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Does school get worse towards the end?

  1. Mar 16, 2009 #1
    Are math-intensive majors such as engineering and physics harder at the beginning (first two years) or towards the end (last two years or so)?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 16, 2009 #2


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    Depends on your school and what you consider harder for you.
  4. Mar 16, 2009 #3
    It all depends on how you define 'hard'. Engineering majors tend to be more general during the first two years, and they narrow down to core topics during the last two (You usually select what branch you want to study). For example, I love mathematics and physics in general, so those classes are usually a breeze. However, in classes that are less interesting to me (I'm thinking chemistry, biology...) it can be a little more tedious. One piece of advice, if you aren't willing to work, then try another major.


  5. Mar 16, 2009 #4
    Classes get harder, but you get better at taking them. On net I'd say its about even.
  6. Mar 17, 2009 #5
    Careful, maze might be a genius. On net I would say they get harder. You get better at taking them, but better might not be good enough, unless you are a genius.
  7. Mar 17, 2009 #6
    The most accurate answer to something like this is: it depends on the individual. Some hold great passion for mathematics, and never (mostly) struggle. So for some it is easy, and for some, very hard.
  8. Mar 17, 2009 #7
    Just go to ratemyprofessor.com and see which teachers will give the best curves. It's way better than working, and you don't even have to worry about difficulty! :rolleyes:
  9. Mar 18, 2009 #8
    I double majored in math and physics. I found the earlier classes more difficult than the latter. The early classes are usually fast, nonrigorous, vague, and your first introduction to many of the ideas of math/physics. In the latter classes you move slower and the discussion is much more clear (though still vague in some physics classes).


    early: calculus (move very fast, few proofs, first time seeing many ideas)
    late: real analysis (slower moving, same ideas just expressed clearly)

    early: modern physics (skim relativity and quantum in 1 semester, unclear description of quantum)
    late: quantum mechanics (slower paced (1 yr), clear description of what quantum is stating)

    In my senior year I had to take a low level statistics class- that was torture after getting used to classes that teach you to understand the material... lots of memorization and no conceptual background for the formulas (though I could fill some in myself at that point).
  10. Mar 18, 2009 #9


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    :rofl: I'm afraid to look if I've shown up there yet. At least there's an advantage to teaching the only section offered of a required course...the students can't pick and choose who they think will be easier. :devil:

    I think the answer to the OP's question is generally the same regardless of what major you're in. I think mal4mac might be the closest.

    In the first year, the courses are not taught in much depth, but are covered in a great breadth with a lot of new topics to learn. Combine that with adjustment to being more independent to make your own choices, for good or bad, in college, and getting used to the more demanding pace and less spoon-feeding than in high school, and it can be pretty rough.

    If you survive that and make it to your more advanced courses, you do have the advantage that you've probably developed decent study habits, but then the depth of courses increases substantially while covering far less breadth of subject matter.

    Usually, one end or the other gets everyone; some come in and can do well on their intro courses then get hit hard by the advanced ones, while others really mess up their first year, but then pull themselves up and do well in their last years.
  11. Mar 19, 2009 #10
    hard to say. i think earlier physics are harder because you never have the proper mathematics. earlier math is harder too because you don't know how to prove. also, lets not forget in early classes they are attempting to weed you out. i suppose that balances with the fact that in upper years you are competing with people in your specialty for the curve.

    once these are down, i think its way easier to get good grades in upper years. but i can relate to jumping from rigor to memorization. ugh.
  12. Mar 19, 2009 #11
    I can assure you this is not the case...
  13. Mar 19, 2009 #12
    I find that the later the year, the more interesting the subject matter (in pure maths at least) and so my passion actually increases almost at the same rate as the difficulty. And there is no more powerful weapon to have in your arsenal... except genius of course.

    You also take it more seriously since you know it's difficult. And you've got this cohort of enthusiastic nerds by the later years. That factor synergises with passion and also means you have plenty of support.
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