Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Advice to a freshman physics major

  1. Sep 5, 2011 #1
    Hey I've been browsing these forums for some insight into the field I'll be currently majoring in. But I feel I may as a well ask myself and get some firsthand advice.

    Being a physics major, it's only natural that the course load will be quite heavy compared to others. I'm taking five courses this semester that include elementary linear algebra, calculus, chemistry, and physics. It's because of this that I'm little worried that I may burn myself out towards the end of the semester. I have always gotten high grades in highschool mostly because I pick up on the material pretty quickly and knew how to apply it to homework and tests right away, so I never really spent a lot of time outside of the classroom studying. Now that I'm in university I always hear that most of the learning is spent outside of class , I don't want to take the chance of flunking my classes because I had good grades in high school and just got lazy.

    So I guess my question is: what's a reasonable amount of time to spend on each subject every night without burning myself out? I have always enjoyed learning physics and definitely would consider it my favorite science, but I still enjoy other things in life that doesn't revolve around it...so I would like to find a balance between my education and the simpler things in my life that I enjoy.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 6, 2011 #2
    I don't really think there is a "reasonable amount of time to spend per class". I hear that 3 hours out for every 1 in thing all over the place though.

    I simply think that you should work at something until you fully understand it. I usually take 3-5 courses a semester, and I schedule no more than 2 classes a day with a solid 3-4 hour block in between them. Rather an going home for that duration, I go to the library and practice. I practice whatever it is that I am not 100% confident about.

    There is no point in worrying about the time you should spend studying when you should be working on what you need to study.
  4. Sep 6, 2011 #3


    User Avatar

    Meaningless question. The amount of time required to satisfy your personal educational standards is a personal choice.
  5. Sep 6, 2011 #4

    Vanadium 50

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    Note that "reasonable amount of time to spend on each subject every night without burning myself out" has two halves to it - the first half is about how much time you need, and the second is about how much time you can spend. Both depend on the individual.
  6. Sep 6, 2011 #5
    The balance between studying and social-life is a personal choice; and it depends on how well you want to do in your classes. There's no harm in going out once in a while (maybe even once a week if you study enough during the week) with friends, but you need to make sure you're putting enough time into your studies.

    If you find yourself struggling on quizzes or practice problems then you need to evaluate your study habits and see where things are going wrong. If you find yourself spending a large amount of time out with friends at the bar or at a party then maybe you need to limit those hours and put more effort into studying.

    Since you're a freshman it's all new to you; in my opinion your courseload isn't too hard and you should be able to manage it well enough. However, since this is your first experience with university then it might be an eye-opener to you if you coasted through high-school. You will find out soon enough how well you can handle your courses and only then will you have an idea about how much time you need to spend studying. As already mentioned the 3 hours of studying for every hour of class time is a good estimate and a good place to start. You will get into the groove of things and realize how much you really need to study.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook