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Courses Advice on course difficulty

  1. Aug 6, 2010 #1
    Hello, ladies and gentlemen!

    For the 2010-2011 academic year, I will be a Senior Physics major at my university. Before I ask my question, I need to present some information for you. I have taken some of the following courses in the math/physics sequence:
    - Differential Equations
    - Linear Algebra
    - Multivariable Calculus
    - Electromagnetism I (using the Griffths text)
    - Optics (using Jenkins/White)
    - Modern Physics I and II
    - E&M Lab, Atomic Lab, and the Freshman/Sophomore level intro caclulus-based physics courses.

    Based on what I have read, Electromagnetism is the most difficult undergraduate physics course at most universities. While I did not understand what was going on (mathematically) at first, something clicked and everything in the course made sense. I made a high A in the course (grades were not curved and no bonus points were available) and enjoy the material today. However, I am worried about my upcoming semester.

    Due to my unique schedule, I have to take Classical Mechanics I and Quantum Mechanics in the same semester. While I understand that it is crazy and I may not appreciate how much Quantum differs from Classical Mechanics, the departmental staff has made it clear that little overlap actually occurs between both courses.

    How difficult is Classical Mechanics compared to Electromagnetism? I am using the John R. Taylor text. My professors say that Classical Mechanics should be a breeze compared to Electromagnetism, but I would like to see some student perspectives on the course. Also, how will Quantum Mechanics rank in terms of difficulty? My Quantum Mechanics textbook is by Nouredine Zettili and the professor claims that he chose the book because students have commonly agreed that it is the most readable and helpful for when they go to graduate school (the book teaches bra-ket notation, has around 10-20 worked out examples for each chapter, and offers a wide variety of problems). The professor hates the Griffths text because it requires you to "teach yourself" by learning things within problems that may or may not be assigned. I am currently a 4.0 student and want to make sure I devote enough time to each course to pull out an A. This question may have been asked several times, but I am just looking for straight answers from the Phys-Forum's excellent user base. I appreciate ANY suggestions (other than telling me not to take Quantum and Classical together [I have no choice unless I want to stay an extra semester for one course]) and advice. I am really looking forward to reading what you all have to say. :)
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 7, 2010 #2
    Is anyone out there? I hope so!
  4. Aug 7, 2010 #3
    I used the Taylor text for my classical mechanics class. I found it to be fairly good at covering everything you need to know in detail, though it may cover things in too much detail at this point in your undergraduate career (I took classical in the first semester of my junior year). I found the class itself to be much easier than my EM class. Mostly, it is because I can very easily picture the problem in my head, which makes setting up the problem mathematically easier.

    I used the Griffiths text for my quantum classes. It was all right; a bit of a rocky introduction, but I did not have much depth in math at that point. I was a second semester sophomore in my first quantum class. I took the second quantum class in my senior year, and found the subject much more approachable. At this level, quantum is really not as difficult as many people make it out to be.

    Considering you're a solid student academically, you should have no problems finishing off your undergraduate physics degree. Even if you are doing research during the year, it is probably not an unbearable load of classes.
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