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Fall Schedule 2013, HELP

  1. Jul 26, 2013 #1
    Fall Schedule 2013, URGENT HELP

    Hello all,

    I am new to the Physics forum (hence if this post is in the wrong place, you know why). My current dilemma is my schedule for this Fall, I go to a mid-sized state university with a small Physic department. My school does not offer PhD or even a Masters in Physics, so I am accompanied by four Physic professor who will basically be educating me for the next two years of my educations. These professors serve as our academic advisors as well, upon conversating with two of the four professors (one of which was my personal advisor) concerning my Fall schedule my personal adviser seemed to be fine with my choice of classes until the second professor objected saying that the most I could hope for is a B in each class. I am aiming for a 3.9 -4.0 major GPA as I am trying to get into a top ten university for mathematical physics (I'm a math double major), I have aced all my calculus courses as well as DE and both my lower division Calculus-based physics courses, I simply could not express my love for Physics and Math in one post, so I like to think of myself as extremely dedicated. So my question is based off my schedule (posted below) do you guys think that this is really an impossible feat for the extremely dedicated Physics/Math student to complete with all A's?(without becoming a nervous wreck) If it helps at all I took DE Calculus III (Multivariable), and lower divison Calculus based E&M all in one summer and I was the highest score in all three classes (as I was in all my other courses).

    MHF 3202 Set Theory and Mathematical Logic
    3 sh (may not be repeated for credit)
    Prerequisite: MAC 2312
    Co-requisite: MAC 2312

    Basic set theory, propositional calculus, predicate calculus, methods of mathematical proof. (Gordon Rule Course: Theoretical Math)

    PHY 3106 Modern Physics I
    3 sh (may not be repeated for credit)
    Prerequisite: MAC 2313 and either PHY 2049 or PHY 2054

    Introduction to modern physics, theory of relativity, electromagnetic waves and photons, matter waves, quantum theory, atomic structure, quantum mechanics

    PHY 3106L Modern Physics Laboratory
    2 sh (may not be repeated for credit)
    Prerequisite: PHY 3106
    Co-requisite: PHY 3106

    Selected experiments in modern physics and optics. Material and supply fee will be assessed

    PHZ 4113 Mathematical Physics I
    3 sh (may not be repeated for credit)
    Prerequisite: MAC 2312

    Algebra of complex numbers, Taylor series, Fourier series, vector algebra and calculus, and curvilinear coordinates

    PHY 4513 Thermodynamics and Kinetic Theory
    3 sh (may not be repeated for credit)
    Prerequisite/Co-requisite: PHY 2048, PHZ 4114

    Laws of thermodynamics, thermodynamic potentials, kinetic theory of gases, Maxwell-Boltzman distribution, introduction to Bose Einstein and Fermi-Dirac statistics

    PHY 3424 Optics
    3 sh (may not be repeated for credit)
    Prerequisite: PHZ 4113

    Geometrical, physical, and modern optics. Polarization, interference, diffraction, holography, and optical fibers

    PHY 4910 Independent Research
    1 sh (may be repeated for up to 6.0 sh of credit)
    Prerequisite: PHY 3106

    Experimental or theoretical research on an individually assigned project. Permission is required. Material and supply fee will be assessed

    So you guys think this doable well still getting all A's?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 26, 2013 #2
    I don't know you, so I can't tell you how you will do. Surely, there are some people that can, are you one of them? It's about knowing your limits and abilities.

    Does the person that said you couldn't do it know you well enough to know when you're overstepping your boundaries better than you do?

    I've had people tell me what I could and couldn't do without even knowing me based on their "experience." Every person is unique and you should know your ability better than anyone else.

    That being said, if you have some doubt about what's too much work, and you don't have time to do a trial run by trying to study the material all together for about a week, you just have analyze the risk vs the reward. Is the reward for doing all these classes at once worth the risk you won't get a good grade?

