Can self-studying be fulfilling and effective?

  • #1
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I'm about to transfer from a community college over to a university this semester for physics. I've completed all lower division physics and math courses and of course, I missed the deadline to apply for vast majority of physics related internships I could get. Add to that the fact that there aren't upper division physics courses offered over the summer at the university I'm transferring to, and you see how I'm a little bit dreading the next few months. I've decided to order Giffith's Electrodynamics textbook (what I'll be using in my next E&M class) and try to "self study".

The thing is, I'm wildly interested in physics, but without a professor to consult or fellow students, I fear I'll lack the initiative for serious self-study of the subject. Perhaps I am too immature; I know from experience I will be able to purvey the subject a little bit, but won't dive in deep enough that I'm doing actual problems in the textbook, feeling dejected and overwhelmed at not having any way to communicate with another the person about the subject.

How can I successfully learn the material, arming myself with just a textbook and no formal class structure to guide me?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
jtbell
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not having any way to communicate with another the person about the subject.
Hey, what are we, chopped liver? :rolleyes: :biggrin:
 
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What?
 
  • #4
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I'm about to transfer from a community college over to a university this semester for physics. I've completed all lower division physics and math courses and of course, I missed the deadline to apply for vast majority of physics related internships I could get. Add to that the fact that there aren't upper division physics courses offered over the summer at the university I'm transferring to, and you see how I'm a little bit dreading the next few months. I've decided to order Giffith's Electrodynamics textbook (what I'll be using in my next E&M class) and try to "self study".

The thing is, I'm wildly interested in physics, but without a professor to consult or fellow students, I fear I'll lack the initiative for serious self-study of the subject. Perhaps I am too immature; I know from experience I will be able to purvey the subject a little bit, but won't dive in deep enough that I'm doing actual problems in the textbook, feeling dejected and overwhelmed at not having any way to communicate with another the person about the subject.

How can I successfully learn the material, arming myself with just a textbook and no formal class structure to guide me?
I will say this as nicely as I can. Please do not take offense to my following post.

Since you are transferring from a community college, you have had at least two years of college experience. I am assuming within these two years you have had time to study. By now, a serious student, should be motivated enough to learn and want to learn more topics of their interested field of study. If you lack the "initiative", then I question whether you are truly suited to study physics. What are you going to do, when you need to consult a separate text book? How about the scenario were the professor does not "teach." What will you tell you're future employer when he demands you preform a specific task without a canned solution? Are you going to sit at your desk and not try to figure out a solution? What will you tell your significant other, when said employer fires you?

As a physics student, a majority of the learning is done outside of a school setting. A good physics student is driven by curiosity... curiosity is fed by preforming experiments and studying topics....
 
  • #5
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maybe a course on coursera or something similar. I do not really like online courses, so I cannot recommend something.
 
  • #6
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MidgetDwarf, I'm not looking for a career in physics. I'm just interested in the subject. I think you did get a little too personal with your response.
 
  • #7
jtbell
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Hey, what are we, chopped liver? :rolleyes: :biggrin:
What?
Sorry... I was flashing back to the (often Jewish) standup comedians that I used to see on TV when I was a kid a long time ago. See

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chopped_liver

specifically the paragraph "Chopped liver as an expression". :smile:

Anyway, my point was, if you don't have anybody physically present to talk physics with, you always have us. With Griffiths E&M specifically, many of us here are familiar or acquainted with it.
 
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