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Need help finding direction in college

  1. Dec 15, 2007 #1
    Hi, first time poster but have been reading the forums a while, like the title says I'm looking for some direction in unversity.

    I'm technically a junior right now, entered uni as a Comp Sci major, things went ok in Freshman Year passed Programming I, Algebra, Trig (probably all the easy bull**** classes for some of you), but come sophmore year I got a D in Calc I, dropped it that next winter semester, did General Chem in that summer and passed, got a C- the next winter semester I took Calc I in, passed with a C that next summer semester, then got a D in Calc II and this fall semester I had to drop Calc II again, I had a similar experience with Discrete math (basically dropped it each time I took it), oh and just to put some icing on the cake I got a D in physics with Cal I lecture this semester.

    My biggest problem in my sophmore year I suppose was getting a girlfriend and getting lazy on the hard stuff and when I would get stuck I would often take 'breaks' and when I would get to the test I would freeze, I would also use things like the gym or whatever else I could as an escape of sorts and sometimes would only do the bare minimum problems without understanding how they were done. Thing is my then girlfriend was the complete opposite, she was a neuroscience major and was still able to get A's and B's while hanging out with my practicically every day for hours but my grades just plumeted, I had about a 3.0 in freshman year and now I have a 2.2 (might be a 2.3-2.4 now that passed a bio class and the physics lecture just fine).

    Like I said I've been reading some posts here and looking back in relation to how some of you study it seems that I don't do enough and so I'm going to make a more consciousness effort to study longer and more frequently throughout the week.

    A question I had is that I'm intending to take Calc II and Physic I next semester together with Discrete Math, would this be too much for me to get good study time on, I read an article that said given my situation I should wait till I pass Calc II to do Physics I if I didn't get at least a B in Calc I.

    I'm sorry this is turing into such a long post but I'm also having trouble with my major, see I always had a layman's interest in physics and after reading more on the subject and it's applications I was interested in getting a major in it at the end of freshman year but the past 2 years have been so bad I'm just not sure what I should do. Another option I've been thinking about is that I enjoyed programming and I was pretty good at biology so I was thinking of going for a career in bioinformatics (the applications of that field seem very interesting as well), but I was also interested in applied physics, but whenever I look at my grades I think either way is getting more and more out of my grasp, I want to finish college as quickly as possible and be able to enter graduate school sometime before I'm 25 (I'm 21 now),.

    Again sorry for the very long read, but I guess I just had alot of stuff I wanted to get off my chest, any and all help any of you can give me would be greatly appreciated.
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2007
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 15, 2007 #2
    I am in a university also, and working on a physics major. I have gotten good grades in all of the classes I have taken, but it has all been reliance on understanding that got me to that level. You HAVE to understand the basics very well in order to under stand the next level really well and so on.

    I would recommend that you make sure everything you have gone through is up to snuff, along with taking one of those classes. Go through the chapters of Calculus I and do the review problems at the back, ALL of them, and see if you have problems. Not just problems getting the right answer, but also problems understanding what you are doing. Being able to understand new things relies on knowing the old things, so make sure you know your algebra, trig and calculus before you take on too much work load.

    Secondly, I am figuring this out the hard way too, understanding isn't the same as knowing! If you understand what is happening in your initial lectures on a subject that doesn't mean you will KNOW it in 3 months. The only way you will KNOW it is if you put in the effort to do all of the homework. As humans, thats just how most of our brains work, repetition engrains the ideas into them.

    Good luck, and enjoy yourself along with working hard at it!
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2007
  4. Dec 15, 2007 #3
    thank you man!

    I suppose you're right, working more problems it seems is what I have to do, I have about 2 or 3 more weeks till the next semester starts so I'll try and use it wisely.
  5. Dec 16, 2007 #4
    anyone else? I'm still having a hard time deciding whether or not I want to go into biomedical sciences or applied physics/CS, perhaps it's bad that I'm considering such highly technical positions given my grades but it's what I want to do, but I know I have to choose one eventually, can anybody give me some more help?
  6. Dec 17, 2007 #5
    nobody? I'm not a troll.
  7. Dec 17, 2007 #6
    Most physics courses are heavy in Calculus, Diffy Equations, and Liner Algebra. If you're struggling in these basic math courses, then maybe physics is not for you? It does seems like you are not the technical type and are more interested in the applications and general aspects of physics.

