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Difficult Schedule to Bridge Gap

  1. Jun 14, 2012 #1
    Hello everyone, I am one of those non-majors trying to get in to graduate school (eventually). Long story short, I have a year left as a business major, during which time I will be taking Calculus 2 and the introductory physics w/lab sequence.

    I have recently met with both the graduate director and the chair of the physics department at the school I would like to eventually attend. They were both very helpful and we had drawn up an unofficial schedule in order to bridge the gap between BA in business to graduate in Physics/Astrophysics. It's not set in stone but note that it was made with the intention of spending the least time possible, making it that much more difficult.

    The schedule will look something like this :

    Summer 2013
    Calculus 3
    Calculus 4 (not sure what this is exactly, I was under the impression calc 3 was the highest)

    Fall 2013
    Classical Mechanics 1
    E&M 1
    Intro Quantum Mechanics
    Principles of Astrophysics
    Differential Equations

    Spring 2014
    Classical Mechanics 2
    E&M 2
    Complex Variables
    Principles of Astrophysics 2
    Intermediate Quantum Mechanics (possibly an independent study - possibly put off until Fall 2015)

    Obviously this is not an easy schedule to overcome. What I'm looking for I guess is advice (other than work hard - this is an obvious statement) and/or opinions. I would also wonder whether or not self preparation (learning from textbooks prior to classes) would serve much of a purpose.

    Anything at all is helpful. Thanks.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 14, 2012 #2
    Maybe you're especially capable of handling large courseloads but that second semester is just too much. Imo, drop complex analysis or astrophysics.

    I'd say complex for sure. I just finished complex analysis and it's utility was highly overrated. I learned all the complex I needed in physics it turned out.
  4. Jun 14, 2012 #3
    My biggest advice to give is don't burn yourself out.

    You need to really take a look at your work load. I am not sure about your world responsibilities but this is a key factor to take a look at.

    If you are taking too many classes to try to get in as quick as possible but your GPA slips because of it...well than you wasted your time.

    Early preparation has pros and cons.

    I will only list the cons.

    1. You can burn yourself out when you should be enjoying a small break between semesters you will be into books and learning material...this can result in a heavy dose of "burnt out" and in the end you just slip during the last few weeks/tests.

    2. You may find yourself bored in the beginning stages of lectures because you mastered the material ahead of time and you begin to catch yourself drifting and in the end you start missing certain components of lecture. (Example...I mastered projectiles/friction from my statics and dynamics class..so my first test in Physics I got a perfect score...didn't really pay no attention to the lecture...the 2nd test I got a 74..I got a wake up call after that and realized I need to pay attention even if I think I mastered the material.
  5. Jun 14, 2012 #4


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    I agree that second semester looks brutal.

    My advice would be, don't take any class if you haven't had the prerequisites yet. Lots of ambitious and bright posters here try to do that, thinking that their enthusiasm is enough to get them through. It isn't. Especially for upper division physics classes, there is little if any "review". You're expected to hit the ground running.

    Is there a reason you're trying to get things done in as little time as possible?
  6. Jun 14, 2012 #5
    I hope you have some experience in physics and really love it, otherwise you're going into the deep end.
  7. Jun 15, 2012 #6
    Well this was actually a concern for me (somewhat still is). I actually brought this up with the two I met with and they both seemed confident that it could be done, albeit with a lot of hard work involved. I also e-mailed a physics professor at my current school who stated with confidence that it could be accomplished with a lot of hard work.

    I'm not exactly sure if they feel that way because they found it fairly easy comparative to other students or if it is because they themselves are exceedingly bright. What I was told as well is that this schedule would be sufficient to judge my abilities in a doctoral program. From what I gathered from the meeting (and I could have misjudged), the completion of these classes in a schedule of this nature would essentially grant me admission in to their doctoral program. My view is that this is their way of 'testing' me, given that there is not much to judge me by now. Something along the lines of, "if he gets through, he's in - if not, he wouldn't have made a good Ph.D student anyway".

    Regarding the time frame, some of it is financial. My first year post-bachelors degree will be paid for, but beyond that I am to take loans for whatever it is that I pursue. In the event of a doctoral program directly beyond this schedule, I will incur no debt, which is obviously favorable. Other than that, it just comes down to me not wanting to be in my late twenties before even entering graduate school.

    Luckily, I will have virtually no real world responsibilities other than school. As far as burning myself out, I can't really say I know what it takes to do that as I have never really come to that point as of yet. I'm currently adjusted to taking 6-7 classes a semester as well as working as a tutor for around ten hours a week. But keep in mind that majority of those classes are business classes, which aren't exactly what I would refer to as difficult. I would guess that I have a good idea as to what the workload (tests/homework - written work) will be like. As for what the studying and non-written work (actually mastering the subjects) will be like, I'm completely inexperienced.
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2012
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