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It seems like I struggle no matter what in physics

  1. Mar 20, 2013 #1
    Hello everyone. Posting here hoping that maybe someone can give me some advice. I am a sophomore math major currently taking general physics 2 (waves/e&m/circuits) and am struggling horribly. I had the same problem in physics 1 and I was hoping that somehow I would have an easier time in physics 2 but that is not the case. Of course when I first started struggling I figured I just wasn't working hard enough/reading the chapters, so naturally I went on to just reading the chapters, which hasn't worked, I have tried outlining each chapter, only writing down definitions/equations in the chapter while reading, reading and taking notes in the margins, looking for youtube videos, reading wikipedia articles, etc, nothing seems to work.

    It's frustrating because I feel like no matter what I do it is a struggle. I have always people tell me "I'm not good at x I just don't get it" and I always assumed they just weren't working hard enough but I feel like I am in that exact situation. I don't understand what is wrong, I love math and am currently in calculus 3 and sure I have had my difficult times in calculus but I have been able to work through them, but with physics it's like I'm constantly hitting a wall. I will read the chapter, turn to the homework, struggle through about three problems and be unable to complete the rest.

    Even in lecture I have a difficult time. To me it feels like my physics professors just slap things together and I just have a hard time following what is going on. I know this is a lot of ranting but I am just so frustrated, I feel like I'm incapable of doing well and enjoying physics.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 20, 2013 #2
    How many problems do you do? Reading the chapter is important, but doing problems is way more important. If you are struggling, then I'm thinking you're not comfortable with the material because you're not doing enough problems.
  4. Mar 20, 2013 #3
    I'm feeling the same thing (calc 2, physics 1), but I see it as struggle is a necessary part of the learning experience. I still have a high B in the class, made a low C on the last exam, and it feels like a punch in the face. But we didn't go into STEM fields because they are easy, I specifically picked Electrical Engineering because it was hard.

    If you don't think other people are struggling, it is because they are struggling more gracefully. Everybody practices, takes some blows, win some and lose some. I have written at the top of my physics notebook "Get comfortable with frustration and endure" just to remind myself that the subjects I'm studying are difficult and they are only going to get more difficult and I can't expect it to be easy. It's frustrating, time consuming, and one of the most rewarding things I've done.

    Just keep at it, and like micromass says "do more problems" that is what I am trying to do. Do more than just the homework, there is a skill to it and just like learning the piano you have to practice actively performing every day to build the skill, you can't just memorize chords and expect to play piano well.
  5. Mar 20, 2013 #4
    As the old saying goes, "Practice makes perfect."

    Even if you are assigned homework problems, you should go well beyond those and practice more problems. Don't just sit there and complete the homework, actually try to analyze it and use your textbook/notes as a reference.

    Have you tried talking to your professor? It's always good to ask questions, even if they are silly ones. Perhaps you could meet up with your professor or email him regarding your issues.

    Believe me, getting frustrated is a normal thing and everyone who majors in something like physics, engineering, math, and so forth will get frustrated. I've gotten frustrated plenty of times, but that didn't stop me from improving. Having an optimistic view helps a lot. You should never underestimate yourself, even if you are failing at something. Sometimes, just a little pep talk helps someone, perhaps even you! :smile:
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