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Freshman Physics Difficulty

  1. Sep 18, 2012 #1
    Hi everyone. I am currently attending the University of Washington, and after talking to a few advisers it has become apparent to me that Physics 121 (first course in the calculus based physics series) is not recommended to people that haven't taken the entire calculus series yet. They explained that it was a very competitive course, and a weed out course for the engineering students. I have wanted to study physics for a while, and have never gotten the chance due to my high school background. So far I have showed that I am not too well adept in the math department (3.0 in calculus 1, and a 2.4 in calculus 2). I can say however, that I excelled in the understanding of derivatives, but failed to understand surface revolutions, and work problems within my calculus 2 class.

    I am currently registered for Calculus 2 as a re-do, Microeconomics (I enjoyed macro, but I don't think I will enjoy micro after looking at the course summary.), and Intro to logic (this is because I wish to double major, or minor in philosophy). Would it be a good idea to drop micro for physics for my first quarter at University? So far I am undecided as to what my major will be, but I do want to study some upper level physics eventually.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 18, 2012 #2
    The whole "weed out," idea is truly a terrible one. It's a big problem right now with education in the US. Weeding out basically discourages kids from pursuing STEM majors. Anyways, dropping micro sounds like a very good one. Your focus should be on physics, especially since you're partially undecided and about to take your first physics class.
  4. Sep 18, 2012 #3
    I disagree. Make them all weed out courses so the hardworking ones can get through it then have less competition for jobs later on.
  5. Sep 19, 2012 #4
    I'm not referring to the difficulty of the entire curriculum for physics majors, I'm referring to the intensity with which physics departments design their intro physics series. Such intensity discourages a lot of kids from even trying. Since a lot of American kids are already lazy, it gives the country a much less solid STEM skillset then its potential allows it. Obama and Arnie Duncan have actually spoken about it, and are trying to solve it.
  6. Sep 19, 2012 #5
    I never heard of a physics class getting easier as it goes up in level. If physics and math for that matter gets more difficult as it goes on.. then why should the first year courses be a cakewalk? That would be ruthless to design a system like that because then it would give false hope to those that succeeded in the intro but failed completely in the upper level classes. I would rather have an intense intro class that prepared me for studies later on. It's ridiculous to ask for anything less.

    For instance, at my school there is the EE programming class and the CS programming class, both intro courses. The EE one is known to be very difficult --> pointers and memory the very first day and *lots* of writing throughout the semester while the CS one learns to read code and write seldom but mostly piece together code that's already written. What happens in the next CS course, Data Structures, when the intensity gets turned up? The CS kids struggle while the EE kids are finishing their homework in 15 minutes. In my opinion, that intro CS class probably helped some people grow confidence but it still didn't prepare them for what's to come.

    I don't understand how making something easier will help STEM skillsets. Won't it just get more unqualified people into those fields? That's *if* they even survive the schooling after the "easy" classes. I don't buy into the "give everyone a chance" attitude. Either work hard and survive or get out.
  7. Sep 19, 2012 #6
    Look at the school district Arne Duncan previously was the CEO of before becoming the secretary of education.
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