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I suffered seriously from both bipolar disorder and major depression during my undergraduate*. It took me 7.5 years to graduate (including 1.5 year suspended from school due to bipolar disorder), with GPA near 2.0. (Furthermore, I do not fully understand the material in the core courses - approximately 15% of them, mostly last chapters.)

From the day I left school with a bachelor in physics, I have given it carefully thought for literally half year, and determined to pursue a career in physics science. I understand it well what it takes, and what I will face.

Right now, I am studying statistical physics on my own from John Perskill's open courses on Youtube, I work the problem set and do the reading (and ask questions on Stackexchange), as well as teaching myself a few minor things (such as Mathematica)

So far, my recent priority is building a solid understanding of physics (at least the cores courses in undergrad; ideally even includes quantum field theory.), as well as equipping myself with programming skills, before being fluent in a specific field, then I will be looking for a position of research assistant, and publish research result in 2 or 3 years, such that I have a shot when I apply to American graduate schools (along with maintaining my health).

My question is: what is the best point to start, given my current situation?


*Information: I studied in Asia. and would like to do graduate studies in Physics in the States, Japan or Europe.

  • How is your relationship with your previous university/professors? Would you be able to get references or some small research internship ? I think your best next step might be a taught masters degree (so you have an officially verifiable better grade) - is that something you'd be able to do? – Rosemary7391 Feb 13 '18 at 15:45
  • @Rosemary7391 thanks for the comment. I know two or three professors well, but I am not sure if they are willing to write me reference letters. (although one of them told me that I am among top 10% students he has advised) On the other hand, does taught masters degree program have a GPA cutoff? And given I will do no research work in a taught master program, won't A.) my chance getting into a good PhD program still nearly impossible. B.) I have no way to tell a research career is really for me? – Shing Feb 13 '18 at 17:20
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    I recommend you audit some courses and in general build up a support system with some mentors and some study partners. It's easier to build up one's knowledge and skills when one doesn't work in a vacuum. – aparente001 Feb 14 '18 at 4:10
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    Your chances will be better with a better grade to back up your application. I'm not overly familiar with entry requirements for taught masters courses, but it is possible that a good recommendation would help. If your current grade reflects your understanding then you will struggle with research, so picking up more study is a good direction to go in. A career in research isn't for everyone; you could try and get a summer project to test the water (and get a reference) - try your old professors if they remember you kindly. Research careers are very competitive – Rosemary7391 Feb 14 '18 at 8:41

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