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Little Advice for a High Schooler?

  1. Feb 1, 2008 #1
    Greetings ladies and gents! I'm a Junior in high school, and am preparing for when I go into college - but the sad thing is I attend a *very* small school in Missouri, and they don't offer anything to really give me a 'leg up' for when I go to college (to follow my passion for physics, of course); and by that I mean they offer Trigonometry as the highest level mathematics (I've taken Geometry, Algebra I and II, and Trigonometry will be my senior year class) - no Calculus or PreCalculus at all. And as for physics, the only thing they offer close to physics is a half-credit physical science class stuck on at the butt end of a half-credit Earth Science class (which I took my Sophomore year). :( So I've been forced to do mostly self study on physics and math to get as much as possible from the classes/lack of.

    So on to my questions. What should I do to prepare myself for college? Buy a PreCalculus/Calculus book and plug away at it? I *might* also get a chance to move out to Arizona to live with one of my friends to take my senior year and get a better education*. It's a big school and offers pretty much everything, so I'd have a chance to take anything I wanted. If I do get so lucky what should I take (I'd have to take Trigonometry)? Could I take Precalculus or the Calculus while taking Trigonometry? If I don't get a chance to move out there, what would you guys suggest?

    As for physics, I definitely want to take a good full class on it instead of just reading an out-of-date textbook and online lectures by myself, if I go out to AZ. But if going out to AZ doesn't happen, what would you suggest I do? My textbook is a fairly good one (Modern Physics Holt, Winston, Rinehart, 1984), but it doesn't give solutions in the back of the book for the problems (which I would most definitely like to have). So I'd like to get the best possible textbook on physics that doesn't require knowledge of Calculus. What would you guys suggest (I'd like to do this for self study in my free time, regardless of whether I get to go to AZ or not)?


    *I might be going out to Arizona because our school has been doing *very* poorly on the standardized MAP tests that we're required to pass as a school, and the only reason we've been passing is because of exceptional scores from people on Free-Lunch (program for people to eat free at school since their family is so poor - which I'm on). But, from what we've been told, this isn't going to save us this time. Most likely we won't pass, our school will become uncredited, and because of it, I won't be able to graduate (not surprising, our school has the lowest test scores in the state, I do believe). (And thus I'll have to attend a different school, hence my friends parents offer to possibly let me stay with them in AZ, big school, I'd be able to take good classes, so on.) Last year many people were just circling letters to make funny pictures on the test... I hate stupid people. :(

    Thanks!

    -Dan Y.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 1, 2008 #2
    In my opinion, physics will come for you.....but you NEED to have that good math back ground. I would suggest Algebra, Alg 2, Geometry, Trig, and Any calculus you can take! If possible, then throw some physics in there....if not, you will just have to work hard in college to get it(like I did).
     
  4. Feb 1, 2008 #3

    berkeman

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    Are there any Junior colleges near you? If so, you should be able to swing a deal to take Calculus and some Physics there. You should be able to transfer those credits to a 4-year college when you graduate high school. And Junior colleges are relatively inexpensive.
     
  5. Feb 1, 2008 #4
    I don't know of any Junior Colleges around my area. But there are a few community colleges. Couldn't I take a Physics and or Calculus classes at the community college and transfer the credits to whatever four-year college I'll attend? Shouldn't I go through Precalculus (and Trig) before attempting a Calculus class?

    So I should wait and just focus on getting very disciplined with mathematics instead of doing physics also? I suppose I could just do self-study at home with a good non-calculus based physics book (which would soften the blow of taking physics class in college). What are some good non-calculus based physics books you guys would recommend?
     
  6. Feb 1, 2008 #5

    berkeman

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    Sorry, I guess I meant Community College. And yes, the credits should transfer (check with the Community College for details -- the transfer may vary from college-to-college).

    I would encourage you to take classes, versus self-studying. Dunno if you need pre-calc before calc. Guess it depends on how good your general math background is. You can go to the Community College bookstore and look at the textbook that they use for pre-calc, to see if you know all of that already, or if it looks like you should take the class.
     
  7. Feb 1, 2008 #6
    Okay, I'll get my GED and attend a few Community College classes (Calculus I, hopefully). But as for physics, I'll just do some self study at home.

    What is a good non-Calculus based physics book?
     
  8. Feb 1, 2008 #7
  9. Feb 1, 2008 #8
    Looks like a pretty good book (not to mention I can get it on Amazon for $20)!

    But by a 'little' bit of Calculus, do you mean that it uses mostly Algebra/Trig? Will I have trouble with some of the concepts in that book without knowledge of Calculus?
     
  10. Feb 1, 2008 #9

    berkeman

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    Don't worry. Basic calculus is pretty simple to understand conceptually. Just read a little bit of basic stuff on differentiation and integration -- that's mostly what you'll need for that book, it sounds like.
     
  11. Feb 2, 2008 #10

    jtbell

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    Note that most colleges and universities, the "calculus-based" general physics course that you would take as a freshman usually does not require that you have previously taken a calculus course, only that you are at least studying Calculus I along with the first semester of general physics.
     
  12. Feb 2, 2008 #11
    Engineering and physics math curricula start at calculus 1. The mathematics you have taken is adequate preparation for calc 1. Pre-calc is just review of algebra and trig (with maybe a little bit of basic calc at the end). You don't need to have calc 1, AP Calc, etc to do well in a calc 1 course at a university.

    My high school was similar to yours in the courses offered. My HS only went up to pre-calc...there was no calc 1 or AP calc offered.
     
  13. Feb 2, 2008 #12
    You should have no trouble with the concepts, even with a poor understanding of trig. Algebra is a must, but the cool thing is that the problems are challenging without being super math-intensive, which seems to be exactly what you are looking for.

    The little bit of Calculus, even if you don't understand, you'll be able to skip over and still get 90% of what is going on.
     
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