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First year physics difficulty level

  1. Jan 23, 2015 #1
    I'm starting a physics major this year and I'm currently enrolled in foundation physics (algebra, vector based). However, during second semester I'll be doing doing a regular physics unit which is based around technology. The main topics are Electromagnetism (LOTS and LOTS of circuits work, quite similar fashion to EE), fluid mechanics and Quantum ( Schrödinger equation, uncertainty, spin etc) and their applications on technology. I was wondering how hard these courses are especially the circuitry work since I've little experience with circuits during high school.
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2015
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 23, 2015 #2
    I'll be taking calculus & linear (1st semester), and modelling & statistics (2nd semester) .
  4. Jan 23, 2015 #3


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    On a scale of one to ten it's a fish.

    More seriously, it's difficult to answer a question like this because it's very subjective. A lot depends on how well your high school education has prepared you for the material, how much learning you've done on your own, and how well you learn from the professor's teaching style or the textbook. Plus you have to factor in time that you have to devote to the material, your personal study techniques, other factors that may interrupt your focus, etc.

    It sounds like you have an idea of what the syllabus will be like. If you can, purchase the textbook ahead of time. Work your way through a few of the problems. That's the best way to know how difficult the course will be. If it helps, most students tend to find first year physics challenging, but the subset of those who chose to major in physics generally enjoy it.
  5. Jan 24, 2015 #4
    The problem is, the high school physics syllabus in where I'm from has been completely dumbed down to the point that it has little to no relevance to university (think impact of physics on society, environmental issues and history of physics rather than critical and analytical quantitative aspects). E.g. Majority worded response w/th a few calculations sprinkled on top. Also, there are 2 textbooks for first year (college physics a strategic approach used for foundations) and University Physics Technology Update for 2nd semester. The university organizes textbook exchange so we don't have to buy both but I haven't been informed o which textbook to buy.
  6. Jan 24, 2015 #5

    Stephen Tashi

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    If you give specific information about the text books you mention then would-be advisors might determine what you face. Perahaps you can find links for the books on Amazon or Barnes & Nobel.
  7. Jan 24, 2015 #6
    I never took a physics class in high school, or a science class really for that matter since I went to a very conservative Christian school. Going into college, I jumped in at around the same level as you (except calculus-based), and the first time I made a circuit in E&M, I didn't even know how to attach alligator clamps. The point is, there are always resources to help you out, and your story isn't uncommon. I guarantee a lot of people will be in your boat as well. Your professors can't expect everyone to be a physics master when they enter college, in fact I think you'll find that a lot of people will be at an even lower level than you.

    TL;DR - you'll be fine.
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