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Physics Undergrad starting in 2011

  • Thread starter jkerrigan
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  • #1
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Main Question or Discussion Point

Here's a little back story, I am currently 21 yrs old and in the US Military, Army to be exact. I will be released from my contract in or round July 2011 and my goal is to enroll at my state university (University of Massachusetts). What I am trying to figure out is, what exactly would be required of me to be a successful student in the world of physics? I am currently deployed to Afghanistan and have ample time to prepare for college. Pretty much I am looking for someones opinion to what I should self-teach myself on my spare time to account for loss of knowledge from time spent away from school. I did have physics in high school but only one year, and my maths lead up to only Pre-calc. Should I try to edge my way into calculus? Or strictly focus on Pre-calc and let the professors teach me calculus?
I am just kind of frazzled here and some outside direction would help.

(Note:Prior to the military I was on track for Mech. Engineering but I wanted to go in a completely 180 deg direction to see what else was out there,thus lead to the Army, and I've had a lot of time to think about what I wanted to do,after several years of watching various lectures, colloquiums, and lurking this forum I've become completely enthralled by physics.)
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
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Any math preparation you do couldn't hurt. Definitely brush up on any pre-calc that you can, but it's really up to you to decide about calculus. Even though I took calculus in high school for two semesters, I decided to take the Calc. 1 and 2 courses at my school and I don't regret it.

Take a look at introductory-level calculus/physics books (there are a lot listed in the https://www.physicsforums.com/forumdisplay.php?f=21" part of this forum, along with people's thoughts on them) and see what you can make of the ideas. Maybe you'll find that it comes relatively easily to you and you'll be able to do a lot of self-teaching before you get to school.
 
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