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What should I know about studying physics?

I love learning, math, and science. I am more interested in physics or astrophysics than I am in biological sciences. Is a physics major or degree worth it? What should I do in high school to prepare for studying physics? What are some extracurriculars that can get me involved in the subject? college math majors physics high-school maths astronomy astrophysics # college-majors

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Lisa’s Answer

Hi Natalie B.,

Great question and Physics is an excellent subject of study. You are right to develop a plan now for studying this topic/ discipline/field.

Step 1: As everyone has already mentioned, start with your math and physics classes (usually a series of building block classes- where you have to take one before the other). These classes may also be based on your school district's offerings and requirements and may include advanced levels of calculus, geometry, and physics.

Step 2: If you can also take these classes with honors and AP, that will also look great when you apply to colleges and universities interested in a Physics major. The goal is to stay within the A- B+ range if possible.

Step 3: Beyond your crucial high school classes, please consider working with your guidance counselor and parents/ guardians to look for summer programs geared toward students interested in Physics and Science. A summer program is a great way to understand what is going on in Physics and start completing Physics-related projects within the different areas of the field (i.e., astrophysics, classic physics, applied physics, etc.). There are many programs locally and abroad if they meet your price and time range and if you meet the age requirements, like this immersive 2-weeks program in London, for example- https://www.immerse.education/physics-summer-school/cambridge/ages-16-18/

So ask for help from your guidance counselors to select the essential classes and ask them for help to search for local and national programs. Also, ask a parent or adult in your life for guidance on how to find these programs as well.

I hope this helps!

All the best...
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Francisco’s Answer

A physics degree is very respected, there are many fields you can work on with a Physics degree. If you like Astrophysics you can even go down the academic route, where you would be involved in research and publish papers. It is a facinating subject. A field of study in Astrophysics I find fascinating is Void structures, large scale structures. These are large areas of the universe with literally nothing. These areas are particuarily interesting for galaxy formation.
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Bettye’s Answer

Physics is the branch of science that deals with the structure of matter and how the fundamental constituents of the universe interact and focuses on objects ranging from very minute (using quantum mechanics) to the entire universe (applying general relativity). It's a subject that can initially be difficult to master, especially during the first year because the learning curve is so steep. In later study there will be a clear distinction between true physics and theoretical physics.

Some of the required classes include higher level mathematics, including multi-variable Calculus, numerous Physics courses that include mechanics (waves, foundations of modern physics, electricity/magnetism, vibration-wave physic, mathematical methods for scientifics, chemistry, algorithmic processes for computer. The study of Physics will introduce students to two main branches, classical and modern which introduces students to the subbranches of mechanics, electro-magnetism, thermo-dynamics, optics.

Recommendations that Physics majors select the following minors for optimal results: Mathematics, Chemistry or Computer Programming

Bettye recommends the following next steps:

1. Specialize in mathematics, chemistry or computer programming while in high school or within first two years of college.
2. Be prepared to study AT LEAST 4-6 hours daily
3. Find study partner whose career/academic interests mirror yours.
4. Hire a tutor who is experienced with great insight into the disciplines of Physics.
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Brayden’s Answer

Hello!

Physics is an amazing area of study and helps you being to understand why the world operates the way it does. One of the coolest about learning physics is that you will find yourself thinking and seeing the world in a completely different way. From the way birds fly through the air to how magnets stick to the fridge. Many of the classes in physics use calculus in order to better solve problems so being comfortable with calculus and specifically differential equations will help you greatly when you get to college. Another great way to prepare for college physics is to try to take some form of intro to physics classes. Even if they arent calculus based this will help prep your brain to thinking as a physicist. In physics its your job to be able to justify whether or not you can ignore something like drag or friction for a particular analysis. This will help analysis become easier to start and as you become more comfortable with the material and the math, you will be able to advance and begin to include these forces.

Hopefully this helps!
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