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I am interested in physics so I have a few questions

  1. Apr 21, 2015 #1
    Hi, I am new to this forum and thank you in advance for your help.

    I just turned 19 years old and am finishing my first year at a university. I really wasn't sure what I wanted to major in so I basically did a bunch of general education classes along with some political science classes because I find government interesting. But what I found is that it is easy and kind of boring (easy 4.0 both semesters) -- I actually miss math (most people think I'm weird for saying that). What I think I really miss is an intellectual challenge (I also like to study LOL). I have had statistics, college algebra, and trigonometry. I am really interested in physics or some sort of physics-based engineering. What intrigues me most is astrophysics.

    Ok so that was just a little bit of my academic history. I now ask for some advice on mathematics education. Seeing as though my knowledge in mathematics is lacking (meaning I haven't had a course since high school), the following opportunity makes me a bit nervous. I have an opportunity to take Calculus 1 this summer at a college over 8 weeks (2 hours and 25 minute lecture 4 days a week -- 5 credits). I am an excellent student as far as procrastination and studying goes -- 4.0 in college (so far, would change with physics or engineering major haha) and 4.0 in high school (a private university-model school). I am just a little nervous because the last math courses I had was trig (junior year in high school) and college algebra/statistics my senior year in high school (all double credit mathematics credits that transferred to universities). I really appreciate any and all replies.

  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 21, 2015 #2
    If you're really interested in pursuing physics while in college, then it may be a good idea to take a calculus class over the summer. However, note that summer courses for math/science are often more challenging due to the fact that you cover a semester's worth of material in only 2-3 months. Can you enroll in calculus at your school for the fall semester?
  4. Apr 21, 2015 #3
    Thank you for the reply. I can take Calculus during the fall semester I just would feel a little behind because I will be a Sophomore taking Calculus 1... Is that unusual?
  5. Apr 21, 2015 #4
    I'm a current freshman in college who is planning on majoring in physics. I took calc 1 last fall and am currently in cal 2. From what I've noticed, most people who study physics (or any other STEM field) usually begin taking classes related to their major early on. This is because there are many requirements, and it's easier to switch out of STEM than into it. However, it is still possible to major in physics even if you haven't taken any courses freshman year. Just be aware that you'll have to catch up and double up on your math/physics courses (i.e. take linear algebra and calc 3 at the same time rather than in different semesters). If you really want to, you could take summer classes, but that's pretty expensive when you could just do it during the school year.

    In short, it's uncommon but not impossible.
  6. Apr 21, 2015 #5
    I guess I could always be at the university for another 4 years. Don't really want to do that, but it could beneficial. The price isn't as much of a worry because I've been offered a free class for the summer, but rather the rapid pace of the class and whether or not I will be able to get a strong base and understanding in calculus. Did your calculus course start off with review of and refreshing your memory of basics (like trig)? Or did it start off with brand new material entirely? Obviously by university that varies but I suppose there is some form of uniformity to the class.
  7. Apr 21, 2015 #6
    My calc class didn't have review material such as trig, but trig wasn't really used all that much in calc 1. You mainly do derivatives and begin integration. If money isn't an issue, I would recommend taking a summer course in calc. Although it's a lot of work, you have a lot more free time to study. Plus, if you decide you don't like it then you can take other classes in the fall. Good luck :)
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