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Begginer in undergrad

  1. Jan 30, 2008 #1
    Hi everyone,
    I just started my junior year and after getting an associate at community college, I'm now attending university for BS in Physics. Since I had only some general physics classes during my first two years in college, I am finding material in physics classes, like electric potential, gauss law,... kind of hard. I seem to have trouble with teoretical part more than homework problems. I really love physics and knew that it would be hard, but since I didn't even take modern physics yet, I'm wondering am I in trouble. Did any of you that have bachelor degrees found this material hard when you took it at first, or you used to find it easy. I love material and am not lazy, but have much trouble understanding it. I will not be giving up on my major, but want to know if it is ok to be stumbling so early on?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 30, 2008 #2
    It's normal to struggle a bit to learn physics.... although it's not clear to me how you can have trouble with the "theoretical part" and not also have trouble on the homeworks.... How is your math background? Undergrad E&M is mostly vector calculus. If you can do all the math in the "review" chapter in Griffith's E&M textbook you should be fine.

    Perhaps you can talk to other students in the class about what they found difficult in the homeworks - that will help you gauge your progress and also help you to make some new friends!

    Anyways, you sound like someone who needs an encouraging pat on the back: just get out there and integrate to infinity!
  4. Jan 30, 2008 #3
    Thanks for a supportive post, oedipa maas. I am actually very good with vector calculus and usually find math very easy. I think my problem wit theory is that I haven't had much exposure to physics material in english (its my second language), so i get confused, but doing problems I don't have as much trouble in just because I understand the main concepts, but I guess I wish to be able to get in more detail when it comes to material.

    It doesn't seem that anyone in class is too confindent about the material, and since its my first semester at this university I don't know much people. I will be starting to make new friend soon. Thanks for support again.
  5. Jan 30, 2008 #4


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    Hi jaska22 -

    Like you, I transferred from a two-year school to a university. I had a tough time as well. It took a while to get used to the much faster pace and much heavier work load.

    Hang in there. The transition is difficult. Being smart helps, but being determined helps a lot more. Good luck!
  6. Jan 30, 2008 #5
    I should be transferring to a university within the next year. Anything I can do now to help the transition? By the time I transfer, I will have completed Cal I-III and Linear Algebra. I'll probably take Differential Equations at the university BEFORE I take the Modern Physics courses.
  7. Jan 30, 2008 #6
    you may not need diff EQ in modern physics, but they are all taught differently. Mine only required prereq of calc 1-2 and concurrent or prereq in calc 3 (vector calc)

    We did do soem diff eq's but they were simple ones. We studies the Schrodinger EQ, but the solutions we did were very simple as most take too long to work out. It was more of an overview of what we would deal with in later classes like Quantum and Classical Mech. So we did not go in depth into solving the SE.

    that being said, we also didn't use very much calc, mainly just algebra. We may have done some optimization problems, but my class was not very mathematically intensive.
  8. Jan 30, 2008 #7
    yeah the thing about physic is the higher you go the more work something requires to master, I'm assuming your taking a junior level E&M course with griffiths right?

    for a course like that don't worry if it takes you a while toget the stuff the important thing is that you get it.

    if your taking a freshman level E&M course just play with it some and it'll come to you, but again its ok to have to work hard and study hard to get it, if you do that to the point where you can get every problem every time, it'll help you alot.
  9. Jan 31, 2008 #8
    You could go to the website of the department at the university you will be transferring to and try to get syllabi for the classes you will be taking your first semester. It may be of benefit to obtain the books early and try to work through them a bit before you transfer (perhaps during the summer).
  10. Jan 31, 2008 #9


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    That would be good, if you can afford to buy them.

    Be aware that the classes will probably be harder than those at most two-year schools. Your first semester or quarter in upper-division physics classes is not a good time to start a relationship, or a time-intensive hobby, that sort of thing. Clear your schedule a bit, be sure you'll have a lot of time to study.

    I was quite surprised by how much more homework was given at the university, compared to the 2-year college I went to. I think a lot of community colleges offer a great education, but they tend to cater to older students who are holding down jobs, or have a family to take care of. These students don't have as much time to spend doing homework, so the instructors don't load them down with a lot of work. At least that was my experience.
  11. Jan 31, 2008 #10
    agreed my LA course required 8 assignments that we were tod about at the beginning, I think it worked out nicely as it allowed people to stay focused whereas most courses dont preset the number of assignments
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