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First year physics student

  1. Jun 17, 2015 #1
    I signed up for my first semester classes and I'm in the first calculus based physics class. I took calculus in high school, but my physics classes weren't all that intensive in my opinion. Well, I guess that's what you get when your teacher has to teach 8 classes and work as a lab technician in the evenings. Very tough guy, he was. Anyways, how difficult is this first barrier? Do you have any other advice?

    Also, are there any career opportunities in forensic science with a physics degree? Boy, I sure hope there are!
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 17, 2015 #2
    I'm a senior in college, I have one class left to take before I get my physics BS. My first physics class was still the hardest in my opinion. I studied for hours everyday, did almost every practice problem multiple times, and went to see the professor every other day for help. He curved the class around me so I would get an A, and in every class since I have not really struggled so much to get an A.

    All that to say that in my opinion, the first calculus based physics class will be pretty hard more than likely. You have to enter a whole new mindset... you are no longer given "plug and chug" equations but you have to develop real problem solving skills. However, a little motivation and you will do great.
  4. Jun 17, 2015 #3

    I agree with this completely. General Physics I(calculus based) was the hardest class I ever took. It required me drop the procedural learning method that is forced upon you in K-12, studying physics forced me to think in a far more abstract manner. My problem solving skill has increased 10x. It took ~40-~55+ hours a week to come out with an A and honors. What's more important is how I now view the events happening around me though. Time well spent.
  5. Jun 19, 2015 #4
    Oh shoot! It definitely sounds more difficult than I imagined. Thank you for the advice. Best of luck
  6. Jun 19, 2015 #5
    Don't be afraid to take it though, it is a VERY rewarding experience. I believe what you learn in Introductory Physics is worth far more than the work required. Good luck~
  7. Jun 20, 2015 #6


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    I didn't really find Physics I to be particularly difficult. There were some parts of the class that I found to be more difficult than other parts, but on the whole I felt that Physics II was much more difficult. In either case though, both classes required a lot of work and were both very rewarding.

    Not having much exposure to physics prior to your first university physics course isn't really a big concern. A university physics course assumes no prior knowledge of physics. I never took any physics in high school, and I've excelled in all of my physics classes in college so far.
  8. Jun 20, 2015 #7
    I know a lot of people who've had different experiences in first year physics. I had a pretty easy go of it, but I know a lot of people who had different professors who had a hard time with it. The professor can only really make it so hard without invoking math you don't know. You really just need to be able to build functions from the given information effectively, in more than just a plug-and-chug fashion. In physics 2 for instance when you're dealing with linear circuits, you'll have to understand the concepts well enough to build a system of linear equations and solve them to find the current across each resistor. This is something where simply using a formula won't work. So what you need to focus on is understanding all the underlying concepts involved with every formula you know. Do that and be consistent with your algebra, and you won't have a hard time.

    I also agree that physics 2 is a bit less intuitive than physics 1. If you've had a high school physics course, Physics 1 should be no concern tbh.
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