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Courses Reading courses

  1. Jan 29, 2008 #1
    Does a physics reading course make a good impression on an undergraduate transcript? If given the choice between taking a reading course in an interesting subject and taking the same course as a regular class the following year, what would you do?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 29, 2008 #2


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    What's a reading course?
  4. Jan 29, 2008 #3
    I believe a reading course is one where you meet with a professor once a week (or so) and are given reading assignments to be discussed at the next meeting (as opposed to the traditional lecture course where the professor lectures to students at least twice a week and may or may not follow a textbook closely). If you are very good at learning material on your own, you may find a reading course more productive than a lecture course.
  5. Jan 30, 2008 #4
    It can't hurt. I took one in high school, it was a reading or "discussion oriented" course called Advanced Physics Topics. We read some popular science books like Brian Greene's Elegant Universe and Fabric of the Cosmos, Hawking's A Brief History of Time, Universe in a Nutshell, and a few others. We watch video clips and basically just talked about modern physics topics that don't get mentioned in most high school physics classes.

    over all it probably won't have too much sway on your application, other than they might see that you have at least been exposed to a lot more material then just a standard high school non-calculus-based physics class in mechanics and electrostatics.
  6. Jan 30, 2008 #5
    I just realized that you said undergraduate transcript, sorry if I misinterpreted. Are you in high school and applying for undergrad, or are you an undergrad already?
  7. Jan 30, 2008 #6
    I meant how does it look as an undergraduate course. I am an undergrad, yes.
  8. Jan 30, 2008 #7
    well then, again it can't hurt if you have a good grade in it. It may look strange if you have a C or low B in a course that i just reading and discussion. But that being said it probably will not help you that much, what does it show? That you can read well and think critically and hold discussion about readings, that is certainly a good skill but it is one that may be pre-assumed for most people. Now if it was also tied into research, then that would be good. If it was a reading and discussion class perhaps say you take the whole semester to read and discuss one topic, like a particular version of string theory, and then it culminates with a long paper or presentation given. That former choice may hold more weight because it shows you can do some independent learning and research and make something substantial out of it.
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