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Need some words of encouragement =(

  1. Oct 18, 2010 #1
    I just can't seem to get physics I put so much time in studying and it's just not coming to me. Im taking this class online and even when I went to the lectures it didn't help that much. I do fine in pure math classes. This class is moving pretty fast at a chapter a week. I just don't know if I should just switch majors ( which is currently electrical engineering) or just suck it up and try to get through this class. It doesn't look like im going to pass. Anybody else completely bomb their physics classes?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 18, 2010 #2
    i don't bomb classes... physics is fine with me...
    And you don't need to spend a lot of time studying physics... concentrating in the classes(lectures) is very important. Most of my studying is in understanding what goes on in the lectures.

    If you can feel the world around, convert it to equations, it's physics.
    But firstly, you should like what you are doing, if you don't, then change your subject and do something you really like. It makes things much more easier.:smile:
  4. Oct 18, 2010 #3
    I didn't bomb Physics, but I know the feeling of struggling. What I finally came to realize, is that I needed to adjust my study habits (don't roll your eyes just yet :biggrin:).

    Firstly, I came from a high school where my teachers really cared about us, and went out of their way to explain things clearly. But like it or not, unfortunately, college professors (like teachers also) are kind of a crap shoot. I had this delusion for a long time that they would be just like good teachers, and basically would pour all of their knowledge into me un-begrudgingly. Not so was the case for me in college. You're not their child, they don't care really, and they (most of those I have met anyway) are just not there for the love of imparting their joy for a subject. Teaching is just a job to them. Moral #1: don't rely on your professors to help you. Crappy a realization as that is.

    Anyway, what I learned is this: there are some classes that you are plainly better off, not going to but for the midterms and for the final (if you can get away with that academically speaking). Some things, you just have to teach yourself. Moral #2: be disciplined, and spend your class period in the library studying the sections and chapters by yourself or with friends. Always do the assignments (even if you get them horribly wrong).

    Lastly, don't worry about General Physics affecting you long term. It is important, but Complex Analysis (which is strictly math really), is probably more important to Electrical Engineering students. So if math is your thing, you'll be fine.

    Also, I think if you stick it out for second semester General Physics course--and you should (don't give up) you'll enjoy it a lot more. That's usually when they begin discussing basic circuits (which was my interest for a long time too (that and Nuclear Physics).

    Moral #3: try making your own notes (again, the library is nice and quiet, and you can really immerse yourself in the theory in peace that way).

    Sometimes the textbook is better than the professor. I always started out by copying the definitions, theories, laws, postulates and formulae. Then I would move onto doing the example problems (they have the answers, so you can manipulate the numbers at least until it makes sense mathematically). When ever you have a test to study for, always work the example problems again, and also a couple of really interesting ones you got for homework.

  5. Oct 18, 2010 #4
    Thanks for your inspiring words. Like I said this class is online due to my work schedule. I've been watching those MIT lectures. I also feel like the test book we are using is really crappy. Do you recommend any good general physics books?
  6. Oct 18, 2010 #5
    Oh, and another rule for life: ignore the braggarts--they're mostly full of crap anyway. People like to psych each other out, I guess; it's a sort of ego sickness really.

    I knew a few guys in college like that. It was actually hysterical sometimes: they'd talk about things (freshman, mind you) like they friggin discovered plutonium. :biggrin: Meanwhile, the way our professors would totally dis them in private, you'd think they'd have a better chance of inventing a "flux capacitor" and rig up a Delorean.
  7. Oct 19, 2010 #6

    It's an obsolete edition by now, but I liked my General Physics book: "Fundamentals of Physics, Extended" 5th Edition (Halliday, Resnick, Walker). ISBN: 0-471-10559-7


    Ya'know what I would recommend though: getting a teachers edition rather than a student edition. The reason being: they have all of the answers in them. That way, you have an easier time of teaching yourself. Believe me: I know that I've learned so much more in my life attempting to explain things to other people, than I ever did sitting listening to a guy that doesn't really give a damn.

    The hard part is actually getting a teacher's edition however. You can--but you'll have to contact the publisher, talk to them, and then write a letter stating that you are doing home schooling. They otherwise figure that you're just some kid trying to cheat on homework (like the average kid would even think of buying a $100 textbook; go figure).

    What might be easier is getting a teacher friend (maybe a relative) to contact a publisher for a sample copy (usually the publishers try to shmooze a school by giving them free teacher's editions to something). You wouldn't have to even plunk down the cost of the book then.
  8. Oct 19, 2010 #7
    Doing fine with math is OK, but physics is when you really start using math for something other than making people suffer (or enjoy - depends on the person). It isn't that hard. If you have questions don't be afraid to ask them here. There are usually people willing to help.
  9. Oct 19, 2010 #8


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    Hyperphysics has some nice notes to explain various topics in physics.


    What subjects in physics is one studying?
  10. Oct 19, 2010 #9
    Just general beginner stuff like work and gravity.
  11. Oct 19, 2010 #10


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    It's hard, there's no way around that. There's no magic bullet, just hang in there. Study groups help, if you can get a good group together.
  12. Oct 22, 2010 #11
    It's all about your mentality. If you say you can't do this, or you don't understand that, you won't understand it at all. But if you say I can do this. You will eventually be able to do it. It just requires a lot of effort and confidence. Good luck!
  13. Oct 22, 2010 #12

    Ivan Seeking

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    When I tutored in college, perhaps the most commonly missed concept was actually pretty simple. Just look to your conservation laws. Once you can set one thing equal to another by using the conservation laws, the rest is just math.
  14. Oct 22, 2010 #13


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    My daughter is taking Physics II now and has asked me to help her a little with problem sets. One of the hardest things I've seen her struggle with is just setting the problems up. The math is no problem for her but seeing how to start and what steps need to be done, doesn't come naturally. So I've been trying to teach her how I break down the problem ahead of time. And that I always redraw the problem on paper which drives home what information you have for the problem. Anyway, the more problems you work, the easier it becomes.
  15. Oct 22, 2010 #14
    I went through the same same thing 40 years ago. I switched from EE to math because I couldn't understand the physics. Now I study physics on my own. On the one hand, I don't know why I had so much trouble with freshman physics when I was younger. On the other hand, I am studying QFT now and I don't get it. I try harder now than I did then and I'm sticking with it.
  16. Oct 23, 2010 #15
    i think one of the harder parts of physics for me, or at least the part i remember making an impression on me, is that you have to put your intuition aside for much of it. there's nothing "intuitive" about the right hand rule, it just is. after a while, with much repetition, you learn to accept it. then you can build a new, pseudo-intuition based on your new experiences.
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