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Freshman schedule help: advanced physics & chem? calc3/lin.alg/diff.eq

  1. Jul 9, 2014 #1
    I am going to be an incoming freshman for engineering (undecided, big 4). I am building a schedule that I don't know how to build. Scored 5 ap calc bc.
    My schedule list is

    * **English**: Freshman Composition (Honors maybe, i dont think this matters much)
    * **Math**: Calc 3/Lin. Alg.
    * **Science**: Physics/Physics honors
    * **Science**: Chem/chem hon.
    * **Engineering**: Intro to general eng./intro to ee/intro to me
    * *Filler?*


    * Should I take both physics and chemistry? my advice to myself was: learn both so i know which i like and major accordingly. (ChemE vs ME/EE)

    * I didn't have the best physics education (didnt reach e&m; stuck on newtons three laws for like a 3/4 the year) nor the best chem. But I know I'm prepared for physics honors because its calc based. Not sure about chem hon.. How hard is it? Whats a typical chem curriculum?

    * Advice on taking calc 3 vs lin. algebra vs diff. eq: people suggest finish the calculus. What do I expect the workload of the schedule to be like and to match the difficulty of the math subject?

    Thank you for help and suggestion.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 9, 2014 #2
    Don't you have to take at least intro Chem at your school? Most schools require intro chem for engineers.

    Why are you taking honors if you haven't had a good education in either subject?

    Diff Eq will be the most beneficial to you as an engineer. Linear algebra will be useful for getting an understanding of reference frames and vector space. Calc 3 may be useful depending on which engineering course you take; but getting a firm grip on calculus will be pivotal to your academic career (though maybe not your engineering career), so weigh your options.

    Your school should have the syllabus available for each class. That will tell you what you'll be expected to learn, and likely what material you're expected to already have a grasp of.
  4. Jul 9, 2014 #3
    I meant take physics and chemistry concurrently. In hs I only took 1 science class every year.

    I want to take honors to learn more about it I suppose. Like does honors physics begin at electricity and magnetism right away? And I need honors credit to satisfy the requirement.

    Thanks for the calc3, lin alg and diff eq.
  5. Jul 10, 2014 #4


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    were you stuck on newtons laws because you didn't understand. or because the class was slow?
  6. Jul 10, 2014 #5
    That's what I'm sort of getting at as well. Learning university level physics and chemistry is much different than high school stuff. If you don't already have a base of understanding, it may be tough going in the honours class (which is called honours because it is deemed more difficult). More is expected of you, they do not go slow to pander to those who fall behind, and it's calculus based, so it can be tough to visualize sometimes.

    If you think you can handle it, though, then go for it! If you pass/do well, you'll have a very good understanding of both subjects. I'd take them both concurrently as well. You're going to have tough semesters as an engineer haha better get used to it. Get those out of the way, they're not that tough, relatively speaking.
  7. Jul 10, 2014 #6


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    Different schools have different course contents, so it's hard to advise anyone without knowing which school we are talking about.

    Unless the OP really got some additional college work done before enrolling at his present school, I'm not sure why he is taking a Calc 3 course as a freshman. The OP should make sure his calculus AP material has prepared him to take on Calc 3.
  8. Jul 10, 2014 #7
    From what I remember, the AP Calculus BC exam is a way for universities to gauge your base knowledge in Calculus. Many universities accept grades of 5 (and sometimes 4) on these exams as course-complete credits for the subjects.

    A 5 on the AB exam will usually exempt you from Calc 1, whereas a 5 on the BC exam will exempt you from Calc 1 and 2 in many schools. I got a 5 on the BC; I opted to skip Calc 1, but I took calculus 2 as, even though I had scored a 5 on the exam, I wasn't confident that my calculus was up to snuff for an aerospace engineering curriculum at that time. I was sure glad I did, too.
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2014
  9. Jul 10, 2014 #8
    Because the class was slow.
  10. Jul 10, 2014 #9
    Because its calculus-based, I visualize more clearly.

    But do introductory honors classes begin with the basics (like Newton's laws) or do they say, oh my class is honors, lets just skip fundamental cuz they must already know the material?

    Thanks for the insight. What I did to guage my understanding was look at the previous syllabus and past exams of calc 2 & calc 1 etc.
  11. Jul 10, 2014 #10
    I would kinda like to keep my school confidential...

    The reason I can take calc 3 is because my calculus BC exam score was a 5. This gave me college credit for calc 1 and 2.
  12. Jul 12, 2014 #11
  13. Jul 12, 2014 #12
    Read the syllabus.
  14. Jul 12, 2014 #13

    AP classes are not a reflection that you have mastered the material. His point was saying are you sure that you have a good grasp of the calculus or just plugged n chugged your way for a grade.
  15. Jul 12, 2014 #14
    Right. My bad. Thanks for everyone's help. And I can't really find the honors chemistry syllabus; I have found the hon. phys. syllabus tho.
  16. Jul 12, 2014 #15
    It's nice to have those credits already completed, for sure, as long as you aren't struggling in college-level calculus. If you are confident in your calculus, then it will be nice to have those classes out of the way. I just wanted to warn you that university level calculus is quite different than high school calculus and as an engineering major you'll probably have to use calculus a ton.

    If you don't know it well enough now and you struggle through Calc 3, you'll be struggling your first couple years just to keep up with the math in each class. Good luck with your classes, whichever path you choose!
  17. Jul 13, 2014 #16
    Thanks so much again!
  18. Jul 13, 2014 #17
    You would be surprised how courses in college differ depending on the instructor. My calculus 1 class started with 15 students and dropped to 5 midterm time. Sadly to say all the kids there except me and another student took remedial math. The other kids went to stem high schools and had credit for cal ap, bc. The teacher teaches grad school at ucla and treated the community college as a four year institution. All the kids failed except me, the other person who I took remedial math with, and a very smart asian girl who did olympiad.

    Teacher scoffed at the idea of ap credit. It never hurts to review the material twice to plug any holes in your knowledge.
  19. Jul 13, 2014 #18
    Everyone I know who got credit for calculus 1+2 had no problem in college taking calculus 3. Calculus is calculus, simple as that.

    Some professors will have extremely hard tests, but that will happen even if you had wasted time taking calculus 1 and 2 all over again.

    I'd take linear algebra and diff eq. at the same time if you can, so calculus 3 should come first IMO.

    Good luck.
  20. Jul 14, 2014 #19
    @tito Thanks for that; sometimes I need a reality check...

    Anyways, I have looked @ my schools syllabus and old exams for calc 2. Also I took calc 1 twice in high school lol (Not because I didn't know the material---because of "no class available" the first time; so retake second year for credit, kind of thing) just took it again to get credit). Pretty ok.
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