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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
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