Undergraduate Education:

Having studied for only about 1000 hours during his entire three years at Oxford, Hawking had a hard a hard time answering questions during his finals and answered all questions related to theoretical physics and leaving out those that required factual knowledge. To realize his goal of earning a graduate degree on cosmology form the University of Cambridge, he needed to earn first class honors as an undergraduate, due to his lack of study habits, Hawking’s final result on the borderline between first and second class honors thus requiring a viva to be conducted to decide his final grade. At his viva examination, Hawking was asked to describe his future goals, afraid that he was viewed as a lazy and difficult student Hawking replied “If you award me a First, I will go to Cambridge. If I receive a Second, I shall stay in Oxford, so I expect you will give me a First” however in contrast to his believes, Hawking was actually regarded higher than he thought he was and his examiners realized that he was far cleverer than most of them themselves.

Graduate Education:

Graduate school at Cambridge University started off with disappointment for Hawking when he found that he was assigned Dennis Sciama as an adviser instead of Fred Hoyle who is famous for coining the word “Big Bang” in 1949 and his later rejecting the theory because he found it to argue to the idea that the universe did have a “creator”. Hawking soon realized that Sciama would be a better adviser and mentor since Hoyle was frequently traveling abroad and thus could find very little time to advise doctoral students studying under his mentorship.

Hawking was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis known in the United States as Lou Gehrig’s disease in December 1962 at the age of 21, this diagnosis led him to fall into depression and he felt that there was little use for him to continue his studies since his doctors had given him a life expectancy of two years. His outlook on life changed after his engagement to Jane Wilde in October 1964. In Stephen Hawking: A Life in Science, Second, Hawking is quoted as saying “gave him something to live for” while describing his relationship with Jane Wilde (Fergusson). It was during his doctoral studies that Hawking found interest in the idea of a theory of everything which eventually led him to obtain the equation to calculate the entropy of a black hole.