If you are a high school student pondering a career in Astronomy or Astrophysics, what can you do to prepare?
Astronomy is applied Physics, applied using the tools of advanced mathematics, the technology of modern telescopes, and state-of-the-art computer software. As a high school student, you are encouraged to take any and all math and science classes available that can reasonably fit within your schedule, with an emphasis on Physics and, if possible, Pre-Calculus and Calculus. AP classes in Math or Physics should be taken as a preparation rather than a substitute for university-level classes.
In recent years, a number of institutions have made some of their undergraduate courses available on line. These courses can often be viewed for free and the material studied at a pace set by the student. We encourage high school students to make use of these (e.g. MIT’s courses: http://ocw.mit.edu/courses ) as a means of gaining familiarity with the topics and language within the discipline prior to enrolling in classes at KU.
Detailed lists of the course sequences for a B.S. major in Astronomy and for a B.A. major in Astronomy may be found at the web site of the Department of Physics and Astronomy. As a crude comparison of your level of preparation, the average composite ACT score for incoming majors within Astronomy and Physics is between 28 and 30.
At minimum, if you have any interest in majoring in Astronomy at KU, we strongly encourage you to contact and speak with a faculty member within the program to discuss your options and to aid in planning your course schedule at KU.