further, but you start with the Bachelors first.

George Jones
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Tach1, what is your math level?

Ah Math, that is where I must begin. I'm going to take math classes at community college over the next 2 years. I think I have the mind for math but I definitely need the classes. I was in honors math in junior high, oh so long ago, but had a horribly abusive teacher who was fired because he would randomly single out one kid in his classes and tease them relentlessly, I was an easy target being blonde. He was fired towards the end of the year but by then I was convinced I was stupid (even though I easily passed his class) anyway never took a math class again, got away with it by taking science classes as an elective. Finally had to take math in college and was surprised to test into second year college math. It's only been recently that I've realized I'm not bad at math! So I know I'll have to start at calculus, but I'm pretty sure with the right teacher I'll be able to move through it. Sorry probably a longer answer than you wanted, but I'm also trying to work this all out myself! People irl think I'm just nuts

CalcNerd
You did mention that you already have an AS degree. If you need to upgrade your math or some other coursework to help you save money when you enroll in a 4 year program, you can take CLEP or sometimes, departmental exams. CLEP exams can allow you to advance out of lower level math (all the way up to Calc II). Chemistry (again, up to Chem II) can also be CLEPed. Can you just do it??? I would suggest some hard nosed study and make the attempt as a CLEP exam is about $100 and is nearly always accepted by state colleges. You may already have these classes with your associates degree, but for the course work you don't, it is an option. I have found that I could study for six weeks and pass pretty much any CLEP exam vs having to sit in a class room for 12-14 weeks for much more money and a grade (CLEP is simply pass/fail). . I have lost track of how many classes I actually CLEPed, but it is over 5 classes worth. I kind of suspect one could nearly obtain an associates degree with what is available and if you could find a college would let you transfer all of the CLEP exam coursework in. I'm still in the beginning stages of even considering going to school, of course I would love to work in a field I enjoy, but I'm not sure what work would interest me. I could see myself teaching, as I love just talking about what I learn (of course usually I get blank stares, they're totally uninterested, which I don't understand!) my interest is not financial, although it doesn't hurt! But I could see myself happy to teach beginning classes or something. I enjoy learning about what others have already discovered, although I usually seem to be left with more questions than answers so research could be an option. There's always the consideration of where I live, moving would not be an option, I love where I live way too much. I'm in California Wine Country, not sure what sort of employment there is within an hour of me for a physicist. So as you can see I still have lots to consider! You did mention that you already have an AS degree. If you need to upgrade your math or some other coursework to help you save money when you enroll in a 4 year program, you can take CLEP or sometimes, departmental exams. CLEP exams can allow you to advance out of lower level math (all the way up to Calc II). Chemistry (again, up to Chem II) can also be CLEPed. Can you just do it??? I would suggest some hard nosed study and make the attempt as a CLEP exam is about$100 and is nearly always accepted by state colleges. You may already have these classes with your associates degree, but for the course work you don't, it is an option. I have found that I could study for six weeks and pass pretty much any CLEP exam vs having to sit in a class room for 12-14 weeks for much more money and a grade (CLEP is simply pass/fail).