Preparing for collage

daniel_i_l

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I just finished HS and it works out that I have about a year untill I start (hopefully) learning theoretical physics in collage. Now I have a pretty good understanding of HS math and physics plus what I know about S&GR, QM, and calculus from websites and books. What do you recommend that I study in the meantime to prepare? Will studying by myself even help me. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks.
 

ranger

King of all llamas
Gold Member
1,651
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Will studying by myself even help me.
Of course it would. Several of my prof. encourge reading ahead. You may understand something better in the classroom when you know a little before hand.

You could probably check out the tutorials section of this forums for some good reads,
 
879
2
daniel,

Oh, definately study on your own. You will be doing this a lot in college.
If you are truly serious about learning physics the best advice I can give is start learning the fundamentals now. Forget about Special and General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics. I know they are really intrigueing and exciting topics. But can you do the fundamental problems? Can you figure out what the total energy of a system exhibiting simple harmonic motion with a frequency w, a mass m and and an amplitude A is? How does it vary in time? (This is simply an example)
What I am trying to say is, the better your grasp of the fundamental physics, the better chance you will have with anything above this level. Everything in physics uses everything else that you have learned in physics. To even consider doing Quantum Mechanics, you MUST have a very solid understanding of Classical Mechanics. So, my advice to you is to stick with Classical Mechanics and Electrodynamics and really get the fundamentals down. This will put you in a position to succede once you enter university physics.
 

daniel_i_l

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Thank you very much for your advice!
What part of classical mechanics should I study - should I go over HS physics with more advanced calculus, learn the basics of areas that we didn't cover like rigid body mechanics, or something else?
 

G01

Homework Helper
Gold Member
2,641
16
learn the concepts in fundamental physics, learn the math used in it, BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY, learmn how to apply the math to the concepts.

For example, You know the concept of Newton's second law, i'm assuming.
I'll also assume you know the mathmatical representation of it. sigmaF=ma.
Make sure you are able to recognise when a problem can be solved using the law and where to apply the mathmatics of newton's second law and the kinematic equations.

In conclusion, develop a very good method of problem solving that works for you. Some people I see LOVE the concepts of Physics, and they know basic calculus, but they can't solve these problems. Good luck!
 
879
2
I would suggest going over anything you didn't cover in your high school book. Do you know what school you are going to for College? If you do, purchase (used of course) the book they use for their calculus based introductory physics course and go through the whole thing, in order from start to finish in depth. The most important thing you can do here is to not rush through things. I would suggest if the course book is one of the typical ones with about 50 problems at the end of the chapter that you do at least half of them. Why so many? Because being able to solve these problems will be an indicator of how well you understand the concepts and are able to apply them. Do not rush through a chapter, just to get to the next one. Make sure you are comfortable with what you have learned so far before moving on. That is a very common mistake with self learning material.
Good luck,
Ryan
 

daniel_i_l

Gold Member
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Can I learn anything usefull on the web (if so were) or should I just buy a book?
 
I always try to advise against any studying from the web. It's hard for me personally to focus on a computer screen and understand what it's saying. With a book, you can write notes next to a passage or workout a problem on the page. But if you don't have a problem staring at a computer screen for hours to read something, have at it. Good luck with "collage".
 

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