Hello, and thanks for taking the time to read this.
I am getting out of the military in November and plan on going back to college in November. I know for sure that I want to be a Physics major, but am less decided on if I want to pursue a second major. If I do I would probably want to go for Aerospace Engineering or Mechanical Engineering if that’s not available. Another interest would be Geology and Economics, but I doubt I would choose those over Engineering. I know that trying to double major with those types of degrees is difficult, but I think that with the GI Bill, my previous credits, and the maturity I’ve gained I think I can take my time and do it right.
I know that if you don’t want to be a teacher, which I don’t, Physics isn’t the most practical for a Bacholers, so I want to make sure I’m dynamic and more employable if I choose not to go to graduate school. I have vague ideas of what I want to do for a career but am still trying to get a more precise vision. I would see my ideal jobs as either being a physicist at a national lab like Oak Ridge or Fermilab, or being an Engineer at NASA or an aerospace company like Blue Origin, ULA, or something like that. I know a lot of people have similar ambitions and those jobs are extremely competitive, so I may have to go for something more realistic, but that’s the type of career I would like to strive for.
Right now I’m trying to decide what universities I should apply to, and if I should go to a university at all. My first time in college, from 2012 to 2015 I went from undecided to Physics to Mechanical Engineering and ended up with a 2.9 GPA and 81 credits. This was not due to a lack of interest with the material but mainly a lack of maturity and misplaced priorities. When I applied myself to classes like General Chemistry and Thermodynamics I enjoyed the material and could succed, but I was to young and dumb to keep it together. I know with my GPA I’ll only be accepted to an average tier school, which is fine, it’s what you do and learn there that counts, not the name on the degree, but I would like to get into better schools if I could.
Would it be a better idea for me to go to community college? The main reason I would want to do this is to get into a better school after adding 2 or 3 semesters of good grades to my transcript. Also I may be able to pay for it with just FAFSA and save my GI bill for grad school or some summer classes. My 81 credits already get me most of the way to an Associates degree, but I am going to need to retake classes like Chemistry, Physics 1, and Calculus over again anyway. How much would a few semesters at a community college really help my application though anyway? Is it worth having to deal with another transfer?
Right now the universities that I’m looking into the most are schools like Colorado State, University of Alabama Huntsville, San Jose State, San Diego State, Michigan Tech and University of Alaska Fairbanks. CalTech is the dream school, but it will be a long time before I could think about going there. UC San Diego, NC State, and Georgia Tech are other schools that I want to go to but are out of reach for now, and that I’m thinking a community college would help give me a chance.
A school like UA Huntsville seems reasonably easy to get into, but has very strong programs in things I’m interested in. If I get in there would there be any reason to forgo it for community college? What are some other universities that have strong physics programs that I could get into? What are some other places I can ask, and other resources I can look into, that would help me make my decision?
Thanks again for your time and answers.