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I registered for classes today…

  1. Aug 10, 2006 #1
    I will be attending Western Washington University this fall and just signed up for my first quarter classes today! Fortunately, I passed the AP Physics exam with a 3 so I was able to get a credit for that, and passed the Advanced Math Placement Test, and so was able to get into Calculus.

    My schedule looks like this:

    Intermediate German (no problem since I've been taking it for 5 years)
    Physics w/ Calculus 1
    Logical Thinking
    Calculus & Analytic Geometry

    I spoke with one of the people there, and they said my workload seemed pretty balanced between General University Requirements and what I wanted to focus on (a dual major in math and physics.) I was wondering if you guys had anything to say about my choice.

    Oh, before you worry — I took Calculus in High School, I just never got all the way through the book (we stopped after we learned about exponents and how to differentiate them.) The course said the physics class involved basic calculus so I felt confident enough to take it. I won't have to quickly learn the calculus in order to do the physics.
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2006
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 10, 2006 #2
    seems like a pretty light load. It seems like that is too light for a double major in physics and math, but then again, it is your first semester and you might want to start off easy.
  4. Aug 10, 2006 #3


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    This your first quarter of classes? If your university runs on a quarter system then I have no idea how much work what you've listed is. Otherwise if you meant semester, if I were you I'd take another course. It's better to do more than you're able to, find out, and drop a course, than leave yourself under-challenged.
  5. Aug 10, 2006 #4
    nice, the last thing you want to do is overload 1st semester.
  6. Aug 10, 2006 #5


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    It is not a light load. It is not a ridiculously heavy load. It is a solid load. Much harder than a non science load. That is a lot of work. try to learn as much as possible. good luck.
  7. Aug 10, 2006 #6
    Yes, we run on the quarter system. At my school, dropping classes is pretty difficult — once you're in, well, that's pretty much it. You can get special permission to drop out of a class, but it's tricky. I didn't want to have to risk it.

    The quarter runs from Sept. 27th to Dec. 15th (finals being the 11th through the 15th).

    From the feedback so far, my load isn't excessive. Once I see what college is like (I can't wait!) then I can declare my major (I'll do this freshman year, early on, so I can get more major-oriented advising) and take classes accordingly.
  8. Aug 11, 2006 #7
    I can see your university runs on semestral system like almost all universities.
    Compare to my schedule; I have 30 hrs per week. How many hours per week you have?
    Your schedule seems to be very light in one way, but maybe it's better that way just to see how it goes 1st semester. Good luck! Aufwidersen:-)
  9. Aug 11, 2006 #8
    According to the schedule I printed out, I have 19 hours/week (including the physics lab.)

    Once I am able to get all my AP scores to transfer over, I will already have 22 credits completed; so hopefully I will be able to focus on my dual major instead of the General University Requirements (GURs) quicker. I'm guessing the advice would be take more classes next quarter? I need 70 credits to get a math major and 106-108 to get a physics major so, I suppose I will be quite busy.
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2006
  10. Aug 11, 2006 #9
    Don't worry about your course load it is fine. Many students take a courseload like that in their first semester, you need to find out what will work for you. If you feel challenged by it then continue in the same fashion in semester two, if you feel you could handle more then take another class the next semester, simple as that! Good luck, and have a great first year!
  11. Aug 12, 2006 #10


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    people talking about light and heavy are thinking only of requirements. the goal is to elarn the material as deeply as possible. that can take as much time as you have for it. You can always do n ore problems, and more reading outside your own book, and try to understand it better. In this sense even one or two cousres may be more than anyone can really master. savvy students also sometimes audit the course they plan to take next if they have extra time, to get a leg up and do better in that. but i do not recommend it for fist timers. and you cannot measure difficulty in class hours. a 5 hour a week precalculus cousre is infinitely easier than a 3 hour a week algebraic topology class.
  12. Aug 12, 2006 #11


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    they have an appealing list of courses, with many different versions of everys equence, those for people with various interests and backgrounds, accelerated versions and honors versions. itlooks prudent to get advice from them on which one to get into, but you have probably already done that.