    Like how I am interested in semiconductors but would care less about the quantum states of each particle in the semiconductor and how their equations would be like.
  8. Dec 17, 2007 #7
    I've never done differential equations or linear algebra; the basic concepts of calculus are (now) easy to me, limits, derivatives, integration, but it's applying them that are difficult to me, plus there wasn't even that much calculus in my physics with calculus class this last semester (a derivative in angular momentum problmes or a definite integral in thermodynamics problems and the like here or there but not much more than that), more and more I think it's because I didn't work hard enough on problems but whatever it was I would just do horrible on tests, I don't think I got the concepts and facts down and would do horrible on multiple choice questions and problem solving I would just freeze: I would know how to solve some aspects of the problem but more important parts of the problem that I needed to know to continue the problem I couldn't do, this happened in all 4 physics exams this year and a similar thing happened to me in Calc II.

    As far as what I'm interested in, I've done some reading and applied physics like optics/photonics, nuclear physics, quantum computing and materials all sound quite interesting so you'd be right about that, I also enjoy teaching. . My initial interest in physics was peaked after watching some cosmology documentaries and wondering how people could come up with such theories on the universe (string theory, membrane theory, dark matter/energy, attempts at a unified field theory) simply by doing equations on a piece of paper or chalk board, but as you can see I struggle on the very basics so I'm not sure what to do.

    I do fine in biology and chem courses, you're right in that I was never the technical type, I'm better at memorization (when I can keep focused), but my past grades and my inability to decide what I would really want that and my constantly thinking about my chances to get into either one have been constantly on my mind; they really did distract me alot this semester during finals and I don't want the same thing to happen again, I really want to turn these last two terrible years around, finally graduate and be able to enter graduate school.

    Thing is I know I never was a technical person, but I WANT to be one, thing is I'm not sure in what area, in the bioinformatics side of things the genetic and molecular basis of disease as well as the processes of aging are also of interest, I think I would be 'better' in this area, I actually spoke to the bioniformatics director at my university and he said I could help out with small projects and collect data if I was interested and I know he woudl be a great reference to future schools, it's just that I was having second thoughts recently about what to pursue.

    I feel like if I were to have a solid goal I could remain more focused and do well, I've started watching some online physics tutorials and I think that's helping but just want some extra advice given my situation, sorry for the long read again.
  9. Dec 18, 2007 #8
    is the reason why most of you don't answer the thread is because my goals are hopeless at this point?
  10. Dec 18, 2007 #9
    Mostly it's the rambling. I'm too tired from last term to sit and unpack your post at the moment.

    Basically, you're a junior and still not sure about a major? Can you work out a way to double major at this point? If not, what are your career goals, and which use of your remaining time at uni will best prepare you for that?
  11. Dec 18, 2007 #10
    sorry, I do tend to ramble when I have alot on my mind :redface:

    anywho, I want to do research in either applied physics or bioinformatics while teaching (so yeah, would like to be a uni teacher)

    I'm pretty sure I know what to do to go to grad school in either one, for applied physics I would do a physics degree with computer science classes and with bioinformatics I would do computer science major with upper level bio classes, I'm just not sure which one I want to do more.

    the biology and chemistry are not problems to me, but I'm registered for my 3rd try at Calc II and my 2nd try in physics I next semester and I'm getting very worried, I don't know why I can't just pass either course first try in like so many people, I suppose it was not doing enough problems but I have been getting distracted alot because I keep thinking that I'd be better at a biology-oriented program but either way I need the physics and calculus and I'm not good at either one, I think with a clear cut goal that would end some of the confusion on what to take and whatnot, just want some help in that area.
  12. Dec 18, 2007 #11
    One of the first steps I'd take to help me decide is to tour a few labs working in each area.

    If you see a lab that's working on anything that looks particularly interesting to you, ask the head researcher if there's anything they could use an undergrad with your background for - let them know you're interested in maybe doing grad work in the field and want more exposure to it. I found this sort of experience very helpful in making my own decision; I knew I wanted to do research but wasn't sure what to make of all the options.
  13. Dec 19, 2007 #12
    thank you, I've already asked the head of the bioinformatics research group at my school what I could do and he said I could help with some basic stuff if I wanted to get a feel for the subject, I'll see what I can do with the physics department come the new semester.
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