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Pre-physics major questions

  1. Feb 3, 2014 #1


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    well technically I am a physics major but im in pre calculus right now, so unable to take a calculus based physics class for another 2 quarters.

    I read through most of the "so you want to be a physicist" thread, but I have a few questions.

    First of all, im at a community college, its a decent college, not exactly some random place in the middle of nowhere, but if theres any input on how you guys feel about starting your academic career in physics at a community college, let me know. Do I have a better chance at transferring to a university compared to non-science majors?

    secondly, im a bit overwhelmed at all the stuff I have to learn. Will it be like learning how to ride a bike? - you never forget. I simply cant comprehend at this time, how all this information will fit in my brain and not degrade over time. I really want to have a well rounded education in physics, and be able to help/tutor others in the future. So how does all that end up working out?

    anyone with a B.S feel like they could walk into any physics classroom and start solving problems in a similar way to a college freshmen going back to a physics class in highschool?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 4, 2014 #2
    Do you feel comfortable with math? If math comes easy to you, this would be an indicator that you can tackle Physics.
  4. Feb 7, 2014 #3


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    id say im above average in math and can handle this.

    Im just curious about how well you guys retain all the things youve learned in math and physics.
  5. Feb 7, 2014 #4


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    I'm not far enough in the physics yet but after three classes in Calculus you will be quite comfortable with all the mathematical tools and concepts learned in those classes. Repetition is important, and one of the key ways I learn to retain information.
  6. Feb 7, 2014 #5


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    back in highschool i often times did not need to study to do good on tests in math and science. So I suppose that lack of repetition caused me to forget some important things, which is why im only in pre calc. Something I gotta work on.
  7. Feb 7, 2014 #6


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    Starting at a community college (CC) can be a good thing. First year courses in physics, chemistry, calculus etc. tend to be reasonably generic, so what you really need to look for in them is quality instructors and quality facilities - these of course have a complete spectrum in both universities and CCs. The main advantages you have with CCs are that they are in general a cheaper option and in many cases may allow you to live closer to (or at) home. You may also be in with a less competitive pool of students, which has advantages and disadvantages depending on your personality. If you're hoping to get into graduate school - where you do your first and second year work is generally of little consequence.

    I'm not sure what you mean by comparing yourself to non-science majors.

    Yes there's a lot of stuff to learn. No you won't retain it all. I certainly don't.

    You will retain the stuff you use on a regular basis of course. Some things will become second nature to you. As for the rest, what you'll have (hopefully) is enough background that you will be able to recognize the tools that you need to solve a certain problem and go and look them up. Because you've worked with them before, you'll likely be able to skim through the basics and get up to speed enough to do what you need.

    That's how it is for me anyway. There are plenty of people a lot smarter than I am who don't need as much review.
  8. Feb 7, 2014 #7
    I'm doing electrical engineering technology through a community college that is not ABET accredited then finishing up at an ABET accredited college. I'm taking the highest level classes offered at the CC that are relevant to my degree before I transfer.

    As long as you finish your degree you should be fine, but be careful what classes you take and look into what colleges you can transfer to from your CC.
  9. Feb 9, 2014 #8


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    what exactly do you mean by be careful which classes I take?

    my specific requirements total 50 credits. The physics 200 series is a requirement by itself (total 15 credits), then I got 29 credits required in natural science, which ill be taking the physics 100 series (10-15 credits), pre-calculus 1 and 2 are also considered a natural science on my degree, so I suppose that adds 10 credits, in total comes out about 20-25 credits in physics and math as part of the natural science requirements. Leaves me with about a 4-9 credits remainder im thinking will be chemistry, which these classes are worth 6 credits i believe, so not sure how that works, im already confused and need to talk to my science adviser, this is just me thinking out loud, sorry you read it.
  10. Feb 11, 2014 #9
    When I say that I mean make sure the classes you are taking will transfer. For example, at my college MAT 121 will not transfer, while MAT 140 and MAT 161 will transfer. MAT 121 is not any easier or harder than 161, it simply has more of a trig focus than MAT 161 and for whatever reason, will not transfer even though it is just as difficult as MAT 161.

    Just make sure you talk to advisers at your college as you intend to and get the classes that will transfer. I had to change a couple of classes because some of them were not going to transfer.

    My course load is light too, 3-4 classes a semester, so I am studying used text books I buy off of amazon for cheap ahead of the classes so when I take the class I will simply be reinforcing what I already know. In my current math class I am constantly pestering my teacher to give me access to future assignments so that I can work through them and stay ahead.

    Sorry, random rambling while I unzip MultiSim.
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