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Course load would be too much?

  1. Apr 27, 2015 #1
    Hello all, I am currently in undergrad and am planning on taking 18 hours next semester (4 maths and 2 physics courses). I was just wondering if anyone who has taken these courses could tell me if the course load would be too much. The courses are: Linear Algebra, Differential Equations, Abstract Algebra, Vector Analysis (essentially Cal 4), Modern Physics, and Theoretical Physics. I normally take 21 hours per semester (for the past 6 semesters that is), as I was a Chemistry and Computer Science double major. But my love of Maths and Physics has finally gotten the better of me, so I decided to switch majors. Just a bit of background: I have already been through all 3 calculus progressions, a stats class, a data analysis class, and a foundations of higher mathematics course; also chemistry through P. Chem and a few computer science courses. I am no stranger to spending every day of my life studying, as I intend to keep my 4.0 and get into medical school, but I am quite worried about the amount of homework that I will get (not the content, just the amount of time it will take to do all of it). Thoughts? Opinions? Thank you in advance.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 28, 2015 #2
    Its really hard to say whether or not this schedule is too much to handle because of how greatly the difficulty of a class could vary based on the professor. That being said I noticed that you have taken a foundation of higher mathematics course. I am guessing it introduced you to some basic set theory,logic, and methods of proofs. I am assuming that you haven't taken any proof-based math courses other than the foundations course. This could be bad, particularly with a 6 course load, because if the first three math courses are proof-based mathematics you will probably have difficulty with the material and the problem sets, mainly because proof-based mathematics takes some time getting used to for most people. Now if you have self-studied some of the material then this schedule could be manageable. I for example took a similar course-load but with 5 math courses and a physics course and pulled through with A's no problem, but I had self-studied some of the material for those courses before they began.
  4. Apr 28, 2015 #3


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    If you've spent 6 semesters in school already, how did you avoid taking DE, LA, and vector analysis before now?

    If your goal is to get into medical school, then why are you taking skads of math and theoretical physics classes?

    From what you describe, you have spent at least 3 years as an undergrad already, and you are only gradually creeping up on your goal of getting into med school. Med school is pretty tough as it is, and carrying around a lot of extraneous course load, even though you love these subjects, is delaying reaching your next goal.

    You've got to make a choice: remain a professional student, or decide to become a doctor, and focus on achieving that goal.
  5. Apr 28, 2015 #4
    @xiavatar I do typically spend the summers self-studying for the following semester alongside my research. I also have a knack for writing proofs, surprisingly enough because my Calculus 1 teacher made us write every problem as a proof (a practice I never shook off, which made my Cal 2 and 3 teachers sigh whenever I turned my homework in).

    @SteamKing I spent my first year of college as a Nursing major, which I found to be incredibly boring because there were literally no challenges at all in any of the courses; after taking my assigned intro to Gen Chem course, I pretty much fell in love with the subject. Therefore, I switched from Nursing to a pre-med path with a major in Chemistry. I was hoping for a bigger challenge, but after a semester as a Chemistry major I hastily decided that was not enough of a challenge either, so I decided to pick up a second major in Biology. One semester after being a Bio and Chem double major I quickly realized that Bio was pretty much a joke because of how easy it was (I had been in Bio courses since I began college, so I made this decision in an while I was taking Honors Micro and Honors Genetics). At this point I decided Computer Science was an acceptable second major because it was an applicable field. *One thing I should note is that as soon as I switched to a Chem major, I also picked up a minor in Mathematics.* The following fall, I was taking Cal-based Physics I and I was instantly taken with it because I saw Physics as the second major of my dreams, so to speak. It seemed to connect so well with Chemistry, as well as giving me the challenge in school I so desperately yearned for. So I decided to make the switch to a Physics and Chemistry double major. As fate would have it, I was also in Honors Organic Chemistry at the time and the lack of anything quantitative in the class was making me despise chemistry. So the next semester (this semester) whilst in Honors O. Chem II, I made the decision to exchange my Chem major with my Applied Maths minor. So now I am a Physics and Applied Maths major.

    All of that being said (I do apologize that it was so much), I never had a need to take DE, LA, or VA. Albeit my Comp Sci major did require LA, I was not a Comp Sci major long enough to require it before now. And the reason I am taking so many Maths and Physics are honestly because I have an obsession with Maths and Physics (whenever I am in any other classes all I can think about is math, and physics is the best way to apply math, so it is perfect for me). And because they are my majors. I should have mentioned earlier than I am going the MD/PhD route (with my PhD in Physics), so all of these choices are not arbitrary. I have finally found two subjects I am more passionate about than any other, and I feel as though they will give me the challenge I yearn to have in school. I really want to push myself to the limits.
  6. Apr 28, 2015 #5
    In engineering we took 6 classes a semester every semester. There were many weeks (and months) where I'd do nothing but classes, assignments, and sleep.

    Its a lot of work but doable. Just be prepared that you might not enjoy the time.
    What would be the effect of only taking 5? Would it cost you too much time?
  7. Apr 28, 2015 #6
    I agree: That sounds doable to me. My worst semester included Quantum Mechanics, Advanced Electrodynamics, Advanced Analysis (measure and integration theory), Functional Analysis, Methods Of Mathematical Physics (essentially distributions and functional integrals), and a lab course. At the beginning I even started with Astronomy and Abstract Algebra, but I dropped these modules.

