1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Physics/Comp Sci major unsure of what to do

  1. Dec 23, 2012 #1
    I've posted here before, but I don't remember my account because it's been a while. Anyway, I am currently a student at USC (University of Southern California, not South Carolina) and am finishing up my first semester with between a 3.68 and 3.75 GPA (unsure if I have an A or A- in one of my classes). I originally came into USC as an Economics major, so this past semester I've done two GE classes, Introduction to Macroeconomics, and Calculus 1. However, I decided in October to switch to USC's dual major program, Computer Science/Physics.

    Next semester I'm planning on taking Physics Honors I, Calculus II, a GE, and Computer Science 101. It's a pretty intense program, unlike BA Economics, and I'm somewhat worried, especially concerning the math. Math has never been my strongest subject (even though I got 760 in Math on the SAT, I was in regular math throughout high school + AP Statistics). This past semester I received a B+ in my math class, Calculus I, which was somewhat surprising as I had used MIT OpenCourseWare over the summer to learn I and II.

    I know many of you will say Physics is so math based that if you don't love math, you shouldn't do it. But I really do like math, especially more abstract concepts; it just doesn't come naturally to me. I'm worried because I have to take Calculus II, III, Linear Algebra, Math for Physics and Engineering I and II, and then an elective (which will either be Intro to Topology or Numerical Analysis).

    Moreover, though I plan to do research and try to get a high GPA, I'm concerned about graduate programs. Even though I'm only a freshman so I have a pretty long way to go (especially since I have only done Calc + AP Physics), USC is not very renown for its physics program (around #50 in the nation).

    tl;dr second semester freshman at USC can't make up his mind, Econ to Physics/Comp Sci transfer, worried about grades, school reputation, and grad school

    So, if you've made it this long (and I'm sorry it's so long) I have a few questions:
    1) Is undergraduate reputation really a huge deal for grad school acceptances? I'm hoping but definitely not saying I'm sure of a GPA over 3.5. I'm hoping to go into either condensed matter or theoretical (again with the math part) physics.
    2) When should I start actively doing research? I'm going to try by the end of the freshman year, but still.
    3) Any suggestions on how to improve my math learning? I was in a class where almost everyone had taken Calc I before, but I still did relatively poorly (86 on my first midterm, 68 on my second [he gave me 0/20 on a problem I got the right answer on], and 89 on my final).
    4) Is the comp sci part a good idea? I'm going to try and become a quant on Wall Street after a PhD, or if physics doesn't find me a job I'll try and work as a programmer.
    5) Anyone here a USC Physics grad?

    Thanks! ^_^
  2. jcsd
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Can you offer guidance or do you also need help?
Draft saved Draft deleted