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Studying Math in my physics major

  • Thread starter Shorkon
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I will be starting my B. S in physics soon and I am having a hard time deciding how many math courses I should take.
At my university, there are different math courses for physics and math majors. Math students take different calculus and linear algebra courses for example - the math majors learn them more rigorusly. I love math. I started learning calculus on my own and I'm fascinated. Do you think I should take the math courses instead of the easier physics ones? I am signed for a double major for the moment, but I have a little bit more time to decide. Would it be usefull? Will it enlighten my understanding of physical problems or just make my life a mess?
 

ZapperZ

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I will be starting my B. S in physics soon and I am having a hard time deciding how many math courses I should take.
At my university, there are different math courses for physics and math majors. Math students take different calculus and linear algebra courses for example - the math majors learn them more rigorusly. I love math. I started learning calculus on my own and I'm fascinated. Do you think I should take the math courses instead of the easier physics ones? I am signed for a double major for the moment, but I have a little bit more time to decide. Would it be usefull? Will it enlighten my understanding of physical problems or just make my life a mess?
Have you talked to an advisor asking this very same question?

Zz.
 
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I started as a physics major then switched to math and found that physics classes were generally harder than my math classes. Applied mathematics being the only exception. I switched because math came easier and the professors were more interesting. Whatever math courses I did take, even abstract algebra, always aided in my understanding of physics. In a perfect world without constraints I would advise you to take as much math as possible.
However, you are a college student and you have to take outlines seriously or you could end up repeating classes that are not transferable.
Considering that they offer different math courses for physics majors, I would talk to an adviser.
 

Choppy

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Have you talked to an advisor asking this very same question?
Just to add to this...

The reason it's important to talk with your academic advisor with a question like this is because the details of the courses can vary from university and your advisor will be the person in the best position to give you well-informed, school-specific and even program-specific advice. As you progress through your degree that person will also be able to take into account where you're currently at based on the courses you've taken and how you've performed in them.

In some schools, the variation in first year math courses is minimal the physics-oriented course may simply be set up to follow a different timeline so it can work better in conjunction with the first year mechanics or E&M courses. In others the variation might be night and day different with the physics-oriented course being lumped in with all sciences, including all the pre-meds for whom it will be the highest level course they will take and so the emphasis is on practical application rather than foundations for more rigorous study (in which case it would seem odd to throw physics majors in, but these things aren't always set up in an ideal manner). Your advisor will likely know the difference and be able to advise you accordingly.
 
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Have you talked to an advisor asking this very same question?

Zz.
Yes, the math advisor suggsts I start with math and add physics seocnd year and the physics one suggests I take only physics
 

ZapperZ

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Yes, the math advisor suggsts I start with math and add physics seocnd year and the physics one suggests I take only physics
This is something you should have included when you first posted here.

Then, if you are a physics major, follow the advice of your physics advisor. Continue to discuss with him/her if you find that you want to take more math, but your program may already include either sufficient math courses as part of your physics curriculum, or that there are mathematical physics courses being offered by your physics dept. This, we don't know and probably factored into what your physics advisor told you.

In any case, there's nothing to prevent you from taking more math than what is recommended, but this all depends on your grades, your work-load per semester, etc... But since you are just starting out, you don't know all this yet. Many students who were brilliant in high school fall flat in college because they are not used to such "freedom" and also the fact that there also many other brilliant students in the same class as them.

So before going off on your own, follow the advice of your major advisor, at least for the first year or so, until you get a feel of your ability and what you are capable of doing.

Zz.
 

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