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Best Practices and Preparations for a super-intense courseload

  1. Apr 20, 2013 #1
    I'm looking to solicit advice on general studying tips, habits, and preparations for the upcoming academic year. My courseload is quite heavy, 6 full courses of math, physics, chemistry, and computer science. I am looking to do a month or two of full time preparation this summer to really gear up. It's been a while since I've done a lot of math, but I have kept up with some programming and doing the occasional math problem / lots of mental math. I'm 24, I have rock solid study habits and don't go for distractions like partying / tv / alcohol etc.

    As it stands I had thought to try to review differential calculus and statistics, and try to get into some introductory integrals and matrix operations. Any other advice / tips on material to go over prior to the start? Also, is this a feasible courseload?

    Here it is in a nutshell:
    Term One:
    -Chemistry with applications to physical sciences
    -Engineering computer graphics
    -Differential calculus for the physical sciences
    -Introduction to programs, programming, and comp sci
    -Statistics and Probability Intro
    -Physics 101 - waves, fluids, oscillators

    Term Two:
    -Integral calculus for the physical sciences
    -Models of computation
    -Introduction to computer science (not yet sure what the diff between this and the term1 is)
    -Matrix Algebra
    -phys 102 - introduction to light, optics, em
    -Introductory physics lab
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 20, 2013 #2
    Follow up question:

    Is it a bad idea to take matrix algebra without having done differential calculus first? Also, how about integral calculus?
  4. Apr 20, 2013 #3
    Essentially, no. Many universities suggest Calculus before Linear (Matrix) Algebra so that the student has a better "feel" for pure math. Given that you're planning taking more of an applications-based calculus class, I don't know that taking it beforehand will make a difference. One thing to check is if your class covers matrices applied to systems of differential equations, in which case calculus knowledge would be necessary.
  5. Apr 20, 2013 #4
    It depends on the school. At my school, the complete calculus sequence is a prerequisite for linear algebra. A person who does not have a solid grasp on integration by parts, for instance, could not do what we do with vector product spaces. Also, a passing knowledge of differential equations is needed for some parts of the course. The ability to take derivatives is assumed throughout.
  6. Apr 20, 2013 #5


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    No labs that first semester? It's doable, maybe. You're going to have lots of work to do and (likely) not enough time to do it. Regardless, do *not* short yourself on sleep. Being sleep deprived makes learning more difficult. Then you get into a bad feedback loop: you need even more time to learn, so you cut back more on sleep, which makes it even harder to learn...this ends badly.

    It will be hard to fit it in, but try to exercise daily.

    Since it's been a while since you've taken a math class, be sure you are solid with algebra and trig.

    If you can, minimize distractions like friends/family who have lots of drama in their lives and will want to suck you in.

    Good luck :smile:!
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