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Advice for Year One Physics

  1. Feb 21, 2015 #1
    Hey Everybody,

    So I made it into Waterloo's honors physics program, which has been a goal and dream of mine for years. It feels great but at the same time, I really want to know how to prepare for the program before the fall and get ahead. I taught myself the essentials of differential calculus (all the basic rules like the power and quotient rules, how to prove those rules, implicit differentiation, related rates) during last summer and I feel like I have time to learn more math independently because my calculus course at the moment is not a challenge (the course I am in focuses on vectors for one half of the semester and derivatives the second).

    What I want to know is how can I prepare for my first year of physics? Should I be focusing on the maths or the physics that I learn when I get into university, and what types if so (For instance, integral calculus for math)? A part of me says to focus on the maths because I need the math in order to do the physics, but another part of me says to do physics because one I enjoy it and two, it's what I want to do for a living. Or should I focus my efforts half and half on each? And is there any books/textbooks I should be looking at? I got Epstein's "Thinking Physics" and I borrowed "Schaum's 3000 Problems Solved Problems in Physics" from my physics teacher and so far both books are great.

    I have these questions in mind not only because I want to be a successful physics student, but I am having this problem I call stupid, which is I am over indulging myself in a bunch of resources that can help me with university (like those two books I mentioned in the last paragraph and many more). As a result, I lost a bit of interest in math and physics at the moment and it is truly due to the fact that I have no guidance besides this Forum. So, I need to know what I should be focusing on instead of over complicating this process and not make it seem so much like homework.

    Along with this, Waterloo has a physics exam (the Sir Isaac Newton Exam) which is aimed towards people like I who are in their physics programs and the rewards are scholarship money. Of course I want to do well in this exams and I really feel the advice I get can help me with this opportunity. If you have any advice towards contests like this, please share.

    Anyways, thanks for the advice in advance, it has helped a lot in the past and I look forward to reading your answers.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 21, 2015 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    Look at our feature threads section Zapperz has written an excellent article on becoming a physicist from high school to phd.
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