Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Studying Self studying

  1. Oct 8, 2006 #1
    I was wondering if there would really be any major difference in studying a subject by yourself, than learning it in a class. Basically, the class just regurgitates information that is in a textbook, right? So, would it be feasible to self study Calculus 3, provided that one has a syllabus at hand? What are your opinions in self-studying in terms of understanding and depth of knowledge?

  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 8, 2006 #2
    I like to attend classes if possible, as this does somehow make the first assimulation a little easier - for me, at least. The assignments, homework & lecture regimen, force me to stick to a timetable - as does the final exam.

    It is perfectly possible to learn on your own, but it does seem to lack that special impartation from a lecturer. I've never quite understood that dynamic, but it has worked for me.
  4. Oct 8, 2006 #3
    In my opinion self studying is best,in a class different levels of students are there some uderstands the matter faster & some slower,If most of the people are brilliant then the tutor teaches the matter faster,some may find this as difficult,converse can also happen.If you can understand the matter from book itself then no need for class study/group study.
  5. Oct 8, 2006 #4
    the professor giving the lecture usualy gives a different view on the things that are contained in the textbook. That way you get two different viewpoints on the same problems and one might suit you better than the other.

    I find it incredibly hard to grasp things by just reading through the textbook, but a good professor always makes it crystall clear during lectures. No textbook, no matter how good it is, is close to a good professor imo.

    Then there are offcourse the horrible professors that more or less just recite the textbook letter by letter during the lectures.. Utter waste of time.
  6. Oct 8, 2006 #5
    I find that I get lost during lectures very easily and so learning from books at my own pace is more my thing. This raises the question how effective is it for people like me to attend lecturers?
  7. Oct 8, 2006 #6
    If you self-study a subject (say Calculus 3 from Stewart) would you recommend skipping it (i.e. not taking the course) and going to a more advanced course then?
  8. Oct 8, 2006 #7
    Go to lecture, more likely you will know what would be on the test. Calculus courses are quite standard in undergraduate. I would assume that Calculus you talk about is just elementary level that does not have much to do with analysis. You can learn how to integrate and differentiate by yourself. However, you might want to know WHY.

    As someone has mentioned, it is always good to accept other's point of view. I finished reading the entire book about Matrices and I thought I would know what the professor would talk about for one particular class. However, his point of view was way beyond that book even the book was a classic one.

    In reality, I audit many classes just to learn what other's experience on different subjects.
  9. Oct 8, 2006 #8


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    If the course is required for your degree you had better talk with your academic advisor or department head before you consider this.
  10. Oct 8, 2006 #9
    I found that the most difficult thing about self-studying is that at some point you are going to find yourself in over your head, and then you'll find it difficult to get into a course on the subject because you've self-studied the prerequisites.

    If you just want to learn, self-study away, but if you intend to ever use that knowledge in a professional capacity, just take the damn course. Or at least look into the possibility of credit by examination before you get too far along...
  11. Oct 8, 2006 #10
    I self-studied Quantum Mechanics I over the summer in order to take Quantum Mechanics II this fall, and did so successfully. So yes, one can certainly do it. But there are some caveats.

    First, you have to work at it more than you would if you were just taking the class. Second, I would strongly recommend using several texts for the subjects, and working EVERY single problem. Finally, you want not only the syllabus from the class, but all the solutions you for the problems you are working, and all the exams to test yourself.

    I had 3 quantum mechanics textbooks, 2 books of solved problems, all the course exams (provided by the professor I'm taking the QM II from this quarter), and the syllabus, and it still took me 15 weeks to get through the 10 week course on my own, but I did manage to do it.

    So yes, you can do it, and proceed on without taking the course (assuming your department will let you. In our department, prereqs are never enforced in anyway, and several students have done this before with QM I). You should not do it as a way to get through the work more quickly or with less effort, because it won't work. The reason I did it had to do with when QM II was offered by our department, only every other year, and I couldn't fit in QM I last spring. Finally, expect that it will take you at least as long as it would take you to take the course in the first place.
  12. Oct 9, 2006 #11


    User Avatar

    Also, if you self-study as a prerequisite for another course - be careful that the methods you self studied are compatible with what was taught in the actual lectures.
  13. Oct 9, 2006 #12
    It depends on whether you can take it with a good teacher or not. For instance, I suppose I could have selfstudied CALC II since the teacher sucked and I ended up reading every lesson anyways (which takes forever, because the Thomson book isn't good at showing the mechanics so much as the theory). However, my CALC I and III teacher is awesome, and I can find out everything I need to iknow in an hour, even with theory. He's young, enthusiastic. If you can take it with a good teacher, don't miss it for anything.
  14. Oct 10, 2006 #13
    I think it depends on the reason for self study. If you want to be a working engineer or physicist, then take the class because you will get credit for it. If you are just studying it for fun, then you can go either way.

    If you are bored because you are a super brilliant, then you wouldn't be asking this question because you would have read the book and gone on last week....
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook