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CalGrant says they've made their last $$$ to me.. but I need 3 more years for physics

VirumVirum Registered User regular
edited April 2009 in Help / Advice Forum
Hey guys - so I've been getting emails from the Dean asking me if I need help to graduate. I have 120 units this semester, I could graduate next semester if I wanted to.

I wasn't planning on it, because I want to go for a masters in Physics. My undergrad is in Cinema Television Arts, Film Production Option, so I have a lot of undergrad to catch up on.

But with Cal Grant telling me that they've made their last payment to me because of I guess how many units I have, I am unsure how to proceed.

I am trying to set up an appointment with the Graduate studies adviser to see if I can get admitted into the Masters program on a provisional basis - and allow me to take the undergrad classes I need to take (6 semesters worth). I had come up with a schedule of classes talking to the undergraduate physics adviser, so I know that 6 semesters of work is needed before I can apply to the master's program at the university.

So I know i need to talk to the adviser, but I've been kicking around a few ideas:

1) Declare a double major, drop it when I've done the courses I need to do (not enough for double major) and graduate (seems stinky)

2) Graduate, do self study and pass the GRE Physics exam with flying colors.

3) Try to enter graduate school on a provisional basis and do all 5 years paying the higher tuition but hopefully getting financial aid.

Any ideas?

Virum on

Posts

  • witch_iewitch_ie Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    It sounds to me that your best option would be number 2 - to graduate, self-study, and pass the Physics GRE. Alternatively, I would suggest that you consider taking out loans to pay for additional time as an undergraduate. I'm not sure about your school, but most graduate schools I've encountered don't necessarily give out tons of financial aid for a Master program, particularly to a student who doesn't meet their base criteria.

    That said, I have to ask, how many classes in physics have you actually taken and how many classes (not semesters) would you need to meet the requirements for a graduate program?

    witch_ie on
  • VirumVirum Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    These are the courses I have to take - I took introductory classes at JC for highschool credit way back in the day for non-majors so they don't count.

    PHYS 225 Physics (Mechanics) (4)
    MATH 250 Calculus 3 (3)

    PHYS 226 Physics (E&M+OPTICS) (4)
    MATH 280 Applied Differential Equations (3)

    PHYS 227 Physics (Thermodynamics, Waves and Modern Physics) (4)
    MATH 262 Intro to Linear Algebra (3)

    PHYS 301 Analytical Mechanics I (3)
    PHYS 311 Electromagnetism I (3)
    PHYS 365 Experimental Physics I (3)
    PHYS 375 Quantum Physics I (3)

    PHYS 402 Analytical Mechanics II (3)
    PHYS 410 Electromagnetism II (3)

    Virum on
  • LavaKnightLavaKnight Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Why do you have to take a number of semester more to graduate with an undergrad degree when you could graduate next semester with one? I'm kind of confused about the situation. Is it just so you keep getting money?

    Doing a grad degree along with an undergrad degree seems weird, and I wouldn't want to be in that situation.

    LavaKnight on
  • IronSunriseIronSunrise Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Virum wrote: »
    These are the courses I have to take - I took introductory classes at JC for highschool credit way back in the day for non-majors so they don't count.

    PHYS 225 Physics (Mechanics) (4)
    MATH 250 Calculus 3 (3)

    PHYS 226 Physics (E&M+OPTICS) (4)
    MATH 280 Applied Differential Equations (3)

    PHYS 227 Physics (Thermodynamics, Waves and Modern Physics) (4)
    MATH 262 Intro to Linear Algebra (3)

    PHYS 301 Analytical Mechanics I (3)
    PHYS 311 Electromagnetism I (3)
    PHYS 365 Experimental Physics I (3)
    PHYS 375 Quantum Physics I (3)

    PHYS 402 Analytical Mechanics II (3)
    PHYS 410 Electromagnetism II (3)

    As someone who is still in the process of completing the 28 years of continuous education and apprenticeship I signed up for, I am in no way against graduate school.

    However, I want to add an option 4) Get the best job you can and see how much work teaches you compared to the classroom, if only for a little while.

    You can always head back, though that too is difficult. Don't forget, a whole lot of people who've taken the classes you listed decided that physics (or<insert subject here>) is a wee bit less fun when you're bashing your head against differential equations at 2am.

    IronSunrise on
    Georg Dreyman, I have no sympathy for you.
  • GdiguyGdiguy San Diego, CARegistered User regular
    edited March 2009
    witch_ie wrote: »
    Alternatively, I would suggest that you consider taking out loans to pay for additional time as an undergraduate. I'm not sure about your school, but most graduate schools I've encountered don't necessarily give out tons of financial aid for a Master program, particularly to a student who doesn't meet their base criteria.

