I'm a (just turned) 17 year old student (Year 11) from Australia in a bit of a tricky situation. Unfortunately, I spent most of the last few years and am currently in a psychiatric unit. I've also liked math for a while now, specifically certain subfields of algebraic topology and differential topology/geometry, like (topological) k-theory and cobordism for the former and spin geometry/index theory for the latter.

However, I've fallen very far behind in schoolwork and because of the risk associated with my going back to school, my the school admins decided to prevent me from returning (it was not a good school anyway - an all boys school (club) full of Neo-Nazis (that isn't even an exaggeration), rapists and the like. This leaves me in a difficult position because I don't thing it's possible for me finish school (I've been described/diagnosed by almost half of the DSM, MDD, Adjustment disorder with depressive features, GAD, SAD, BPD, cPTSD, NPD, OCD, ASD - all at different times).

I also can't really go back to home, so sometime next week I'm being put into a youth hostel/communal living place/refuge (this is bad because I might never get to see my cute dog (golden retriever) again). I really want to go to university to study math and eventually do research(?) in some of the areas I mentioned above but I don't really see a feasible way there. I know asking for life advice online is questionable but I really don't have any idea what else to do. Any suggestions/hard truths/similar experiences/comments in general would be really appreciated. Thank you all.

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    Matt, this forum isn't the right place for this kind of question, so it will probably be closed soon, don't take it personally. I'm not that familiar with the Australian system, but why don't you try contacting the undergraduate admissions offices at several schools and letting them know all this? Some of them might blow you off, so don't give up after the first try, but they would probably be able to help you navigate this. Mar 25, 2021 at 4:26
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    Can you start at a new school once you have moved to the communal living house? I would hope that since you are a minor you have some sort of social services key worker who should be helping you with matters like this. Mar 25, 2021 at 8:28
  • Some proportion of diagnoses are wrong. The more time you've spent in the psychiatric unit, the more diagnoses you might have. Some might have always been wrong, and some might have previously been correct but may no longer apply. May 2 at 23:18
  • Please update us! It's been three years now. What happened? Or did nothing happen? How have you been spending your days? Please edit your question, add an addendum at the bottom, and tell us. May 2 at 23:19

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Universities typically demand qualifications, which you don't have. You could get some: You seem familiar with advanced areas of mathematics, perhaps you can study some revision guides, teach yourself whatever you need to know to get some qualifications. (I'm unsure which institutes you can enrol with in Australia. I presume such institutes must exist. They do elsewhere—not everyone follows the traditional route.) Alternatively, you could reach out to universities, explain your situation, negotiate why they should admit you without typically mandated qualifications. Perhaps you have someone who can help you, e.g., some staff member who happens to know an academic who is willing to help you navigate the system.

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