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Professors outright said they'd make it easy on us

  1. Jan 15, 2015 #1
    I'm in Calculus 2 and my first intro Calc-based Physics course. Two classes that in most circumstances are meant to weed out potentially moronic engineers and scientists. But my professors aren't going to be challenging me according to their own words. My Calculus professor said he wouldn't put any really challenging questions on exams, and has a reputation at my school for being lax in rigor. And my physics professor said that the calculus is going to be calc-lite in our class. So I'm supremely disappointed.

    I don't have an option for honors versions of either of these classes since I'm at a Community college for another year before transfer, and I really need to have proper preparation for my intermediate mechanics and intro analysis courses I'm taking in a year. So what would you suggest I do to supplement the classes.

    I'm already reading K&K for physics (not giving me too much problems) and I'm trying to read Spivak for calculus (Spivak is running me down though). If there's anything on top of that you can suggest for me I'd like to hear it. Books, study habits, problem techniques, etc. I have A's in all my classes related to math and physics so far, so I know my stuff up to the point that I'm learning now if you're curious of my background.

    Thanks for any help you guys give :D
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 15, 2015 #2
    Unfortunately, some professors are like that. In my department, the weed-out classes are Physics III and Math Methods. Both of those classes got a different teacher this year, and both teachers are much more lax, which means the next weed-out class became E&M. By that point, it is too late for most students to change majors easily.

    I imagine you'll run into the same issue. People will take Calc 2 and Physics I and thing "WOW I'M GOOD AT PHYSICS!!" only to be proven wrong in a later class, and so the lax professors are really doing nothing but hurting the students.

    In the meantime, if your book has more challenging questions than those assigned, do the heck out of them. Assuming this class is Physics I (Mechanics), I imagine you will cover most of the important topics, and the only way in which they can be made more complex is by involving more difficult functions. So you probably won't be missing too much there.
  4. Jan 15, 2015 #3
    This is the best advice. I would do these and if you get stuck on one, take it to your professor during their office hours for guidance. Give it at least a day or so attempt though before you take it.
  5. Jan 15, 2015 #4
    If the class is to easy, make your own rigor. You always have to go up and beyond with your education if you ever want to achieve anything in this world.
    Sorry to say but the academia is no longer a place of enlightenment.
  6. Jan 15, 2015 #5
    Also calculus 2 is a very easy course not hard at all if you have a good understanding of calculus. The only few sections which could be deemed difficult are parametric/polar equations (the idea is easy, the problem is a professor can ask many trick questions so you would have to really know a few things). Series can also be hard if a student has approached mathematics with a plug and chug mentality.

    I would be more worried about linear algebra depending how it is taught at your school.
  7. Jan 15, 2015 #6
    I would definitely check out other sources for problems if the classes aren't challenging enough. If certain topics are skipped in class then go over them independently and ask the professor about them after class to get some feedback. Look up what other Calculus and Physics classes cover at those levels to see what you're expected to know and what you want to know.

    Aaaand I would stay away from using that kind of language when describing people who don't do well in math or science classes. People's interests sometimes don't align with their personal strengths and these classes are often where they confront this. They are not morons.
  8. Jan 15, 2015 #7
    That's fair. Sometimes I can be a bit pretentious. Thanks.
  9. Jan 15, 2015 #8
    Spivak is good for a deeper understanding of Calculus. I've worked through it over the summer (I'm in electrical engineering), and I do not regret it. Though I don't see any benefits in my studies because of it. It's more of a personal-satisfaction thing (or at least it was for me). You can always check out the Feynman lectures (available for free online) to supplement what you learn in your physics class. It's not a substitute for a class, but it's enjoyable to read. And you can't do better than Feynman.
  10. Jan 15, 2015 #9
    I would get thomas calculus with analytic geometry 3rd ed as a reference book for your calculus 2 class. It explains the concepts and proofs in a simple yet elegant manner. Stewart and the other like minded calculus books fail in this regard.

    For physics. Kolenkow is great.
  11. Jan 15, 2015 #10
    I'm not sure about other schools, but for me, I have only used anything from the Calculus sequence in one upper level class, called Complex Variable for application, which is basically an undergraduate version of Complex Analysis. Even in the class I took called Advanced Calculus 1, which by my professor's words is really metric space topology, we didn't use anything at all from the Calculus sequence. I think the general idea is that the Calculus sequence along with Calc-based physics 1 and 2 are intended for the engineers, not the Math and Physics majors.

    It's very likely your upper-level math classes with use mostly knowledge that is developed in your upper level courses.

    In short, 2000 and under level math classes, bare little to no resemblance to most 3000+ level math classes.

    Another thing to add, is that it's probably a normal occurance for a physics class to be lite on calculus. For various reasons I've taken my 2 calc-based physics courses across 3 differenr schools,(started UP1 at one school, dropped it, transferred, finished it, got my associates, transfered to a 4 year school, took UP2.) In every instance, the professors intentionally left a lot of calculus out.
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