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Looking for some tuition advice

  1. Feb 21, 2008 #1
    Hey guys, first a little about me. I'm a physics major, despite that I'm not very good at math at all. I have A's in all math classes up until multivariable, and then I got a C. Those grades don't reflect how much I was struggling in math up until the recent one, so I think I got a few (i.e. mostly) "easy teachers".

    Some examples.

    I needed to do this derivation for a standing wave formula
    sin a + sin b = 2 sin (a+b/2) cos ((a-b)/2)

    Took me 4 hours to get from sin (a+b/2) + sin(a-b)/2 = 2 sin a cos b to that formula, I finally just googled and found out its some bonehead algebra substitution. Right. Okay, I can actually get a A in electrostatics physics module, undergraduate level... but I can't recognise I need this kind of simple operation.

    Also, in my lab I had a formula to derive, begin with something like F = 1/L (v/mew)^1/2
    and I was supposed to derive df/F
    alright, take the logs of both sides, then do partials. I didn't see that at all and still don't know how to solve the problem correctly with the method told to me. This is easy stuff, right? My physics teacher says it is and I am lame.

    So basically what I'm saying is, okay, I'm past multivariable calc already, I've covered bigger things than this stuff, so I'm not going to waste my money on more bad maths teachers.. where can I get help with this sort of thing? Real help. I need some kind of starting point.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 21, 2008 #2
    it's not a waste of money to learn something. just cause you were supposed to learn it the first time and didn't doesn't mean that it would be stupid to take the class again. i suggest take the class again. i did it and it made me a much better physics student.
  4. Feb 21, 2008 #3

    Which class are you talking about? I am not allowed to retake multivaribale because I have recieved a grade. I asked about that.
  5. Feb 21, 2008 #4
    Are you studing in USA or somewhere else? Because if in USA i am sure that in most universities despite of taking the grade or not you can retake any classes you want, almost at any semester!
  6. Feb 21, 2008 #5
    yea i'm sure you can retake multivariable
  7. Feb 21, 2008 #6
    USA. But listen guys it doesnt matter about that. I took a winter class thats why I got a C. I could have climbed to B if I had practiced the homework more. But I can't do the most basic operations in physics class right now.

    Like the example:

    given F = 1/2L root (T/mew)
    and show dF = F ( dL/L + dm/m + dmew/mew )

    i'm told you take the log of F and then partials. so lets see. if i take the log of F i should get ..
    ln F = ln 1/2 + ln 1/L + ln (root T) + ln (1/root mew)
    ln F = ln 1/2 - ln L + 1/2 ln T - 1/2 ln mew <-- is this correct?
    df/f = f[ -L[ df/L + 1/2 + 1/2 dT/T -1/2 dmew/mew) <-- this isnt the answer

    I'm just looking for whatever instruction I need to be able to solve this problem. And any problem in that particular level of mathematics. Thats what I need to get down to help my physics along.
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2008
  8. Feb 21, 2008 #7
    i'm not even going to try to decipher what you've written. retake multivariable
  9. Feb 21, 2008 #8


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    Gold Member

    In universities, not sure; in at least some community colleges, course repetition for Mathematics is not allowed if you have C-grade course credit. Also, you are given limitations for how many times you can take any one math course. This information may have changed in last several months; hopefully so. (That is based on information in the schedule of classes from one of the C.C.s; also by trying to discuss this with a counselor)
  10. Feb 21, 2008 #9
    Yes thanks. I already told you I can't retake it. And anyway knowing how to do surface integrals and whatnot isnt going to help.

    I figured out my own mistake. I just read the question wrong and mistook delta (as in error) for d (as in differential). So looks like my main problem is low confidence and lack of sleep. Good luck fixing yours
  11. Feb 21, 2008 #10
    If you can't retake the class, talk to a different professor than the one you had the first time, and ask him if he would mind if you sat in on the lectures.

    Even if you can't 'retake' it officially, that does not mean you can't retake it unofficially. If you are really serious about learning the material (and from the passion in what you wrote, I believe you are) then learn the material. (yes, this is more work, but since you won't get a grade, who cares if you blow off the assignments, focus on the hard problems, engage the class in in depth, learning discussions? The professor won't.)

    Don't let a little think like 'rules' keep you from the education you are pursuing. Work around the rules, and learn all you can.
  12. Feb 21, 2008 #11
    It seems that most of your problem lies in your inability to read a problem correctly and apply what you know correctly. What else can you do but practice more, and take your time. It looks like you want an easy solution to your problem, but there isn't one.

    You can retake a course (I know you say you can't, but i'm sure a cc wouldn't mind taking your money or maybe a professor will let you sit in a class.) Or you can put in all the EXTRA hard work and EFFORT to find your errors, find out why you make errors and learn ways to prevent them from happening. The only way I can see is make sure you understand why you are doing this operation. What is the motivation behind it. Don't just memorize you HAVE to do something THIS way. LEARN why. After that, make sure you don't make little stupid mistakes.
  13. Feb 21, 2008 #12
    Of course I practice, I dont think I'd be a physics major if I'm just looking for the easy way to solve all my problems (for efficiencies sake, I naturally pursue the simplest way, but simple doesnt mean easy). I could simply take history, instead I deliberately select the science/math professors with the reputation for being hardest classes to pass. I want to learn not pass. Give me a break dude. A little respect please. I'm going to try getting a good night's sleep before my next class and see how that goes. This and get more practice, I hear what you're saying, I'll be doing that as well. Thank you.
  14. Feb 21, 2008 #13
    Hey, hang in there. You picked a tough subject, like you said.

    A good night's sleep goes a long way, and develop those relationships with professors. It can pay huge dividends later when you are struggling.

    Don't ever give up.
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