    Why don't you just start with all these modules? You can still decide later if you want to drop some modules, right?

    These courses together were worth 50 European Credit Points (1 CP = 25...30 hours of work load, one semester is 13 or 14 weeks, so theoretically that was around 100 hours a week, presence+homework; the standard is 30 ECTS per semester).
  8. Apr 28, 2015 #7
    Depends on how much you value sleep and a social life.
    You will have zero free time. Linear is downright easy. Diff eq. isn't bad. Theoretical can be a slightly difficult or a complete *****, depending on your math skills going into it. Modern is incredibly time-intensive.
    I'd advise against taking all of that in one semester, but it is doable.
  9. Apr 28, 2015 #8
    @cpscdave The only reason I really need to take them all at once is so I will be done with both Abstract Algebra 1 and 2 by next fall when I take Quantum Mechanics. Vector Analysis is only offered at my college every 2 years for some reason, so I think it will be a really good opportunity to take (there probably would not be any use in taking it during my senior year). I am very comfortable with Linear already, and DE seems pretty easy (I have read about half the book thus far and nothing too hard has appeared). And I must take both of the physics classes together to be in QM by next fall.

    @fisicist That sounds pretty brutal. I can drop them if the need be, but I do not know when I would have time to take them later.

    @GoldenLeg Haha sleep is already a stranger to me, and I have never really had too much of a social life (I am not really a people person in the first place). I think my math skills are definitely at the top of their game, so to speak. The only thing I worry about with Theoretical is that it is known as "THE" filter class for physics majors at my school. They make it a brutally hard class to get rid of all the people who cannot hang. Modern I honestly do not know too much about, but I am (hopefully not mistakenly) thinking it will be pretty much a review of Physics I and II.
  10. Apr 28, 2015 #9
    Every school has that filter class, eh? Ours was Physics II, which would be an upper level E&M course at most other places. lol

    Modern physics is definitely not Physics I and II. Modern is essentially a mix of relativity and quantum.
  11. Apr 29, 2015 #10
    @GoldenLeg Haha I guess so. Wow, that is crazy, though I kind of wish my Physics II class was like that. We learned E&M, but not nearly as in-depth as I would have liked. Oh, the description on my school's website was very vague, so I just made an assumption. That is amazing though, because those were my favourite topics from Physics II. Though I do have another question now, if Modern is a mix of relativity and quantum, then what is Theoretical? I was assuming Theoretical would be a mix of relativity and quantum?
  12. Apr 29, 2015 #11
    I have absolutely no idea if it differs from school to school or not.
    Here, theoretical was 90% an advanced math course. There was a minimal physical aspect to the course. It more or less helped build up out mathematical weapons arsenal.
  13. Apr 29, 2015 #12
    @GoldenLeg That is understandable; I assume there are some differences, but I shall learn soon enough when I read the books this summer.
    That makes me really hope my Theoretical class is the same as yours, the more math the better. Thank you for your inputs and answers, I do appreciate it.
  14. Apr 29, 2015 #13
    A buddy of mine is currently in theoretical, I had him send a picture of his syllabus:
    "This course is designed to equip physics and pre-engineering majors with the computational
    tools required for success in the demanding final two years of their degree work.
    It is intended as a complement and supplement to the traditional presentation of topics in linear
    algebra, calculus and the solution of differential equations that the student should have
    received from the mathematics department. The specific perspective of useful applicability
    to physical problems will be emphasized throughout, both in the selection of topics to be
    addressed and in the pedagogy employed in the presentation of those topics.
    We will begin with a brief review of differentiation and integration designed to ensure a first-
    principles level understanding of already familiar results. This will segue into a presentation
    of the Taylor series expansion as a higher order generalization of linear approximation
    methods based on the first function derivative. The Taylor series is an invaluable tool for
    extracting approximate closed form solutions to problems otherwise intractable to direct
    analysis. In particular, the expansion of the natural exponential function constitutes an
    essential entry point into the theory of complex variables, and possesses a deep connection
    to the trigonometric functions, which are the solutions to differential equation closely related
    to that which defines the exponential function itself. In the theory of quantum mechanics,
    the mathematics of the complex exponential function lies at the heart of the space-time
    translation operator, which extends the classical notions of physical dependence on energy
    and momentum. It is also facilitates discussion of advanced topics such as contour
    integration, analytic functions, and conformal mapping, which are useful respectively in the
    study Of scattering theory, the Maxwell equations in free space..." (he didn't send me the back side)
  15. Apr 29, 2015 #14
    Okay, I understand your problem. But don't worry too much. If it turns out that you have to drop one of these courses, than it's just so. Then you will know which one is 'the right one'. And if it turns out that you can do that, then even better. You need to find out for yourself what is bearable to you.
    Anyway I would like to mention that if I learnt something from that semester, than it is that taking more courses doesn't automatically mean that you learn more. Sometimes one needs some time to digest all that stuff. And last but not least, taking too much courses may affect your grades.
  16. Apr 29, 2015 #15


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    Are you going to school because you want a challenge or because you want a job?
  17. Apr 29, 2015 #16
    I just finally read the last few sentences of your opening post. Med school? The hell are you doing taking these courses?
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