    they also have rgad courses, almost everything one coul want except algebraic topology it seems. you can get a lot there. good luck!
  13. Aug 12, 2006 #12
    I wish more people thought of it that way Mathwonk, I would much rather take 3 or 4 classes and learn the material very thoroughly than take 5 and learn only what is necessary to do well from each. However, many programs such as mine require you to take a full 5 class courseload which I think is unfortunate but oh well.
  14. Aug 12, 2006 #13
    At my university double majors in math and physics need to take 162 credits, which means they need to be taking more than a 4 course load. I don't know how easy it is to double major at your school though. You can certainly take another class and learn all of the subjects very deeply....you might just have to put in some additional time, which won't kill you.

    Also, the classes you're taking are not that unbearably hard and I don't think it will kill you to take another class. You are good with German, so that is not a big deal, physics 1 w/ calculus is not THAT difficult, and logic is not really a bad class either. Calculus might be a tough one though. However, your two hard classes are calculus and physics, and the other two aren't much of a problem.

    One question...are you working during school, or are you just taking classes?
  15. Aug 13, 2006 #14
    I plan to be working during school; my family is not very well off, and my father is going to be doing the best he can to help; but I will need to earn money in order to help pay off college. My school has many job opportunities on-campus which I would like. If I do exceptionally well in mathematics and/or physics; the school will most likely hire me as a tutor (a job I would really love, my ultimate career goal is being a professor.) So yes, I plan to be working part-time during the year to help pay for my education.

    I figure I will need to take more classes my second quarter; the advice I received at the college from the advisors was that my courseload was decent and well-balanced. Many classes seem to build upon one another — if I have an opportunity to take two mathematics or two physics classes during the same quarter is that recommended?
  16. Aug 13, 2006 #15
    I don't see why not. If that is what you are really interested in then it will probably make the semester much more enjoyable for you. In my first year I took 2 chemistry and one biochemistry course and it was like that for both semesters and I loved it because those are the classes I am interested in.
  17. Aug 13, 2006 #16
    Thank you for your tips, and for surveying the class list they have. I browsed through it and, well, I couldn't say much —*because I don't know half of what that stuff is. I've heard of it, no doubt, but as to what it means — I guess I will have to learn.

    I did contact both my math and physics professors, and they have both responded to me. I think my mother bought the right book at a thrift store for the physics class, and I have been doing some reading in that. I've also been doing a bit of catch-up in what I know about calculus. Chain rule, product rule — my high school calculus course had stopped just after we learned how to integrate and differentiate using e and ln.

    I have to know now, since you've mentioned it: what is algebraic topology? I looked at the Wikipedia entry for it, but didn't quite get it…
  18. Aug 13, 2006 #17


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    the art of defiuning algebraic operations on geometric objects, to make them more computable, to be able to use algebraic calculations to tell spaces apart geometrically.

    for instance, you can tell R^2 from R^3 because the space of loops on R^2 - point, is isomorphic to Z, based on hoiw many times a loop winds around the origijn, and in R^3 - 0, a loop cannot wind around 0 because there is troom to slip it around the other side. so the group of loops in R^3 - 0 is {0}.
  19. Aug 13, 2006 #18
    I guess I will learn what that lingo means when I have a few years of math under my belt. Taking a look at their graduate courses again they do have 525 TOPOLOGY: covering "Topological spaces, connectedness, compactness, product and quotient spaces, homotopy." Perhaps algebraic topology is covered within this course — or is it something that requires an entirely separate class?
  20. Aug 13, 2006 #19

    Is a recent high school grad expected to be able to understand what you just said? I sure hope not, because I wouldn't have when I was a high schooler. But, you're a math prof, and I figure you know what HS students know and don't know more than me....
  21. Aug 13, 2006 #20


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    i am not too good at caring who should understand what. i tend to err on the side of hey what the heck

    recall he asked what alg top is, if you have a simpler explanation i would enjoy hering it.
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2006
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