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Courses Nervous About Scheduling Courses for the Next Two Years

  1. Apr 12, 2010 #1
    Edit:Damnit, forgot to finish the title. Sorry! "Nervous about scheduling courses for next two years"

    I met with my faculty mentor today and I'd like some quick advice about classes for next semester. I'm a semester behind in physics (but all my general education requirements are done, just poor scheduling on my part), currently in the spring of my sophomore year and I'm ready to start 'real' physics. In our department, there's a gauntlet of 6 classes that you are required to take; Mechanics I and II, Electromagnetism I and II and Quantum I and II. Most people stagger the courses like such (with other physics and math courses thrown in, but this is the backbone of the major):

    Semester 1:
    Mechanics I

    Semester 2:
    Mechanics II
    Electromagnetism I

    Semester 3:
    Electromagnetism II
    Quantum I

    and Semester 4:
    Quantum II

    There's no problem with this except that I have very few credits for next semester as is, no gen-eds to take, and no interest in an artsy-fartsy liberal arts class. I was thinking of taking Mechanics I and Electromagnetism I next semester and the second parts of both courses the following semester (plus perhaps Quantum I but that seems like asking for trouble).

    My mentor said tentatively that it was do-able, but it would be hard going. I think I could keep up with the workload and it's hardly unusual. At some point in my physics career, I'm going to have to take more than one or two physics classes a semester, so playing it safe for forever seems disingenuous.

    The reason I'm chomping at the bit to finish the gauntlet quickly is to get to more advanced classes before I graduate and become more useful to research faster. The recommended schedule would mean I finish the bare minimum for my degree, which isn't the worst thing that could happen but I'd like to go to grad school and do some neater stuff before I leave. I'd just like to know some of your takes on this situation, since I don't think PF has ever steered me wrong yet.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 13, 2010
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 12, 2010 #2
    What is "mechanics I" and "mechanics II" etc? And what other courses do you take during these semesters? Going full time physics courses is far from impossible and is already done in most of the world outside America and it is good to see how well you can handle it since if you are going to grad school after you will have to do that anyway.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 13, 2010
  4. Apr 13, 2010 #3
    Good point Klockan! And sorry, I sometimes forget that not everyone is familiar with the various requirements of my specific physics degree.

    Mechanics I (aka PHYS 325):
    Kinematics and dynamics of classical systems, including a review of Newtonian kinematics and dynamics. Three dimensional motion, variable mass, and conservation laws; damped and periodically driven oscillations; gravitational potential of extended objects and motion in rotating frames of reference; lagrangian and Hamiltonian mechanics.
    Mechanics II (aka PHYS 326)
    Continuation of PHYS 325. Lagrangian techniques and the calculus of variations, central force motion, scattering, coupled oscillations, the wave equation in one dimension, generalized coordinates and the Hamiltonian formulation, relativistic dynamics, Euler angles and tops, non-linear and fluid dynamics.

    And PHYS 435/436, 486/487 from http://courses.illinois.edu/cis/2010/fall/catalog/PHYS/index.html?skinId=2169" are Electromagnetism and Quantum I and II respectively.

    I think, at bare minimum, all I'd have left besides these 6 is 'Thermal and Statistical Physics' and a 400-level lab. I'd like to take subatomic, since that's going to cover junk on the GRE and a few others, but that's to be decided.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 25, 2017
  5. Apr 13, 2010 #4
    I don't see how it could possibly be overwhelming to take 7 credit hours or less per semester. Most math people I know schedule 3-6 math courses (if only 3-4 they have a couple of other courses; either geneds or computer science or something like that). I doubt taking 6 physics courses is a good idea, but I simply can't see how taking 7 hours could be too much. Are you not taking any course besides mechanics I next semester or are you only showing us your physics courses?
  6. Apr 13, 2010 #5
    Oh nono, of course not! I was just showing that particular set of courses. I have other physics courses and math courses during all those semesters but what I take is up to me, so I didn't include them on that schedule. Next semester would be Mechanics I, Quantum/Thermal, and Applied Linear Algebra but that only puts me at 11 hours. I may or may not add a couple math courses or a side physics course, but those are the main ones. Sorry for the confusion.
  7. Apr 13, 2010 #6


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    Gold Member

    Hi MissSilvy,

    To fill some of the gaps in my schedule, I've chosen to go with maths courses that are of interest to me. I also figured it'd be adding more tools to my physics tool belt. :smile:

    I've listed them below:

    An examination of the theory of calculus of functions of one variable with emphasis on rigorously proving theorems about real numbers, convergence, continuity, differentiation and integration.

    Continuation of MATH 310. Emphasizes proving theorems about series, uniform convergence, functions of several variables: limits, continuity, differentiation, extrema, integration, implicit and inverse function theorems.

    Continuity, monotonicity, differentiability; uniform convergence and continuity and differentiability; Stone-Weierstrass Theorem; multivariable functions, linear transformations, differentiation, inverse and implicit functions, Jacobians and change of variable; Lebesgue measure and integration.

    Obviously, the course names/descriptions will be different, and I'm not suggesting you take these specific courses; these are just the ones I find interesting. Adding 300 and 400 level maths courses may not work with your schedule, but I figured I'd throw it out there. Check and see if any of the descriptions of maths courses you haven't taken catch your eye. :smile:
  8. Apr 13, 2010 #7
    Dembadon- Thank you very much for your input :) I was actually planning on taking more math at some point if this physics cramming was a bad idea, though everyone else in my major gives me weird looks when I mention it. Thank you for the reminder!
  9. Apr 14, 2010 #8


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    Gold Member

    I'm glad you found my post somewhat helpful! I was a bit worried, after reading over the thread again this morning, that I told you something you already knew, and therefore did not directly address the dilemma with which you are facing.

    In an endeavor to further encourage your math interest, assign small value to weird looks from peers regarding this situation. I've read many threads to which you've intelligently contributed lucid, accurate information. You'll have no problems whichever path you choose to take. :smile:
  10. Apr 15, 2010 #9
    ... emm.. UIUC,right?
    I've taken 5 of the 6 courses already, and the best advice I can give is..
    if you want to take E&M, AVOID prof.Nayfeh at any cost... he is the worst....
  11. Apr 15, 2010 #10
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