    That said, I have to ask, how many classes in physics have you actually taken and how many classes (not semesters) would you need to meet the requirements for a graduate program?

    What are the requirements for getting INTO the masters/grad programs you're interested in?

    But yeah, definitely talk to the grad program advisors and see what they think; Do you mean 6 full semesters of classes? Or 6 classes total (and I thought all the Cal schools were on quarter systems)...
    3) Try to enter graduate school on a provisional basis and do all 5 years paying the higher tuition but hopefully getting financial aid.

    I guess this is what I'm a little confused by - are you talking a PhD program or a masters program here? What masters programs are anywhere near 5 years?


    There are many places that do an undergrad+masters degree for engineering programs (since most masters are fairly research oriented with few classes); if you have to basically take the entire undergrad physics curriculum, though, it's going to be difficult to get them to cover tuition for the entire time.

    Honestly your best bet if you seriously want to do this may wind up being to get student loans to cover enough to get into a masters program; but that does depend on what the grad people at your school tell you

    Gdiguy on
  • VirumVirum Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    LavaKnight wrote: »
    Why do you have to take a number of semester more to graduate with an undergrad degree when you could graduate next semester with one? I'm kind of confused about the situation. Is it just so you keep getting money?

    I want a masters in PHYSICS.

    I am a FILM PRODUCTION major for my undergrad - this is what I am almost done with.

    The physics undergrad adviser recommended not declaring a double major, he said I'd save a year if I just did the courses I listed and then applied to the masters program.

    However, with no financial aid (I don't qualify for school scholarships, nor federal aid now) I can't afford to stay the extra semesters to prepare for grad school.
    Gdiguy wrote: »
    3) Try to enter graduate school on a provisional basis and do all 5 years paying the higher tuition but hopefully getting financial aid.

    I guess this is what I'm a little confused by - are you talking a PhD program or a masters program here? What masters programs are anywhere near 5 years?

    3 years for undergrad "catchup" and 2 for masters.

    Virum on
  • witch_iewitch_ie Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Gdiguy wrote: »
    I guess this is what I'm a little confused by - are you talking a PhD program or a masters program here? What masters programs are anywhere near 5 years?

    The OP can clarify this if I'm wrong, but I think it's 3 years of undergrad plus the typical 2 years for the Masters.

    witch_ie on
  • HalberdBlueHalberdBlue Registered User
    edited March 2009
    This post will probably sound harsh, but I think it's realistic (I'm currently a physics undergrad who spends way more time than I should worrying/reading up about grad school). Very few physics programs are going to accept someone who didn't take a significant amount of physics coursework as an undergrad - just doing well on the physics GRE wouldn't cut it. The idea of passing the physics GRE with flying colors without a couple years of studying is a fantasy. There's also the matter of undergrad research experience - it's not essential to have, but it's just another thing keeping you down if you don't have it. Research experience and recommendation letters are pretty much the two biggest factors in grad school admission, from what I've read. GPA and GRE can keep you out, but research and recs are what get you in.

    Secondly, have you considered what you would do with a masters in physics? People with a masters degree in physics rarely get anything more than a lab technician job, and those are few and far in between. It's an unfortunate reality that pretty much the only way to get a job "doing physics" is to get a Ph.D. Otherwise, you'll probably end up teaching high school or something completely unrelated (engineering if you're lucky).

    Also, the courses you've listed that you would need to take would be a bare-bones minimum to be prepared for grad school. Most physics students are going to come in with a lot more physics and math coursework than that. As far as just physics go, most grad schools consider most of these courses essential - a second semester of quantum mechanics, statistical mechanics, optics, electronics, mathematical physics, and a year of upper level lab courses. Then, there are a number of math courses that, if you didn't take as an undergrad, you'd better know the material anyways for grad school, such as probability and statistics, complex analysis, and partial differential equations (there are lots more, but those are most essential that are used extensively in every branch of physics).

    If I were you, I'd try to do an entire second undergraduate degree in physics. Otherwise, other students applying for graduate school (most of whom are physics majors) will be miles ahead of you in the admissions process. As far as money goes? Loans. There are plenty of cheap schools out there, and just be glad you're not one of the people who will be graduating with 100k+ in student loan debt (though I could be being presumptuous). In the long term, most people's student loans will amount to a drop in the bucket.

