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Another course load thread

  1. Jul 29, 2014 #1
    Hi all,

    I'm having difficulty selecting a fifth course for this upcoming semester. I figured that this would be the best place to get input from people who have already taken similar classes. Currently, I have registered for:

    Math 472- Dynamical Systems (the emphasis of the course is on continuous systems rather than discrete)

    Math/Phys 381- Mathematical Methods of Physics (review of vector calculus, tensor analysis, fourier analysis, a bit of complex analysis)

    Math 321- Probability and Mathematical Statistics (theory based)

    ENGN 234- Engineering Dynamics

    Now, for the fifth course I've considered the following:

    Phil 111- Critical Thinking (to fill a humanity)
    Phys 371- Statistical Physics 1 (I've already taken engineering thermodynamics)
    Phys 312- Electromagnetism 1

    I feel a lot of pressure to take Critical Thinking because I don't want to have an extremely difficult course load (I'm prepared to work very hard, I just don't want my GPA to drop). With that being said, I am much more interested in Stat Phys and Electromagnetism. I feel like I won't have the motivation to take Critical Thinking seriously. Since I've heard that Electromagnetism is traditionally one of the hardest undergraduate courses to understand conceptually, I think I would prefer to take Stat Phys instead. I plan on finishing a Mechatronics Engineering degree eventually, so I will always have an opportunity to take Electromagnetism then.

    To those who have taken some or all of these courses, what are your thoughts on taking one of the physics courses on top of my current load? Should I just take the easy route and keep the humanity?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 29, 2014 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    An interesting conundrum: If you take Critical Thinking you will be acknowledging to yourself that you need help in how to decide on a problem such as this and if you don't then you'll wonder why you didn't later on.

    I'd be humble and take the Critical Thinking (get humanities requirements out of the way as soon as possible) and give yourself a break from too much heavy lifting. Take EM later when you have the time and energy to take it.
  4. Jul 29, 2014 #3


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    Then don't take it, no one is forcing you to take it. There must be other humanities courses, music appreciation or film and tv or whatever. Or some sort of history class. Take something else.

    That said, part of the point of those humanities classes is to put you in a position that is not perfectly in line with your degree, that may not be something you even care about, to see how you handle it. The better question is, do you have what it'll take to do well in Critical Thinking?
  5. Jul 29, 2014 #4
    I've already narrowed down my options to the three classes that I would enjoy the most. Out of all of the humanities that I've considered, Critical Thinking is the one that really piqued my interest. I just find it less interesting than the other two courses and that's why I'm afraid I won't find the motivation for it.

    The humanities were my strong point throughout high school. I decided to take mathematics and engineering in university because I wanted to take something outside of my realm that interested me. While I haven't taken very many humanities to date in university, I have excelled in all of my writing intensive courses outside of my discipline. In addition, I have spoken to friends who have taken the course and they have said that the first half of the course seems to line up with some basic concepts in any introductory course in mathematical proof/logical reasoning. I am confident that I have what it takes to do well in the course.

    I do appreciate the feedback; however, I would like a few opinions on taking the physics courses rather than Critical Thinking.
  6. Jul 30, 2014 #5
    Those courses usually are a bit of informal logic, and some symbolic logic, which for anybody that has done any kind of mathematics, are really not very difficult at all.
  7. Jul 30, 2014 #6


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    Indeed. I'll rephrase what I said: the better question is whether Hardflip has what it takes to motivate himself to do well in that subject.
  8. Jul 30, 2014 #7


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    1) I think it's a bad idea if you are trying to put off doing Critical Thinking. Perhaps you didn't really mean it when you wrote, "I feel like I won't have the motivation to take Critical Thinking seriously." But then you weren't writing in a very critical way and perhaps you would benefit from that class. I'm really not trying to be difficult, I'm being critical because I think it is a concern if you are not feeling very motivated to study. But I've said it now so let's move on.

    2) I think the probability class may make statistical physics easier, and statistical physics would help to reinforce what you learned in the probability class, if you take them one after the other.

    3) If you take them simultaneously, there may be a workload problem, you may have too much work to devote enough time to understanding the concepts properly. I think you will still score well but it'll be rote knowledge much more than it would be otherwise.

    So these are three reasons against including Stat Physics 1. What reason is there for doing it?
  9. Jul 30, 2014 #8
    Then I guess what I'm saying is that it won't take very much at all to do well. It's the kind of class that a humanities major can sometimes find difficult, but a science major (who is used to things just being difficult) would find to be a walk in the park.

    At least that was my experience, at a similar course at my university. I actually had a very good teacher, a philosophy grad student who I really liked. He thought the scientific method was crap because it relied upon the fallacy of Affirming the Consequent. He also referred to work in mathematics as "just turning the crank." We had good arguments after class.

    A final note... Sometimes when it comes to non-science and non-math classes for a science major, you don't NEED to do very well in that class. I sacrificed many a fluff class grade at the altar of science...

    -Dave K
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