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Physics course query

  1. Apr 16, 2014 #1
    Will be taking Physics this fall. General or Analytical?

    Math background : Will be at the level of Calc 3 and Linear Algebra by fall.
    Physics background : None..Am a high school dropout. Got my GED and currently enrolled in a community college.

    Some of my friends and tutors have been telling me to take analytical but a lot of my friends who were supposedly NJ star students and bright in high school took the analytical route first and repented it , their grades range from C's to F's.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 16, 2014 #2
    What is the difference between the two? Different schools use different jargon to describe their classes so I wouldnt expect the readers here to know the difference. At my school we had "college physics" which used trig and "university physics" which used a bit of calculus.

    I would guess that general physics is remedial (ie, high school level) physics with no trig and very simple algebra (probably no quadratic equations). I would guess that analytic would have a higher math requirement. But this is just me guessing... We need to know what these words mean in your school.
  4. Apr 16, 2014 #3
    Apparently, general physics is precalculus and trig based with some algebra 2 stuff. Analytical is calculus based.
  5. Apr 16, 2014 #4
    Cool, that clears things up. Now the question is, why are you taking physics? Is this a passing interest on your way to a non-STEM degree? A requirement for pre-med? Or are you planning on majoring in a STEM field?
  6. Apr 17, 2014 #5
    Well! I have been fascinated by physics from the get go but then again I have always loved sciences and math. Currently a math major. Am interested in double majoring in Math and Physics, get into research etc.
  7. Apr 17, 2014 #6
    If that is the case the answer should be obvious. You should take the calculus based physics class. Have you talked to your adviser about this? Isn't "analytical" physics required for your physics degree?

    People do get As and Bs in those classes. It is possible if you are dedicated, take advantage of office hours and tutors and have the math prereqs (which it seems you do).
  8. Apr 19, 2014 #7
    Unfortunately, the analytical physics class clashes with Linear algebra class ( same time ), which means that I will have to settle for General physics 1 and 2. Will do analytical physics when I transfer to a four year institution. If I postpone my linear algebra class for the sake of analytical physics, then I end up delaying my graduation time from community college which would not be a good idea.
  9. Apr 19, 2014 #8
    Are you sure that postponing analytical physics wont dely graduation? Do your upper division physics classes require analytical physics as a pre-req? In my undergrad it was that way. You needed to finish the freshman calculus based physics classes before moving on to the meat of the degree (Griffiths EM, quantum, etc.)

    I suspect you will be very bored if you have to retake freshman physics because the difference isnt that big in my experience. (Usually just some simple derivatives and integrals of polynomials).

    In any case, I strongly suggest you speak to an adviser at the physics department at your prospective university about this.
  10. Apr 19, 2014 #9
    Here is the situation I am in. I started in Community College in Spring 2013. Started off as a biology major. As much as I like Bio I was more intrigued by Math. Changed my major to Math, still a premed though. Now for Math Major I need two sciences along with math, some social sciences and humanity courses to graduate with a associate degree before transferring to a four year university. I am on the verge of finishing Gen Chem 2 this semester. That leaves me with either Biology or Physics. Biology clashes with my Linear algebra class for fall, same with analytical physics but not with general physics.
    This leaves me with an option of taking general bio 1 and 2 and taking physics directly in a university or take general physics here and then take analytical physics and bio in a bigger college.
  11. Apr 19, 2014 #10


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    I would look at the requirements for the actual major at the university you're transferring to. It should be in their catalog, and I'm sure they've posted it on their site somewhere. The university I'm transferring to requires two biology classes beyond the core for the math major. It also requires the equivalent of you're "analytical physics." Two semesters of Bio at my community college knocks out the biology requirement at the 4-year. However "general physics" would definitely not cut it.

    What I mean to say is, if the four year requires any biology, then it may be more beneficial in the long-term to take the two bio courses and not waste time with the general physics. Algebra based physics will not be useful for anything at this point.
  12. Apr 19, 2014 #11
    Great suggestion! Unfortunately one of the bio professors whom I wanted to take general bio 1 with is not teaching it in fall. The other two are teaching but unfortunately one clashes with my linear algebra and the other with my gen physics. The physics professor who iI have signed up for is a legendary professor who will be retiring next spring. He is teaching analytical physics too but his analytical class are clashing with my linear algebra class. If I postpone my linear algebra class then I postone my graduation from Community college. I was planning to transfer to a state university and luckily they accept general physics.
    Remember, that I am premed and the general physics might be sufficient but I definitely want to go beyond that. Secondly, I was a high school dropout with very limited and weak background in Sciences and Math which includes physics. When I joined community college I had signed up for this begining chemistry course before gen chem. That helped me immensely. Based on this logic I felt that it wouldnot hurt to take general physics. It will not only provide a sound foundation but also might be helpful with MCAT.
  13. Apr 20, 2014 #12
    I am from New Jersey. Rutgers : New Brunswick & TCNJ seems to accept general physics. :)
  14. Apr 20, 2014 #13


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    in my school general physics is calculus based and basic physics is algebra based. so you might make sure its the same class
  15. Apr 20, 2014 #14
    Some of my friends are taking general physics. They said that it is precalc/trig based with some basic fundamentals of calc thrown in.
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