Are you one of those students who cringe every time at the thought of learning physics — or who can't get enough physics study?
True, this area of science does have a reputation for being difficult but it can also be incredibly fascinating and rewarding if you approach your study the right way. Plus — a physics degree or course can really broaden your job opportunities after you graduate.
Physics knowledge and skills are in real demand, particularly in schools, as there is an Australia-wide shortage of qualified teachers in this subject.
If you enjoyed learning science, technology and mathematics during your compulsory education years, or if you're interested in pursuing work in this field, you should definitely take the time to research the science, mathematics and physics courses on offer at university degree level. For example, you can choose to study:
- applied physics
- computational physics
- molecular physics
- quantum mechanics
- theoretical physics.
And that's just a tiny selection of the courses available, both online and face-to-face.
As with all university courses, you can focus solely on a physics course, or you can take a selection of science or physics units in conjunction with another degree, including mathematics or technology.
Each university will offer different degree courses, so it pays to look around. Attend the open days held by the Australian National University, University of Melbourne or the University of Sydney. Spend time talking to current students and lecturers and find out what you need to know. Once you've settled on a couple of options, check the university websites to delve deeper into the courses and find out about a potential program of study and the online options.
To get you started, this article looks at the benefits of taking physics courses and ideas to help you maximise your learning.
Don't forget to check out online physics courses too.
Reasons Why You Should Consider Physics
Even students who didn't enjoy high school or Year 10 physics may find that advanced study options and the right program, including courses at a Year 11, Year 12 or university level, is more interesting.
Take a look at some of the benefits:
- Learn about the world — study how the universe works and understand more about the world around you.
- Physics is diverse — engineering, electricity, Einstein's theory of relativity, Newton, black holes, mechanics ... there's so much to learn about.
- Advanced career prospects — check the statistics on the employability of a physics graduate and the range of physics jobs that open up once you graduate.
- Never stop learning — a new theory or idea pops up on a daily basis, making it one of the most exciting subjects to study.
For more motivation, take a look at our article 10 Great Reasons to Study Physics.
Need help? Find a physics tutor Melbourne.
Maximising Your Learning: Find a VCE Physics Tutor or Equivalent
It doesn't matter whether you're considering a bachelor degree, certificate course or graduate honours — getting into the university course or degree you want requires effort.
It's not all about last-minute study and receiving top marks on your Year 12 exams. These days, you'll find you need to start putting in the time, energy and effort right from your first units in Year 11 and continuing for the duration of Years 11 and 12.
Remember, the energy and time you're spending are not only for the purpose of university acceptance but also preparation for the discipline required once you've commenced your degree.
Perhaps you're sailing through the physics units, but find other core subjects trickier. Or maybe you've encountered a concept in physics that confuses you and would really rather focus on the units you find easier.
It's an undeniable fact that students need to achieve to the best of their ability in all of their Years 11 and 12 subjects. So, what can you do to ensure this?
- Allocate time to revise.
- Seek help from your teacher in between classes, or ask for extra examples.
- Borrow or purchase a revision guide, or download online study notes.
If you need more advanced or specific help, hiring a VCE physics tutor to give you online or in-person lessons can be worthwhile. You may find you only need someone for a short duration of time, to help you grasp tricky skills or advanced concept knowledge, or you may require ongoing assistance throughout the year.
Tutors can help in various ways, including:
- building your confidence and motivation
- reviewing theory and concepts you're unsure about
- providing practical skills practice
- teaching exam techniques, preparation and study skills.
In short — all the things schools don't have the time to do.
Remember, too, that mathematics and physics are closely linked, so while you may find the physics units and concepts easy to learn, you also need to ensure your mathematics skills are up to scratch.
Where can you find a physics or mathematics tutor?
Many schools have a tutorial program where students can seek help in any of their units of work, including physics and mathematics. You could also ask your teacher if they do tutoring, or can recommend someone who does.
Ask fellow students in your year level or class if they can suggest someone they are currently working with. Or, if you're in Year 11, a Year 12 student may be able to assist — or a Year 12 graduate may help a current Year 12 student.
