Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

I need to choose a major

  1. Jun 13, 2006 #1
    I've been worrying about this for a long time. I like physics, alot, but I've never been very good at math. Infact, i'm horrible at math. I've been debating whether I should choose physics or engineering as a major when I go to college this fall even though I know it's going to involve taking math courses and a calculus based physics. I don't even know what calculus is. Although I beleive if you work hard enough at something you can accomplish your goals I don't think it's always possible to accomplish those goals in the time required. If I can't learn the course material before the test on it I'll fail. I just need some way of knowing I'd be able to learn math , specifically calculus, in time. Does anyone have good advice on how i could be able to test my ability to learn calculus in the nessecary ammount of time? What other math would I end up needing to learn to major in physics or engineering? And how do you know when to use special mathmatical formulas for equations, like using the quadratic formula?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 13, 2006 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    if you understand physics well, then you must understand some of calculus as they are not very different. you just need to take the course from the right teacher.
  4. Jun 13, 2006 #3
    It goes both directions - some people just don't get calculus until they take a calc-based physics course, then they get the physical interpretation of what the calculus means. On the other hand there are those who need to know the math and the theorems and so on in order to really understand the derivations in physics (especially E&M)
  5. Jun 13, 2006 #4
    If you don't feel comfortable with calculus, then by all means take pre-calculus or even an algebra course when you get to college.

    The mathematics courses that will be required from you if you study engineering are:

    Calculus 1 (Differential)
    Calculus 2 (Integral)
    Calculus 3 (Multivariable)
    Differential Equations
    Probability and Statistics
    Linear Algebra
    Discrete Math (Only at some schools, mostly for Computer Engineers)

    Those are the math classes that I have taken as an EE. Perhaps a physicist will be able to tell you what classes you will need to take as a physics major.

    Good luck.
  6. Jun 14, 2006 #5
    Hi even though i'm only 16 and new to this forum, I thought I could help you out with your calculus problem. You see I'm going to take pre-cal pre-ap my junior year after this summer and take calculus AP in my senior year. Well I thought why not get a head start and start learning calculus on the internet during the summer. Well I finally came across this site. It has lessons on almost all the subjects on calculus. It is Flash based. And each lesson teaches at the begining and at the end has a Quiz or a test to see if you comprehend the lesson. There are 68 lessons. Here is the link.


    Hope this helps as much as it helps me. :)
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook