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Calc I, Physics I and Chem I; All in the same semester?

  1. Apr 1, 2013 #1
    Keep in mind that I have never been exposed to any physics or Cal before. However, I've enough knowledge about the chemistry. The physics and the Chemistry both come with labs.

    Is this too rigorous of a schedule? I've been advised to hold of the physics until I've taken the cal1 first but I am still undecided on that.

    Is it doable or impossible? I am sure it's fatiguing but if it's manageable, I'll go ahead and do it and if not I'll heed the advise above.

  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 1, 2013 #2


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    Doable sure, but it isn't pleasant because as you mention labs take a huge chunk of time, time that can be used for massive problem sets that physics I and calc I tend to come with. I would advise you to make an excel spreadsheet that has seven days a week and 24 hours and place your classes within the schedule. Add sleep, eating times, relaxation, travel times, etc and see how much time you'll have to study. If you feel it's enough, then go for it.
  4. Apr 1, 2013 #3
    Thank you for your input there, MarneMath. The only worry I have is that I work 32 hours a week. But I've spoken to quite few people and most have either suggested that I push the physics to the side until next semester because it'll make much more sense after having completed cal1, or like you've suggested, I very diligently plan and make a time management schedule.

    P.s Just how difficult is the Cal 1, and how about the Physics1? Which one requires more time?
  5. Apr 1, 2013 #4
    Isn't Calculus normally a prerequisite for most (all?) Physics classes?
  6. Apr 1, 2013 #5


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    I recommend you talk with your advisor to get their advice, and make sure they understand your work schedule! I don't think there is a generic blanket statement on what courses take more time - different universities do things differently.

    By the way, I sure you know that working 32 hours a week is a LOT. I am assuming you are a part time student? Every chemical engineering major I knew probably has similar schedules for several semesters (4 semesters of math, 4 semesters of chem and 3 semesters of physics required in the first 2 years...plus computer science, probability, humanities, and other requirements ...) - but again, working 32 hours likely precludes such a schedule.

    Again, speak with your advisor - that is what they are there for.

  7. Apr 1, 2013 #6
    I think most freshman-level physics classes are structured with the assumption that students will be taking calculus simultaneously.
  8. Apr 2, 2013 #7
    Thanks. I've spoken to my advisors few different times and they've suggested that I wait the physics until spring next year. Their reasoning was that you'll be at ease a little more than if you take cal and physics together.
  9. Apr 2, 2013 #8
    This isn't true in my experience. Every university I've looked at has Physics I as spring semester freshman year.

    I did what you are thinking of doing and it was a bad idea. It's certainly doable but you won't get as much out of intro mechanics as you should which will hobble you continuously for semesters to come.

    The main issue is that physics jumps right into using derivatives and integrals whilst calculus will take a slow walk up to that material by way of graphs, limits, and Riemann sums. It's good that calculus does this as it gives you some intuitive understanding of what's happening. So, while you're going to be able to (and forced to) mechanically employ the power rule to solve problems in physics, you're not really going to know what's going on and it's going to stunt your understanding.

    Similarly, this will mean you'll be taking E&M a semester ahead of calc 3 -- vector calculus -- which is just as bad (if not worse) than the former situation.

    Note, I don't want to sound discouraging. I'm not saying, 'You can't do this.' In fact, I'm sure you can. I did. But, as with everything, there is a cost for the time saved. I don't think the cost is worth it.
  10. Apr 2, 2013 #9
    At my university, Calc 1 isn't a prerequisite for Physics 1 because some people take them both simultaneously. It isn't recommended, but people do it regardless of what their advisor tell them.

    The choice is up to you though, I'd say go for it. Take Calc 1 and Physics 1; however, taking the Chemistry class with it seems like a heavy load. I'd not take chemistry because Calc 1 and Physics 1 will be enough on your plate.

    In fact, that is what I'm doing: I'll be taking Calc 1 and Physics 1 together next semester, but I'm waiting until my Junior year to take Chemistry.

    Taking Calc 1 and Physics 1 will be fine, you can always take a Gen Ed class just to get something else out of the way, but I'd personally wait on that Chem class.
  11. Apr 2, 2013 #10
    I'm confused. If you're not going to do all three at once then why take the two together that you have been advised against taking together? I know why I did it -- I knocked out chemistry, calc and physics all in one semester. Yet, you're not doing that. Why not take the chem and calc now and then the physics next semester. You'll get so much more out of all of your physics classes.

    Also taking chemistry before quantum physics is really useful.
  12. Apr 2, 2013 #11
    I've been advised against it because physics 1 is calculus based, at least that's the way it is in my school. I am in Arizona. My advisor said you'll be exposed lots of nasty theories and equations at the same time and he said given the fact that you haven't had any physics in the past, that'd be a disaster. If I wasn't working I'd go ahead and take it because I believe 7days a week is enough to get anything and everything done.

    I'll be interesting to see how I handle this come fall.
  13. Apr 2, 2013 #12


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    Take their advice. Wait on physics until the spring - take Calc and Chemistry.
  14. Apr 2, 2013 #13
    This seems to be the popular consensus. Thanks!
  15. Apr 2, 2013 #14


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    Your advisor has probably seen students try this and not do so well. Even if you didn't have to work, your advisor is probably giving you the best advice.

    I know that my physics 1 had a strict calc 1 prereq and calc 2 coreq. In physics 1 I recall homework questions like: derive a differential equation describing the motion of a rope with distributed mass partially hanging off of a frictionless table, and then integrate the differential equation to find the time the end hits the floor (I of course remember this problem because it was HARD for me, but i learned a lot from it). In other words, using calculus to model physical systems. Sure, we had our fair share of problems - perhaps most even - that didn't really require much if any calculus, but I for one could NEVER have done well without calc 1 prereq. We used a standard textbook (Halliday and Resnick) so this was not a crazy course. If your advisor thinks that doing physics 1 without calc 1 would be a disaster, then your course is likely using an equivalent book and solving similar problems. And certainly for me, it would have been a disaster.

    Again, I advise that you listen to your advisor. They typically have your best interest in mind.

    I wish you a successful upcoming semester!


    EDIT: i see that when I got up from the computer for awhile during my post that you replied to my earlier post. Sorry for harping on the same message - I am turning into my father!
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2013
  16. Apr 2, 2013 #15
    I've been exposed to some Calculus and Calculus based Physics before and I've also talked with the professor who teaches it and he said that I'll be fine. I also have a solid background in physics, but from someone who hasn't been exposed, I can see to wait. My Junior year I'll be taking Modern Physics, along with the lab and Chemistry + lab, which is the reason why I can't wait. I will be taking chemistry before QM, though! :tongue:

    Well then, it is ultimately your choice. Since you haven't been exposed to a whole lot of physics. Not to mention you will be working. So just go ahead and take Calc 1 and the Chemistry.
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