There are a number of online tutoring sites, including Superprof, where you can quickly find a VCE physics tutor or similar. Have a look at the Superprof platform to find out more.
Considerations When You're Looking for a Physics Tutor
When you first decide to engage a tutor, your priorities will probably be to find someone who is nearby (or will work online) and has proven experience as a tutor in the areas you need help.
After this, the next thing likely to affect whether or not you employ a tutor is cost. What is their hourly rate? Can you afford it?
Cost is an important consideration. The more experience a tutor has, the more they are likely to charge. You may feel that you want to 'hire the best' but, in truth, if they are beyond your budget, you might not be able to afford them for as long as you need — ultimately putting you back where you started.
When you're weighing up the value over the cost of physics and mathematics tutors, there are a few questions you should ask:
What qualifications and experience does the tutor have?
The more highly qualified the tutor, the more they will charge. A tutor with less experience, or one who is a student or new graduate, can, however, still be effective in helping you meet your goals.
Where do you live?
This may seem an irrelevant question, but tutors who are based in larger cities with higher living costs will, obviously, charge more. Online tuition should cost less.
What is your budget?
Be realistic. Don't overcommit.
What are your academic goals?
Think about this question because different tutors have different skill sets. For example, if you're looking for help with exam preparation, a tutor who has recently experienced exams will be a better fit.
The answers to each of these questions can influence your choices and impact the achievement of your goals.
Knowing your goals and what you want to get out of your tuition is key and communicating this to your tutor will end up saving you money and time. Consider whether you only want a few weeks of tuition at the start of each semester to get you started again, or if you only want to work with a tutor in the lead-up to exams. Alternatively, you may require a tutor for the entire academic year or a full semester.
The level you are working at will impact your choice of tutor and the cost. If you are taking advanced units, or more complex or specialised topics, including quantum mechanics, Newtonian physics or master and honours level physics, you will need a tutor with specialised qualifications. They are likely to charge a higher hourly rate.
How much should I expect to pay?
This totally depends on the tutor's experience, qualifications and location, but you can reasonably expect fees to be anywhere between $30 and $90 an hour. That being said, there are tutors available who charge less, and many who charge more.
The real key is to know your budget and use this as a starting point. If you are clear from the outset what your budget is and stick to it, you will save yourself a lot of time.
There are a few ways to save on tuition expenses, including requesting online lessons instead of face-to-face (which incur travel costs), asking if the tutor offers bulk lesson packages with a discount, or if they offer small group tutoring. With the latter, some students find that when they learn with a small group, the benefits are increased.
Physics Jobs: Opportunities Galore
Choosing a degree or course at university level is one thing, but job prospects once you graduate is also a major consideration. Three or four years in an undergraduate course or graduate degree is one thing but it would be nice to know there are opportunities at the end of it.
If you're a physics graduate, you can rest assured there are.
Not only are there a huge number of careers that have their roots in physics, but your physics courses will offer other far-reaching benefits as well, including:
- a host of transferable skills — highly valued in the ever-changing job market
- opportunities in a range of industries and roles
- development of skills in analytical and critical thinking, problem-solving and data interpretation
- pathways towards ongoing academic study.
Just because you've completed a major in physics, does not mean you'll be stuck in a lab or be locked into pursuing work only in your field. In reality, your career path will become even more flexible.
Mentioned previously, your mathematics skills will develop hand-in-hand with your physics knowledge. It may be that you end up following a mathematics career pathway, such as investment management.
You can use your skills and knowledge to apply for roles in mathematics, journalism, accountancy, engineering, or government work.
Further study is also an option. As a physics graduate, there are multiple options to continue studying physics or diversify as part of an honours year, master degree or a PhD.
All schools have careers advisors whose role is to help you unpack all the work areas you can move into via a certain course of study. Ask your tutor, or check out the My Future website to discover more about potential career paths.
You'll be amazed at exactly how much you can do with a physics degree.