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Courses How important are first and second year undergrad physics and math courses?

  1. Apr 14, 2012 #1
    hello all, I'm a physics major who's finishing up my second year as a physics major. I'm finishing up the 3 introductory physics course sequence and also the 4-semesters of calculus courses.

    In my community college, I was able to rank 1st on my physics courses and in the top 5 of my math courses. I'm aiming to transfer to a good university for this upcoming fall.

    Now, since I studied in a community college, I feel that I might be behind the other students who studied in a university the first two years. For example, many of the universities that I applied to used Apostol or Spivak's Calculus textbooks, Kleppner's Mechanics, and Purcell's EM, while I studied Calculus through Larson's text and Physics through Halliday's text.

    And even as I look back on the previous materials that I've studied, I'm a bit hazy, especially in the areas of EM.

    Do you think I should be worried for being a bit fuzzy in the past materials, and do you think I will actually be a lot behind the other students who studied the introductory courses through a more rigorous textbook?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 14, 2012 #2


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    There is no question but that these are all important courses. The fact that some one else studied with a better book than you did does not a priori mean that he learned any more. In many cases, he learned less, because the "better book" is often more difficult to understand.

    In any case, you cannot do anything about the situation. Hang in there, be as sure of what you know as you possibly can, perhaps get a copy of the "better book" to review, and you may be surprised in the end.
  4. Apr 14, 2012 #3
    Using texts such as Spivak or Apostol for Calculus and Purcell for introductory E&M is not very common (I would imagine only the very best of schools use them or perhaps they're used in the "honors" version of certain classes). Most schools use the standard books such as Stewart for Calculus and Halliday or Giancoli or Tipler for introductory physics. In fact if you look at MIT's 8.02 (E&M), they used Giancoli which is a fairly standard intro physics textbook. So I would say if you learned the material well from those books you should be fine.
  5. Apr 15, 2012 #4
    thank u guys for your responses :)
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