I read this post last night and postponed my response. I am going to be very critical of this post because I feel he needs to understand what is expected of him and what is realistic.
I've been job searching now for a few months after quitting an engineering sales job. I haven't been able to find anything and have been thinking about getting a masters in Physics, but I have a few concerns.
A few questions about this:
Why did you quit the engineering sales job? What were you hoping to do after quitting that job?
Why do you want to get a masters in Physics? What are your other options besides getting a masters in Physics?
1. My major - I graduated with a BS "Comprehensive Science" degree from my school. This is basically a back up program for anyone who does not want to or cannot finish their science degree, bio/chem/phys, and still wants to graduate in 8 semesters. Basically all of the credits transfer into elective science courses, So I took alot of Physics when it was my major, 3 years. But didnt get a BS physics per se. I also finished the math requirement, calc 1-3, diffeq, also took a few other math courses.
When you write: "who does not want to or cannot finish their science degree" May I ask you which one of these categories you fall under?
I can understand the reasoning for wanting to get out of school within 8 semesters, but if you're missing some of your advanced courses in physics, graduate school in physics is going to be rough (as if it wasn't already).
2. My GPA - For many reasons I graduated with a technical GPA of 2.0, was a cheerleader and also in a fraternity which took up serious amounts of my time. Also had mono 1 semester and had to leave mid way through another semester for financial reasons. Also at that age, 18-22, I was really unfocused and really was just concerned with learning the concepts and doing well on tests. I rarely turned in or did well on homework and also did not write many of my tedious lab reports.
I think that admission committees will frown upon your GPA being blamed on cheer leading and fraternity activities. I don't think these activities alone should justify the GPA you achieved. However, I'm sure a bad semester due to mono would be explainable, but this can't be the sole reason for your overall GPA.
In particular, this sentence confused the hell out of me...
I was really unfocused and really was just concerned with learning the concepts and doing well on tests.
I teach students in Physics and I don't ever remember one of them as this. I'd be surprised that an unfocused individual would want to learn the concepts, instead of just concentrating on doing well on a test. This is contradicting in my eyes.
3. No references - I disliked many of my physics professors including my adviser. It also did not help that the program was so small that many teachers cycled through and taught me again the next semester or year. I did not develop any friendships with any of them and am not in a position to ask for a letter.
I had six professors at my undergraduate school. You should have developed a friendship with them. It is almost interesting that you didn't, considering the circumstances you were under. This is a pretty big hit to any application. As someone has mentioned, research/recommendations is the big hitter, and without any, you might be in trouble.
Based on these 3 circumstances, will a good GRE score get me in somewhere? I am much more focused now as I am a few years older and am also in a more stable environment. I'm positive that I can study for a few months or half a year or so and do well on the test. Would this even be worth it or have I screwed myself already?
They won't look past the other 3 circumstances, even if you could pull off a perfect score on the Physics GRE (which was yesterday by the way). If you are talking about the regular GRE, although it is required by most programs, I feel it has very little impact on your acceptance to a program.
I think you should do some research on Physics programs. I know a few of them don't require any minimum undergraduate GPA, but I'm afraid it isn't making the cut that gets you into a school, it's beating out anyone else who may be applying as well.
If this is something you really want to do, you need to go back to undergraduate for at least a year, take some advanced courses in physics and line up some research with one or multiple professors. I'm fairly sure this is way more than you expected, but if you really want this, this is probably the only way I can see you'd have a chance of getting in anywhere.
Otherwise, to be honest... I think you'll have trouble getting in.