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Order of classes for a part time student

  1. Oct 17, 2006 #1
    I'm currently attending the University of Minnesota in the evenings, waiting for my wife to finish her Ph.D. I plan on going back for a B.S. in engineering, but I haven't picked a field yet.

    I'm currently taking Calc II, and have the following classes left to take before I start full time

    Physics for Engineers I
    Physics for Engineers II
    Multivariable Calc
    Linear Algebra & Diff Eq

    I'm trying to decide which order to take the classes in. Should I just go ahead and take all of the math in order, or should I follow up Calc II with both physics courses and then go back to the math? Any advice is appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 17, 2006 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    I'd mix in some physics classes to get some variety and some practical applications to help motivate the math.
  4. Oct 18, 2006 #3
    I'd agree with berkeman...

    but also critical... check pre-requisites/co-requisites for the different courses and base part of the decision on that, as professors will assuming you have taken -- or are at least concurrently learning -- certain material. Physics II, generally "E&M", might be difficult without Calc II (which is usually a bunch of differentiation/integration practice). But I think Calc III (vector calculus) and Diff EQ were both meaningless until I related it to the physics.
  5. Oct 18, 2006 #4
    Thanks for the advice. I'll finish Calc II this semester, and then I'll probably stick with the following sequence, taking 1 course per term.

    Physics I
    Intro to Engineering
    Physics II
    Multivariable Calc
    Linear Algebra & Diff Eq

    After that I should have enough knowledge to pick a specialization. My wife will be done with her Ph.D. by then, so I'll be able to start full time.
  6. Oct 18, 2006 #5


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    Science Advisor

    I concur with berkeman, especially if one is planning a career in engineering as opposed to mathematics. It helps to apply the math one learns in engineering and physics courses.

    While one is undecided, it would be a good idea to take as many physics courses in addition to engineering, since much of engineering is based on physics.
  7. Oct 18, 2006 #6
    If th classes are like the ones at most schools, I would take them in this order for a part time schedule:
    Physics I
    Physics II & Intro to Engineering (I am sure the engineering class is real easy)
    Linear Algebra & Diff Eq
    Multivariable Calc

    When you say multivariable calc do you mean the standard calc 3 course at most universities? Because at my school Calculus 3 and Linear Algebra are prerequisistes for Multivariable Calculus.
  8. Oct 19, 2006 #7
    I don't have the time to take more than 1 class per term, since I work a full time job. Taking physics and intro to engineering at the same time would be 11 hours a week of class in addition to 40 hours at my job. Too much for a married man. I put intro to engineering in between the two physics classes becuase it's only offered in the fall. Plus, while it doesn't look hard, intro to engineering looks pretty time consuming, with learning hand drafting, Pro/engineer, and a robot design project.

    For the math classes, Multivariable and Linear Algebra & Diff Eq are the 3rd and 4th lower division math courses for all math, physics, and engineering majors. As long as you've got Calc 2 finished you can take them in either order.
  9. Oct 19, 2006 #8
    Jeff -- sounds like you are doing good planning. sometimes if the plan allows for flexibility... you can also look into the professors who are teaching the different options... and take classes from those that you have had and feel are particularly good at mentoring your academic growth. and huzzah!.. yea!... both for pursuing your own degree and balancing things as your wife completes her schooling!
  10. Oct 19, 2006 #9
    Screw the order, ask around and take the classes with the hardest teachers you can find. Order is not important at this point. In fact, I would recomend taking the math before the physics.

    The prereq should be:

    PhysicsI (mechanics) - concurrent enrollment in calc II.
    PhysicsII (e&m)- calc III or diff eq.
    physics III (waves, optics, modern physics)

    Intro to engineering is a joke course. At this stage, you really dont have much choice of what order to take things.
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2006
  11. Oct 20, 2006 #10
    Ya man, that intro to engineering course is going to be really easy compared to the physics classes.
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