    But if you insist on an opinion about taking all those classes... I think only the best students could learn all those things at once with no prior knowledge and get a 4.0. It's going to take more than brute force studying.
  4. Jul 26, 2013 #3
    The professor who commented on me being able to earn a B at best in all the courses has never seen me in class as I am just starting my upper-division, he was saying purely based off his experience. I had this schedule registered for a month now and not until that appointment with my adviser did I start to "sketch" out about it. I like to think I'm the top 1%, I am one of the top 3 highest scores in my Calculus I-III course as well as my DE course. As for physics I was the single highest score in both classes (I'm currently finishing the E&M portion, our last exam 23 out of 30 people failed there were only two A's in the class, out of those two A's I scored a perfect). I've always been extremely passionate about the subject (everyone around me seems to think I'm a little to fixated). I understand ultimately I should feel like I can handle it which I completely did until that one professor tried sketching me out, however with that in mind I have never taken any 3000/4000 level courses so I was trying to get an idea if my schedule is considered really that extreme?
  5. Jul 26, 2013 #4
    Yeah, so he doesn't know you or your ability. Statistically speaking, you probably aren't an outlier, but given more data you could be. That's like determining the flavor of a cake without even looking in the box. "Most are chocolate, so let's assume this is chocolate."

    Upper division course are harder to master. I think there's a difference between getting an A and knowing the subject well, especially at a small department. I've experienced this first hand as I came from a small department then went on to a large department in graduate school. Consider your goals, do you just want the A or do you want to be able to devote time to each subject so you can be an expert in them? I did a similar "crazy" schedule as an undergrad, and got my As, but I didn't feel like I could just open the textbooks to any page and do all the problems on it without having to re-read the chapter and some wikipedia articles, and see some examples.

    In my experience Math Physics is "hard," Modern Physics, Thermal Physics, and Optics is "medium," and research is pretty much impossible to mess up if you're trying. I've never taken a class on group theory, but from my self study I think it's hard to understand without a certain level of mathematical maturity, it would have gone over my head in my junior year. My baseline for "easy" would be stuff like Calculus II/III, Intro Physics, Chemistry, ect... "1000" and "2000" level classes.

    Anyway, IMO it can be done, but it's up to you to decide if it's attainable for you.

    It's good to be proud of your accomplishments, but bear in mind that sometimes a lot of people don't do well in the lower division courses in because they don't care or are finding out that they are doing something wrong in their studying. In a calculus class, there are a bunch of people that are only taking it because they have to (e.g. Premeds), and the understanding of the subject isn't really important to their goals. Once you go to junior and senior level classes it's only people that decided they want to do physics and the "competition" is stiffer (depending on your program, your milage may vary).
  6. Jul 26, 2013 #5

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    18 hours is a lot.
    18 hours in math and physics only is really a lot.
  7. Jul 26, 2013 #6
    I completely agree that getting an A is different then actually having a firm handle on the subject, but would the goal of doing both having a firm grasp on the subject as well as getting an A be too far fetched of an idea? I personally didn't think that my class schedule was by any means unattainable I was prepared for a busy fall, I guess it's just when your new to the university (this is my second year) anything a professor says is taken with much regard (maybe even too much). The adviser suggested I drop Thermo, however if I drop Thermo now then I will have to take Thermo,Quantum I, E&M II (upper level), Abstract Algebra, Advanced Calculus (Real Analysis) all at the same time next Fall. Which I would imagine would be a harder semester then this by far, if I take Thermo now then I could potentially cut down the work for the following Fall and save myself some stress.
  8. Jul 27, 2013 #7
    Yep! It definitely is. That being said, it does in part (big part!) depend on the student, and maybe even the department. I'm not sure how their grading system works (at the OP's school) but it seems a little odd for a professor to come out and say that. Maybe he is just boasting. Either way,
    It will be tough.. but that doesn't mean it is impossible. This is pretty much what my second year of university looked like- at the time I was in a MathPhys honors program before switching to a mathematics honors program. It wasn't actually too bad, but I put a lot of hours in. My third and fourth year were filled with only honors mathematics classes and some grad courses and they were much more difficult. If I didn't have the study habits it could of gone bad quickly. You have to be able to commit.
  9. Jul 27, 2013 #8


