1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Close to Graduate School- well sort of Should I take more physics classes?What to do.

  1. Feb 16, 2012 #1
    Hello everyone,
    Long long ago, I thought of being a physics major. When I came into into college, I had no experience with physics, problem sets, mathematics higher than trigonometry(very little trig), or much science(my school didn't really offer good science classes). I discovered physics through a chemistry class I took in high school, and it was love at first sight. I was astounded by the idea that mathematics was actually something that affected my reality. It has real consequences, and that's what scientist discover each day.
    At any rate, I decided I wanted to study physics.
    Well, that went interestingly enough.
    I met with my professors in the beginning, and informed them about my lack of exposure to and experience with math and my zero exposure to physics (in a form of a physics class). They assured me that a physics major was well within my grasp, and that I merely need to take calculus 1 (which I tested into) along side Physics 101.
    They however, didn't of the severity of the gap between the time that material was covered in the calculus classes and the time it was covered in the physics classes.
    I.e.: Week two physics: Definate and Indefinate integrals. Week two Calculus: taking the derivative of a polynomial function >_>...
    So, I did poorly my first year as a result of such things, and I honestly had no idea of how to study properly:
    example: "What, you review your notes??!??! Why would I do that? I went to lecture didn't I?" or "Why would I have started this problem set on Friday? It's Sunday- the problem set is due Tuesday- I'll start tomorrow. Besides, I have XYZ due tomorrow, I'll do that instead!"
    That was my poor twisted logic.
    Of course everything seems ridiculous in hindsight. Anyway, my 3rd semester rolls around, and I'm determined to finally do well in my next physics coarse. It's E&M. Well, they start doing partial derivatives and surface integrals the second week of classes, and we are learning the dot product in my Multivariable Calc. class. Same problems. Top it all off with the fact that I was taking an extra class that semester.
    Well, it culminates in a very spectacular crash and burn- I end up dropping out of that class, completely devistated.
    I change my major and decide to pursue another science.
    A semester after that feeling of doubt start to accumulate. Now, I;m going to become a junior, I'm on track for a totally different major, I've talked to the academic advisors that were assigned to me and I'm too late to switch back, and now I know that I'd rather be studying physics, in particular nuclear physics.
    During this entire time the awfulness of all of this was compacted by the fact that:
    I am a horrendously shy person that felt extremely uncomfortable asking my professors and overly-qualified classmates for help (something I have/am worked/ing hard at over coming every day) and the fact that my skill level and the level of the classes was grossly overestimated, AND I had no real idea of what studying was like because I had never been properly guided/helped with that- I mean to say I had never really taken challenging classes before so I was severely underserved in that respect.
    Not to mention the lovely cocktail of insecurity/confusion/bamboozlement that comes with anyone entering college.
    OKAY, so the point in all of that was:
    I am a pretty determined person- one of my few redeeming qualities, and because of that, I know that I still want to continue with and pursue physics.
    I believe I want to get a degree;however, I'm not really in a position to do that, right now.
    I was wondering what everyone thought was would be the best way to continue physics would be. I need, for a variety of reasons, to continue with my current degree. I was wondering if it would be best for me to re-apply to another college after I finish with this degree at another school, OR to go to graduate school and then just take enough physics classes to then take it in graduate school. I honestly don't know much about graduate schools- any help, any CONSTRUCTIVE advice would be greatly appreciated. I realize that the post is long, but I wanted to give sufficient background to the problem. Thoughtful responses would be greatly appreciated. Anyone with advice/ similar stories feel free to share.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 16, 2012 #2

    PhanthomJay

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    Re: Close to Graduate School- well sort of Should I take more physics classes?What to

    I have a few questions:
    -What current degree are you presently pursuing?
    -What courses are you taking?
    -How comfortable and knowledgeable are you with calculus now?
    -Do you now have a strong background in algebra and trig?
    - Can you take PHY 101 and E&M again as electives?
     
  4. Feb 16, 2012 #3
    Re: Close to Graduate School- well sort of Should I take more physics classes?What to

    I am pursuing Geology (which feels like a social science by comparison)- which I do enjoy, but not more as an interesting side hobby, not a career or future I've come to realize.
    By courses do you mean specifically related to my major or in general?
    I feel fine with algebra and trig, although calculus, not as much, I know I need to work on that, I had a pretty terrible Calc. 2 professor- needless to say he doesn't teach that class anymore he was a wonderful person and could teach other subjects just fine just not calc 2.
    I don't know if I can retake Phy 101 again, I'll venture a guess and say I can take a very similar coarse to it, and E&M I can definately take again- most in-particular because I only took the class for a month(thereabouts).
     
  5. Feb 16, 2012 #4

    PhanthomJay

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    Re: Close to Graduate School- well sort of Should I take more physics classes?What to

    It is unfortunate that you got bogged down with the calculus when taking Phy 101, which I assume was calc based Intro Physics. Your advisor was correct that you could take Calc I alongside PHY 101...Phy 101 calc based physics essentially should use calculus for derivation of equations or for solving problems using basic derivatives and simple integrals, the basics of which can be taught as part of the PHY course, but even so, most PHY 101 problems should be able to be solved using basic algebra and trig, and, well, basic physics laws and principles that you learn during the course.

    I gather you are now taking Geology because it was a hobby of yours, but it's again unfortunate that you find yourself aiming for a degree in that area with no real interest in a career in that field.

    You might want to try taking PHY 101 again now that you have a good grasp on algebra and trig, and the basics of calc I under your belt. If you don't do exremely well in PHY 101 the second time around, you may not be cut out for a degree in Physics. E&M is harder, and quantum and nuclear physics are EXTREMELY difficult courses. You'd have to start from scratch with all the PHY and CALC courses if you want to continue in that field. It of course can be done if you set your mind to it, but it will be a LOT of hard work and time.

    I see from your profile that you like to read Japanese and quote great poets. I admire you for those skills. Looking back, I wish I had taken more interest in the Humanities when I was in engineering school. Have you considered majoring say in English Lit or such? It's really up to you to decide....how about Languages? I don't want to discourage you from pursuing Physics, but give a look at all your options.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook




Similar Discussions: Close to Graduate School- well sort of Should I take more physics classes?What to do.
Loading...