    HalberdBlue on
  • LavaKnightLavaKnight Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Seems like a lot of extra work. You're practically doing another major at three years of coursework. If it were paid for, that would be one thing, but since it's not it doesn't really make much sense. If you're willing to rack up that much debt because you didn't wisely choose your major in the first place, then go for it, but that's going to make the bad decision look even worse in retrospect. Do the second degree or don't, I don't think the middle ground is worth it.

    Talk to the advisors. A lot of grad programs let you take classes you need in the first semester or two, depending on what you do need. Some of them might waive those requirements right away. Generally, when applying to grad school, having an advisor in mind that is willing to take you on and help you through the application process is more important than a lot of requirements.

    LavaKnight on
  • SentrySentry Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    For most schools, once you graduate, if you go back for a second degree you can add as much as 30 credit hours on to what you already have to take.

    It is MUCH MUCH MUCH more sensible to get a dual major.

    Sentry on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    wrote:
    When I was a little kid, I always pretended I was the hero,' Skip said.
    'Fuck yeah, me too. What little kid ever pretended to be part of the lynch-mob?'
  • VirumVirum Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    I hear you loud and clear.

    I'd just like to clarify that I wasn't thinking about doing self study for a couple of months - I was going to take the three years to do it that I'd be in school.... I'm not so stupid that i think this is a walk in the park.

    My idea was to apply to the masters program here at my current university (CSUN.edu) which has all of 6 people in it right now - it isn't that competitive - I was hoping that the masters would help offset my lack of a B.S. and allow me to make the PhD jump later to a more prestigious institution, should I want it.

    I guess I'll look into declaring the double major then.

    Virum on
  • RUNN1NGMANRUNN1NGMAN Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    I can see why the state of California wouldn't really be interested in giving you any more money, considering that you should be graduating already. The state is pretty screwed at the moment as far as its budget goes, isn't it?

    RUNN1NGMAN on
  • LavaKnightLavaKnight Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    In addition, have you pursued other scholarships? Pell Grants? There is money out there besides Cal Grants that might be worth trying to get.

    LavaKnight on
  • HalberdBlueHalberdBlue Registered User
    edited March 2009
    If you're going for a Ph.D., it's a better idea to just do another undergradate degree. If you spend 3 three years studying to jump straight into a Master's program, and then get a Master's degree, you'll be qualified to start a Ph.D. program. BUT, for whatever reason, very few schools accept other school's graduate coursework. So, once you start your Ph.D. program, you'll probably just be doing your Master's degree all over again. Since you'll probably be paying for it anyways, it makes more sense to do another undergraduate degree in 3 years or whatever, and then apply to Ph.D. programs from there. That way, you won't be doing two years of coursework twice, and you'll be on level footing with everyone else who applies for the Ph.D. programs (usually the only people that apply to physics Ph.D. programs with a Master's degree are people who didn't get into the Ph.D. program they wanted the first time around, so they did a Master's degree instead).

    For most schools, once you graduate, if you go back for a second degree you can add as much as 30 credit hours on to what you already have to take.

    It is MUCH MUCH MUCH more sensible to get a dual major.

    He'd be woefully unprepared for grad school with only 30 hours of physics/math under his belt. It's true that some grad programs will let you take undergrad classes to catch up, but from what I hear that is more rare with physics programs than most other graduate programs. I'm unsure why, but if I had to conjecture why, I'd say it's because most physics majors apply to grad school, and most of them have taken lots of physics coursework, so it's easier and safer and cheaper to pick the students that they don't have to fund to take a semester or more of catch up courses.

    HalberdBlue on
  • SentrySentry Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    If you're going for a Ph.D., it's a better idea to just do another undergradate degree. If you spend 3 three years studying to jump straight into a Master's program, and then get a Master's degree, you'll be qualified to start a Ph.D. program. BUT, for whatever reason, very few schools accept other school's graduate coursework. So, once you start your Ph.D. program, you'll probably just be doing your Master's degree all over again. Since you'll probably be paying for it anyways, it makes more sense to do another undergraduate degree in 3 years or whatever, and then apply to Ph.D. programs from there. That way, you won't be doing two years of coursework twice, and you'll be on level footing with everyone else who applies for the Ph.D. programs (usually the only people that apply to physics Ph.D. programs with a Master's degree are people who didn't get into the Ph.D. program they wanted the first time around, so they did a Master's degree instead).

    For most schools, once you graduate, if you go back for a second degree you can add as much as 30 credit hours on to what you already have to take.

    It is MUCH MUCH MUCH more sensible to get a dual major.

