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Preparing for college and teaching myself

  1. May 20, 2008 #1
    I am new to these forums and I need some guidance. I am a senior in highschool and I am interested in studying physics in college. I have always gotten high scores in the math sections of aptitude tests and I was fairly advanced until junior year. I had taken Pre-Calculus in tenth grade but problems at home caused me to leave school and it disturbed my progress. At this point, I haven't yet taken Calculus or Physics classes, but I was hoping some of you knew of reading material that I could use to teach myself some of it in advance.
    I am not looking for books like The Elegant Universe (which I am currently reading and loving), but I am looking for self-teaching instructional books or texts that could really be applicable to my education.
    Thank you in advance!
  2. jcsd
  3. May 21, 2008 #2
    If I understand you correctly, you haven't studied any maths or physics at all in high school because of personal problems?
  4. May 21, 2008 #3

    Well, it is complicated. I had to repeat Pre-Calculus my junior year and got discouraged somewhere along the path. I ended up taking a lot of electives courses (I attended an art school for my last two years) instead of pursuing math and science. It was a regrettable mistake on my part, but I am trying to make up for lost time.
  5. May 21, 2008 #4
    Then take those courses and then apply? It's a good gap year in my opinon. You don't stand a chance if you haven't studied them somewhat at a fast pace. In other words, don't even think about physics if you don't have the pre-courses to college physics/engineering.
  6. May 21, 2008 #5
    The standard physics track is built upon a student yet to take physics and calculus.

    These subjects might be harder without a high school background, but its not that big a drawback
  7. May 22, 2008 #6
    ekrim: You are kidding me? In sweden you must comply with a minimum standard, it's the high school equivalent to parts of the first and second calculus courses plus a lot of physics and a little chemistry.
  8. May 22, 2008 #7


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    Calculus and basic physics are usually done from scratch in the first year, but it will be very fast paced, and most lecturers will assume that you've seen it before.
  9. May 22, 2008 #8
    In america that is not the case. Physics I is taught from scratch, learning vectors and forces in the first few weeks. Calculus I is the same. Some people even take precalculus their first semester.
  10. May 22, 2008 #9
    I am confident in my ability to learn quickly as well as my dedication to study extra hours to fully understand. The fact that most lecturers will assume I've seen it before is precisely why I am asking for specific books or textbooks that I could use over the summer to educate myself.

    To Fearless: I can't take those classes now, I just graduated. If I am going to be convinced (by a stranger over the internet none the less) that I should forget about my interests and pursue something else because I am somewhat behind at the age of 18 then I would have to be completely lacking in perseverance (which I am not). I have in the last two years, although in a different direction, worked myself unbelievably hard. To give up now would be an absolute injustice. Again, I am simply asking for quality educational material that I could use in these few months before college.
  11. May 22, 2008 #10
    Dear, mr swashbucklord.

    Ok, spare me your angst. Besides in europe we don't have your loose system where you can study anything in the first year and then all of a sudden go into physics, you must dedicate yourself to it at the very beginning.

    Here are the books;

    1. R A Adams, Calculus a complete course, used it under my first year.

    2. For a basic university text on physics I propose this one, although I haven't used it myself, (You can at my university either go through the physics very detailed as a Chem Eng, or you can skip it and use this book);

    Serway & Jewitt; Physics for Scientists and Engineers with Modern Physics, 6th edition, (2004)
  12. May 22, 2008 #11
    Ignoring Fearless rhetoric, I wouldn't worry to much.

    If you want to get ahead, you might as well pre-study using the course textbooks that will be used for your next courses.

    A common textbook for introduction physics that isn't very difficult is Halliday's Fundamental of Physics. Stewart's Calculus also isn't to shabby. Just read those, work through some problems and stay dedicated and you'll be fine! You're really not that far behind, so no worries!

    You might want to pick up Schaum's outlines, they give you a decent overview of the topics, so they work well together with any textbook.
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