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How to know if foundation is strong enough

  1. Aug 21, 2010 #1
    I'm a chem major in a similar situation as this fellow

    Anyway, I've completed the chemistry degree and am looking to do graduate school in physical chemistry/condensed matter physics (something I need to figure out is what's up with all these labels.... and what I want to do specifically).
    Talking to my professors and some graduate students, they've echoed two things:
    1. "you know more then you realize"
    2. "you have a degree, you're eligible for graduate school"

    What I have trouble with is the idea that someone (ie me) who doesn't understand the difference between Lagrangian and Hamiltonian mechanics or has never used maxwell's equation (im interested in spectroscopy) could be starting a phd program.
    At the same time though, I realize a great deal of phd work involves learning how to learn how to learn, and not just learning stuff.
    So how do you know when you have a strong enough foundation? Obviously, there will always be something I don't know walking to a phd program (and even leaving it), but how does one gauge their standing?

    Right now, I've penciled myself in to stay my last years and pick up a physics major for two reasons:
    1. to learn more math. specifically, the math taught in physics classes.
    2. in case I want to go to physics graduate school instead of chemistry.
    Anyone have any opinions?

    also side questions:
    whats the difference between regular physics and applied physics graduate school? I can still do research in condensed matter-ish areas and the classes are the same, whats up?

    is there a clear distinction between condensed matter and AMO physics?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 22, 2010 #2
    bumppp? anyone? is this possibly in the wrong forum?
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