    He'd be woefully unprepared for grad school with only 30 hours of physics/math under his belt. It's true that some grad programs will let you take undergrad classes to catch up, but from what I hear that is more rare with physics programs than most other graduate programs. I'm unsure why, but if I had to conjecture why, I'd say it's because most physics majors apply to grad school, and most of them have taken lots of physics coursework, so it's easier and safer and cheaper to pick the students that they don't have to fund to take a semester or more of catch up courses.

    ...
    What I said was, he'd have to take up to (and even more possible) 30 additional hours. This is above and beyond what he would have to take for physics.

    Sentry on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    wrote:
    When I was a little kid, I always pretended I was the hero,' Skip said.
    'Fuck yeah, me too. What little kid ever pretended to be part of the lynch-mob?'
  • VirumVirum Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    So the consensus is:

    MS in Physics isn't worth much, if I go to grad school it'd be better just to go for the PhD? I was originally planning on getting a double degree (major), but my adviser recommended me to just go for the masters here at school and drew up that plan.

    Virum on
  • HalberdBlueHalberdBlue Registered User
    edited March 2009
    Sorry, I misread, but my point still stands that just getting the minimum number of hours to double major (36 at my school, I'm guessing it's similar at other schools) won't be enough for grad school.

    HalberdBlue on
  • SentrySentry Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Sorry, I misread, but my point still stands that just getting the minimum number of hours to double major (36 at my school, I'm guessing it's similar at other schools) won't be enough for grad school.

    getting a double major is just that. He would leave with a degree in Physics. That would be enough to get into any grad school.

    Sentry on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    wrote:
    When I was a little kid, I always pretended I was the hero,' Skip said.
    'Fuck yeah, me too. What little kid ever pretended to be part of the lynch-mob?'
  • RUNN1NGMANRUNN1NGMAN Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Sentry wrote: »
    Sorry, I misread, but my point still stands that just getting the minimum number of hours to double major (36 at my school, I'm guessing it's similar at other schools) won't be enough for grad school.

    getting a double major is just that. He would leave with a degree in Physics. That would be enough to get into any grad school.

    Not really. My bud has a degree in mechanical engineering and still had to take extra classes to have the prereqs for his engineering grad program.

    RUNN1NGMAN on
  • VirumVirum Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Sorry, I misread, but my point still stands that just getting the minimum number of hours to double major (36 at my school, I'm guessing it's similar at other schools) won't be enough for grad school.

    I'd have to take about 79 units to double major.
    * MATH 150A Calculus I (5)
    * MATH 150B Calculus II (5)
    * MATH 250 Calculus III (3)
    * MATH 262 Introduction to Linear Algebra (3)
    * MATH 280 Applied Differential Equations (3)
    * PHYS 225/220AL Physics I and Mechanics Lab (4/1)
    * PHYS 226/220BL Physics II and Electricity and Magnetism Lab (4/1)
    * PHYS 227/L Physics III and Lab (4/1)
    * CHEM 101/L General Chemistry I and Lab (4/1)

    A. Option I: Physics
    1. Upper Division Required Courses (31 Units)

    * PHYS 301 Analytical Mechanics I (3)
    * PHYS 311 Electromagnetism I (3)
    * PHYS 365 Experimental Physics I (2)
    * PHYS 366 Experimental Physics II (2)
    * PHYS 375 Quantum Physics I (3)
    * PHYS 402 Analytical Mechanics II (3)
    * PHYS 410 Electromagnetism II (3)
    * PHYS 431 Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics (4)
    * PHYS 451 Quantum Physics II (3)
    * PHYS 465 Experimental Physics III (2)
    * PHYS 466 Experimental Physics IV (2)
    * PHYS 493 Physics and Astronomy Colloquium (1)

    2. Upper Division Electives (9 Units)

    A minimum of 9 units of upper division electives chosen with the approval of the department undergraduate advisor from the following:

    * PHYS 420 Modern Optics (3)
    * PHYS 421 Laser Physics (3)
    * PHYS 470 Introduction to Nuclear and Elementary Particle Physics (3)
    * PHYS 480 Introduction to Solid State Physics (3)
    * PHYS 489 Mathematical Physics (3)
    * PHYS 490 Computer Applications in Physics (3)
    * PHYS 495 Directed Undergraduate Research (1-3)
    * ASTR 301 The Dynamical Universe (3)
    * ASTR 401 The Radiative Universe (3)

    Virum on
  • KakodaimonosKakodaimonos Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Most people I know aren't going to just be able to skip Calc I, II and go directly to Calc III. Unfortunately, you're going to have to start at the beginning with this. All of those courses build on each other and trying to take a shortcut where you skip certain courses will be too hard to do and just leave you confused and lost in the upper level courses.

    Kakodaimonos on
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