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    Are you at University of West Florida? Do you know Laszlo Ujj, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Physics? Anyway we do not know you or the school so it is hard to judge. If it is University of West Florida it is rather strange the physics requirements are very rigid and the math very fluid, there is some overlap. Basically you have there a usual physics load plus one math class. That will be about what you need to finish in four semesters. Generally I would recommend dropping one course so you can adapt to the work load. As you point out that will just move the problem to another term. The hours are not a reliable indication of workload 14 hours one term can feel like 20 hours another depending on difficulty, background knowledge, and individual differences. Also find out exactly which classes can double count, often physics math can be used as a math elective or vice versa.
  10. Jul 27, 2013 #9
    Too much. I recommend you save optics and thermo for later semesters, and take one or two easy GECs in their place. But I do recommend getting involved in research as fast as possible, even if only for five hours a week or so.
  11. Jul 27, 2013 #10
    Yes I am at the UWF, did you go here for your undergraduate degree? I have Optics with Dr.Ujj this coming Fall, have you had him before? I have basically figured out all my overlap (my physics major counts for math electives). I was thinking about potentially dropping Thermodynamics and putting a programming class since I am going to be applying for an internship this coming Summer. Wotnob also made a good point, I'm pretty much 100% positive I could get the A in the course as I am a very dedicated student however I want to get the most out of my classes and not just the grade. By switching a programming class in there I feel this will give me time to get a feel for upper level courses especially since the following semesters are going to be heavy.
  12. Jul 27, 2013 #11
    The only problem with putting Gen-eds in there place is that I am applying for an internship this summer, I hope to get into an extremely competitive one such as the CERN lab. With that being said I only have to Gen-ed and I feel like I should save them for a harder semester since I have plenty of harder classes coming (E&M, Quantum Theory, Advanced Calculus (Real Analysis), Abstract Algebra, etc.)
  13. Jul 27, 2013 #12
    For an average student such as me, it would be too much. I would get a burn out with this schedule. Maybe you can handle it better, I don't know.
  14. Jul 27, 2013 #13


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    It's rarely a good idea to take a prerequisite simultaneously (Phys 4113), especially with such a full schedule.
  15. Jul 27, 2013 #14
    I didn't even see that!! I agree, it's a horrible idea to do that.
  16. Jul 27, 2013 #15
    Yeah I missed that too... It doesn't really seem like a good idea. There are a few exceptions to this, but it really depends on what order the instructors teach the course- things that are out of the student's control. I've taken a few of my prerequisites at the same time when I haven't had a choice but they weren't really strong prereq's- they just touched on 1 or 2 topics that related to the class.
  17. Jul 27, 2013 #16
    My professor said that Math Physics class can be taken alongside with Thermodynamic and Optics.
  18. Jul 28, 2013 #17

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    When a professor says this schedule is OK, you take his advice, but when a professor says its a bad idea, you don't. This sounds to me like your mind is already made up. You're an adult, you can make your own decisions, but to take 18 hours of technical classes without having the prerequisites will be difficult, and it's very unlikely that you will learn as much as you would at a slower pace in the proper order.
  19. Jul 28, 2013 #18
    Which book are you using for your optics class? We used Optics by Hecht. It was a Junior/senior level class with a lab and I took it as a sophomore (ignoring the prerequisites) and it was definitely difficult for me. I put in probably 5X more effort than the other students (especially on the labs) because I hadn't yet taken modern physics, upper level E&M, ODE's, or math methods. I was only taking 15 hours and it was brutal although I did manage to make it out with an A+ due to my ungodly effort... Was it worth it? Probably not.
  20. Jul 28, 2013 #19
    We are using Principals of Physical Optics/ Bennett my adviser originally told me to register for Optics he said the math I would need would be covered in Math Physic I before they would get to using it in the class. I think I might just put a programming class in place of Thermodynamics, especially since I'm going to need the programming for the research I'm starting in Fall.
  21. Jul 28, 2013 #20


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    No I have never been to USF, but I have heard of it. Programming classes are useful, but be aware they can be time consuming.
  22. Jul 28, 2013 #21
    UWF* so how do you know of Dr.Ujj?
  23. Jul 29, 2013 #22


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  24. Aug 13, 2013 #23
    It seems to me that your goal is to get a pretty prestigious internship this summer. If that is your goal I'd take every step I thought was appropriate to meet that goal. However if the summer internship is to just to make your grad school application look better I'd maybe drop a course or two so that I'd cement a firm understanding of the subjects. Perhaps take a less prestigious internship and try for the prestigious internship when you'd be more qualified, maybe after QM and stuff? (I Have no idea what the qualification are, I'm just making a guess.)That's me though.

    With that said,
    See you in the fall.
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